Friday, September 30, 2016

Five Things Friday

I know, I know. I still owe you a travelogue for Seattle and San Juan Island. I post on tripadvisor.com as therealjenn if you really need to see some of my travel reviews. I'm sick this week, and busy with a short story submission. Excuses, excuses...

The theme for this week's Five Things Friday is five movies I must watch every Halloween season. My disclaimers are: I don't typically like slasher movies with blood and gore. Most of these movies are for kids, or are classics (old). I prefer my scares to be more fun and safe than terrifying.

1. Walt Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)

Lovely animation by Mary Blair and other Disney artists. The scene where the headless horseman chases Ichabod Crane is thrilling, scary, funny and kid-safe/Jenn-safe. The DVD includes a Wind in the Willows story about Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, but I don't watch that part. It's for babies.







2. Bell, Book and Candle (1958)

A sweet, funny story of a witch looking for love in 1950s New York City. Her cat/familiar is just gorgeous.




3. Disney Channel's Halloweentown (1998)

Um, who wouldn't want to find out that their family has magical abilities and hails from a town where it is (almost) always safe, fun, festive Halloween? The original Halloweentown movie is by far better than the sequels. 




4. Disney's The Haunted Mansion (2003)

A fun ghost story based on the Disney theme park ride. Yes, please. 




5. House of Wax (1953)

The one with Vincent Price. Classic. Just scary enough.



At some point in the future, I may do a five favorite scary movies list. It will be an entirely different list than this. Halloween and scary are not the same.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Five Things Friday

The theme for Five Things Friday this week is my five favorite books. I'm an avid reader, and have been since age six and a half years. Reading allows me to experience new people, worlds and ideas. Narrowing down my favorite books to merely five presents a challenge. In no particular order:

1. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
I have read this book cover to cover at least four times. I love the combination of mystery, mysticism, folklore, culture, travel, loss and redemption. The stories within stories within stories are delicious.



2. Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes
I love everything I've read by Marian Keyes. This book deals with shock, loss and emotional survival. I read it just after my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly. Reading someone else's experience of grief and mourning guided me through my own loss. A thousand times, thank you, Marian Keyes.



3. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
This book delivers mystery, adventure and heartfelt relationships falling apart. At times I empathized so strongly with the fully-realized characters that my experience was visceral.


4. The Seance by John Harwood
History, mystery, hidden passages, hidden identities, supernatural communications and dark deeds collide in this page-turner book.


5. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Magical realism meets an epic tale of family, country, tragedy, collapse and survival in this beautiful book. I read this book in conjunction with a showing of artwork from Chilé while I served as a docent at the Blanton Museum of Art. Experiencing the artwork and this book together gave me a deeper insight into the rule of Augusto Pinochet and the horror of "the disappeared".



What are your favorite books? Leave non-spammy comments.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Five Things Friday (Late Edition)

This post is a few days late. Chad and I were on vacation in Seattle and in *drumroll, please* San Juan Island, Washington. I gave myself a ringer on last week's Five Things Friday list by including a dream destination that I knew I would soon visit. Travelogue soon!

The theme for this week's (late) list of five things is things I forgot to pack for vacation.

1. My sturdy, BPA-free, reusable water bottle: I love this bottle. TSA guidelines allow travelers to pass through airport security with an empty plastic bottle, which can be filled at a water fountain in the terminal. Some airports, including Austin and Atlanta, even have bottle filling stations near the regular water fountains. I like that my bottle mentions my lovely home city of Austin, Texas, because it can spark conversation. I also like not having to buy bottled water if my destination has drinkable tap water.




2. My eyeliner pencil sharpener: Sometimes I'm on a liquid eyeliner kick. Lately I prefer a creamy eyeliner pencil. I had to deal with less than pointy eyeliner pencils near the end of vacation. I love Urban Decay brand cosmetics, because they don't test on animals. Urban Decay brand offers many vegan cosmetics. I like the cheeky names of their products too. My favorite eyeliner colors are called Zero, Smog and Roach. 




3. Hat/cap with a brim: I usually remember to bring a cap or hat when I know we are headed somewhere with hiking or kayaking. Chad and I both forgot this time. Chad bought a cap featuring a Salish Native American design of an Orca whale on it while we were on San Juan Island. I wore sunglasses, sunscreen and shaded my eyes with my hands, but wished I had a hat.



4. Reusable shopping bag: I typically have a Baggu shopping bag folded up tiny in my small clutch purse due to the plastic shopping bag ban in Austin. For whatever reason, I didn't have my reusable shopping bag in my purse or my carry-on tote during this trip. 





5. Essential oils: Most airplanes and some hotels have a yucky smell. Sometimes your clothes exit your suitcase after the airplane trip with that yucky airplane smell. Essential oils in your favorite scent can remedy the yucky smells. I usually travel with lavender and peppermint essential oils. I sniff them straight from the bottle or apply a few drops to linens. Many grocery stores now carry essential oils. 



Those are the five things I forgot to pack for this trip that I really missed. I also forgot to empty the fruit bowl and toss a few highly perishable items from the fridge before heading out the door this time. After a week away from home, we returned to a fruit bowl with decaying limes and the saddest soupy banana. We found dried strawberries and really stale bread in the fridge. Eww.


Friday, September 09, 2016

Five Things Friday

In an effort to post more to the blog, I'm introducing a new series: Five Things Friday. The five things posted each Friday will be built around one theme. This Friday the five things theme is five places I have not visited before that I want to visit in the United States of America. 

1. San Juan Islands in Washington




2. Acadia National Park in Maine

photo credit: NPS/Will Greene


3. Niagara Falls in New York
*CLICK HERE FOR LINK*




4. Jekyll Island, Georgia

Horton House historic site

5. Hawaii, especially Kauai





In summary, I like waterfalls and nature. I've seen enough big cities to last me a lifetime. Currently I yearn for more chill, natural vistas with soothing soundtracks of breezes, birds and water currents.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Imperative Update

Chad and I took all the custom blinds out of the windows during recent window replacements. While the blinds were down, we scrubbed and rinsed them thoroughly to remove nearly a decade of dust and pet hair. We scrubbed and rinsed the blinds on the back deck, draping them over the deck rails to dry. This method worked very well. All the blinds survived and hang in our new windows now.

On a cleaning bender, Chad asked if I thought it would be a good idea to take the eight foot by ten foot,  wool-blend rug out of the living room for a good scrub and rinse on the deck. I must have been distracted and/or suffering from a momentary lapse of reason when I said, "sure". Long story short, the rug separated from the backing, lost its shape and didn't dry after several days in the searing Texas summer sun. The rug essentially died a sad, soggy, shapeless death.

The pets and I failed to appreciate the bare hardwood floors. We needed a new rug. In addition to a new rug, we needed new chairs to replace the saggy, lumpy, twelve year old mismatched chairs in the living room. The pets and I needed a new look for the living room. (Okay. Maybe the pets were happy with the old chairs, but they did not like sliding around on the bare wood floors. I stand by my statement that the pets needed a new rug.)


Before: one of the old chairs with the old rug with two old cats



After: Janie finds the new rug very plush and relaxing.


After: Yes, I did just vacuum the ultra-suede (not really suede, it's polyester blend) sofa. 
Why do you ask? But look! The chairs on either side of the sofa match!



Opposite the sofa, some colorful knick-knacks distract from the TV.


As always, click on any photo to view it larger. New chairs and chair pillows from Overstock.com. Twelve year old sofa by Mitchell Gold for Storehouse. (Rest in peace, Storehouse. We miss you still.) Our awesome new rug is from Gilt.com *CLICK HERE* for an invitation to shop on gilt.com for all kinds of cool, discounted designer clothes, accessories and home goods.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Ten Year Refresh

Chad and I recently celebrated the ten year anniversary of purchasing the 1952 House. After ten years, it was time for a refresh and some repairs. We had the air conditioning ducts replaced, installed a solar-powered attic fan, installed an attic access ladder in the long hallway, got the original bathtub reglazed and installed a fan in the bathroom. While these were very necessary repairs/renovations, they aren't anything to photograph and submit to House Beautiful magazine.

The showstopper projects to behold are the new windows and the new exterior paint color. If you happened to drive by the 1952 House during the past month, you surely noticed an ever expanding collage of test paint patches on the front of the house, seven different colors in total. After much negotiation, Chad and I chose Sea Sparkle by Valspar. As always, click on any photo to view it larger.

Before paint and new windows in May 2016

After new paint, new windows and removal of shutters in July 2016




Back of house in May 2016 before new paint and new windows

Back of house after new paint and new windows in July 2016

Major props and thanks go out to The Fix It Chick, Kristi Copeland, and her amazing crews for all the interior projects and the perfectly executed paint job. I highly recommend The Fix It Chick!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Weekend Wishes



My heart, my soul and my brain hurt from all the ugliness, divisiveness, hatred, violence and racism that I see on social media, the news and in the world lately. I'm not so naive to think that any of these problems will be solved easily. Maybe we can all agree to be kinder and more thoughtful in our daily lives and our daily interactions. Maybe we can all strive to acknowledge our own prejudices, and squash those thoughts before they spur us to regrettable words or actions. 

Best wishes for a harmonious and enjoyable weekend.