All The Ladies In The House

Are you a lady? (Sorry fellas, it’s not about you this time).

Do you like to travel? Do you sometimes travel by yourself?

OR…are you afraid to travel because of horror stories you have heard?

OR…Do you have a horror story you want to tell?

OR…Do you have a tip? An antidote? A happy moment? A scary one?

Do you have any questions?

Well, if you do…I have something for you!

My friend Sarah has started a new travel blog called Women Rockin’ the Road.  She has asked me to be a part of it and I think it’s a great idea. Her and I plan to co-write some stories of our times on the road as women – how sometimes the horror stories your grandma told you are myths…and sometimes they are true but you deal with it.

What we hope to accomplish is a few things: ladies, it is always good to hear other people’s stories to get an idea of what you are up against or in for. Also, we hope to debunk any fears people may have that travel for women is unsafe. We also hope to talk about and figure out ways to get around challenges. And of course, we try to be funny if possible. Don’t we all?

So, please come on over and check out what we’ve got started. 

Also – and this is the most important part. We want YOU to contribute. We will be looking for a person to guest post once a week if possible.

What’s your story?

If you don’t have a story, perhaps you have a question you want to know the answer to.  For instance: where do you go to the toilet in Nepal? Good one! We will be happy to answer anything!

Tomorrow I will be posting about traveling alone in a scary place.... Stay Tuned!  


Missing Home

The above photo is part of the FTLOB Picture Perfect Challenge. 

And here is one more I took on the same day: 

While on that walk, I ran into this:

In case you are unsure, yes, that is a rattlesnake. I don't miss him! 
Don't miss more great photos of: 
Where I Live I
Where I Live II
Where I Live III


Beyond All Measure

Beyond All Measures by Dorothy Love

Paperback: 320 Pages
ISBN-10: 1595549005

Just after the civil war, Bostonian Ada Wentworth goes to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee to take a job as a lady's maid.  Not only does she encounter a different life that she was used to financially, but she also encounters some of the prejudices of a post civil war era. Attempting to eventually start her own business, she runs into problems due to her gender and her background, as well as also running into love. But, will her love prevail, or will her past come back to bite her? You will have to read to find out.

This book was a very quick read, as many romance novels are. I won't spoil anything for future readers, but it pretty much follows the same plot as several other romance novels I have read. However, the author does bring history into it as well and it was definitely interesting to think about how hard it would be to live in such a tumultuous time, especially if you are a woman in a man's world, a northerner in a southerner's world, or a white among recently freed blacks, in a place where prejudices still run rampant.

I haven't read a romance novel in a long time, and the reason is they are usually too much silly romance and not enough hard evidence or a believable story. However, this one did keep my attention and I finished it in about a day and a half. The characters are likable, the setting is interesting and the story does keep you turning pages. I would recommend this book to anyone is into a bit of fluff interspersed with history. The author could have made it more Historical and less Romance but if you like it better the other way around, it may be just the thing for you. However, I would give it a 3 out of 5 for that reason alone.

You can find more information about this book HERE

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Ten on Tuesday (15)

1. What’s the recipe for your favorite drink? (Smoothie, alchoholic, coffee, whatever.)
I used to get this Java Freeze thing at one of my favorite restaurants. I found out later what it was make of: vanilla ice cream and a couple of shots of espresso. YUM!

2. What kind of razor do you use?
Gillette Mach III.

3. Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?
Oscar. I never really watched Sesame Street so I am not really sure but he is green and grumpy.  Perfect.

4. What makes the perfect salad? (Lettuce type, toppings, dressing, etc.)
There are so many perfect salads. I love a good spinach, strawberry, walnut, goat cheese with a raspberry vin. Also, a good greek salad - no lettuce! I guess my answer is -- GOOD lettuce/greens or none. And I like LOTS of veggies (non lettuce veggies).

5. What was your favorite subject in school?
Gym. haha. Just kidding. I loved Physics! And English! And Math. Anything but History... But now I like History. And kind of don't like Physics. I still like English and Math.

6. What’s your favorite summer tradition?
I don't really have a summer tradition. Every year I am basically somewhere different. I do love going to the beach, but that's such a formula answer!

7. Do you suffer from season allergies? How do you combat them?
NOPE! Yay!

8. How often do you have to charge your cell phone?
I just do it every night, but I guess if I left it, it would be maybe a day and a half. It depends on what I use it for. If I go online, it dies FAST.

9. Do you have a bucket list?
I have a Life To Do list.

10. Do you have any desire to go back to school?
Yes. Oh wait. No. I mean.....um....maybe. Okay...YES. Oh crap, I don't know. I think so.

Thanks to Chelsea at Roots and Rings for hosting! 


Randoms, A Missouri List

- I work with mostly older guys. You know how your grandpa has stories? That he tells you over and over? Imagine this times 100. It's awesome -- they have great stories! On the other hand, you hear them all over and over and you can't get a word in edgewise. On Saturday we had a meeting (yup, we work 6 days a week!) and this 90 year old guy with suspenders told me that I was going to be his fourth "next ex-wife". I said, "only if you have as much money as Hefner!"

- I asked a local what the little tail on the bottom of Missouri is called. He said it's the "boot heel". Actually with his accent, I thought he said, "boot HILL". But boot heel makes a lot more sense! And that's a cute name! We don't have any heels or handles back home! So....I am currently pretty much in the boot heel. Locals, can I ask, is the rest of the state called the boot?

- I didn't run this weekend. I was completely lazy. Boooo. But I did find out that the town I am in has some running trails and I plan to go and check them out tomorrow!

- Is it just me or does it seem like life is either really busy or kind of lax? I mean, I have a million things to do and then all of a sudden there is an eye in the hurricane and it seems like I am waiting for the next part of the storm to hit with force. Since I got home from my travels, I have been so busy and yesterday I took the day off to relax, but the entire day I was feeling guilty! Like I should be doing something; like there was something I must be forgetting; like I was missing something important. Why does that happen?

- I made a really bad decision the other day -- I went to Walmart at 7 pm. It was packed! And with the most extraordinarily weird people. I mean, I know that there are strange people there normally, but this time they were even weirder than normal. AND there was this horrible screeching noise as I was buying some cottage cheese and I couldn't figure it out until this really old guy came towards me and stopped his cart to look at some yogurt and the noise stopped. I wondered HOW the heck he could NOT hear that...until I really took a good look at him and he was wearing a hearing aid, which I bet he had turned off.

- People in the Midwest are good drivers! When there are two lanes, mostly they stay in the right one and only go into the left when they need to pass someone. People of Louisiana, take note!

- I confess, I am hooked on thisPitbull & Ne-yo song. Grab Somebody Sexy, Tell 'Em HEY! I can't help but sing along.

How was your weekend? Have you ever been to the Boot Heel?


Hit The Ground Running

This post is not just about "running" in the literal sense. Nope.

On Monday, I got a call in the afternoon from my supervisor; On Tuesday morning I was on a plane to Kansas City. Right now I am in Columbia, MO. I guess what I am trying to say is: I got a job finally. So far it looks like I will be in Columbia for a few more days, and then I will head to the very southeast corner of the state for work. Remember where they blew the levee? I will be around there someplace. Maybe.

Yesterday I googled "running in Columbia" and luckily there were a few good running trails! So today, just like I planned (no excuses!) I went running on the MKT Trail. A few notes from the run.

- The weather was PERFECT. It must have been about 70 with a cool breeze. I mean, obviously a little cooler is ideal but...for mid summer, you couldn't ask for more.

- The trail was great. Gravel/Dirt the entire way, with trees for shade and nice bridges and streams. It's so nice to have such a refreshing place to run, especially after living in New Orleans where running is summer is, literally, hell.

- I am STILL out of shape! However, running in lower elevations is way easier. When I ran last weekend it was at about 6,000 feet and it DOES make a difference! It was warmer here but was definitely easier on the lungs.

- I have a Garmin. I am not sure if I like it or not. On one hand, I can look and see what my pace is and how far I have gone, which is good. On the other hand, I can look and see what my pace is and how far I have gone, which is bad.

GOAL: 2 miles
Actual: 2.5
Pace: 9:33

So, I need to do a few things.

1. Get a training program. I have one that I have used before and it has been successful. However, I have heard that the Hal Higdon is good. Has anybody tried this? What about other programs? 

2. Get in Shape. Oh, it will come with training? Okay.

3. Get my pace up.  My best 1/2 marathon pace was right around 9 minutes/mile. I would like to get back to that. Hopefully.

4. Find and sign up for some races! I have found that this is the most surefire way to stay on track. The plan is to insert a 5k and a 10k into my training program. Then maybe I will take both Lisa and Lucy's advice and sign up for some longer races in the fall.  How do you find races? Runners World? Road Runners

One more question! Should I sign up with a running club? (I did it in New Orleans and NEVER once met up with it) Have you tried this? Did it work? Did you like it? 

So, a job and a workout plan. All in one week. So much excitement.


A Camping We Will Go

Last weekend we went to Grover Hot Springs State Park for a camping trip with family. I had a great time and not only that, I did a few other things:

Firstly, I learned some new things!! Did you know that the bark of a Jeffrey Pine tree smells like PINEAPPLE?

Everyone had to try it!!!

Secondly, I exercised! It has been a long time. But it was great! First we went running -- it was a 3 mile loop on a mostly flat trail through the woods (thank goodness, I don't know if I would be able to do more miles or steeper ones right now!). Then I went on a pretty easy bike ride, only 4 miles. Of course I had to have an ice cream afterward to celebrate.We also did many small hikes in between.

So, I hope I am not saying this in vain, but from now on, I hope to get back into running! I used to run a lot! If you haven't read these, you can catch up with some of my issues here:

My first training schedule
The first time I ran 8 miles
The first Half Marathon (Mardi Gras) (others HERE, HERE and HERE.)

So I am ready! The plan is to start tomorrow and probably just try to do two miles. After that, my goal is tod do a couple of miles a day for a few days a week and see how it goes. Then of course, increase it. The next step is to sign up for a race. Yikes. I have to admit, I am excited but a little wary at the same time. The run last Saturday felt so good. Especially after I was done! For me the first mile and sometimes part of the second are the worst and then things kind of even out a little.

How about you guys? Do you like going camping? Have you done any fun runs lately? Have you heard of any good half marathons that are coming up in say....3 months or so? 

NOTE: For more camping photos, you can go HERE.


On Being In Limbo

I have a strange job. Well, to be honest, right now I have NO job. However, the employment that I usually partake in is unique. I work on a temporary basis and on a contractual one. We usually work anywhere from 3 months to 9 months at a time, sometimes more, generally not less.
Normally this works for me. I work for 9 months, a year, two years...and then I spend my money traveling for a while. Once done traveling, I call up my boss and tell him I am ready and if something comes along, he calls me and off I go for another 3 months, 6 months, whatever.
Usually it is in a different place every time. You may work in Florida for 9 months, Louisiana for 18 months, Texas for 3 months...etc. It is never guaranteed. You live in a hotel and you work with a different group of people each time.
It is interesting. You meet people from all over the US, with all different personalities, ages and weights. Okay most of them are overweight, retired Texan men. Just kidding. Okay, not really. Some of them are from Florida.
However, the worst part about this job is the waiting. There is not always work. Once you are done with one contract, you go home and you wait for another one to manifest itself. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. And you never know which one it will be.
Right now I am waiting. Hoping to get work. Wondering what I will do if I don't. Wondering what my cutoff date is....when will I initiate Plan B? WHAT IS Plan B?
The problem really isn't whether or not I get work. If I was to get a call today that said FOR SURE, we will NOT be giving you work, at least I would know and could move on to Plan B. The problem is the not knowing...the waiting to plan...or actually, the inability to plan.
Should I go camping this weekend, or will they call me and tell me they need me to start work tomorrow...in BFE Nebraska?
Should I make plans to meet friends in the City next weekend or will they call me and tell me they need me to go to BFE North Carolina?
I am a planner. I like to know what I am doing in the future. I like to say YES I can do that. Or...NO, I have plans. I do not like to be a flake.
Right now I can't make plans. I am a flake. It is day to day, week to week.

I am in Limbo.


Ten on Tuesday (14)

Wow, I haven't done one of these in AGES. Thanks to Lisa for providing the Qs and to Chelsea for hosting! **by the way Lisa, for someone who is studying all the time, oh AND moving, HOW do you find the time to get these Q's in too!???**

1. How do you pronounce the word aunt? Does your pronunciation rhyme with ‘haunt’ or ‘can’t'?
HAUNT. My Mom's family is from Back East and so it was always drilled into me (H)AUNT, (H)AUNT. I like it better anyway, it's not so nasal nor is the name of a bug that makes me swell up when it bites me.

2. Do most of the people in your life know you blog? Or are you partially or totally anonymous?
Oooh good one. Actually I started my blog for my family and friends. Later I ended up going more towards the public. I still have to watch what I say becuase a lot of my coworkers etc DO read this blog. (or maybe I am just kidding myself)

3. When you grocery shop, do you prefer to bag your own groceries or do you like it when the store bags them for you? Paper, plastic, or reusable bags?
I totally like to bag them myself. Also, I arrange the groceries on the conveyor "just so" so they will arrive in the right order to bag them. Okay, so I am a little bit controlling. Whatev. Also, I have the reusable bags but forget them 80 percent of the time. I know, bad Green girl! So paper it is.

4. Do you have a green thumb?
Actually I do, but I have never had a garden. I can't wait until I have my flat in San Francisco WITH a backyard, so I can garden my little heart out.

5. If you watch the Food Network, which chef/show host is your favorite?
Oh gosh. I don't know which show is on which network. Is Top Chef on that one? Or Hells Kitchen? How about Anthony Bordain? Well, whatever, I will watch pretty much any cooking show anyway.

6. Do you like to take baths? Do you take them very often?
Nope! I LOVE to take baths! If I COULD take them more often, I would. But who has a half an hour to fill the tub and a half an hour to soak? Usually...not me. However, a nice bath, a glass of wine and a trashy girly magazine and I am in heaven.

7. What color are the walls in your kitchen?
Hahah. MY kitchen? I am currently homeless and staying with my parents (sigh). THEIR kitchen is..bone or off white or some such.

8. Do you prefer to dine outdoors or indoors?
Depends on the weather. I get cold easily but if the weather is right, outside all the way.

9. Describe your ideal weather.
Oh. See number 8. I would say 73 degrees and sunny. With a cold beer in one hand.

10. If you could learn any foreign language, which would you choose to learn?
Well, let's see...I took French for a year, n'est pas? And then Spanish for about a year and a half, si? Mr Lovely speaks Portuguese, therefore I have picked up all the bad words. Um...I would like to perfect at least one of those. Right now its so so in all, some better than others. However, if I could just "out of the blue" learn ANYTHING, I would say...maybe Chinese...or Swedish...or Gaelic. Obviously, this is a very hard question. for me.  


My Korean Deli

My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe

This is the story of a self proclaimed "tight bummed Puritain" from Boston who is married to a Korean woman. They live with her parents in Staten Island (in the basement). Their grand plan is to pay her parents back for their generosity by buying them a deli in Brooklyn and helping them run it.

There are all sorts of problems. The wife's family immigrated to the US from Korea and they still have some "old country" values that clash with Ben's Puritain ways. He ends up slacking on his real job in order to take care of the deli. He meets some suspicious characters in his days of working in the deli.

I liked this book. I liked it because the author doesn't lie about the fact that he has troubles with this. He and his wife have troubles with their relationship as well as the relationship with her parents. It is not easy. He doesn't try to hard to make it a funny book or a witty one. He just tells the story like it is.

In fact, sometimes I almost wished he would be a little more reactive. He seems so blase about some of the things that happen. As if he is a journalist reporting the story, and not someone who it actually happened to. For example, in the store, which they take over from a previous owner, there are several "regulars" who come in every night and drink beer in the store and just hang out getting drunk. Ben does not express very much fear or worry. He just seems to go with the flow, whereas I would be a bit stressed. Maybe he is but just doesn't portray it in the book.

It was also interesting to learn about some of the Korean traditions, which I had never heard of. Some of them are strange, but intruiging. I also love the description of the hard assed, hard working, take no nonsense, immigrant Mother-in-Law. She would be a great person to have on your side but a horrible one to have against you. I could totally see myself butting heads with her.

The wife is also interesting. A child of immigrant parents, she is torn between the Korean and American ways and values. It would be hard, I assume, to have to deal with her American husband and her Korean mother. She is often put in the middle, but luckily she is a strong character and comes out of everything just fine.

This book was a quick read and I enjoyed it very much. I had no problems turning the pages on this one.

I give it a 4 out of 5.

NOTE: I recieved this book for free from LibraryThing in return for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.


More Where I Live

I started the Where I Live series back in January and have done it a couple of times before. Below are the links to previous episodes.

I love where I live and I love taking photos, so it's just a way to show some of my favorite places and interesting things in the area. Oh and OF COURSE, I love Spring! Even though it's been snowing lately. Enjoy!

What do YOU love about where you live? 

covered bridge


snow in May

snowy highway

road to nowhere

passing lane ahead

baby birds


You Know You Are From a Small Town

My parents live in a small town. Actually, where they live is not even a small town. To get to a small town, you have to go about 40 miles. And there is no Walmart there. All you will find is trees.

Let's start with the area my parents live. The place they live has a name, because where we are from, if there are two houses next to each other, you name it. That way you can use it as a landmark. However, many of these landmarks are only known about by the people who live nearby. For example, Jack's Place, which is probably a cluster of 4 or 5 houses. You would say, "to get to my house, use the pull out on the right about 100 feet past Jack's Place". Which is fine if you know where Jack's Place is. You won't find it on Google maps, or probably any map at all. It's like a secret cult. You have to find a local to find your way around. Otherwise you will be driving in circles looking for a sign that says, "Jack's Place, Population: 8", and you will never find it.

You don't have road signs. To find something, you may use the name of the bend in the river, the gold mining claim, a creek, a powerhouse, a dam or somebody's house.

Everybody knows everybody. A couple of weekends ago, we drove about 60 miles away from home and had breakfast at a restaurant in a different "bigger" town and my Dad pretty much knew everybody in the place.

In the big town, we now have not one, but TWO stoplights. I remember when the first one went in. It was such a big deal -- a stoplight! Also, I think sometime around that time we also got our first fast food joint -- Taco Bell. How exciting! Even now, we still only have that and a Subway. Two fast food joints, two stoplights.

I went to school in the big town. We had to catch the bus at 6:40 a.m. and had an hour long (+) bus ride to get to school.

If you tell someone a phone number, you only say the last four digits. You don't need the area code or first three because they are all the same. For example, I would say, "Johnny's number is 1124". Everyone knows the rest is always the same.

We used to party in the woods when we were in High School. There were a few popular spots, which were the same places our parents partied when they were in High School. If I went there right now, there would probably be High School kids there now. All the cops know where these places are -- they probably partied there too! However, they usually just tell you to go home and threaten to tell your parents, who they probably partied with in High School.

My graduating class was about 90 people. I know them all, plus their siblings, and their parents.

I am sure there are many more things I could tell you about small town living, but I will leave you with this story. My friend and I were driving back and forth on Main St and we decided to do a chinese fire drill. After doing it, we turned around and went right to my friend's Mom's work (about a 27 second drive). Her Mom told us to stop doing silly things in the middle of the street. Someone had seen us and known who we were (of course) and told her Mom. 

Are you from a small town? Are there other examples that I am forgetting?



The other day, I received my free sample of Swanson’s items to review. I mostly got vitamins, so they will have to be tested over the longer run, but I also got a bottle of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil to try. I got it out during dinner at my parents house and made both of my parents try it as well as me trying it on spinach (drizzled over, not cooked in). We all tried a spoonful of it and decided it was quite (funnily enough) olive flavored. We didn’t remember our olive oil always being so heavy on the olive flavor, so we tried a different one we had laying around and it definitely did not taste as heavily of olive. In fact, the Swanson’s oil was much lighter and tastier, compared to the brand we had at home, which was heavier, less flavorful and more “buttery”. We all voted for the Swanson’s as the better oil, and I am not just saying this because I got a free sample. I still have not used it for cooking, but am looking forward to seeing how and if it brings out the flavor of the oil.

NOTE: I received these products for free from Swansons in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.


Zippity Do Dah

My oh my, what a wonderful day. As I mentioned, I went to the city of San Francisco this weekend for another round of my favorite thing, SnackaPalooza! Now, you may wonder, what is SnackaPalooza? Well, let me tell you. Basically, it is a pub crawl for food. A food fiasco. An eat yourself silly-a-thon. We generally choose 4 or 5 places to go, and we usually only make it to three. And by the third we are stuffed. At each restaurant, we choose a few "snacks" and everyone shares. This way everyone can try everything, and lots of it.

Here are a few previous SnackaPalooza places.

#1: Berkeley, CA
- Imperial Tea Court (Chinese)
- Cheese Board Cheese & Bakery
- Cheese Board Pizza Shop
- Bay View Cafe (brunch)
- Love at First Bite Bakery (cupcakes)

#2: San Francisco, CA (you can read more about this one HERE)
- A La Turca (Turkish)
- Marni Thai

And now, onto number THREE! Like I said, we chose 5 restaurants, but only made it to three. All of them were in the Mission, so we could walk to each one and pretend we were getting exercise. So here they are:

- Andalu 
- Pakwan
- Limon

The first stop was at Andalu, a Spanish tapas place with more than just tapas. However, we absolutely LOVE the cambozola cheese fondue. It comes with apples, pears and toasties and I could eat about a gallon of it. With or without the dippers. We also had the polenta fries, which come with a spicy creamy tomato sauce. Yum. To top it off, we had a mimosa.


Next up, and just down the road on 16th St was a taste of India, Pakwan. For cheap good eats, this place is great. We got a paneer tikki masala (cheese with spicy tomato sauce) and a palak paneer (spinach and cheese). And of course, a nan, except this time we tried the potato nan, which is pretty good, although I think I will stick to the plain or garlic next time.

Pakwan -- forgot to take the photo until food was almost gone

Last but definitely not least was Limon, a Peruvian place that I used to go to when it was just 8 tables crammed into a tiny space. They have since moved into a bigger space and gotten really popular, which I have to say, I don't like. The food is still great, but they got rid of my favorite dish, the calamari. It was so great, with just a little bit of breading for crunch, but not to overpower. However, they did have a similar thing, the jalea, which was a mixed seafood fried in the same manner. It too was delicious, but I miss the straight up calamari. We also ordered tuna tartar and truffle mac 'n' cheese, which were both also good.


So, after "only" three places, we called it a day and dragged ourselves home.

If I was to go to YOUR city for a SnackaPalooza, where would you recommend I eat?