Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

The Renovation is DONE!

In April, we started demolition on our old, paneled family room, intent on freshening it up with new carpeting and sheet-rock. But first, while we had a wall open, we had a chance to update the last of the old plumbing. Now, I know renovations don’t always go according to schedule. I get that. But complications with the plumbing delayed the family room we’d moved everything out of for over a month. Which meant our contractor went on to another job and had to squeeze us in a day here and a day there. Sigh.

So we didn’t move back into the family room until August. Four months later. And you know what?

WORTH IT! We are loving the “new” room and even managed to keep some of the clutter down when putting things back. A win-win.

Old:

New:

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Where the heck did July go???

Ack. My apologies. I completely forgot to blog in July. With good reason. We were crazy busy. But I dislike not keeping up with my responsibilities.

So, what all happened in July?

1.  My niece-in-law went into labor at 28 weeks with her twins. Very survivable, but it’s been scary times full of prayers. They were born at 2.6 and 2.8 pounds and needed breathing assistance. I’m happy to say they are both now over four pounds and off breathing assistance. Yay! These boys are fighters.

2.  My granddaughter is part of an elite Drum and Bugle Corps. They come from all over and meet once a month to practice. Then, before their performance tour, they met and stayed in a high school for 2 1/2 weeks, sleeping on the gym floor, to practice 10 hours a day. We had the pleasure of catching one of their performances (most of them were in California) and we were in awe. Playing music, walking backwards, counting steps. They were amazing!

3.  Another granddaughter, during her month off from medical school, got married. That was a joyous occasion. They looked wonderful and the weather was awesome for the outdoor venue. Our soon-to-be doctor and her fireman husband are so good together. Seeing them so happy is very rewarding and I’m smiling as I type this.

4.  We had a family campout the weekend after the wedding. Whew! July’s activities, by this time, were piling up and I was getting a touch tired. But this was an easy-peasy campout and we did a lot of relaxing and rejuvenating.

5.  Lastly, but certainly not least, I helped Marie Tuhart with her table at a Readers and Writers conference. That was a total blast. We got to chat with so many readers and other authors. Saw some wonderful table decorations and even sold a few books. I’ve already signed up for the next one on July 24, 2024. So if you think you’ll be in the Seattle/Tacoma area, stay tuned for more details.

So that was my month. Now, I’m grateful for some down time. I’m behind on a book, so need to seriously focus on getting that done and to my critique partners.

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer, with temperate weather and just enough on the calendary to make it fun.

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Delays and Jubilees

I’d hoped to show a finished remodel this month, but we’ve had a few delays. Primarily plumbing. One of the walls we are sheet-rocking has the last of the old plumbing in it. It made sense to redo that last bit of plumbing before throwing sheet-rock up. However, our plumber got in an accident, which thankfully, he will recover from. But it took us another month to find a plumber.

That piping is now all done, thank goodness. And the sheet-rock is up.

But no tape/mud yet. And our guy is fitting us in between other jobs because of our delay, so it might be another couple weeks before the next thing happens.

I find it funny that I’m not a patient person but this isn’t driving me nuts. Since we have a front room and a family room, it’s not a hardship to be without it. At least for me. Hubby wants his space back. 🙂

With all that’s going on in the world, I send prayers for all the horrible parts, but try to focus on the happy parts. Like the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which just ended. I may not be British, but I was grinning all weekend as I watched festivities. What an amazing life and accomplishment! And did you all see the spot with the Queen and Paddington Bear? Priceless.

On that smiling note, I’ll leave you for this month. Have a wonderful summer solstice. I hope you get sunny weather at just the right temperature.

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Remodel and Renewal

Remember paneled walls? Not the cool wainscoting or shiplap, but the old, brown, thin stuff with the dark indented lines to make it look like fake wood? Well, that’s our family room in a nutshell. Straight out of the 20th century. 🙂

We made the decision that it was time to bring the room into the 21st century. The paneling is gone. Hallelujah!  My husband did all the demo and is in the process of re-insulating the room.

Then the plumbers come in to re-pipe the last part of the house that hasn’t had new plumping since it was built. After that, it’s sheetrock time! I can hardly wait to see what it looks like, and I’ll have to post finished pics if/when we ever get this done.

Once the sheetrock is done, it’s time for my project. Cleaning the fireplace rock.

I’ve done some research into it and it just takes time. I’m also considering re-painting the grout. The sheetrock will be so light, I think the grout will look dull in comparison. But, I won’t be able to decide until I get the rock cleaned.

While waiting for my turn, I decided to get away from it all and renew my psyche in my happy place. The ocean. Whether calm or blustery, it soothes my soul.

I hope you have a place you can head for to renew yourself. We all need that sometimes, eh?

Have a wonderful May!

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Firsts

The last month has been quiet for us. Not a whole lot going on, except writing for me, and getting the garden ready for the year for hubby.

I walk every day and post pictures from my walks on Facebook, so I probably shouldn’t duplicate those here, although here’s a neighbor’s tree that looked so beautiful in the morning sunlight, I have to share it.

I thought this month that I’d talk about back when I first published. Many writers self (indie) publish their books and I do that as well.

But my first story got picked up by a publisher. And they were nice enough to call me and let me know that. There is something special about getting that first call. It’s the point at which you start believing all your sweat and tears and hard work is validated. Someone, other than your family and friends, believes in you.

That’s exactly how the call felt for me. The really cool part was how it happened. My mother, one of the best people I’ve ever known, passed away about six years ago. For years before that, I took her to all her medical appointments. She was still driving, but it’s always nice to have someone there to help you understand what the doctor said.

Anyhow, we were in the xray waiting room and my phone pinged that I had a message. It was the publisher who asked me to call them back. I did and got the editor who’d read my book and told me they wanted to publish it.

When I got off the phone, I was giddy. My mom got so excited, she told the people around her. I got applause from everyone in the waiting room and it still, to this day, is the highlight of my writing career. Because my mom was there to share this big moment with me.

Even now, I’m grinning as I remember. It’s one of the happy memories I think about when I’m struggling to stay happy.

Do you have happy moments you can rely on to turn your frown around? I hope so, because those moments are what make life worth living.

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Women’s History Month

It’s Women’s History month, commemorating the vital role women have played in American history.

There are so many women who have helped shape our future, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Harriet Tubman, and so many more it’s hard to find space for even the highlights. Here’s a couple of sites if you’d like to read about some of these amazing women.

https://time.com/5786065/womens-history-month-women-to-know/

I’m choosing to talk about one woman. My grandmother.

She didn’t shape worlds, but she was the rock that shaped our family and she taught us all what it means to be loved unconditionally. And also what was right and wrong and how to be a large family with opinions and differences, but to still remember the love. And what a sparkle in her eyes she had. 🙂

My grandmother, Lila, was one of seventeen children. She gave birth to eleven children, who gifted her with twenty-five grandchildren (including me!) and seventeen great-grandchildren.

That, in itself, is a legacy. But there’s so much more to Gramma Lila. She raised all those children during the war years and the depression. When her husband went off to war, then later, traveled for up to two years at a time for work, she called upon her strength and endured.

Devoted to her family, she loved having us visit and it never mattered if it was one of us or twenty of us. Case in point… Every Thanksgiving Gramma Lila cooked dinner for as many kids and grandkids as would show up. There quite often were more than fifty people sitting down for the meal. And right afterwards, she was back in the kitchen making turkey sandwiches in her famous rolls (that no one has ever been able to duplicate) for us kids to snack on.

(I’m the blue shirted girl hiding on the right. 🙂 )

She taught us that family is everything. That listening was important, as were compassion and understanding. I am who I am today because of her gentle tutelage.

And that pioneer spirit is the backbone of our family’s legacy. Last month, it was forty years since she passed away and we all still reminisce about the our wonderful grandmother and mother.

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Precious Times

Most of you may know my family does a winter getaway each year. We call it a winter cabin that we rent, but with our numbers topping 20, it’s really way beyond a cabin. We didn’t do it at all last year because of COVID. This year, also because of COVID, only 8-12 made it.

I’m really proud of how well we did. We were all vaccinated. We all tested before going to the cabin. And now that we’re past the isolation mark, no one has gotten sick with COVID from the cabin. It took a lot of work to make that happen and the kids worried, especially, about hubby and I. But we did it and I’m really glad we did.

There was a LOT of snow.

We saw deer and wild turkeys.

We painted (a lot). Here’s my attempts at art and my granddaughter’s ocean picture.

And we talked, chatted, ate too much, and yes, may have inbibed a bit. This annual catching up weekend is precious to each and every one of us and I’ll be praying that next year, COVID doesn’t put a wrench in our cabin machinery.

I hope you’re having a wonderful, cozy winter that fills you with happy memories.

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Stresssssssss

I’m done with COVID. I’m just done.

How many times have we said that over the last two years, yet now, it feels like these variants are coming closer and closer rather than diminishing into the hell from which they were born.

How’s that for an uplifting start to a blog? Not very good, is it? Did you feel your shoulders tensing up? Did you shout out: “yeah, go back to where you came from, COVID.” Or maybe you shed a tear from someone sickened (or worse) from this pandemic? I know both, by the way, which is why I can’t take this lightly.

Before COVID-19, I thought I had stressors in my life. Not even close, compared to this. Which made me think that this is a good time to talk about stress relief.

What do you do in order to relieve the stress and function on a day-to-day basis? Hubby and I don’t eat out, but we do get takeout. We don’t do movie theaters, but we do spend more time on movie apps like Netflix. And when we need a getaway, we’ve been renting homes in different places. Okay, so maybe not so different, since I call the ocean beach my happy place.

I’m not a therapist and I don’t profess to be. But after years of dealing with stress, I know a few of the things that have helped me, though I don’t do them enough.

  • Yoga (If I didn’t put this first and foremost, Faye Avalon would be having a chat with me. 🙂 )
  • Taking the time to prepare healthy foods. (Sometimes, just the process of cooking, of focusing on the kitchen and nothing else, can help with stress. Just make sure no one’s in the kitchen with you to disturb your zen moment.)
  • Meditation. (I don’t do this enough.)
  • Music. (Makes me smile just writing that word.)
  • Imagery (like taking yourself for a mental walk through a park or along the beach.)
  • Practice relaxing your muscles. (not at all easy for me to do.)
  • Focus on your breathing.
  • Hobbies (painting, scrap-booking, whatever makes you smile.)
  • Exercise. Take a walk or pick up that page of physical therapy exercises you know you have laying around somewhere from long ago. Not that I have a list like that. 😉 )
  • Garden (hubby’s preferred method for de-stressing.)
  • Positive affirmations. (Today, good things will happen.)
  • Be grateful. Take some time to think about what’s good in your life.
  • Got a to-do list? Take another look at it. Pare it down to a level that doesn’t stress you out.

Hmmm. I know there’s more, but I can’t think of them. Do you have things that help you reduce your stress? I’d love to hear about them.

Here I am out walking. 🙂

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Holiday Food

Ham or turkey? Which one do you like better? This question seems to come up for me every US Thanksgiving. I’ve always been a turkey person and not big on ham. This year, instead of cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner here, we went to our son’s where he cooked a smoked ham from the local meat shop. Boy, that just about changed my mind and moved ham to the top of the list.

The very next night, we went to friends’ house where she cooked a spiral ham with a drool-worthy glaze on it. Wow. Ham got nudged just a little bit further up on that list. But the day after that, I finally got my turkey. Sorry, ham, you got beat out again. 🙂 And, in the aftermath, I’ve had too many of my favorite treat: turkey and mayonnaise on a homemade roll. (wiping the drool from my face.)

Now, with that holiday in the past, it’s time to turn our heads toward the remaining holidays. In fact, Hanukkah ends today.  Then there’s Christmas, and Kwanzaa, and Boxing Day, and more than I can go over in a blog. Here’s a link if you want some of the history behind these celebrations.

More holidays means more food. More baking, more carbs, more of everything. It’s the time of year when I have to be the most careful about my weight and I’ve failed already. So I’m on a mission to find lower fat ways to enjoy December. I love the Taste of Home website and have gotten a few recipes off it. Here’s their healthy Christmas collection link. I hope you find something useful in the article.

Have a wonderful, peace-filled season, and a safe and happy entry into 2022.

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Gallery

Happy Place!!!

Picture me dancing circles in the sand at the ocean on a blustery, rainy day. That’s my happy place. Rain and all. First winter getaway to the Pacific Ocean on the Washington Coast and I am sooooo happy top be … Continue reading