Category Archives: fun

Pushing A Little Harder

So here we are, another month zooming by and we’re halfway through the year already with Midsummer’s Day upon us this weekend. And what a strange year so far it’s been but at least we are slowly returning to normality, or should I say most of the world is. For Dave and me, life has gone on pretty much the same as normal and we’ve enjoyed ourselves. Both in the garden enjoying the glorious weather the UK has experienced the last few months, and indoors, with the TV turned off most times as we’ve listened to music, played computer games, chatted, shopped a lot online, and generally doing not a lot. The planned editing and rewriting work necessary on my latest novel has come to a standstill. Not for any particular reason but I think most of us have during these peculiar times, lost the impetus and mojo. Mine’s slowly returning. Slowly being the operative word.

Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting and pushing myself out of my comfort zone with my art. For my birthday back in April, Dave treated me to some watercolour pencils. I don’t do watercolours, so this was a big step away from the normal. I’m still practising with them and as yet do not have anything I’m willing to show anyone but one day…

Spring brought forth such beautiful flowers this year and as you know, I love flowers, so I thought I’d paint something different from the usual bluebell scenes, painting lilacs instead after having picked a few sprigs whilst out walking and seeing many photos in magazines and online.

For this work, I painted a different way, one I’d only tried once before, that is painting in most part with cottonbuds instead of a brush. It’s a simple technique – use 1 or more cottonbuds secured together with an elastic band and dab on the canvas. I think it worked well and will certainly be using them again. Apparently, it’s a great fun way for children to paint too.

With my next painting, I pushed myself even further. I am not good at painting or drawing people but often felt my landscapes would benefit from the inclusion of figures. But oh dear! This has often led to the ruination of good work. Then last week, I saw a few photos of the new little lady in our family – little George’s (who’s not so little now) new sister enjoying a day out with her mother at one of the UK’s lovely horticultural gardens.

One photo in particular caught my eye, and because you couldn’t see Daisy’s face, I thought it a good starting point. Also, as she wasn’t fully in the frame, I had to work at drawing the missing part of her figure. I’ve included the original photograph as well as the result of my efforts and hope I have captured her as best I could for the moment.

It worked out well, although the freehand drawing of her I did as practice before committing to canvas was actually better than the one put down using the grid method. Perhaps I’m not so bad as I think! Regardless, I still need to practice my people painting skills, perhaps one day even venturing as far as doing a portrait. Watch this space… but don’t hold your breath.

See you next month, when I hope to bring you an update with news on how little George is progressing. Meanwhile, stay safe, stay happy and enjoy life.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

February Fun and a Bit of Sadness

Jillian here.  I was going to get this post done on the 6th and set it to go off on the 9th like I am supposed to but since I wanted to write about what I had going on the weekend of the 7-9, I figured I’d wait until I got home and share what happened. When I got home, I posted a picture on FaceBook and then was hurt and sad and lost all motivation to post about what had been a wonderful weekend.  Back to that in a second.

Friday night, I was happy to serve as a judge for the Regional session of the National Moot Court competition. It’s hosted by my law school and since I’d already committed to a book signing on Saturday with some friends in Alabama, it made sense to volunteer to do this as well as I’d be in the area (about a 3.5 hour drive from home).

It was a great competition and seeing these law students be so passionate and competent about the fact scenario they were assigned was wonderful. The law schools are doing an excellent job teaching advocacy. When I was in law school (In the dark ages) we didn’t do moot court until our last semester. Some of these students were second year and very well-versed in how to try a case. Makes me proud of the changes in legal education.

The next day was the book signing. It was the last event I’ll be part of in RWA. My membership expires in March and I won’t be renewing. I’d have resigned but I had this event with ladies I love and treasure so I stayed for it. I hate to leave the Birmingham, Ala chapter but I can’t countenance what is going on in the national organization.

I sold some books, met some new readers, someone who used to work for me here in Pensacola who moved up there, and also some old friends. My sister-in-law and her daughter live up that way and they came to see me as well. It was lovely for them to be there and supportive and buy a copy of each book I had.

Here comes the sad part:

One of the other authors took a photo of my sis-in-law, my niece and me.  I usually don’t allow pictures of myself as I am embarrassed about my weight. I never had an issue until my second child was born and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to lose. It’s even worse since I had my hysterectomy. I beat myself up every day about it. I am hungry a lot of the time- I don’t snack- I eat my three meals – even my son says he can’t figure out the issue since I don’t eat a lot.

Against my better judgment, I posted that picture on FaceBook. A woman I’ve known since I was a little kid commented with a rose emoji at first.  Then she must’ve thought about it a minute and came back with “You’re still pretty even though you’re fluffy.”

I can’t even imagine saying that to someone. Believe me, I know I’m fat. I see myself in the mirror every day- I am always beating myself up about it. I sure don’t need her pointing it out. I was so hurt, I couldn’t even think the rest of the day. I cried off and on- silently – and even almost didn’t eat dinner- which was just grilled pork and a cob of corn. I am still sad today. I’m embarrassed enough without someone calling me out on it. I want to hide. All the time.

I’ve always been a happy person with a love of laughter. I hate that she stole my joy. I can’t get her words out of my head.  All I keep hearing is, “You’re fat but still pretty.”

Guess what? I don’t feel very pretty.

 

Late Again- But I WAS Thinking of the Blog

Yesterday was my day. On Tuesday, I made myself a note to do my post. On Wednesday, the 9th, I told my paralegal I didn’t know what to talk about. She had no clue either. I went to court, still thinking…. nada.

Around 4:30, I got a text from my niece and I mentioned something to my paralegal about her. Paralegal Extraordinaire said I could use that as my blog post. BUT I had already turned off my computer. I said I’d do it when I got home….well… I couldn’t  log on at home as I forgot my password (It’s saved on the computer I left at work)- So, here I am today, a day late and a brain cell short, putting out my post.  🙂

My husband has a number of nieces, but I’ve always been particularly close to one of them- she was 15 and I was 21 when I married her uncle and we’ve sort of had a sister relationship. She has two daughters. One is married and has five children. The other one got engaged at Christmas.

I am super excited that my great-niece has invited me to go with her, her mom and sister (and her two daughters) to shop for her wedding gown. I didn’t get to do that with my daughter-in-law so this is my chance to have that fun excursion. There’s a show here in the US (for UK readers who don’t know) called “Say Yes to the Dress” – the main show is in NYC, but they have an Atlanta, Georgia set show as well. My niece has her appointment at that salon on her birthday in February. I am super excited to be part of her journey and so happy for them both. He’s a lovely man and so good to her. He’s going to fit right in with our clan.

kes and Anthony

 

Did someone say biscuit?

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends across the pond. While we Brits don’t celebrate the way you do, we can all appreciate being thankful for our many blessings.

With that in mind, I thought it was about time for a ‘Ms. Vivvy’ post and a few photos. She’s five now (where does the time go?) and a constant source of joy in our lives. A real character; life with her is never dull  🙂 She loves food, sleep, her daddy, food, walkies, food, visits to grandma, the beach, and…food. As long as there is food on the horizon, she is a happy girl.

20190827_153439This is her waiting for a biscuit/treat face – when she’s at her  happiest!  There isn’t much she doesn’t like to eat, but her favorites are blueberries, slices of apple, and peanut butter. Top of the list though is cheese. She will do anything for cheese!

20190810_195408She also loves being at the beach, especially digging in the sand. And after a long walk on the beach, a quick swim, and playing with lots of other dogs, there’s nothing like a really good rest back in grandma’s back garden, always with a weather-eye open for something edible that might be on offer.

A daddy’s girl, she is quick to show her displeasure if he dares go out for the day and leave her behind. After giving me the evil eye, she grabs her favorite teddy, trots out into the garden, and lies with her back to me as if it’s my fault that her beloved daddy has disappeared for a few hours. It’s really like she’s giving me the cold shoulder! And it’s only the shake of the biscuit tin or the click of the cheese box that will bring her around, and she’ll trot back inside wagging her tail and all is well in her world again.20191105_092122

As I said, she’s a real character and keeps us on our toes. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. We certainly love our little princess, and she has us very firmly wrapped around her paws.

 

 

Spring in November

C12D3BB9-7B5A-432B-8959-31DD8D13C38FSince we won’t be going to Arizona this coming January we decided to take the month of November to get a respite from winter. By leaving the end of October we felt safe in changing the route we usually take and instead traveled along the Columbia Gorge to Boise and then cut down on Hwy 93 at Twin Falls.

I’ve been on 93 as far as Wells Nevada quite a few times but it’s been a lot of years since I’ve been on it into Ely.  We saw a smattering of snow and Ely was experiencing some really cold weather. We spent the night there and it was supposed to get to -7 the next morning.  Karen and I dug out sweatshirts and winter coats, but it didn’t last and as we got closer to Vegas we were on the side of the road getting back to t-shirts.

Travel traffic was good until we got to Vegas. Oh my gosh, we deserved a couple of gold stars for that part of the drive. Their freeway design looks like a bowl of spaghetti.  The navigation was almost continually pointing us to take exit this, then a left, then exit that, we finally landed off the freeway and found ourselves in a downtown area. The navigation was still trying to direct us back into the freeway system, but about the time we were ready to give it another go we spotted ‘Las Vegas Blvd.’. Ah ha, Luxor, where we were staying,  is on this street.  We turned north, wrong, and after what seemed miles we turned around and started south. Now at least the distance on the navigation screen was reducing, but it was still trying to get us back on the freeway.  7 miles out we puttered down the Blvd watching as the distance between us and our destination decreased.  All this time the navigation kept chattering. The bright side of our driving adventure was that Karen hadn’t been to Vegas for years and was enjoying the view. Me, all I could see was cars and more cars. It was early afternoon but it looked more like it was in the middle commute time.

So Vegas, we bought a bus pass that enabled us to hop on and off all day. The route took us down the Las Vegas strip. A friend had told Karen to be sure and see the Venetian.  I agree it’s a must see. If you go take a look at the shop area’s  ceilings.

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Another must is the Bellagio. The conservatory defies description. Pictures don’t do it justice, but here’s the link for them.  They change the theme with the seasons and the tigers were there when we were.  They are one of the animated displays.  We played a little and browsed the Conservatory gift shop.  Then had a drink at the piano bar under a ceiling of Chihuly glass.  Loved our time there.

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Linda (friend since second grade) and I were in Vegas in 2016 and had happy hour at Trevi an Italian restaurant in Caesar’s Forum shop area where the ceiling looks like the sky.  Karen and I found it on this trip and it was as good as ever.  I had a salad … the picture it says it all.  We had a Trevi Bellini drink, a repeat of  2016.  Believe me if you go to Vegas you won’t want to miss at least stopping at the Trevi for a drink. 0B6595E9-44FE-432A-A0ED-88F9A3BE83AD

 

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From Vegas it would have been a short day to Glendale even with going through Oatman.  It was Halloween and we expected to get in early and stop for candy but hit construction. They closed the freeway so it turned out to be a two hour detour.  Again, a real driving experience.

We’ll be heading back after Thanksgiving but have so loved Arizona in November we may do it again.  A lot of pool time and lazy days.

 

 

 

 

 

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Busy November

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Jillian here. Happy November. This month is chock full of happenings. The first weekend, I spent with writer friends at a lake house about 2.5 hours from me. My friend’s uncle owns it and he allows her to use it … Continue reading

Hobbits, anyone?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a J.R.R. Tolkien fan.  I love The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. My brothers are the same. We’ve each read the books, ahem, a few times. And we went together to see the movies. I even sent them quiz questions for a week before the movie premiere. 🙂

Since I have yet to determine a way to visit Hobbiton, in Auckland, New Zealand, that doesn’t involve a 14+ hour plane trip (which I may still make one of these days), I have to get my thrills locally.

I haven’t been there yet, but there’s a hobbit house in Washington State. And, get this, it’s an airbnb rental! If you want to read more about it and see pictures, check this blog:

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Recently, I found out there was a real, live, hobbit house within easy driving distance, at The Brothers Greenhouses. So on a nice, sunny, warm day in mid-October…yes, Washington State gets sun in October…we took a drive with friends to check it out. And it was a blast. It’s tiny inside, not fully built out, but the door and the ambiance were amazing. After touring the tiny home, we sat enjoying the sun, then strolled through the many greenhouses filled with plants, as well as the gift shop, with all sorts of little hobbit and fairy village trinkets to purchase.

 

I did purchase a little something for my tiny whiskey-barrel hobbit house. A miniature whiskey-barrel (not pictured). 🙂 A little memento to make me smile. This was so much fun.

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Oh, and just as exciting…okay, maybe more exciting, my newest romance novel, Rudy’s Heart, released last week. You can find out more about it on my website.

Have a wonderful November, everyone. And, for those who celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving, have an awesome, tryptophan-filled, tummy-stuffed day!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Coloring Books They’re Not Just For Kids Anymore

I did a dumb trick the other day. I downloaded a coloring app to my iPad. And now I’m having trouble getting my nose out of it. It’s like – – “One more color, then one more. Okay I’ll just … Continue reading

Cats RULE!

Jillian here!  Happy Monday-  Or is that an oxymoron?? I’m not having a bad day and hope none of you are either. Hobbes is a bit upset with me, but it’s really his fault. I was trying to get something out of the refrigerator and he put himself under my foot. Really– I swear that’s what happened. By his reaction though- it was as if I’d taken aim and tried to demolish him….. wait….hellllp…

Hobbes here-  I just shoved that woman away from the keyboard. She’s in big trouble. I may never speak to her again… stepping on me like that…what was she thinking? She’s as big as a moose and I can’t help it if she can’t see. I’ve been trying to tell her she needs to go have her contacts upgraded if she’s that pitiful at seeing such a handsome guy as me.  AND I know she was going to pour milk in her glass….and not share one bit with lil ole me.  Shame on her.

As soon as she stepped on my toe, she tried to capture me and who knows what she’d have done next? She pretended to want to apologize, and who knows? She might have meant it, but you know what? I have to show her who runs this taco stand. She must be given the silent treatment….at least until she comes home from work this afternoon and opens the snack bar.

Shhhh.  Don’t tell her my belly and I are going to forgive her….Let her sweat-  that’ll be easy since it’s still in the 90’s here.

Hobbes: Over and out.  Happy September… Nap time for all good kitties!FullSizeRender

When is enough too much?

So this week I went shopping with a friend who wanted to buy two new bras. After trying on what seemed like the whole shop, she eventually found the perfect pairs and all was well. It was a blistering hot day and by the time we got back to her place we were both gasping for something cold to drink. We sat under the shade in her garden and I spotted several pairs of lovely lacy bras in a variety of colours drying on the washing line. Why did she need more pairs, I asked? Her reply was that she wants her bra to match her outfit. What? Needless to say, I felt woefully inadequate with just a black bra, a white bra, and a flesh-coloured bra, in my possession, but they serve me well enough.

IMG_20190723_211537_706Before I left, my friend showed me one of her ‘bra’ drawers. I counted twelve pairs, plus the five on her washing line, and the two new pairs she’d just purchased.

20190728_144159I was still pondering on this the next day as I put away some freshly-ironed clothes and realised I shouldn’t have been so quick to tease her on her bra fetish. I counted fifteen pairs of leggings. Okay, I do yoga and attend classes regularly, but fifteen? I certainly won’t be needing any more pairs anytime soon, but then I did just see this adorable pair online…and sixteen is such a nice even number, isn’t it?

How about you? Is there anything you collect to excess?