Thursday, August 30, 2007

One of those books that change your life

There are a few books I've read over the years that I feel have changed my life; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Beach Music, The Kite Runner, Fortune Rock, and Diary of Anne Frank to name a few. Well I finished another one of these life changing books last night: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Khaled is the same man that wrote The Kite Runner which has stuck with me for years since I finished it. Well his new book, A Thousand Splendid Suns was even better than The Kite Runner. It was fantastic to say the least. It broadened my prespective on the world, make me care for people more deeply than ever before, and made me more thankful for simple things like water and family.

The book is about two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, who have very different lives. Mariam grows up in the mountains, in a loveless home and nobody to turn to. Her father marries her off to a man 30 years her senior when she is just 15. They move to Kabul on the same street Laila lives.

Laila grows up in the city, where she has love all around her, and a wonderful life full of education and friendship. She learns that woman can do anything, and education is the key. When the civil war moves to Kabul everything changes for Laila in a blink of an eye, and her neighbor, Mariam's husband, is the only one to help her.

Last night I cried when the book ended, which is always a sure sign it touched my heart.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Love questioner I found online

You might be wondering why I haven't updated my blog in the last week, usually I am very good about it. The truth of the matter is that I've been trying, I've really wanted to upload some videos from our trip onto my blog, but I keep getting an error message. I hope to get them uploaded in the next week though, I think they are a lot of fun.

Anyway, I found this silly questioner online, and I thought it might be a fun blog entry, it is about my love E and I.

1. Who is your man? EJT (his name is Ethan for those who don't know!)
2. How long have you been together? Married one year, together eight and a half years.
3. How long dated? We started dating in our senior year of high school, dated until we were both done with college, and then got engaged. We were engaged for a year before the wedding day.
5. Who eats more? Usually E, but I can hold my own when it comes to sushi, Indian, Mexican, and Thai. E likes the sweets more than I do though.
6. Who said "I love you" first? He did. I said "I'm sorry I can't say the same." (Gosh, I'm so cruel, why did he stick around?). I wanted to say it when I felt it, and I said it about a month later.
7. Who is taller? He is 6' and I am 5'6".
8. Who sings better? He does, by far. E has a fantastic voice, but doesn't often share it. I'm lucky enough to get to hear him sing, and our kitty Mabel is lucky enough (E loves to sing to her), but other than that, nobody gets to hear his beautiful tenor voice.
9. Who is smarter? He is. But I usually disagree with this statement.
10. Who's temper is worse? Mine, I have a hot temper. E stays calm and collected most the time.
11. Who does the laundry? We both hate laundry, so now we have a deal. E puts the dirty clothes into the wash, and switches them over to the dryer, I put the clean clothes away.
12..Who does the dishes? Both of us. We switch off.
13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? I do, always have.
14. Who pays the bills? Both of us, I pay the mortgage and my car payments, he pays the utilities and his student loan.
15. Who is better with the computer? He is, by far.
16. Who mows the lawn? We don't have a lawn, but when we get one, we'll probably switch off (I hate thinking certain things are "man jobs" and other things are "women jobs", that's not my way).
17. Who cooks dinner? I usually do, but E is a great chef. If we are grilling, or dutch ovening, E will do all the cooking.
18. Who drives when you are together? Usually him but sometimes I beat him to it, and we take my car.
19. Who pays when you go out? I do most the time.
20. Who is most stubborn? I used to think it was me, but I was wrong, he is, by far.
21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? Both of us. We actually don't fight often, and when we do, we make up pretty quickly.
22. Whose parents do you see the most? Nowadays, his. His family is more stable, mine is still... Anyway, we see both of our families often.
23. Who kissed who first? Funny story, E and I dated for three months before either of us got up the nerve to kiss. I had kissed before and hated it, so I wasn't in a hurry. E had never kissed before, so he was really nervous. He tried to kiss me a few times, but I hurried into the house and said "goodnight" over my shoulder before he got a chance. Finally one evening I said "we should probably kiss now" and so we did. It wasn't as bad as we were expecting, but it took us awhile to get into it.
24. Who asked who out? We both liked each other, and had gone on a few group outings, but finally he asked me out, he wanted to go ice skating.
25. Who proposed? He did, at sunset in Africa. It was perfect.
26. Who is more sensitive? Hmmm... maybe we are both the same.
27. Who has more friends? About the same, but we only have about five friends total.
28. Who has more siblings? I do, I have two brothers and a sister, he has one brother and one sister.
29. Who wears the pants in the family? I do, I'm the boss. (Poor E).
30. What do you like to do in your free time? Travel, hike, be with family, and snuggle.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The reason I gained a stone

I gained weight on our trip. How much? I don't know, I'm to afraid to look at the scale. All I know is that I'm on a diet now. So what is a stone? A stone is the way some British weight themselves. One stone is about 14 pounds. I didn't really gain 14 pounds, but I did eat really great food. Anybody that says you can't get a great meal in England is totally wrong. We had wonderful food.

I took a photo of many of the things we ate, so, here is why I gained a stone, enjoy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Our trip, in photos

Our trip across the Atlantic and in England was fantastic. Each day we did something new and wonderful. To try to type up everything would take forever, plus nobody would want to read it all, so instead, I’d like to share some photos, and I’ll write a caption for each:

This was our room on the ship. E and I joked that we were in steerage, because we were paying the lowest fare. We got a very comfortable and very tiny inside room, so we had no windows. However, we did have a king sized bed, a mini bathroom with shower, a small desk, and built in closets so we could unpack. We loved our little room.

The Queen Mary 2 had a lot to do, and a lot to explore. We could go to lectures, classes, wine tasting, planetarium shows, relax near the handful of pools, or read in the library. E and I loved the library, it was very classy and comfortable, plus it was on the front of the ship, so you could sit in a number of cozy chairs and look out towards sea.

One of our favorite parts of the ship was the observation deck, which was located right below the bridge. Each morning we would head out to the observation deck to get a reading on E’s GPS so we could track our progress across the ocean. Many days were foggy and the sea was black, but some days it was clear and beautiful, which is unusual in the north Atlantic. And see those things at the bottom of the photo? They are extra propeller blades, stored on the deck like modern art.

One of our favorite things to do on board the ship was high tea every afternoon. We would dress up, and head down to the Queen’s Ballroom for tea. Waiters would walk around with teapots always eager to fill your cup. There were also waiters with finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and a dessert tray. All of this was wonderful. E and I always tried to sit near a window; the Queen’s Ballroom was located low in the ship so you looked out the window at almost the waterline. One day, while sipping tea, I watched dolphins, and other days I just saw the dark churning sea beyond the five paned glass windows.

I’ve mentioned before, we decided to bring Chuckanaka along with us, who is E’s Ugly Doll. Chuckanaka is a worrywart, just like E, hence the reason we brought him along. Well one night we decided we better get a few photos of Chuckanaka on board before heading to dinner. I took this photo of the two worriers, and I love it. He looks so cute and happy, and E doesn’t look too shabby either!
Like I said before, some days the sea was dark and the air foggy. E and I liked these days just as much as the sunny ones, it made us feel like we were really on the open sea. E snapped this photo of me one morning after doing our GPS reading, I like this photo because I look like how I was feeling: happy.

Once we got to London we had a great time exploring the city. We had been here before, so many things felt familiar to us. The next three photos I took with my new camera with the zoom. I like them because they are all subjects of millions of tourist’s photos, but because I zoomed, they might be a little more interesting.

Here is Big Ben (Big Ben is the clock, not the tower):

Here is the London Eye. I took this photo from across the river, in front of a statue on Westminster Pier. I like the horse statue in the foreground, the London Eye in the background.

And this one is the Tower Bridge (the most famous bridge in England). One day E and I took a boat to Greenwich to see the National Maritime Museum and stand on the Prime Meridian, and I snapped this photo on the way back up the river, right after we had passed under the famous bridge.

After two days in London we headed out to the countryside. Our first stop was Lacock Abbey, an abbey that was built in the 1200’s, but has been more recently used for filming Harry Potter movies. The Abbey was magical, it truly was, and this photo is my favorite out of about 900 that I snapped. I hope you like it too.

In addition to old Abbeys and abandoned castles we visited, we went to a lot of gardens. Both E and I LOVE gardens. It might sound weird, but they are honestly so beautiful and magical. English gardens are like nothing we have in Utah. In the five days we were in the country, E and I went to at least half a dozen gardens, each better than the last. Here are a few photos of some of the gardens, and if I can figure out how to upload a video on YouTube, I’ll post a video I made here of one of our favorite gardens.

The Cotswolds are towns that look like they are straight from a storybook, it is honestly hard to imagine people living in these towns. Each is tiny, with a church in the middle. This is a photo I snapped of a typical Cotswold town.

And the cottages have just as beautiful gardens.

We stayed in the town of Ebrington, where we had a thatched roof cottage as a little garden in the back. We are about to enjoy cocktail hour when I took this photograph.

Right behind our cottage was the local church. One night the bells were ringing and ringing, for about an hour, later we found out it was the bell ringing class! Anyway, the church was surrounded by really old and spooky grave stones. Most were covered with moss and were about to tip over, which of course was fun to photograph.

After spending five wonderful days in the country, we returned back to London. We still had our geobug DinglePup, but luckily there was a geochace near by, and we found it in a really creepy graveyard not far from my aunt and uncle's flat. This woman was on a tomb, and it really looks like she has been crying. I might print this photo and pull it out each year around Halloween.

One the last day in London we woke up early, and met our cab driver outside at 6:30 am (we had hired a car service to take us to the airport). The cabby was acting odd, shaking around and driving aggressively. I was still tired, so spent the most of the cab ride with my eyes closed. E, the worrier that he is, was not at all relaxed, and soon he said "Baby!" followed by a swear word or two. I opened my eyes to see us hit the car in front of us. Luckily E and I both had our seat belts on, as well as the cab driver. We hopped out of the car and realized that this was bad, how were we going to catch our flight? Only a moment later another cab driver pulled up and asked us if we were on the way to the airport, he would be more than happy to take us. Thankful for the ride, E and I hopped in the car, and didn't even think of filing a police report until hour later when we were already on the way home. Thank god nobody was hurt. Here is the photo, but I want you to keep in mind, our trip across the Atlantic and England was fantastic, not even a car crash could overshadow that. Plus, now, when people ask "how was England" we can say "we had a smashing time!"

Oh, and another thing, Violet had a great time too, she has a full album and a lot of photos on her blog. Her link is to the right, called Violet's Blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I think I will explode from beauty overload

My wonderful aunt and uncle Dave & Penny, E and I just returned from the English countryside only minutes ago. We visited the Cotswolds for the last few days, mostly spending time in the northern Cotswolds. I need to say one word: WOW! I never imagined any place in the world could be this beautiful. One day I even asked E if anybody ever blew up because their body couldn't handle so much beauty, it was really that beautiful. Each day Dave and Penny had a little plan, so a 'typical' day went something like this:

We woke up around 8:30 in our little thatched roof cottage. After showers and breakfast we headed out, usually around 9:45. The town we were staying in was tiny, not even large enough to show up on most Cotswolds maps, it was called Ebrington. Usually after leaving we headed to a manor house and a garden. This area of England has always had a lot of money, and now many of the huge manor homes are open to visitors, along with the gardens. The gardens were splendid, very very beautiful. Flowers and colors and styles I never knew existed. Some manor homes were built around ruins of older buildings, so behind the flowers ruined Abbeys shaded us. It was absolutely magical. Some of the homes we went in, other we did not. We also went to abandoned castles, ruined churches, and some places that the Harry Potter films were filmed.

After one of these tours of either gardens or castles we would head to the center of a beautiful Cotswolds town for a pub lunch. Each day we sat down and ordered something essentially British. One day we had bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes), one day we had fish and chips, and one day we had a cheese and bread board. Today both E and I ordered a chicken and bacon pie, which was divine. Each day was fantastic.

After lunch we would sometimes walk around town and do some shopping, or continue on our garden tours. We are lucky to have such simular interests as Dave and Penny, because Ethan and I are also most happy in the garden.

After seeing more villages, or another garden we would head back to Ebrington to our cottage. Once there, we would take a little rest, write in our journals, and relax. One evening I walked over to the local church and explored the very old graveyard.

Once we were rested, we would make drinks and snacks and head outside for cocktail hour. We would talk and laugh while eating cheese, fruit, nuts and crackers. Once it got late we would head inside, make a fire in the living room and sit down for dinner. Two bottles of wine later, and lots of laughter, we would head upstairs for bed, only to start it all over again the next day.

I have hundreds of photos, and even a few videos, and I will post them soon, but until then, cheers!

Photo credit: No, this is not a photo I took, but I typed in "ebrington cotswolds" in google image search, and guess what came up? The cottage we stayed in! Yep, it is true, this was 'our' cottage while we were there, perfect, huh?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

We are in London,

We are here! I'll post more later, I'm off to a pub on the river for lunch!

Edited to add:

The crossing was amazing, E and I are so happy we choose to do it. The Queen Mary 2 is a fantastic ship, and everything we did on board was so fun. Yesterday (0ur last full day on board) I wanted to have a chance to relax on deck and watch the beautiful Celtic Sea. It was sunny, clear, and warm, unusual even for August in the Atlantic. I sat on the port side for quite awhile. Far below us E saw something, and then again, dolphins! They were jumping and swimming beside the ship. I sat and watched for another hour, and dolphins came and went.

Today we woke up early, took a motor coach into London, and after our great lunch beside the Themes, E and I went to Parliament to let Violet and Chuckanuka see Big Ben, the London Eye, and Westminster Abby.

Well, now it's late (nearly midnight here) so we are off to bed!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sailing on the Queen Mary 2

I am currently sitting in the library on the grandest ship in the world, the Queen Mary 2. If you are not aware of what this ship looks like, please, do a google search, this ship deserves to be seen.

So far our voyage has been fantastic. Calm seas and blue skys have met us most mornings. The sea has been nice, and I have not had trouble with sea sickness. The ship itself is beautiful, larger than I could ever imagine. From the sea, the ship raises about 13 stories, and is as long as the Empire State Building is tall. Inside there are grand ballrooms, a beautiful spa (ohhh, it is soooo nice) and the most beautiful library. Our room is small and comfortable and the tea service each day is divine.

Before I log off (I'm paying by the minute) I want to post a little exerpt from my travel journal. I wrote this durning tea on Saturday:

E and I are sitting at a beautiful table facing the windows. We are down low in the ship, so we can see the waves and sea outside. The tea is hot and simple, the sandwiches are divine, the scones fantastic, and the desserts great. The servers keep coming around to serve us more and more tea and snacks. The atmoshphere is lovley. White table cloths, live piano off to my right, and the ocean gliding by only feet in front of me. It is deep blue, almost black, and it is churning and turning white on the caps. I sit back, enjoy more tea, and smile as my husband.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Tonight at midnight, Ethan, Violet, Dingle Pup (geocache travel bug), Chuckanuka, and I will board a plane for New York City. Then we will transfer to a pier in Brooklyn to board the second most beautiful ship in the world (the original Queen Mary still gets my vote for the most beautiful).

By tomorrow evening E and I will be sailing across the Atlantic. We will be on board for six days where we will enjoy cooking classes, dancing classes, lectures from Oxford professors, the pool, and as much food as we can eat.

I'm most looking forward to exploring the ship, relaxing in the on board library, and having traditional afternoon tea.

One August 9th we get to South Hampton England and head up to Chelsea London. There we will enjoy a day or two before heading out to the Cotswolds. We have a thatched roofed house rented in the Cotswolds, where we will spend a few nights and we'll have a chance to explore the beautiful English countryside. I am so excited for this portion of the trip, all the photos I've seen of this area are breathtaking.

Then we will return to London via Staford on Avon and enjoy a few more days in the city before boarding a flight to come home.

Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wonderful JK Rowling interview

So, do you have some more questions you want answered from Jo? I know I did. Here is a fantastic interview she gave to her most obsessed fans. These questions are not the lame ones that journalists always ask ('how did you come up with the idea?' or 'Are you sad it's over?'). No, these are the real questions, like "What is Ginny doing now?" or "Why did Fawks not come back to help Harry?"

Happy reading!
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