Cherry Blossom Festival and Hike to the Cross

This was a fun day. My daughter sent over a link to a local festival so I decided to call my cousin-in-law up and head on over to check it out. One thing I love about Idaho is that there is never a shortage of festivals, no matter how grand or simple. So I thought this would be fun. Discovered it was also a bit educational (they have a radio station you can listen to where they give you information as you’re driving through the orchard and signs aplenty to pass on tidbits of trivia and information!)

Cherry Blossoms!

The title of the festival did not disappoint! We paid $15 to drive through, we’re allowed to stop and pull over at the beginning to take a picture, and then we just followed the vehicle in front of us to see all of the blossoms. They didn’t just have cherries, but also apple, and – soon – peach! I will definitely be back to see what kind of peach action they have in a few weeks.


Once we were done driving through and picking up some goodies at the store at the end of the tour (think dried cherries, dried cherries covered in yoghurt, dried cherries in dark or milk chocolate) and then some donuts (how can you pass up donuts?) and we were off! Michaela asked if I wanted to go for a drive so we tootled around a bit and then as we approached Marsing, I saw the cross on the hill. Can I just say how wonderful it is to see when people decide to honor Jesus in a really big way?

No idea if this is private property or if it’s a local hot spot or if there is some backstory somewhere on the internets, but I decided to check caution at the door (I twisted my ankle BADLY a month or so ago and so it’s very tender) and suggest we walk to the top so I can get a closer look.

That doesn’t look far!

The walk was basically nearly straight up so I had the fun reminder of how desperately out of shape I am, but we made it to the top. The one time, I’m grateful for the “winds of Idaho”.

Love that cross against the blue sky. A ways away yet.

So after a few minutes we made it to the top. We’re not entirely sure what the picture below is for. Maybe for a gathering of people?

Just a covered area with a few crosses in the wall

Wandered around a bit, caught my breath, and then headed to the tippy top of the hill. No twisted ankles, no heart attacks, no embarrassing throw ups.

One perspective. Cool rock.

And then we made our way around again. And this is my favorite shot.

Purple graffiti, but I don’t care. Reminds me of royal colors.

And then I turned around and we could see the whole valley. It was worth the walk and the huffing and puffing for sure. So pretty. I am so grateful for the beautiful sky. Idaho has some of the most beautiful skies I’ve ever seen.

Oh, hi, world! I’m up here!

And then we wandered down and I realized it’s more treacherous going to down than it is coming up. One small slip (no re-twisting of ankles, thank goodness) and then we were back at the car and ready for food. 🙂

Paint By Numbers – Oil on Canvas: Newb Alert

I guess a pandemic is a great time to try something new. Several years ago, I took a watercolor painting class with a friend of mine from work. I had a great time. We learned stuff. It was social.

I sucked, but I didn’t care.

So I decided to try some paint-by-numbers with acrylics. I found a bunch on Amazon, picked a painting I liked, and ordered it. For fun, I decided to take a picture every step of the way because, frankly, in the beginning everything just looks like spaghetti.

So here’s the progression. Enjoy! 19 different colors of paint on a 16×20 canvas.

By the way, the painting I chose has special significance, which I’ll explain at the bottom.

Two colors – barely could see the promise
Ooooo green. I get trees are in here
Loved the vibrant blues
Some deeper blues – starting to come together (ish)
More blues – ok now I”m getting fatigued on blue
How much more blue can there possibly be? Tough because the lightest blue required several coats
Oh thank goodness, something new. Ooo…like brick!
WOW that’s some orange – I’m beginning to get excited
Ok this is feeling like a painting now
Carpal tunnel, but more shades of brown/orange
Suddenly the painting has depth. Holy smokes, when did that happen?
Now we’re moving into the yellows
Feeling like an almost artist
What is that, lime green? Whatever works.
Now the pale grays and touch-ups. And all the numbers I missed along the way.
Finished!! I love it!!!

Finished product. Mostly. I have a few items I want to go back and darken up (if you really look closely you can see the numbers if the color is particularly light.

Significance of this painting explained: The setting reminds me of Amsterdam and that is where my husband and I traveled to for our honeymoon over 20 years ago. So since Valentines Day is coming up, I thought I would surprise him. The couple in the center just reminded me of us. And the colors were just so darn vibrant.

All told, the entire process took about a week. A few hours in the evening and a few hours on the weekends.

Since our cat passed away a few weeks ago, this was a surprisingly effective way at distracting me from the sorrow (while I focused on painting within the lines) and also is a great way to reduce stress from work, life, COVID, what-have-you. Also, since I walked away from social media, this felt like a great use of my time and energy and – at the end of it – I didn’t feel like I’d just wasted hours surfing. I had a painting to hang up!

I wish I could paint like this naturally, but I can’t. As a “check-box-er”, I like to do step-by-step / bite-sized projects, which is also why I like making bath products. Simple and can be done in an afternoon. Admittedly, this was much more involved, but it was time-consuming, not complicated. (And it came framed, which was nice.)

The kit comes with practically everything you need, but…..

I picked up lighted magnifying glasses (after I found the magnifying light was too cumbersome), a desktop easel, some paint brushes (in case I hated the ones the kit came with), and an artist brush basin so I could rinse my brushes between colors.

Video: Despicable Me’s Best of Agnes

I don’t know how I managed not to see Despicable Me in the two years since its release, but I made up for it two days ago on iTunes.

Can I just say:

Loved it!

I thought it was going to be about some crotchety villain doing bad stuff. Somehow, I totally missed the part about three orphan girls and dismissed the whole matter entirely. Then, a few weeks ago, my husband and I went to see a movie and watched the trailer for Despicable Me 2.

So, for Father’s Day, my husband opted to watch that. (Jack the Giant Slayer was second choice and I totally dodged the bullet on some crime drama.)

Agnes was ADORABLE! I mean cute with the foofy ponytail and big brown puppy eyes, but that voice and those subtle inflections just sold it for me! So, since I’m still high on the cuteness of not only Agnes, but the movie itself, I thought I’d share the love.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Church

So, I volunteer at my church on Tuesdays to help with cooking.  It’s funny that I’d volunteer for this because I don’t particularly like cooking.  I do, however, love to talk and that’s what we do while we’re cooking so it works out beautifully.  Actually, that’s not true.  I like cooking, just not on a schedule.  Only when I’m “in the mood”.  Oddly enough, doing it for a cause makes it fun.  Who knew?

Anyway, so this kitchen has utensils and such, but they’re donated and things get misplaced or disappear or fall apart.  Ultimately, a bit of a mish-mash of stuff.  So I decided, after a quick conversation with a fellow volunteer about how awesome ceramic knives are, to go out and buy some knives so I could take one with me.  That way, I always had the right tool for the job.  Seriously, cutting vegetables with a boning knife does not work.
Coolest Knives EverMy husband and I went to Sears and I picked up these super awesome colour- coded knives.

Red is for meat.

Green is for vegetables.

Yellow is for poultry.

Blue is for fish.

Is that not the best???

Get it?  Water is blue,  and fish swim in water, and so it’s like this whole mental connection to the colour.  Brilliant!!!!!

I joke, but seriously, I was really excited about this.   To know me is to understand that little things like colour-coded knives, like flannel or bubble wrap, make my day.


Okay, so somewhere along the line of falling in love with the pricelessness of the color-coding, I somehow neglected to notice that they’re not actually ceramic.  They’re stainless steel.  But they’re colourful!

Anyway, moving on.  So one of the other issues in the kitchen was that the gloves were a “one size fits all” kind of deal, and anyone who has shrimpy hands like I do, knows that one size truly does not fit all.   On the first day helping out, I lopped off the tip of my glove.  I may as well have been wearing mittens.  So I decided to pick some up.  How hard can it be to find food prep gloves?

Uhm, well, apparently pretty hard.  We went to two stores and everything was this One Size Fits All conspiracy.

So I hopped onto Amazon, spent about 45 minutes researching, and found some really awesome gloves that are not latex, fit like a – I’m gonna say it – glove, and can be found in size small.  AND…they’re purple.  Who doesn’t love to rock the purple when you’re preparing food?  Amirite?!

Okay, for the record, none of this has anything to do with the title of the post.  I just wanted to set the stage.

I’m running late and I knew I’d be bringing my knife with me and a set of gloves.  So I threw the gloves in a ziploc bag (why, I don’t know, to keep them together?) and tossed the knife (okay, I didn’t “toss” it, I placed it carefully, sharp side down) in my purse.  I pranced to the car, high on my own brilliance at finding the perfect glove, and made my way to church.

CHiPsAbout fifteen minutes into the drive, I hit bumper-to-bumper traffic.  Ugh.  Always the same spot, too.  Anyway, I’m just rocking out to my iTunes and staring at the vanity license plate in front of me, trying to figure out the wordplay, when a Police Officer on a motorcycle pulls up beside me and looks over.

And then it kind of dawns on me that I have surgical gloves and a brilliant red knife jutting out of my purse.

I know I’m heading to church to chop vegetables, but he doesn’t know that.  I start to freak out a little, wondering what he’s thinking.  Does he think I’m off to hack up someone and dispose of a body?  Is he going to pull me over?  Am I going to end up on the evening news?  Is there a law against carrying a knife in your purse?

You know how someone says things like, “Don’t look” or “Be cool” to you and your natural instinct is to do the opposite?  I start freaking out.  In trying to be oh-so laissez-faire about the whole thing, I just looked guilty.  Luckily, the police officer just glanced, ignored me (and my obvious distress), and scooched through traffic between lanes off into the wild blue yonder.

Crisis averted.

It made for a great story when I got to church.


[insert word]-sickles:   Fingersickles = cold fingers.  Melissasickle = cold Melissa.

BP:   Big Plan.  As in, “Hey, what’s the BP for tonight?  Dinner and a movie?”

Foofy:   Sticking up, out, or all over the place (as in a bad hair day).

Futz:   To fiddle around with something until it is ruined beyond repair.

Habawa?:   A question.  It means, “come again?”

Melvention:   Something I create.  Maybe I haven’t created it yet, but I had the idea for the invention right?  A melvention.  An intermelvention would be a totally different situation and not at all pleasant so I won’t add it here.

Mish Mash:   A whole mix of things.

Schwack:  Many.  A whole lot.  More than a little.

Smunched:   Squished.  Flattened like a pancake.

Snarf:   To eat very very quickly and with great enthusiasm.

Snockered:  Drunk.

Vocabularical:  Having to do with vocabulary (or lack thereof).


“Let’s roll!”   This means, “Let’s go” or “I’d like to leave now.”  My husband bugs me about this all the time.  He quotes it to me with a deep cowboy voice.  Maybe I’ll change my phrase to “Let’s ride!”

“Break free from society.”   This means do your own thing, baby.  I used to use it a lot in high school.  (Tragic, that I treasure it still.)

“Chaps my hide.”   This means “that is upsetting me greatly”.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”   A favourite of my mother’s.

“I hate rabbits.”   Before PETA shows up at my doorstep, let me clarify!  This is an utterly useless phrase used while sitting in front of a campfire and the smoke has just traveled your way and is choking you slowly.  You use this phrase and supposedly the smoke should go someplace else.  Look, I was a kid.  We thought stuff like that worked.  <g>

“SBD (Silent But Deadly)”:   Not that I’m proud of it, but this was in reference to wayyyyyy too many bean burritos and their charming after-effects.  My sister and I used to love to torture each other with this phrase, even when it didn’t apply.

“Lava Lamp”:   Fun to look at, but not that bright.  (I have to thank my ex-roommate for that one.  I got it from her.)

“Lucy skit”:  A situation so inane that it may as well have been scripted (as in, The Lucy Show).  “It was a total Lucy skit when she fell into that vat of grapes at the wine tasting last week.”

“Mental Margarita”:  I find it incredibly ironic that a woman who doesn’t drink has more than one reference to alcohol.  Anyway, this is when you allow your brain a momentary lapse of intelligence.

“Oddly compelling.”:   A situation or food that both draws and repulses you at the same time.

Monkee Money


You may or may not know this about me, but I had a major one-sided love affair with The Monkees from the time they started playing the series reruns back in the 1970s.

In fact, by the time I was in grade 7, I had a full-on crush on Davy Jones. So much so that I wrote a story about meeting him at a concert and him falling madly in love with me. (Ignoring several key facts such as: I was only 12, he was over 25 years older than me, he lived in another country, I had zits and homework, and so on…).

I had a picture of Davy Jones dutifully taped to my locker in grade 12, I bought every Rhino album I could find on audio cassette in the late 80s, and even picked up a few books on them. I was a fan without the -atic.

I still am.

When Davy Jones passed away not too long ago, my mom found out first and contacted me right away to see if I was okay. I hadn’t realized that I was that transparent! So it got me thinking about them again, and Davy, too. I know that I have that story on a ruled notebook somewhere!

Suddenly, I’m on a hunt for the TV series and I’m buying both seasons on DVD from Amazon, tracking down the remaining Monkees on Twitter, and lurking (I mean “surfing”) their websites.

I can only imagine what it must be like to be so strongly and globally identified with a project that lasted perhaps three years (for the series, not the tours) decades ago.

Watching the show now, pre-MTV!, with the gags and the music brings me right back to those reruns after school, flopped out on my living room floor with my chin in my hands, glued to the television, thinking them all so clever and funny (and probably not understanding half of the real jokes).

So I picked up yet another book and, with it, came these cool Monkees coins. I have what I like to call my treasure chest (in actuality, it’s a Fallout 3 metal lunch box) that I put my Super Top Secret Special ™ stuff in. These coins made a spot in the vault.

Good News: 14-Year Old Chef

You know how I like to pass on good news. Goodness knows we are all inundated by bad news every minute of every day, so it’s nice to see articles like this.

14 years old and the kid gets to work in a restaurant in LA?! At 14, I could barely boil water!! And even then, I’m pretty sure that not only did I burn it, but it probably also somehow tasted like fish.

Happy Reading!

Daily Mail UK: 14-Year Old Wonder-Chef