Wrangler Dani

Writer, editor, marketer and communication strategist. I'm also a wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl and experimental cook living in beautiful Central Oregon.

Archive for the ‘lists’ Category

January 10th, 2017 by Dani

Top Five Moments of 2016

I was going to write a New Year post that I’ve written before (inspired by the ever-lovely Valerie) about my top three movies, books and moments. But I feel like 2016 has been full of moments more than anything else, so I’m eschewing the regular protocol for something more apt.

seattle

Chandelier Mamas Seattle Trip

Within a few minutes of reuniting at Pike Place Market, we were snorting with laughter and eating too much seafood. This group of girls are fun, honest, thoughtful, adventurous and opinionated and I love them ever so much. Baller alert: we rented a minivan and went thrift store shopping. WE ARE SUCH COOL MOMS. (Side note: It feels indulgent to go on a girls’ trip – heck, it feels indulgent to read a book some days – but it is SUCH a good thing. Nobody wants a burnt-out exasperated version of you and we all need a break whether we have kiddos or not.)

Trips to Texas

These two trips get to be together in one moment because it’s my blog and I say so. In September, we went to Fort Worth to meet Addy’s cousin, precious Stella! We also experienced an incredibly hot TCU football game (there’s a famous quote that goes: “Fight ’em until hell freezes over, then fight ’em on the ice!” from legendary TCU coach Dutch Meyer. I do not understand this. Why is TCU football talking about ice when most of the time they play ball ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUN.) Anyway. It was hot. But being in Texas was fun, as always and we love our family so it’s worth it.

Then, in December, we went for Christmas, which was full of warm weather, delicious food, fun gifts, lots of laughter, enjoying family and, OH YEAH – a DALLAS COWBOYS FOOTBALL GAME! Adam and I got to have the experience of a lifetime in a Ring of Honor suite thanks to my lovely in-laws and it was just as epic as you imagine. No, more epic. I mean, Dez Bryant threw a touchdown pass to Jason Witten in the endzone RIGHT BELOW US and wow! My brain couldn’t handle all the awesomeness. It was also amazing to get to share this experience with Adam – babysitters and date nights have been scarce around these parts and this was a date night to eclipse all date nights.

Jacksonville, Oregon

We rented an adorable AirBnB in downtown Jacksonville and had a lovely weekend together as a family. We tasted wine, we went on walks, we exclaimed over the cuteness of the historic downtown (OK maybe that was just me). It was a perfect getaway and a good start to the new reality of Kid Weekends, which are delightfully different than anything we’ve done before.

my baby

Addy’s First Birthday

My baby is one year old. Actually, at this writing she is 18 months old, which is blowing my mind. We had a little BBQ for her (and America, let’s be honest) on the 4th of July, and she ate cake and got a sand toy set and a new truck to ride on and was generally adorable. A few weeks later, the Do family came to visit and SHE WALKED for the first time! I wish that hundreds of people had told me that my life was going to change forever. Oh wait, they did. And it did. But it’s great and I am grateful for it.

New Endeavors

I joined a Creative Non-Fiction writer’s group in 2016 and it is the quirkiest, loveliest group of opinionated scribblers you’ll ever meet. I love them so much. We meet at a home and talk writing and critique each others’ work and drink tea and laugh kindly at our foibles. We range in age from 30-80 and we probably don’t agree on anything except this: good stories well-told matter deeply. That’s enough.

I also became the freelance food writer for our local newspaper’s special projects department, as well as did some more magazine work and communication coaching. I also spoke in public about adoption (Camp Morrow!) and it went really well. God has been pushing and pulling me into uncomfortable places, and with a trembling heart and quivering voice I’m striving to say yes to Him.

nashvegas

Speaking of new endeavors, I went to Business Boutique in Nashville with my dear friend Kate and then-copywriter Hannah. We were inspired and educated, uplifted and given focus. The conference was worth every penny and was truly life-changing – but being in Nashville was extra fun. We ate so much great Southern food, we laughed ourselves silly, we honky-tonked and blues-clubbed, we Ubered and walked down charming sidewalks to little cafes. Kate heroically drove us home through the night after a cancelled flight got us in to Portland at an ungodly hour, and even that was bearable with camaraderie and the reality that everything really is funnier at 3 a.m.

Honorable mentions:

SoCal baby shower for Adelay, a trip to the coast with the Nichols, hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, a lovely pampering spa weekend at Brasada Ranch for my 33rd birthday, getting to have my parents visit for several days/weekends, Labor Day weekend with the always-wonderful Annie P, a new practice of getting regular massages from my dear Kate, an entire weekend with horses at Camp Morrow, teaching at Healing Reins, reading (and comprehending!) books with Addy and getting to have Major here (even though I had to say goodbye, I loved that wonderful old fella).

All in all, 2016 was a heck of a good year. I know that’s not a popular idea these days, but from my corner of the world, it’s very, very true.

February 19th, 2015 by Dani

Spring Manifesto

It feels like Spring around here. Instead of the usual snowstorms and cold flurries of February, we are enjoying bright, sunshiney mornings and warm afternoons. My bulbs are popping up in the flowerbeds and the grass is trying to grow despite the fact that we won’t have irrigation water until April! Since Spring is springing, I thought I would also get a jump on my manifesto for this season, especially since that’s probably a surefire way to get some snow.

Bandit and I, last Spring, right after he came into our family.

Bandit and I, last Spring, right after he came into our family.

So, this Spring I want to:

  • build our outdoor cooking area. We have a Big Green Egg smoker, a grill and a deep-fryer and they all need a home on our deck. We have material and ideas for a nice little cooking area, and this is the time to make it a functional, pretty place.
  • work in the yard, and maybe even plant a little veggie garden. I am no great gardener, but I have a compost tub and a lot of enthusiasm. That has to count for something, right?
  • go camping. We decided to move to Bend while sitting in our camp chairs on the edge of the river, drinking Deschutes beer and realizing that our lives were going to change in a big way. Whenever big life stuff seems imminent, I want to camp, to remind myself that I’m really not in charge and to reconnect with Adam as we forge forward in this adventure together. So this Spring, as soon as the nights quit being so chilly, we are loading a cooler with hot dogs and we are headed for the boonies, at least for a night.
  • enjoy my office. Adam has worked so hard to help me get my little barn office in order, and it’s so much fun to have my own space out there.
  • move forward with therapeutic horseback riding. I interviewed with a local therapeutic horseback riding center and have been helping out there once a week. It’s such fun to be with kids and horses again, and I want to continue getting involved, even in small ways.
  • pursue girl time. Whether it’s a glass of wine on the deck, a weekend trip or just the occasional email or phone call, I want to spend time with the great girlfriends God has given me, and tell them how much they matter to me – even when we’re far apart or when time together is hard to find.

What’s your Spring Manifesto?

January 13th, 2015 by Dani

2014 Favorites

Seeing as how today is January 13, I’m pretty late this party. However, Val made me grin and grin with her list and so she inspired me to write this anyway. 2014, you were a good one.

Top Three Books of 2014

41cqe00ZzsL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_On Writing by Stephen King. I have been told to read this book by approximately eleventy-million people for about a hundred years, and I have never done so until now. It was great – freeing, thoughtful, quirky and a little weird. It reminded me of why writing is fun and why worrying about publishing and politics and trends is over-rated.

breadandwineshaunaniequistBread and Wine by Shauna Niequiest. If you know me, you know I love to feed people – I have since I was making giant cookie sheets of “man-food” in our college-house kitchen. Shauna’s stories and recipes reminded me to keep fighting for what matters – in the midst of looking for a house, finding one and ripping out the old grody kitchen, worrying about next steps – food and love and friendship matter, and they matter deeply. Now that our kitchen is “nearly there” I am once again cooking for parties and humming my way through cookbooks and inviting people over and it feels so good.

love-the-churchWhy We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. Every single Millennial Christian NEEDS to read this book. Church is an oft-maligned institution and even those with the best of intentions so often get it wrong; but with humor, grace and solid reasoning DeYoung and Kluck make a compelling case for not leaving the church, but rather leaving it better than you found it. Inspiring, heart-felt and often scathingly witty. So, so good for the cynical soul.

Honorable Mentions: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell, Infamous Scribblers by Eric Burns, The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais, Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

Top Three Movies of 2014

Lone-Survivor-2013dvdplanetstorepkLone Survivor. I freaking love Marcus Luttrell and I love this story. It’s raw and often painful to watch, but gosh it’s an essential story, picked out of the thousands of essential stories that our service men and women live through every day and never tell. Old fogeys are fond of saying that America is headed for disaster, but while we still have courageous men like Marcus and his buddies, and while we still have talented storytellers willing to bring us their stories, I think there’s plenty of hope to be found.

images-for-captain-america-2-6Captain America the Winter Soldier. AMERICA! Cap is the heartiest, most sincere Avenger, and we love him for it. It’s refreshing that Marvel lets Cap be a 1940’s American hero, and this allows them to play with themes usually off-limits for a popcorn franchise – collectivism and the State vs. freedom and the individual, and what it means to have true liberty: even the liberty to make bad choices. Great movie, great themes, great action, great cheekbones.

interstellar2Interstellar. I wasn’t sure what to think about this movie from the previews, but I LOVED it. Adam and I talked about it for weeks after we saw it, and it was such a fun mind-bending ride. I loved the earthy, grittiness of it, and how the future didn’t suddenly look whitewashed or impenetrable, but rather much like now but with better rocket-ships. See it.

Honorable mentions: Unbroken, Guardians of the Galaxy, Mockingjay Part 1, Million-Dollar Arm.

Top Three Moments of 2014

2014-01-17 09.54.00-1Five-Year Anniversary/St Martin. In 2014, we celebrated five years of marriage. We were living in a little two-bedroom apartment on the East side of Bend, and we’d both started to get rather glum. We were burnt out at work, disappointed in our fruitless house-hunt and a little restless for change – so we flew to the Caribbean! One of my favorite memories of this trip is actually in the Portland airport before we even left Oregon – I bought a chocolate bar and Adam was making me laugh and we were giggling like little kids at recess while waiting for our flight.

Anniversary dinner at Le Pressior

Anniversary dinner at Le Pressior

We rented an apartment on the beach and ate baguettes and stinky cheese and walked the four-mile beach every morning. We listened to French rap and bought chicken, pineapples and ribs from smiling locals, we took a boat to a little island, geocached up a mountain, ate our most swanky and expensive meal(s) to date, Adam translated French for me admirably and we drove a car the size of a tin can.

Most of all, we laughed. It had been such a tough year and St. Martin was the turning of a new page, a time of reconnecting and falling in love all over again. Adam likes to say that there are many kinds of debts we can owe; it’s important to note that the ones to our marriage are often the easiest to ignore. In St Martin, we paid off our debt and racked up capital for the months to come, and it was a wonderful, wonderful thing.

2014-03-14 16.54.06-1

Popping champagne in our new backyard.

Buying a house. I don’t really even know if this qualifies as a moment, because it was a process that completely changed our lives and I still feel like it’s been a wild ride. But coming over here and getting keys to OUR HOUSE was an experience like I have never, ever felt. It was such a long time coming, and we had worked and saved and yearned for so long that I just couldn’t believe it when it finally happened! It’s easy to get caught up in the work that came later and is still to come, the popcorn ceiling scraping, bathroom ripping out, painting, cleaning, kitchen remodel – but I will never forget that first walk around OUR HOUSE – ugly fake wood paneling, dead grass and all. We sat in camp chairs and popped champagne and looked at each other and laughed like crazy people. God is so good, and this house is proof positive.

Guinness. I really wanted to get a dog, and found myself becoming attached to puppies I found on Craigslist (bad idea). I told Adam he had to find a dog for us if getting a dog was the right thing to do, and promptly forgot all about it. I figured that Adam would get a dog in a year or two, taking his time like he always does. So imagine my surprise when “going out for a beer and errand with Casey” turned into this little furball in our lives! It was so fun to have friends here for the surprise, and Guinness has brought so much joy and energy to our little family. We just love her, and we love that we finally have a home for pets and cows and eventually kids.

2014-07-12 15.09.30

So many more moments which also deserve to be noted and can hardly be called mere Honorable Mentions: adventures with out-of-state visitors, whitewater on the Deschutes, helping on my Dad’s Congressional campaign, the Green Egg smoker, new kitchen remodel, Ashley’s wedding, trip to Portland with Holli, signing up to adopt/passing a homestudy, trip to Victoria with friends, getting Bandit, buying cows.

In 2014, we saw God move and we made amazing memories. 2015, the gauntlet has officially been thrown.

January 9th, 2014 by Dani

2013 Favorites

I stole this idea from Val, because she is the best at lists. Also, I know that today is January 9th and so this is pretty late to the year-end party. Oh well, you know what they say: if you can’t be on time, at least say something witty and have a second cupcake. Wait, that’s not a saying? Oh.

My Three Favorite Books of 2013

  • the-casual-vacancy-new-cover-paperback-fullThe Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling – In looking over what I’d read this year, I realize that I don’t read much fiction, unless it was written by somebody long-dead and overly in love with billowing skirts and white waistcoats (Austen, Dickens and I would have been great friends, I’m sure). But I LOVED this book. It was occasionally dirty, but so honest, so heartfelt and so detailed that you couldn’t put it down – a complex portrait of family dysfunction, small-town politics and the beautiful difference that one life well-lived can make. Read it. You will cry like a baby and you will love it.

 

 

  • 9780061348112_p0_v1_s260x420The Indifferent Stars Above, the Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride, by Daniel James Brown – I’m enamored with American history, particularly those brave souls who pioneered the West. Sarah Graves was a newly-married, hopeful Illinois girl who embarked with her new husband and her entire family for the promising, rich soil of California. Everybody knows the Donner Party story – but this book brought to life the details that we miss in our eagerness to talk about the gory aspects: the mistakes that were made early on, the alliances forged and broken, the families who sacrificed everything for each other and their children. It’s tragic and heart-breaking, but also beautiful, because it speaks to the hope and tenacity of the people who made the West what it is today, who endured so much in pursuit of a dream.

 

  • under-the-banner-of-heaven-book-cover-imageUnder the Banner of Heaven, a Story of Violent Faith, by Jon Krakauer – Krakauer is easily one of my favorite authors, and he blends a reporter’s skepticism with a storyteller’s empathy and a historian’s outlook in a way that’s compelling and haunting. The FLDS (Fundamentalist Mormon) movement is fascinating to me, and I love the details, histories and complexities of faith and how we come by it. It seems obvious to me that the more a religious movement tells us what we want to hear, it has ceased to be true and starts to smack of men instead of God. Great book, fascinating history.
  • Honorable mentions: Good Tidings and Great Joy, by Sarah Palin; The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain; Bright Lights, Big Ass, by Jen Lancaster; Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham; The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Top Three Movies of 2013

  • Star Trek: Into Darkness – Gosh I loved this movie. It’s the classic second in a trilogy, (i.e. dark and emotional) but dammit if Captain Kirk isn’t still charming as all get-out. I loved seeing the characters develop past their stereotype (nervous doctor, playboy super-captain, emotionless sidekick) and into nuanced individuals with battles of their own to fight. I watch movies for inspiration and escapism, and this one did it for me.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I love this movie for a very selfish reason, that I identify deeply with Katniss. But other people liked it too, who aren’t as self-centered as I am. Also, I’m Team Peeta.
  • Iron Man 3 (just beat out Thor) – I couldn’t wait for another Thor movie. I was really into mythology in high school and read a ton of Nordic myths, so I think the tie-ins are really engaging. However, Iron Man 3 was an incredible full-circle for Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, so it beats Thor. (Yes, Marvel, you can take all my money.) It was emotionally honest without losing Tony’s signature snark, and allowing Pepper to grow past the hand-maiden and into a heroine was refreshing.

Top Three Moments of 2013

  • Adam and I moved to Oregon. It’s been a wild year and it’s been mostly terrific. Plus, it feels like change in the right direction, which is helpful. We’ve also had a lot of chances at unique Northwestern adventures: kayaking, beer festivals, snowshoeing, hiking, shooting guns, fishing – it’s all been exciting and totally worth the scariness of change. It’s also been really wonderful to have so many friends and family come visit – and you are next on the list. Yes, you. Come see me, and will buy you the adult beverage of your choice and take you on a hike in the mountains.
  • Our Impromptu Labor Day wine-tasting trip to Washington. You know how to revive your soul? Go on a trip with someone you love – no definite plan, no agenda, nothing to be late to – just three days of exploring, laughing, trying new food and getting lost. (Good wine was a nice addition as well). So fun, refreshing and absolutely perfect.
Labor Day 2013

Labor Day 2013

  • Horse camp. I got to go back to the ranch where “Wrangler Dani” was born and volunteer for a weekend. I felt a little old and a little less toned and fearless than I used to be, (all sad truths) but being surrounded by so many familiar sights and sounds was really fun. My old boss is no longer there and many of the horses I knew and loved are long-gone, but some things are the same: the feeling of a saddle in my arms, the gentle murmurings that come out of old cowboys comforting scared horses, the smell of fresh-cut hay and trail dust and wet saddle-blankets. These are moments to live for.

All in all, 2013 was a great year, don’t you think? Can’t wait to see what 2014 unfolds.

September 19th, 2013 by Dani

A list from Thick World

My sister-in-law posted this and asked her readers to play along. Since I am a writing-prompt junkie, I readily complied. Here we go:

  • making: Messes and to-do lists and piles and piles of laundry. Work has been so hectic, lately, and I feel like I’m barely keeping up.
  • cooking: I bought some lovely swiss chard and crusty bread at the farmer’s market last night. Maybe a panzanella for dinner?
  • drinking: Coffee, of course. Although I can’t find pumpkin-flavored creamer ANYWHERE in Bend, and this has pitched me into a deep despair from which only more coffee can rescue me.
  • reading: The Paris Wife, loaned to me by the lovely Jeanna. It’s about Hemingway’s first wife and it’s beautiful and sad and poignant and makes me want to go to Paris and kiss my husband.
  • wanting: a Navajo-ish patterned open-front sweater. It has to be chunky but not to flabby, warm but not too thick. It’s complicated, but I’ll know it when I see it.
  • looking: For a house, of course. The saga continues. I sigh about it a lot.
  • playing: Not much of anything, actually. I did have a few hours of driving last weekend, and I amused myself with singing along to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack.
  • wasting: I feel like nothing is wasted, right now. Life feels like it’s in high-definition, hurdling by too quickly to be mourned or neglected.
  • sowing: Hope for this new Northwestern life. Houses, kids, land to play on. Hope is fueling me as life hurdles by.
  • wishing: That I had a horse of my own to ride.
  • enjoying: The crisp feeling of fall in the air. Anything is possible, isn’t it?
  • liking: My thigh-muscles are tight and my whole body knows it spent time in the saddle last weekend. I’m sore and invigorated, all at once.
  • loving: Friends who call and leave funny voicemails. Emails from far away. Snuggles on the couch. Red wine from Walla Walla. Inspiration in the strangest places. New adventures.
  • hoping: That we will have a house soon and can start the adoption process. Life can change so quickly, and I just know that God did not bring us so far to abandon us now.
  • marvelling: At the strong arms of a good man around me. How did I get so lucky, to find a man like this?
  • needing: More time in the day, and energy to make it count.
  • smelling: My lavender candle and cocoa butter lotion. Smells of comfort and peace.
  • wearing: A new shirt I just bought, with R2-D2 and “May the Force be with you” on the front. I am awesome.
  • following: I’ve been dipping my toes back in the Twitter-verse. Fun? Maybe. Insightful? Definitely.
  • noticing: Grammar. All is grammar.
  • knowing: To write well, we must read well.
  • thinking: About how to save America. Sound grandiose? Clearly you don’t know me at all.
  • bookmarking: I’ve been looking for a new swimsuit for ages, but I finally bought one from Athleta yesterday. Bookmarks begone!
  • opening: The latest issue of Real Simple, a new container of laundry detergent, a fresh package of socks (When I spent several hours in the saddle over the weekend, I got blisters from my ancient socks, so I betook myself to Boot Barn for new ones. So fluffy!)
  • giggling: Adam and I watched Anchorman the other night and I can’t stop laughing about it.
  • feeling: Hopeful, anxious, tired, joyful, yearning.

OK, saddle up, friends. Who’s next with your list?

September 24th, 2012 by Dani

Fall Manifesto

This weekend was bright and warm, an extension of summer. Today dawned cool and misty, and Adam and I stepped outside our front door for a “have a good day, babe” kiss and saw thick fog rolling in, thudding up against windows and doors and seeping into our bones with the cold reminder that autumn is coming.

So now that it feels like fall, I can write about what I want to savor in this season. Without further ado, a list:

  • Drink me some lattes. Gone are the days of iced coffees, here to stay are warm and comforting fancy drinks with cinnamon sprinkled on top.
  • Break out the Crock-Pot. I love my trusty cooker, but this summer has been all about fresh fruits and veggies and our splendid new grill. Now it’s time for pulled pork and beef stew and slow, tender, methodical cooking.
  • Try out some tights. I’m a nervous wearer of tights, having never really figured out how to make them work and not look like the church-lady outfits of my youth. However, this season I’m committed to styling them well, just in time for them to go out of vogue.
  • Go camping. We already have a couple of camping trips planned for this fall and I can’t wait for chilly mornings, long crisp hikes and kayak adventures.
  • Have good political discussion. It’s election season, so tensions run high and stereotypes abound. However, at my other online home I’ve been able to lightheartedly discuss some very serious things, and I can’t wait to continue that. Praying for grace and all the right words.
  • Continue with my writing group, and make inroads on my calling. This is deeply personal and yet needs to be shared. I feel energized by coffee weather and inspired by the amazing writing/editing/publishing brains in my life, blessed beyond belief and hoping that my sweat and tears will eventually pay off.
  • Give and live in grace. God’s been teaching me a lot about grace and how much I need it – now the trick is giving it to others.
  • Laugh, hope, bake, hug, experience, enjoy, savor, create, cuddle, cheer, love.

(Stolen from Katie. Of course.)

 

June 13th, 2012 by Dani

Summer Manifesto (stolen from Katie. Again.)

I know, I know. I’m always stealing stuff from my endlessly generous friend Katie, but what can I say? She’s a more consistent blogger than I and I need prompts, or else this little corner of the internet gathers dust and my thousands of screaming fans fall silent.

Anyhoodle.

Today I’m giving you my Summer Manifesto – everything I want to do, embrace, eat and be this summer:

  • Garden. (I’ve told you guys about my abysmal gardening skills, but I am not to be dissuaded. Plants within a 25-mile radius are cowering in fear of coming to my Deck of Doom, but I WILL OVERCOME. They will live, and they will LIKE IT.)
  • Lay in the hammock.
  • Swim laps at least three days a week. (Adam and I have already started this trend, but my goal is to keep it up. Skinny swimmer body, here I come!)
  • Go fishing with my handsome Hubs. (Since we can walk to the water, we really don’t have an excuse.)
  • Take a couple of long paddle trips in the kayaks – preferably overnight!
  • Take friends kayaking.
  • Grill some tri-tip. Eat it. Eat it all.
  • Go camping.
  • Keep my house clean. (An impossible task for a chronic clutterer, but I am trying!)
  • Experiment with new summer-y recipes.
  • Make smoothies.
  • Get tan. (Let’s face it, this is my goal every summer. Shallow? Maybe. Awesome? You know it.)
  • Read lots of books. Relish them, talk about them, enjoy them.
  • Wear skirts.
  • Make time for friends.
  • Eat fro-yo.
  • Roll in the hay with my fella.
  • Get a massage.
  • Star-gaze.
  • Work and write in a way that brings joy and hope and sunshine to the mundane and finds beauty in the everyday.

 

April 30th, 2012 by Dani

11 Questions from Cakes, Tea and Dreams

(This was stolen from Katie at Cakes, Tea and Dreams because I needed a kick in the tush and a little inspiration this morning. I’d love to hear your answers, too!)

1. What is your favorite book?  Why?

I love Les Miserables because the story reminds me that it’s worth the hard choices to do the right thing, that heroes can win in the end, that evil is real and terrifying and good somehow still gets a chance. I love Jane Eyre because it’s the absolute perfect sappy love story – filled with detail and heart and tough choices and prickly personalities. I love A Tale of Two Cities because the French Revolution is fascinating to me, and so is the idea of self-sacrifice. I love poetry by Yeats because it takes me back to a windy afternoon in Galway, Ireland, the first time I read a poem and it didn’t just wash over me and sound beautiful, but it completely rearranged how I think.

2. What song brings you back most viscerally to a moment in your history?  Where does it take you?

Gets It Faster by Jimmy Eat World reminds me of bloody knuckles and a much-bludgeoned punching bag – taking my broken heart out with my fists. Jealous Kind by Jars of Clay reminds me of my junior year of college, definitely one of my darkest times, when I “gave away my heart to the rushing wind” but was desperately wishing for a jealous God to chase after me anyway. Feels Like Today by Rascal Flatts reminds me of the laugh-lines around Adam’s eyes crinkling up and my heart going pitter-patter as I realized that I might actually be falling for this charmer. Mud on the Tires by Brad Paisley reminds me of long summers at the ranch and changing irrigation line in the dusky evening light, tired but happy. The Finding Neverland soundtrack reminds me of writing my first creative nonfiction work – late at night on my little yellow couch – and getting straight As on it, realizing that maybe there was more to language than just stating the facts.

3. Who is your favorite character in fiction?

Jean Valjean for his honor and complexity, Jo March because I can relate to her in nearly every way, Black Beauty because he is one of the few animal characters ever written who is so authentic and honest, Bob Cratchit for his sincerity, Aslan for being not safe, but good, and Samwise Gamgee for being the most lovable and loyal side character ever written.

4. What is your favorite food?  What about foods you abhor?

I love grilled fish – anything other than salmon or tilapia. I love red wine, baked potatoes, McDonald’s french fries, slow-cooked tri-tip, fresh fruit smoothies, blueberry muffins, peach yogurt, corn on the cob, spinach salad, wild rice, BLTs, enchiladas, sourdough bread, anything with cheese on it, fresh green beans, key lime pie, chicken tikka masala, tortilla soup and ice cream sandwiches.

I despise blue cheese, rare meat, sour cream and brussels sprouts.

5. Are you a morning or a night person?

Morning – although I’m kind of just a beauty sleep person. Not getting enough sleep = cranky, no matter what time it is.

6. What is your default font when you write on your computer?

Whatever Pages chooses. I used to be picky, and now I write too dang much to care. Such is the nature of small business management… the little things slide right on by.

7. How many siblings do you have?  How many children do you have (as of now)?

One brother and sister-in-law, who lead a fantastical, adventurous and well-photographed life in Reno, and another sister-in-law in Texas who keeps the family in line, all of us jealous of her incredible cowboy boots and laughing at everything.

No kiddos yet, although one of these years I’m sure we’ll have a passel, as we hate small life changes. Go big or don’t have babies, we always say.

8. What season do you like best?

In Oregon, I love the fall, when the Aspens turn golden-yellow and the pasture-grass is long and tan. It’s the season for long horse-back rides down dry dirt roads, cutting firewood, soaking up sunshine and preparing for snow to come. In Texas, I love spring, when bluebells appear and green grass stretches for miles, the weather is a perfect 80 degrees and sitting outside seems like the best idea for every meal. Here, in SoCal, I love summer, the season of kayaking, hikes, camping, suntans, bare feet and long days. Everywhere I love Christmastime. 🙂

9. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A vet. Too bad I’m terrible at math and science… (apparently I thought it was enough to just like animals).

10. If you practice yoga (even sporadically), what is your favorite pose?

Warrior. I feel like a bad-ass every time.

11. When was the last time you cried?

Watching Knocked Up on TV last weekend. It’s a really sweet movie, ok?!

April 21st, 2012 by Dani

Saturday List

  • Today I got my hair did. Valerie told me to get with technology already, so I took this picture of myself.
  • My honey has been doing this for the last 36 hours.
  • I’m very proud, although I am a little nervous about the quantities of food he’ll want when he gets home tonight.
  • I’ve had a sinus infection for the last couple of days, and today I think I finally am starting to beat it. I can breathe out of my right nostril now, but my right ear seems to be laboring under the delusion that I am 10 feet under water.
  • Today Ann Taylor and Banana Republic were having sales, so naturally I had to stop in, for research purposes.
  • Much research was done, let me tell you.
  • Although on second thought, some of it might be bogus and need to be sent back to the source.
  • Inland it’s warm and feels like summer. Here at the beach, it’s about 40 degrees colder and foggy. I had dreams of suntans…
  • Sometimes I feel like the universe is laughing at me and my white legs.
  • Until Adam gets home, I think I should do some research into red wine and a good book.
February 27th, 2012 by Dani

Things I love about going to the movies, a list

I really love going to the movies at the theater. Sure, it’s an indulgence, and occasionally you get a lip-smacker or someone who mistakes the theater seats for their therapist’s couch, but usually I love the movies. We just saw Act of Valor last night (SO GOOD, read my review here) and I thought I’d write down all the reasons it’s worth shelling out cash for a ticket instead of waiting to rent the DVD.

  • Seats with removable arm-rests and an excuse to get all date-y and hand-holdy. This is silly, since we are old and married and live together and have a couch and everything, but snuggling up in the movies makes me feel like I’m on a date, and I still get all excited when we put back the arm-rest and get comfy.
  • Candy. I love it, and the theater is one place I don’t have to justify the calories to myself.
  • Ditto with popcorn. We also have a reward card at the theater, so we often get free goodies, which is even better.
  • Costco movie tickets. So cheap! So awesome! So Costco, the best place on earth!
  • Surround sound.
  • Big screen. We have a big TV, but you can’t beat the theater picture and sound, particularly for action movies.
  • Intentionality. You can’t get up and check the fridge, there’s no laptop of work asking for your attention. Sitting at the movies is at least two hours of uninterrupted brain-tune-outage, and it’s awesome.
  • Sharing the experience with friends. Going to the movies in a group and talking about it afterward is unbeatable, especially when you see something particularly awesome or terrible.

What’s your favorite thing about the movies?