Author Archives: Pretty Peony

About Pretty Peony

Photography, reading, and crafting.

Graduation

Over the weekend I graduated with my Master’s degree. I never thought I’d ever get here so I’m pretty thrilled. I started my program in the fall of 2009 and then took a hiatus in the summer of 2010. I had wanted to return but family life was more of a priority at the time. Last summer, the university called me to tell me that if I wasn’t planning on continuing my degree, they would purge my file and I would have to reapply if I wanted to continue later. This would mean I would need to retake some classes. I had put so much time and effort into getting into the university that I didn’t know if I could do that again so I told them I’d continue now. The other thing was that I had wanted to continue a few years back but when I had looked at my program, I thought it had been discontinued. I told them my concern and they said it wasn’t discontinued. It was just under a different name.

At graduation, I learned that I was graduating with honors. I was surprised. I thought I had a B in one of my earlier classes in 2009, but it turns out, I didn’t. I had one A- but the rest were A’s. I know, this is such a small thing but it feels great for me because it was my goal to ace all my classes. In my undergraduate degree, I had so much going on that as hard as I tried to bring my grades up, it just wasn’t possible. So, I am very proud of myself that given the time and opportunity, I’m able to do exactly what I set out to accomplish.

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Below, I tried to mimic a photo taken in May 2009 when my husband graduated with his Doctorate. The little girl (who’s not so little anymore, but still is) is my youngest.

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Loveland Snowboarding

In January, husband went snowboarding in Loveland. He went by himself because I’m not a snowboarder or a skiier. I have been meaning to share photos he took of this little trip. It’s all so breathtaking.

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Our Trip to Florida

Happy New Year! Time is flying by. I can’t believe it’s already the middle of February. Husband and I have been watching the Olympics and I couldn’t believe that four years ago was the winter Olympics in Sochi. It felt like it was just yesterday when that happened.

My oldest daughter competed at a national competiton in Florida last week. We went as a family to cheer the team. This was her first time with her school team so she was nervous. She flew in with her team and stayed with the team at a hotel near Disney World.  Husband, our 10-year-old, and I stayed at a different hotel. After competition was over, oldest daughter went with her team to the theme parks in Disney World.  The three of us went to Sea World since we’ve already gone to Disney World a few years back and wanted to try something different.

First seven photos were taken by pros.

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They placed 11th nationally out of 15 teams that made finals. There were over 14K high schools nationwide that participated. I saw a team from Korea, but didn’t know what that was all about. I’m guessing there was an international competition going on at the same time.

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A couple of views of the main stage. It was a live event on the ESPN channel. The group performing in the photo below isn’t my daughter’s school but is a school just a few miles from where we live. That was the angle of the stage from where we sat when we watched the competition. When our daughter’s team performed, we got to go up front by the pro-photographers. I only recorded because we were purchasing the pro photos already.

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The competition took place at the ESPN Center in Disney World. I was amazed at how big this area was. In the photo below, the shadow in the bottom left is my 10-year-old’s. She took our photo. 🙂

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2017 Favorites

The year flew by. I tried and failed at many things this year, but this last day of the year, I’m going to share the positive things, and my favorites.

The photo above is a dish I made trying out roasted purple cauliflower.  It’s hard to see but to the right of the salmon is purple cauliflower rice, which I made too. The fish is salmon sprinkled with fresh dill, paprika, garlic salt, black pepper, and topped with slices of limes.  I’ve never cooked with cauliflower before but I think this will be my new favorite thing because I really like the flavor and how easy it is to cook cauliflower.

I’m very proud to say that I accomplished two of my five goals this year.  One of them was to start school again…actually, to resume my master’s program from 2010.  So far, I’ve completed three classes and have four to go.  I’m going to try and load up on classes so that I finish by end of Spring 2018.  The other goal was to read 12 books.  I ended up reading 34 books.  A lot of it was due to freelancing as a book reviewer.  I was doing about three to four books a month starting in July.  I still read for leisure and still enjoy it

Here are my favorite books of the year:

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  This was such a lovely and fun story with romance, magic, and suspense.

2. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon.  This was a beautiful story told through the eyes of a young boy growing up in the 60’s.  The world building was fabulous.  I felt like I was right there with the boy.  The characters were well thought out and vivid.  McCammon really knows how to tug at your heart.

3. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier.  This was a well written classic about a man upset about the way his cousin died.  He was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery but somehow he becomes completely mesmerized by Rachel.  I saw the movie after reading the book and didn’t think it was as good.  If anything, read the book.


Can’t live without music.  For a sci-fi story I’ve been writing, I’ve got a few songs that go along with certain scenes.  Initially, I was going to submit the story to an anthology but I missed the deadline.  Okay, I have to remember I’m not going to focus on my failures (lol).  Anyway, here’s the cover for the book, and yes, that’s my pen name because I write different genres.

If you want to know a little about the story (the background story), you can check out my writing blog at, The Writing Sparrow.  It’s a new blog and I don’t have much there yet, but come 2018, there will be.

These are the songs that go with a few scenes in my story, but they are also favorites:

1. Immortal by Missing in Action

2. Last Hope by Antoine Heid (it’s just coincidence that my title has these two words in it).

3. Love on the Brain by Rhianna.

4. Elastic Heart by Sia

5. Wings (acoustic) by Birdy


I’ve been somewhat of a movie junkie this year.  I could barely count how many movies I’ve watched at the theater and at home.  It feels great to be able to watch all these movies.  When I had my two kids, I went into a strange zone where I couldn’t watch movies or even TV shows and not think everyone was pretending.  For some reason that bothered me to no ends.  Now, I’m relieved to say that even if they were acting, it’s no problem.  It doesn’t bother me one bit.  My favorite movies this year are:

1. Passengers

2. King Arthur – Legend of the Sword

3. Blade Runner

4. Star Wars – The Last Jedi

I didn’t do as much drawing and painted as I had wanted.  There’s just isn’t enough time to do everything so I’ve had to just focus on what mattered to me.  And, what mattered this year was getting my stories out.  I submitted a fantasy to an anthology earlier in the year but they are backed up so they haven’t gotten to telling the submitters who made it or not.  I also sent the same fantasy story to my professor who enjoyed it and gave me an “A.”

Thanks for stopping by and see you in the new year!

Blossoms of Light

The family went to the Botanic Garden over the weekend to see the Blossoms of Light for the first time.  I believe the display has been around for awhile.  It was beautiful but there were so many people.  We bought tickets in advance to be on the safe side and I’m glad we did because it was sold out.

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Nostalgic Snack

When I was a kid, Mom would make buttered tortillas for us (seven of us kids) for breakfast then send us on our way to grade school.  It has been a whirlwind raising my own kids.  They are super picky.  The older one doesn’t like tortilla with just butter.  She prefers quesadillas.  I’ve made a quesadilla for her once but I could never get the cheese amount exactly the way she likes it (but I think she likes it thick and gooey).  She didn’t complain but she hasn’t asked me to make it again.  As for my youngest, she doesn’t go near tortillas or cheese.

I like mine plain with butter just the way Mom made it.

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A Day Downtown

The family went to watch a baseball game at the Coors Field in Denver.  The game started out great but the Rockies lost.  We weren’t there to see the end because we left when the second thunderstorm came through.  I took some photos with my phone and did some editing with VSCO.

This first photo was taken when people cleared the seats because the rain was coming down hard.  Everyone moved to the covered seatings or behind the stadium where the food court is.  We waited in our seats for about 20 minutes and then the intercom came on and said everyone had to leave the covered seatings because lightning was coming through.  It was then that we decided to head home.

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