Winter Park, Colorado

Happy New Year!

It’s been 11 years since I first started blogging with WordPress. I can’t believe it’s been over a decade. I remember when I first found WordPress and wasn’t sure if this would be a good platform to move my blog to. Initially, I was paying another hosting site for a website and blog but I didn’t need the website anymore. I just wanted to blog. I’ve been happy with WordPress all these years.

Last Saturday, the family took the train to a town in the mountains called Winter Park. The train we took only goes to Winter Park in January, February, and March. Winter Park is known for their skiing and snowboarding. We didn’t ski or snowboard because the only person who really knows how to ski and snowboard is my husband. I’ve tried skiing and snowboarding when I was younger but just never got into it. We didn’t want to do any strenous activities because our oldest daughter has national competitions next week and can’t do anything that could cause an injury. We thought we’d walk around, check out some shops, try a couple of restaurants, and then return home.

Things changed when our oldest daughter saw the tubing slides when we took the lift to the side where the tubing was. The lift went over the slides and we could see people coming down. It looked really fun. I was nervous for her because I was afraid she’d injure herself and then we’d be in big trouble for nationals. But, all went well. The slides were monitored very well. There were four lanes and they went from fastest to slowest. We spent an hour tubing, then went to have lunch in the town of Winter Park (the skiing/snowboard, tubing, ice skating, etc. were in the Resort). We wanted to go to Fraser which is the town just north but mistakenly got off early. It was all good though. We had a good lunch. It started to snow and looked beautiful.

Here are some photos from the trip.

We got up at 4:30am to give us enough time to get everything together. The train station is downtown in the heart of the city so we wanted to make sure we got a parking space and also we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the train, which left the station at exactly 7am.

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The girls fell asleep most the way and missed the sunrise (above). The train was a two hour ride and went through about 30 mountains. I tried to count the tunnels but lost track. The final mountain took 10 minutes to get through.

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Here’s a view of the cars behind us. We sat on the second level of car number three. There were seven cars total, not including the engine.

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Arriving in Winter Park Resort. It was very cold.

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We ate breakfast and watched people go down the hills. There were lots of people skiing and snowboarding.

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We took the lift to the other side where the tubing was. We wanted to see if there were other activites to do besides tubing on the tubing side.

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On the right, you could see two of the tubing lanes and someone coming down the first lane.

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Skiiers and snowboarders from the parking area making their way to the lift to take them to the side we came from. But, check out that mountainside with the low hanging clouds.

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Me with our two girls waiting in line to go down the fastest lane.

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Our youngest pulling the tube up the conveyor belt. That tube is heavy! We eventually switched to single ones when she felt confident enough to go without me. She was scared at first so we went on the second slowest lane, then made our way to the fastest lane.

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Here she is getting ready to go alone and in the fastest lane too!

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It was so much fun tubing. We enjoyed our short day in Winter Park and hope to do it again next year.

A Quick Hike at Castlewood Canyon State Park

Last Friday, husband’s planned hike to a 14-er didn’t work out, so instead, he and I went to Castlewood Canyon to do a simple hike, something I could handle. It was beautiful with the changing colors of the leaves. Where I’m looking toward in the photo was once a damn built in 1890. The dam broke in 1933 causing a disastrous flood. Now it’s land for homes and pasture for cows. Last time we visited we saw the broken dam, but this time we took a different route, a more scenic route, to appreciate the beauty and peacefulness of the land.

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Mt. Evans

I believe it was a few years ago the family went up to Mt. Evans. This past Friday husband and I went for a drive there. We didn’t realize how busy it would be. It was still very breathtaking (literally, for me it was hard to breathe).

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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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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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