A Night Among the Stars at Stargazer Yurt in Idaho City

“This as far as I can go,” I said, and slipped the giant backpack off my shoulders and let it fall into the snow.
snowshoeing stargazer yurt boise national forest idaho

My husband, Brad, and I were hiking our way to a yurt in the Boise National Forest. This was our first time snowshoeing and hiking with the large backpacking packs. The climb up to the Stargaze Yurt is about 1.4 miles (not bad), but the elevation increase of 550 feet makes for a workout. That, along with the 30 or 40 pounds of food strapped to my back and new snowshoes strapped to my feet, explained my inability to continue on.

We stuck the pack on the side of the path and kept trekking. The yurt wasn’t much further, but was much higher. Brad and I would continue the climb, and then he’d come back for my abandoned pack. What can I say? I am spoiled.

snowshoeing stargazer yurt boise national forest idaho

The Idaho Parks and Recreation runs the six yurts that you can rent in the Boise National Forest, though one was unfortunately lost in the forest fires that occurred last summer. The Stargaze Yurt has the highest elevation of all the yurts, sitting atop a rise at 6,569 feet. Quite a view.

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My Top 10 Books of 2016

2016 was a heck of a year.

It was a year of uncertainty (being laid off, among other things).

I turned to familiar authors (Agatha Christie) or books that promised a happy ending. I found myself flipping to the last pages of a book for a peek at the ending. I reckoned there was enough stress in my actual life that I didn’t need to face the unknown when I could avoid it. Is that cheating?


I read on planes headed to cities like LA and Chicago. I distracted myself with books while waiting for appointments. I listened to audiobooks while driving to work. And I ended almost every day with Brad signaling it was bedtime by closing his book next to me, while I raced to finish the chapter.

My reading goal for 2016 was 65 books but I managed 70. That’s an improvement on 2015’s 57, but still lower than I expected (check out 2015’s top books list here). One of our goals for 2017 is to watch less TV, so it’ll be interesting to see if I read much more.

Below are my top 10 recommendations for books I read in 2016. You can see the full list of books that I read here.

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Celebrating My Favorite Holiday with Our First Annual Halloween Party

Halloween is my favorite holiday.


My first Halloween costume was in the 8th grade when I dressed as Josie, lead singer of Josie and the Pussycats, for school.

We didn’t celebrate Halloween growing up and I’ve never been trick or treating, so it might seem odd that the holiday is now my favorite of the entire year.

Halloween is a holiday that embraces the weird inside all of us. There’s something about the holiday that encourages imagination and individuality. It’s a time when we can shed our usual pretenses of being just like everyone else, and celebrate what makes us eccentric.
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7 Easy Recipes and 1 Method to Make More Delicious Meals

A few months ago, I wrote about my top 10 favorite books of 2015. And before that, there was a post about my 5 favorite places in DC. Here we are now, discussing food.

You probably need this post. At least, I know I would need this post. In fact, if you could go write a similar post or even just shoot me an email with all your favorite easy recipes, it would be greatly appreciated. Because feeding yourself is difficult. Meal planning can be overwhelming.

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The 10 Best Books I Read in 2015

It can be difficult to write when there’s no pressing deadline. I promised myself over a month ago that I would write about this topic. Then life happened, as it does, and I found myself thinking about other (more important) things than my top favorite books of 2015. If this post is going to get written, it must be written now. I’ve set myself a new deadline: finish this dang thing before I turn 28. I have four days.

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The Renovation to End All Renovations. Maybe.

If you’re looking for a recipe for a stressful year, I have it for you:

  1. Move across the country to a place where you know no one.
  2. Be unemployed for at least 3 months.
  3. Start a new job.
  4. Buy your first house.
  5. Renovate half of that new house.
  6. Plan a trip to the other side of the world.

When we bought our new home in May, I really didn’t stop and think, “Huh, this might not be the best year to undertake a renovation. It’s been a pretty intense year already.”

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Running Towards Loving Myself

My entire life is a construction zone.

Not only have Brad and I been working overtime to finish renovating our guest house/apartment so we  can get it rented out, but even my office has undergone an overhaul. Thankfully, I’m not expected to help with the construction in my office building, but there seems to be a thin layer of dust covering almost every aspect of my life. If not dust, then paint. This morning I found white paint on my legs. I haven’t painted with white for about a week now, and I promise I’ve showered since then.

community paintball fight

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Finding the Blessing in Beige

My first impulse is to apologize to you, dear reader, for not writing earlier.

But then I remind myself that I’m attempting to apologize less.

I’m writing this while standing at the countertop in our new kitchen (you never know where inspiration will strike – mine struck while unloading the dishwasher). Betsy is sniffing around, exploring every cabinet that I open, and often finding herself in sticky situations (she somehow got behind an open drawer, and I wasn’t really sure if she’d be able to get out).

Life is EXHAUSTING, y’all.

Don’t you feel that there are just periods of life where you stop and think, “I’m not sure I can handle much more.”

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Anniversary of Beginnings

Brad and I spent last weekend in Sun Valley, ID, to celebrate our first anniversary.

It was great to getaway and enjoy the beautiful views of the ski resort town. This past year has been busy. It’s been a year of beginnings. Moving across the country, starting a new job, being unemployed, making new friends… and buying a house.

That’s right. A HOUSE. We bought a house. So I guess we’re staying here.

Which means I have to pack. Again.

merlin pack books

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