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If you would like to leave a comment to tell me what you like or if you would like to share an experience you have had, have suggestions for new adventures, or would just like to share what's on your mind, please feel free to do so! I would really, really love to hear any feedback you would care to offer!

When you click on the comments link at the bottom of the post, you will be presented with choices for logins, if you do not already have one of the accounts listed, or you do not choose to login with that account, you can always choose the anonymous option, in which case your name would come up as Anonymous! If you choose to use one of the other log in options, your name would appear as the public name you list for that account. For example, mine would appear as Willow's Quiet Corner, and, of course, your email would not show!

Thanks! And, again, thanks for stopping by! I really hope to hear from you and to see you again soon! Let me know how you think I am doing! :-)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DIY - Replace Thermostat

While lunching with a good friend of mine I mentioned my non-functioning thermostat.  I was describing how the furnace worked, but it would no longer regulate itself.  It was either on (read non-stop, burn-in-hell-hot on) or off (as in freeze-your-buns-off-and-die off).   I know I won't get any sympathy from those of you whose temps actually go below 50 degrees F, but, when it drops below 73 in the house here, I freeze and I want heat.  {can you hear the spoiled whine?}

So, I was explaining how I was constantly running back and forth to the thermostat.  On, off, on, off, which seemed like every five minutes, but was probably closer to every hour or so.  I was mentioning this while sitting outside enjoying the nice day at Miguel's Mexican Restaurant (yes, it doesn't make any sense to be talking about heat problems while being able to sit outside in comfort, but it does get a bit nippy in the evenings).  I was enjoying a refreshing margarita while pounding down the entire Del Jardin Burrito I ordered.  (I couldn't help it, . . . even though it was BIG, well, . . . it really wasn't my fault, . . . it was just sooooooo flavorful, I. could. not. stop.)  But, because I didn't want to embarrass my friend, I did somehow manage to refrain from licking the plate . . . but, . . . just. barely.  If you have never been to this place before, I must say, I can HIGHLY recommend it!  My friend ordered the Fresh Spinach Quesadilla and it was divine!  They really do use the best, the freshest, and most flavorful ingredients.  I look forward to my next visit there!

Now, I know I should be grateful the furnace still worked.  I should be especially grateful I had some motivation to burn off a few calories with the constant getting up and down and going the entire 12 steps over and the entire 12 steps back every time the temp got too far one way or the other.  And, if I am going to be eating the entire extra size portions they put on my plate, I definitely need something to motivate me to move a whole lot more than I do currently!

Yep, there's mercury in those little tubes!
This will be going to the household hazardous waste center!

But, while regaling my friend with the minutia of my household woes, she casually mentioned that I should just replace it myself.  She said her daughter does that kind of thing all the time.

Whoa!  What?  I didn't even think about it before.  I just kinda assumed, you would need a PhD in heatology-furnacology or something like that to tackle that kind of job.  So, when I got home, I googled it.  Yes, I googled.  (Any Confessions of a Shopaholic fans out there?)  And I found this link.

The gentleman in the video made it look sooooooo easy . . . I figured that even I could do it.  So, the next day, off to the big box store I go.  Wow!  I discovered a whole new world of temperature control.  Do you know they even have thermostats you can program for every day of the week?  To turn off and on for waking and sleeping hours, for at home and away hours?  Thermostats you can control through your phone or computer?  Of course you did.  I just never thought I could get one of them.  I opted to skip the extra bucks for the ones I can control through my phone or computer, but I did get one I could program for every day of the week!  Yay!  A warm home when I get home!  No waiting!

Yikes!  This looks scary, but all I had to worry about was those wires right in the center.
So, then, home I go, thermostat firmly in hand.  

First step, I went out to check to see what size filter I needed for my furnace that I should have done BEFORE I went to the big box store.  Put, the cover back on and went back in the house.

Decided I did not want to tackle the switch so close to the evening, just in case I messed it up and didn't have heat the whole evening/morning (night is ok - I don't like to sleep with the heat on), so I baked flatbread instead.  It's a good thing, too, because it helped to heat the house.  For some reason, the heat would NOT kick on even though I hadn't messed with anything yet!

The next morning, I thought I'd go back out and check to see if I had accidentally put out the pilot light while checking on the filter.  I hadn't wanted to try to check on it in the dark the night before.  Seems some silly blond must not have put the cover back on correctly, because as soon as I replaced it, the heat kicked on.

Emboldened, I decided I would try to move ahead with the installation of the new fully programmable thermostat.

Second step, I flipped the power switch on the fuse box for the furnace to off.  This apparently is a VERY important step if you don't want a new hairstyle and skin color or heart rate.

Third step, take the old cover off, identify and mark the wires that are already hooked up.  Then take the thermostat off the wall.

Fourth step, wrap the ends of the wires around a pencil to keep them from falling back into the wall.  Mine already had a do-hickey on them to prevent that (you can see it if you look closely at the base of the wires - a blue bit of wire or something wrapped around them right where they come out of the wall), but I dutifully wrapped them around a pencil anyway!

Fifth step, paint the wall that will now be exposed because the new unit is much more compact than the previous one!  Do a better job than I did at it though.  (Don't look too closely at the wall . . . I did try to crop the bad bits out of the photos!)  I hate it when I get impatient!

Sixth step, put the wallplate up, make sure it is level and mark the holes with a pencil.

Seventh step, drill a hole in the wall for the screws.  Or, if you are lazy like me and don't want to have to make a trip out to the shed to get the screwdriver, hammer a nail into the spot and then pull it out.  Then, put the wallplate back up and screw it in place.

Eighth, hook the wires back up to the posts as marked and continue on with the instructions that came with the unit you purchased.

Ninth, turn the power back on and hope like hell you did it all correctly.  If not, grab a glass of wine and call the handyman.  However, . . . . if you did do it correctly, you get to go eat some more flatbread, put your feet up and brag it about it on your blog!  So, . . . here I am! ! ! !  Bragging!  Thanks, Ms. M! ! ! ! ! {giggling and waving at Ms. M}

{Insert pic of me doing happy dance!  I probably saved 
myself a fairly good chunk of change for this little project.}

Ok, well, I know this wasn't the most fascinating post ever, but, I guess, I'd better get back to taking care of other business around this place . . . I mean, it's not like I don't have a ton of things to do!  And, I don't want to permanently stretch my arm out too much with all that back patting and all.  Especially over a project that really wasn't a bit difficult.  In fact, it's one of the easiest DIY projects to be found around a house.  So, see you around!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Flatbread Obsession

Ever since I first saw this post by Deb over at the Smitten Kitchen, I have been enamored with . . . well, in lust with . . . oh alright, . . . completely, madly, insanely OBSESSED with flatbread.  There, I said it.  Are ya' happy now?  

I tried it with the honey and salt flakes.  And, it was very good, but I am not a huge honey fan.  So, then I started making it with just fresh thyme, toasted sesame seeds and shredded parmesan.  Addiction!  Major addiction.  I'm talking get-the-crew-ready-and-stage-an-intervention serious addiction.

Then, it was the barbeque sauce, toasted sesame seed, shredded parmesan and the barest whispers of thinly sliced red onion flatbread.  I was making my own basic barbeque sauce from ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice and pepper practically by the gallon to get my fix.  Pounds and pounds of this stuff I have pounded down.  Greedily eating every last little crumb.  Sometimes consuming practically the entire batch in one sitting.  And then nearly licking the plate clean.

You see, the dangerous thing is that there really isn't anything to these.  Really.  Only a handful of ingredients that come together in the blink of an eye and bake up in less than ten minutes.  I had no idea that a bit of flour, baking powder, salt, water and olive oil could be such a magical combination.  The toppings are up to you.  Go ahead, let your imagination run wild!  You know you want to!

I'm not sure if I should kiss Ms. Smitten Kitchen or banish her from my reading list forever.  I was going to post about this previously, but couldn't stop eating long enough just couldn't get any photos I really liked.  So, if you want to see really great photos of the process, run over to her kitchen here and here.  She makes her kitchen look very dramatic, like all her ingredients are on stage and you really expect them all to be making a bow to thunderous clapping and ear-splitting whistles of the audience in the final pic dramatic!

Then, I happened upon some flatbread at Whole Foods that was made with rye flour and topped with caraway seeds and shredded Cotswold cheese.  I love Cotswold cheese!  For those of you who may not be familiar with Cotswold, think cheddar married to Ranch Dressing.  At this point, I was beginning to suspect a conspiracy.  Once I found Whole Foods also carries rye flour, I knew for certain.  And now, I have been craving a whole new taste sensation.  

Not so horrible, you might think.  But, . . . since I love them all and can't decide which one I like best, I now have to make three different batches to satisfy my growing addictions.  Soon, I'll have to pick up a second job or turn to a life of crime to support this habit.  The neighbors must be wondering about the stacks and stacks of empty flour sacks piling up around here by now.  I suppose I should start sneaking them out to the dumpsters in the dead of night to hide my shameful secret.  Hmmmmm . . .  they'll probably figure it out when I start waddling around here, anyway.

Go here, get the recipe and go make this now.  I promise, you won't be sorry!   Especially if you try it with the BBQ sauce and red onion.  

Well . . . go on! . . . . . . . . . my goodness . . . . what are you still doing here? ? ?   There's yummy goodness to be found in just minutes in your kitchen! ! !  Shooo!

Well, gotta run . . . ah've gots flatbreads to eat, my dahlings . . .  I'd offer you some, but as you can see . . . I barely have enough for myself.  But, please don't forget to stop back by sometime after you get your flatbread fix!  If you try it, let me know what you think!  Better yet, let Deb know what you think!  :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Zion National Park

Well, finally . . . here is the second part of my December trip!  My little quick romp through Zion!  

I drove through on the highway through the park on my way to Bryce, but didn't stop except to snap some shots from the highway.  I didn't drive through the the park "proper" until on the way back.

On my way to Bryce, I first saw the frozen waterfall and screeched to a halt.  Grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car.

Then I saw the wall of icicles!  Some of these babies were about 2 feet long or longer.  Holy guacamole, batman!  I got as close as I dared. But, it was starting to warm up, and they were beginning to fall.  I had one fall right in front of me so I really had to keep an eye on where the pieces were heading to keep from getting a chuck flung into my shins! That would have hurt!  :)

Along the way you drive through arches . . .

and tunnels . . .

and are treated to some very scenic eye candy.

You turn a corner and come face to face with this . . .

or this . . .

When you see formations like this, you can't help but wonder at the forces, the time and types of changes that were required to create such beauty.  It was tilted this way and that like one of those sand paintings you tilt to one side and then the other to create layers of beauty. Except these took eons to create instead of a few seconds!

On the way home, I did drive through the part of the park that usually requires that you take a tram.  

Even though it was off season, there were still enough traffic that I was not able to stop at some of the spots because there just weren't any parking spots left. 

It made me appreciate that the trams are available during peak times, otherwise, you would never be able to stop and get out to enjoy and take pics.  I was grumbling about having to take a tram in October, but, this certainly cured me of that!

I really didn't spend a lot of time there, but I did do a quick drive through and did do the little hike back to the Temple of Sinawava.  But, one day, I am going to go prepared and actually hike further than the spot where the trail hits the river.  I really would like to see the narrows sometime!

Since there wasn't any snow to speak of, and I had just been there a couple of months ago, there wasn't really a lot more that I could add to those pics I had already taken in October.  Still enjoyed it.  It was still beautiful, but the pics would just have been pretty much duplicates of what I had already done.

And, since the time of day was approximately the same as well, I just felt like I was being repetitious.

But, still, just to be able to spend time in natural cathedrals such as these, is well worth the time and effort to do so!

So, I hope you enjoyed this little trip through Zion!  I am thinking one of these days I might share some of the photos I took on a trip up highway 1 to Victoria/Vancouver Canada that I took several years ago.  It is a beautiful drive!  I wish I could do it again, soon!

I'll leave you at this peaceful little spot on the Virgin river for now. Hope to see you back here again soon! ! !

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year and Bryce Canyon National Park

I hope everyone had a safe and happy start to the New Year!  I had a couple of weeks off for the holidays . . . Yayyy!

I got my living room painted and now need to go through and have a good clean out of everything to try to get more organized.  This could take a while!  ;)

I needed a little break after getting the painting done; both from the paint fumes and the mess.  I rewarded myself with a quick little trip to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.  I have been to both places a couple of times before (most recently just a couple of months ago - see previous post here); in the summer and in the fall.  I was anxious to see them in the winter with their pretty, dainty little lacy white shawls, looking more like they were dusted with confectioner's sugar than anything else.

I was so lucky to have such beautiful weather both days I was there.  It was relatively warm during the day, but got really chilly during the nights.  I mostly kept bundled up and tucked safely in my room at night!  Though now that I'm safely warm, I do regret not taking advantage of being in one of the few places in the US with so little ambient light at night that the skies are lit with millions of twinkly, sparkly little stars and getting in a little stargazing while I was there.

My friend Trang made some lovely crocheted fingerless gloves for me for Christmas.  (You might remember her from the guest post she did for me here.)  They sure came in handy (no pun intended) while I was there trying to keep my hands warm while still trying to take pictures.  They truly kept me quite cozy!  I really appreciated them even more on this trip for that reason!  I wanted to show them off for you.  You can see a little of them in the shot above!  Thank you, thank you,Trang!

I stayed at Ruby's Inn at the entrance to Bryce Canyon and really enjoyed it.  The room was large, clean and had a microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, hair dryer and iron and ironing board.  It wasn't anything fancy-smancy, but it was very nice for a relatively small price.  

I can't say much for the motel restaurant, though, it was definitely geared towards meat eaters and offered almost no options for vegetarians; no pastas, a sad little salad bar (fresh ingredients, but not much more than iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and a few toppings, such as shredded cheese, croutons, chopped eggs, sunflower seeds and a few dressing choices).  There was one lone offering of roasted veggies on the menu, but they were a little overdone and barely enticing.  **sigh**  

The couple in the next booth were also a bit puzzled by the menu as well!  Fellow vegetarians!  They asked the waitress twice, as if they couldn't quite believe there weren't any pasta options on the menu.  The second night I didn't even bother . . . but, I had hoped to at least find a cheese pizza in the little store they had there.  No luck on the cheese pizza - every one of them had meat on it, but I did finally find a frozen bean and cheese burrito that turned out to actually be better than the food in the restaurant!  Again, I'm sure if I could have eaten the other things on the menu, my review would be much different!  :)  But, it's something for me to keep in mind for future visits . . . bring food!  I would have starved if I stayed there much longer!

But, the food wasn't the main reason for the visit . . . it was the scenery.  The colors were gorgeous!  Deep blue skies, red and golden rock accented with little caps of snow and the green of the trees.  It is always just so amazing to see all the variations in the rock formations and the layers upon layers of color.  It is just mesmerizing watching how the changing light and shadows transform the view. 

If you haven't been there, you need to put these places on your list of places you must visit at some point in your life!  Push come to shove, if you had to pick between the two, I would go with Bryce Canyon over Zion.  But, they are close enough together that if you get to one, you may as well try to do both!

I hope to be back soon with some pictures from Zion National Park.  I took so many of both places and the space in between, it is hard to sort through them all and try to select just a few to share and then get them ready to publish!  So, I decided to try to put them in a slideshow to share with you.  This pics and videos in this post one are from Bryce.  I hope you enjoy them!

That's it for now!  I hope to see you again soon!  Happy New Year, my friends!  :)