Thursday, May 31, 2012

The $11,000+ Kitchen Sink

What happened in my life to give me such expensive tastes? Seriously. I am looking at kitchen sinks and of course the one I think is THE one is $11,000. Well scratch that.

We are building a house - the first home construction I've ever been involved with - and I could write for days on stories and observations and tips from this experience. I do intend to write more around this subject in the future, but at the moment I want to lament about how I have discovered that I suffer from very expensive tastes. In this house building process, whether shopping for windows, looking at doors or types of wood for our exterior, browsing through endless catalogues and websites on bathtubs, appliances, bathroom and cabinet hardware, counters, couches, etc. - you name it, I will inevitably be drawn to the item that is one of the most expensive. It is my fate. Thankfully my husband is managing the home building budget and is able to exercise some control over me. Some.

I've looked at enough stuff for the home now to realize that cheap stuff just looks crappy. Plain and simple. You see it a mile away. However, I think I also have unusual tastes. I tend not to be interested in the standard stuff because it does not appeal to me. For example, so many fixtures out there (bathroom, kitchen, windows, cabinets) are shiny, shiny gold or silver. Hear me now, there will be no shiny silver or gold stuff anywhere in our house. I forbid it.

Sometimes I wish we were living 10 or 20 years ago, before people got all knowledgeable and crazy about antiques, resulting in a world where one can no longer find anything cool and old without breaking the bank. I love old barn wood. If we could have it our way, we would do our entire house inside and out with old barn wood...but those days are gone, unless you have tons and tons of money. These days barn wood is a hot commodity. Just check out the companies around LA that specialize in the stuff, and you will get the picture. I found a website where you can actually buy an entire barn! They have photos of the barns and then I guess you buy it and do what you want with it, mainly tear it down and ship the wood. But it's not cheap. Where I grew up in the country in Pennsylvania, there were antiques and old barn wood everywhere and they weren't a big deal. That was 30 years ago and sadly those days are gone. I blame the PBS Antique Road Show that later launched the HGTV empire and others. I am not quite sure who to blame for the fact that I am drawn to $11,000 sinks...
The $11,000+ kitchen sink I certainly won't be buying...

Monday, May 21, 2012

I've drunk the kool-aid...

Guess who got an iPad yesterday? I need one for the road. I am on my way to DC for work so decided to take the plunge. When I was flying to Kenya and in that region and everyone had an iPad...I knew it was time. I can't be that far behind in the tech curve. I used to be a hardcore first adopter, now I've mellowed out. I really wanted this because I wanted an I-reader and when I saw how fancy the Kindle Fire is getting I decided why not just get an everyone else. It will be most useful during our many many roadtrips (in case you haven't noticed, we are always driving somewhere...thus the scenic byway...road tripping is deep in our lives these days and I dont see that stopping). We are always lookimg up hotels, restaurants and sites on our drives. The phone is too small. My computer plus the Internet device gets complicated. This is beautifully simple. So is it wrong that I now travel around with a dell work laptop, an apple computer, two iPhones ( one personal and one work) and now an iPad? All in my carry on. I am like a walking apple ad and a symbol of the times. Maybe I should go buy the Steve Jobs bio on iBooks....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Utah Sky

I love this. Utah sky...

Tracy Aviary

We visited the Tracy Aviary in downtown Salt Lake City again a few weeks ago. My third visit over the past year. Awesome place. Totally worth visiting.

I will miss my scenic views

When we leave SLC (which is coming too soon), I will miss the scenic views from around my house. So grateful to have spent two years living along the Wasatch mountains and the canyons in between. Who wouldn't love to see this on the drive home from running errands downtown? SLC is a hidden gem. I could see myself back there again someday.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake

If the Byway ever takes you out this way, you must see the Great Salt Lake and Salt Flats to the west of the lake. Its a very unique environment. A week ago I finally made it to see Antelope Island on the Great Salk Lake. I had wanted to see it since we arrived in SLC two years ago, but just never made it over there even though its only about a 45 minute drive north from downtown SLC. 

Why do we do that? There are these things we want to see in our own backyards, and they are easy to see, yet we just don't make it happen Then when we finally get ourselves there, we wonder what the heck took us so long. I was definitely thinking that when we drove across the 7 mile causeway out to the island - hardly any traffic, water on both sides, the island looming ahead, about a million ducks to the right of us who we later learned had just flown in a few days earlier migrating north. What a beautiful place! Why wasn't I coming out here to hike and bike and hang every weekend? And now we are leaving SLC. Sigh..
Antelope Island is this giant island in the Great Salt Lake. You can see it from very far away. It is 42 square miles and the largest of 10 lakes that sit in the lake. You access it from a 7-mile causeway from the mainland. It was a natural causeway built up with a road. Its only flooded once back in the 1980s. 

The island was named for the pronghorn antelope that lived, and still live, on the island. Plains bison were introduced to the island in 1893 and have thrived, with a maintained herd of about 600, as the island is mostly dry grassland. In addition to the bison and the pronghorn antelope, the island is home to mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyote, bobcats, badgers, porcupine and as you might expect many, many birds and waterfall - some native and many more who migrate through (more than 250 species have been identified on the island). The precambrian rocks on the island are some of the oldest in the United States, older than the ones at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The island was settled by Mormon pioneers from 1848-1870. It was then sold to John Dooly, Sr, a private land owner, who managed cattle ranches on the island until 1981. The state of Utah purchased some land on the north side in 1969 and then purchased the rest of the island in 1981 from the Dooly family, including the Fielding Garr Ranch, the only residence on the island. Antelope Island became a Utah State Park in 1981. 

There is a beach where you can walk around in the stinky, salty water and swim/float out if the water is deep enough. The water is saltier than the ocean. The island has hiking trails and nice looking campgrounds that were not crowded. They have horseback riding, boating and wildlife walks. And it is an amazing place for biking. This trip we just did a drive around the island to see the main sites that you can see by car, but I will definitely return to hike and bike and camp. Check out the photos, check out the links and then make a plan to check it out in person. I promise it will be a beautiful Scenic Byway adventure.

Friday, May 11, 2012

May Music Madness - Some tunes for road tripping

What do these things have in common?

Al Green, Beach House, Beastie Boys, Donnie Hathaway, Future Islands, Gotye, Jack White, Lana Del Ray, Late Night Tales: Midlake, Rodriguez, Scott Walker, Tennis, Trombone Shorty

Nothing except they are all musical artists that I recently felt inclined to financially support by buying their music on iTunes instead of stealing it from somewhere. 

I am a small bit of a music/iTunes purchaser junkie. Its my bad habit. I no longer spend a lot of money on clothes, dinners out, bar tabs, etc., but occasionally I will click the magic button for instant musical gratification. And its happened quite a bit over the past few weeks because I've been spending so much time chained to my desk with work. What can I say? Music makes it all better.

Perhaps you will enjoy some of these. Perhaps you are already enjoying them. Its Friday - listen to some great music this weekend on your Byway adventures. Some info and links below. 
Al Green: I have always loved Reverend Green, but I only owned his greatest hits album. My brother in law was playing the "I Can't Stop" album one night when we were having dinner at his house...and I had to own it. Hard to believe that record was from 2003. Here's a little review that I generally agree with. Where was I that I missed this comeback album? I think I vaguely remember this happening, but I guess I wasn't really paying attention. But now I know. Thanks Michael for reminding me that Al Green music always puts me in a better mood.

Beach House: Seriously, how did I not know about this Baltimore band when I was living in the area? I love them! I just discovered them last year and bought Teen Dream (2010) (their 3rd album) which I adore and play all the time. Its nice - dreamy, mellow. I love it so much I decided to try their 2nd album Devotion (2008). I am enjoying it. And get ready - they have a new one coming out this week, May 14 - Bloom.

Beastie Boys: The passing of Adam Yauch last week was sad, and it made me, and probably many of you of my generation, feel nostalgic and feel our age. Licensed to Ill was one of THE albums that reminds me most of my college days. I didn't follow them that closely through the years, but liked most of what they put out there. His passing inspired me to listen to them and I decided it was time to buy The Mix-Up, their 7th studio album, all instrumental, from 2007. Very sad he isn't around any more to make more music.

Donny Hathaway: How could I not have "A Song For You" in my music collection? I love that song, and when I recently heard a dumb guy sing it on American Idol (although he did sing it well) about a month ago, it stuck with me and I had to have it. Plus a few others. Such a beautiful voice, reminding me of my childhood in the 70s. A true classic.

Future Islands: Yet another Baltimore band I didn't know about until I live on the other side of the country? What gives? I guess I wasn't spending enough time in Baltimore when I lived out East. Dc'ers take note, they have played at the Black Cat and could do so again. How to describe this band? I like the lead singer's voice. I like the sound. It reminds me of some music I liked in the 80s. An indy band. I like their videos.  On the Water is their third and latest album. I don't now if I would like their earlier ones - haven't listened yet - but I like this one. I read about it on a blog I follow, listened to a few tracks and decided it was definitely worth owning. I think what really sold me on it was this song and this video. Summer! Youth! Love! It makes me miss the East coast.

Jack White: Oh music god. Raw, talented, wacky, sexy. I don't like a lot of hard sounds, but I have always loved the White Stripes. Its his voice. The guitar. How can you not be in love with that voice? He has a new album just out a few weeks, Blunderbuss. I haven't bought the album yet (getting close...), but I did buy the song Love Interruption which I have been in love with ever since I saw him perform it on David Letterman weeks ago. That performance was hot! Check out the video, a pale version of what I saw on Letterman - Jack looking all pale and vampire like.

Lana Del Rey: Knew of her a long time ago last year and loved and was fascinated by her, only being able to get snips of music on line. By the time her album finally came out a month or so ago I was annoyed and just about hating her and all the hype. I finally broke down and bought the Born to Die album. And I say PASS! I think I regret this purchase. I rarely regret music purchases because I am usually careful to know what I am buying, but this one might just have to go into the "what the heck was I thinking when I purchased this" category. Sigh. Oh Lana, your voice is just so effected I can't take it seriously and it makes me think of your giant fake lips and effected pout. I am too old for this album.

Late Night Tales: Midlake: I stumbled upon this on iTunes. What a great find. This is a collection of over 25 artists creating mixes from their favorite music/home record collection. "The Rolls Royce of compilation" according to GQ magazine. Who cares what GQ thinks? Listen to me! There are some great mixes here! I don't even know this group Midlake, but I like their mix. Check the mixes out here.

Rodriguez: Sixto Diaz Rodriguez - the "most famous man you've never heard of." I love this guy's story. He cut an album here in the US that never made it. Little did he know he was a rock legend in South Africa. There is a documentary film out about him that premiered at this year's Sundance festival and was shown at the more recent Tribeca film festival. His album Cold Fact (1970) is just 70s awesomeness. I mean chef out the photo? G.R.O.O.V.Y. Here's his website.

Scott Walker: And speaking of groovy...oh man. How has Scott Walker not been in my life until now? I love 60s and 70s music. I love 60s cheeze. You might have heard of this guy. He was the front man for the Walker Brothers who did have a hit that I know called The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore (you know you know it). Think Tom Jones. Jacques Brel. 60's films. "Music of your life" radio stations. He was much bigger in the UK and still makes music to this day. I bought a huge collection of his classics - because sometimes a girl just needs to listen to schmaltzy 60s love ballads.


Do you see it? The exclamation point in the sky? It was just hanging there one day as we drove south through Utah to the desert. Reminding us that the world is !!!! know....awesome. Scenic byway moment.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


It was a weird Winter, and now its been a weird Spring. Spring came earlier than last year and it was very warm and now its chilly again. The weather goes up and down each week. And its flown by because we've been busy and on the road a lot. Flowers have come and gone in our yard. I haven't spent much time this year really looking at flowers But yesterday I saw some gorgeous flowers in downtown Salt Lake City near Temple Square. These flowers screamed SPRING is still very much here. At least in the places where paid gardeners tend them...Happy May