Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Perks of the Purge

(Linens I hadn't ironed in two years.)

In an effort to balance myself,
I had a purge.

(Extra stuff I never use.)

What was I saving this for?
The great bowl shortage?

The grands sift through my odds and ends.

So, I had an Oma Giveaway.
Craft paper, purse mirrors, pill boxes and stickers . . .
The little kids scored mini-sized lotions, notepads and bags,
toys I don't like to clean up, games I don't like to play, books I don't like to read—
they cleaned house!

Amy discovers a gift she gave me.

The big kids were a bit more choosy.
But hey, who doesn't want a new Christmas cookie platter?
Fake fruit anyone?
After my customers left,
the remnants were packed up and hauled off to a thrift store.
(I'll probably buy the red pan again when I find it there!)
Perk of the purge:
Living with less lowers my stress.

My long-lost fondue pot!

Another perk of a purge is the discovery of forgotten treasures.
After the Oma Giveaway, Dee whipped up his specialty:

Swiss Cheese Fondue
  • 1 lb. cubed Swiss cheese (we like half Gruyere and half Emmenthal)
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 2 cups white wine (we use white grape juice)
  • Nutmeg
  • Pepper
Spray saucepan with Pam and rub with garlic. While heating wine on stove, toss cheese with cornstarch and add it by handfuls to the wine, stirring constantly until cheese is melted. Transfer to a fondue pot to keep it bubbling, and sprinkle with nutmeg and freshly ground pepper. Spear bread cubes, vegetables, sausage, apples, olives, pickles and dunk and swirl.

I love the simple life!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Organizing is my homemaking chore of choice, so I was thrilled to find Jen's blog: IHeartOrganizing. I've been reading her old posts for three nights now. She is fabulous!

Pinterest has also caught my interest. Do not go there if you're not prepared to be addicted.

And tomorrow I'm getting balanced! (This post by Bernice Wood is inspiring.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why Are You Moving to Daybreak?

I've been buried with questions!
Underneath it all, I've got an answer.

Our new digs in Garden Park at Daybreak, Utah

Ever since I announced "We're moving," I've been asked

Let me tell you. Daybreak is a planned community below the Oquirrh Mountains in the southwest corner of Salt Lake Valley. It's four thousand acres and will eventually have 20,000 homes—it's already a thriving village after just a few years, and growing like crazy.

Houses of different design, price range, size all mingle together—like neighbors!

There are biking and hiking trails, a town square with shops and restaurants, and over a dozen parks, all built around a lake. Residents can use sailboats and canoes for free, fish and play on the beach; we can rent garden plots for $35 a season.

From our house everything is within walking distance: the TRAX Station (our local public transit) is a block away; there's a hospital, bakery, hair salon, florist and dry cleaners five minutes down the street. Plus a major shopping center just a mile away (movie theater, grocery store, Office Max and all the regulars—after ten restaurants I stopped counting.)

Oquirrh Lake in Daybreak

So what's Garden Park?

Garden Park is a 55+ neighborhood within Daybreak, "for grownups," the ad says. The idea is we've worked hard and now it's time to say no to yardwork, stairs and maintenance, and yes to anything we want!

Garden Club

The clubhouse is at the end of our street and is exclusive to the Garden Park residents. It's gorgeous, with a huge kitchen designed for parties, receptions and cooking classes. The work-out room offers aerobics, yoga and dance classes, personal trainers, treadmills, weights, etc.

(Plus a pool and hot tub.)

We were part of a focus group the other day, and Randy, (the guy focusing in on us) had us do an activity that couples or families could also use to help decide where to move.

How Much Would You Pay?
We listed things that were important to us about where we want to live: transportation, space, floor plan, neighborhood, yard, architecture, etc. and he wrote them on ten separate pieces of paper, which he spread out on the table. We were each given $100 in small bills (fake money, unfortunately) and we divided it up among the categories. It helped us see what matters most to us. I put my money on stability of Ivory Homes (the builder,) square footage (little but big enough,) and small town feel.

In reality, none of the many reasons I've listed is why we're moving to Garden Park in Daybreak. They are all perks of our decision. The real reason is the spirit of the place.

Back in 1970 my dad, a man of vision (he was an eye doctor) invested in some real estate and sold it quickly for a profit. He was anxious to repeat the experience, so he bought some more land and hired his brand new son-in-law (Dee) to help him develop and sell it. It was next to the Oquirrh Mountains. Dee got to know every well-wisher (people who search for wells) and sheep rancher for miles around—they were the folks who owned the land.

At the foot of the mountains is the Bingham Copper Mine, and there were several ghost towns (Lark, Copperton, Ragtown) where the miners had lived. Dee loves ghosts, and got to know them all. (Have you heard of Ivy Baker Priest, the humble copper miner's daughter from Bingham Canyon who became President Eisenhower's U.S. Treasurer from 1952 to 1960?)

Anyway. This summer our life was turned upside down and we decided it was time for a new chapter, a change of scenery, so we took a thirty-five minute drive to see what had happened out west. The surface had changed, but we could feel our roots—there was still a spirit of hope, vision, history. We felt energized when Lane (our great realtor) showed us through a few houses—it was like coming home.

Immediately I googled Daybreak, looking for bloggers who could give me the real scoop on the place. The official website came up with (interesting) sales-pitch-type-jargon, and a few private posts from 2009, but nothing current from a real, local Daybreaker. I had to do my research the old-fashioned way: by telephone, car and on foot.

I need a blog about Garden Park! There's stuff I need to know: Who's moving in? Is there a book club? Can anyone recommend a handyman? Who did your drapes?

I'd love to hear from any of you who live (or know someone who lives) in my new neighborhood.
My spirits are soaring because I'm moving to Daybreak!

(Now, maybe I'll be the one who pops up on Google!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Book: Son of a Gun

You can pre-order my book! I am over the moon!
Click here to see it—or buy it!

The Story Behind the Story

On New Year's Day, 2010, my Uncle Mel went into the hospital to get new knees for his 86th birthday. Instead, they gave him a staph infection, and he took up residence there for over a month. Uncle Mel has very poor eyesight, but he can see stories inside his head. He entertained the doctors and nurses with tales he spun from experiences he'd had with people he'd known (who were real characters!)

On March 5, 2010 he called me from Nevada. "Marty Ann," he said, "I've got a story in my mind. Do you think you could turn it into a book?"

Five days later I received a digital recorder with his ideas locked inside. It took a few days to get it transcribed into fourteen pages of text, and on March 15th I read Son of a Gun for the first time. A western, complete with gunfights, saloons, love scenes and fallen women, it was set in Texas a few years after the Civil War. Uncle Mel came up with the main characters: Jack, Indian Joe, Ruby, Sam, Leo, JJ, MJ and Big Red. The plot was roughly outlined with details that didn't hang together, and there was no ending. It was like having a list of random spelling words with the assignment of fitting them all into a story. I didn't know where to start.

I'd done a lot of historical writing but not historical fiction. My challenge was to get familiar with a new computer program to help me organize, study up on the American West and find out what Texas looks, feels and smells like. The children's section of the library is a great starting place to learn geography and history quickly. I read every book they had on Texas. Then I checked out books on horses, saloons, soiled doves, and guns. Real life research was going on, too: my son-in-law took me shooting, I explored a pioneer village, and a local smoke-shop owner taught me how to roll a cigarette!

Uncle Mel and I talked almost every day, and we thickened the plot. I began to picture the setting; his characters came alive and introduced me to new characters. As I wrote their dialogue, they told me in their own words what happened and how—writing a novel is an incredible experience!

Six months to the day, September 15, 2010, I sent Uncle Mel his manuscript. That night I emailed a pdf to Tate Publishing on a whim. Within a week I got a thumbs up from both of them!

Writing a novel is only half the job of publishing a novel. These are some of the post-writing steps:
  1. Copyediting
  2. Conceptual Editing
  3. First Edit
  4. Proof
  5. Final Draft
  6. Cover Design
  7. Final Proof
  8. Marketing
There are other little chores, like acknowledgments, bio, dedication, back cover matter, design, layout, color choices, etc. Luckily, all the folks at Tate Publishing know what they're doing and moved me from department to department without a hitch. I've now worked with several people and they've all been encouraging and supportive. It's been more work than I expected, but more fun than I expected, too.

The book releases to bookstores on Oct 28, 2011, but it's being pre-sold by the publisher at the same price. It's also available as an e-book!

Now comes the scariest part—someone will read it!

A fictional Marty Ann Halverson writing fiction.

“For those who can do it and who keep their nerve,
writing for a living still beats most real, grown-up jobs hands down.”
—Terence Blacker

Thursday, August 4, 2011

See You in September

I've got a lot on my plate right now.
  1. Finishing a book.
  2. Publicizing a different book.
  3. Building a website.
  4. Moving to a new house.
  5. Giving a talk in church.
I've always admired the ability to bite off more than you can chew,
and then chew it.


Life is particularly sweet right now,
but I've got some serious chewing to do!

(Excuse me while I take a little blog break.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Interior Design: Welcome Home

Carl Larsson's art captures a spirit of Gemutlichkeit.
This still life says, "You're home."

Supernal Way Family Room

This corner of our family room said the same thing.

Carl Larsson's Bedroom

I love bright color with white walls,
(Notice the lace ceiling of the bed.)

Supernal Way Bedroom

Our brass bed had a pedigree!
We could trace ownership back to the 1700's.
(Now we're just another former owner on the chart.)

Can you smell pot roast?

Supernal Way Big Room

Our old stove didn't cook anything.
(We kept board games in the warming ovens.)

Supernal Way Dining Room

This table had enough leaves to seat 24 people!
(Our space only worked for twelve.)
To make a room seem timeless, there should be at least one antique.
(Does an Oma count as an antique?)

Carl Larsson' study

I like studies that look like there's some studying going on.

Dee's Office

Dee's study is open until his eyes close.

Choosing colors and pieces you really love (rather than the latest trends) makes your home unique, personal and warm. It will express you. Right now my challenge is to make new spaces say the same old thing, "You're home."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Spotlight on Lighting

In the dark about your interior design project?
Lighten up!

Libby Langdon, author of Small Space Solutions, says, "Not lighting your space effectively makes it look smaller. If you can't see an area in your room it's as if it's not there! Capitalizing on natural light and bringing in artificial light is imperative."

There are four main types of lighting.
  1. Ambient: The room’s overall splash of light—sunshine, overhead fixtures, chandeliers, floor lamps.
  2. Task: A desk lamp, an under cabinet light, swing arm lamp for reading.
  3. Accent: Lighting that draws the eye to architectural or decorative aspects of a room. Track or recessed lighting, lamps over artwork.
  4. Mood: Dimmer switch, flickering candles.

Layer these types of illumination in a room for phenomenal effect.

Figure every room needs an average of 200 watts for every 50 square feet. The older you are, the more wattage you need to be comfortable. As we age our pupils have less flexibility and demand greater brightness—an average 50-year-old gets as much light from a 100-watt bulb as a 20-year-old gets from a 50-watt bulb!

A small living room could include four table lamps or a triangle combination of floor and table lamps to form plenty of welcoming pools of illumination. The bottom edge of the lamp shade should be at eye level of the person seated near it. If you want a standing lamp to function for reading, stand it behind the chair. Large lampshades create the appearance of greater space and more height. No more wimpy lamps!

Mirrors are great accessories. Angle one with a window, or behind a lamp to double your light source and brighten dark corners. Put a mirror on top of an armoire, bookcase, or above kitchen cabinets to reflect the light from ceiling fixtures. Dazzle everyone!

I can hardly wait to switch on the lights in my new house!
Do you have any brilliant (budget-friendly) ideas?

At home, think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures.