2020 Year in Review

2020 started out on such a high note with a Great Gatsby themed New Years Party, however I don’t think any of us could have anticipated the year the was in store. Our children and grandchildren will be learning of 2020 in future history books. Living through history is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Hopefully, we are now in the home stretch.

There has been high notes, mixed in with the stress and anxiety of the unknown. Our trip to Jordan and Egypt coincided just before the lockdowns and the full impact of the Covid-19 was apparent. We still are shocked, knowing what we know now, that we were able to even go on our trip in mid to late February.

Then life changed as we knew it, plans and expectations for 2020 were changed in a few short weeks. Here’s a brief overview of how we occupied our time from beekeeping and home improvement projects to reading and road trips.

Reading Overview


  • Average Rating: 4.02
  • Total Reads: 67
  • Total Posts: 103
  • Pages Read: 31,023
  • Words Read: 8,824,770
  • Words Written: 97,786

Top Fiction Reads:

  1. Dark Age by Pierce Brown
  2. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
  3. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  4. The Nothing Within by Andy Giesler
  5. Dune by Frank Herbert
  6. The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence
  7. The Burning White by Brent Weeks
  8. Divinity’s Twilight by Christopher Russell
  9. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  10. The Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

Top Nonfiction Reads:

  1. The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss
  2. Beethoven by Jan Swafford
  3. Fallout by Lesley M.M. Blume
  4. SPQR by Mary Beard
  5. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  6. The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
  7. Dreamchaser by Yakov Rozenberg
  8. How to Hide an Empire by Daniel Immerwahr
  9. One Giant Leap by Chris Fishman
  10. Dear Girls by Ali Wong

Writing a Book with my Grandparents

My grandparents and I wrote two books together! Well I’m counting them as a book anyway. I first got the idea of having my grandparents filling out a memory book from my husband’s grandma who completed her own, years ago now. Shortly after my Grandpa Fether’s passing, I bought copies for my three remaining grandparents. My Grandma Fether took to filling out her own, but my wonderful Grandma and Grandpa Lockwood were quite stubborn. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and stubbornness apparently runs in my family as I then interviewed them over a period of two years to complete this heart warming project. I took the books home and proceeded to call my grandparents once a week or so over the next two years. The whole process seemed much more natural than interviewing them in person. Plus it made visiting them in person more special by alleviated the pressure of continuing the project. As when in person, I would take rough notes in shorthand while on the phone with them. For every hour of interviewing, I would then spend an hour or two transcribing the notes into something more legible, that is if you can read my left-handed scribbles.

I was blessed by growing up within a few miles of all four of my grandparents. I’m so thankful for how close my family still is with my grandparents never missing a sporting event, band concert, or dance recital. This project has created so many new memories and will be one that I treasure always. I plan on filling out my own memory book in the future.

If you decide to tackle your own comparable project I would recommend keeping realistic time expectations. This is not a job that can be done in days and will likely take years to complete. Secondly, my husband often overheard my interviews and would comment that I was sticking too strictly to the questions proffered by the book, instead of letting the conversation organically develop. This instinct wasn’t natural to me, but did evolve as the project progressed. It was something I had to work at, but it was absolutely worth it as the later interviews made the book feel less structured.

Regardless if your grandparent fills out the book themselves or you take the initiative to interview them I highly recommend the experience. All three books are incredibly special and holds a prominent spot on my bookshelf. Not to mention the countless new memories I’ve made getting to know my grandparents better!



  • Giza Pyramids
  • Saqqara


  • Dead Sea
  • Petra
  • Wadi Rum
  • Red Sea

Lake Tahoe

Petrified Forest National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Temecula, California

Zion National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Arches National Park

Canyonlands National Park


Every year we are learning more and more about beekeeping. This year we were not able to visit our bees as much as we normally do because of Covid resulting in less trips to the farm, but they did well this year despite the dry weather. Fingers crossed that winter will be kind to them. If you’re interested in ordering some honey check out our Etsy shop here.

Self Publishing Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO)

In 2020, I’ve had the honor to asked to be a judge in Mark Lawrence’s Self Publishing Fantasy Blog Off contest! After recruiting four of my brilliant bookish boffins to help me with the contest by being members of the Critiquing Chemist. So Stephanie, Kelley, Dani, and Jennie deserve a massive shout out as I’ve so very much enjoyed all of our debates, the support, and just the overall fun associated with reading the same books with likeminded friends.

SPFBO consists of two phases, with the first phase consists of the 300 entrants being divided into groups of 30 among ten judges. We had a wonderful Phase One Batch and it was difficult to narrow the thirty books down to six semifinalists, which were as follows:

Our finalist selection was The Fall of Erlon by Robert H. Fleming. We are currently several months into Phase Two where we are working through the nine other finalists. SPFBO6 has some great reads in the finalists we look forward to seeing which title will end up as the best rated!

Quarantine Projects

Less trips to the farm resulted in us turning our eye to house projects we’ve been chatting about tackling. Luke started restoring the beautiful old carriage barn on our property, while I learned how to wash and paint aluminum siding on our house. We also replaced the porch skirting around the bottom of our beautiful wrap around porch. Luke seriously makes my visions become reality, while I’ve learned that I’m not the most patient painter. We’ve made countless trips to Home Depot and should likely become sponsors at this point. Regardless, it’s been a fun summer, especially with my Mom and Dad making a few trips up to help. Unfortunately, all of our projects are still ongoing, with Michigan’s winter having brought them to a premature halt.

New in 2020 we also started our very first garden! We’ve been talking about it for years, but this was our first summer in the new house. It was amazing how much food our little plot produced, and how much work to get it established, and keep the weeds at bay. I’m looking forward to making some improvements next year!

Looking forward to 2021

We are very much looking forward what 2021 will bring, especially with our baby girl making her debut in May. My guess will be this year end review will look very different next year both in a reduction in travel and books read, however will bring new joys only now guessed at.

Happy New Years my friends!


  1. I loved seeing your pictures of Jordan! I had a two week trip in Israel and Jordan scheduled for March this year, which we obviously had to cancel. Lots of things missed this year, but I’m glad that you were able to make so many wonderful memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lena! We feel so lucky we planned our trip when we did. Just a week later and it wouldn’t have happened. What a crazy year. I hope you were able to reschedule. We had to cancel a Banff trip over Labor Day.


  2. Wow! What a year you’ve had. Congratulations on next year’s new baby! There’s nothing better in life, in my opinion. I just had one daughter but she’s given me five grandchildren. FIVE!

    Thanks for the great pictures and info about the books. Books are good for traveling through the imagination when we can’t do it in person, thank heavens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Xina! Happy New Years!! Enjoy all your grand babies! I know Luke’s parents are both excited for their first. 😀 I’ve had a niece and nephew that have been so much fun to spoil for a few years.

      And yes! Thank goodness books can allow us to travel even when it is not safe to do so otherwise.


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