Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

From our Arizona home to all our family and friends, near and far...

We will be thirteen for dinner which makes happier than I can express in words.

Lovin' Life ~~ On My Favorite Holiday

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our Friends from Back Home

Dan and Helen live across the street from us back home. Their son Jim, his wife Angie, and their extended family live out here, not too far from us. While we were home this summer, we heard that they would be coming out for a family wedding Thanksgiving week and had invited them to call us while they were here. They called this morning and the four of them came out around noon today. Before they left, we had this shot taken of the four of us.

We showed them around our place.

The seven of us went to Elvira's for lunch. You may remember this place because I posted a couple of photos the first time Rich and I ate there a couple weeks ago. It has all that colorful hand-carved, hand-painted furniture from Mexico. They all loved the decor, took lots of pictures, and enjoyed the food too!

They had brought a cake so we came back to our house for dessert and to continue our fun, lively conversation. What great folks to spend an afternoon fun!

How lucky we are to have such great friends back home and to be making new ones here. I pinch myself every day to see if I'm just dreaming!

Lovin' Life ~~ Having Company

Monday, November 25, 2013

Marianne Is Here!

We are so excited that Marianne is visiting us for ten days! Saturday morning I took this shot of the girls playing tug-o-war.

On our way over to the kids' house Saturday afternoon, I took this fabulous shot of the Superstitions...I never get tired of seeing them in all different kinds of light.

Sandee had dinner ready soon after we got there and then baked chocolate chip cookies. Can you tell that Shelby is not thrilled with her cookie dough stealing brother?

In response, he took the bowl and was going to dig in but then...

...his mom took back control of the bowl of cookie dough! So fun!

The kids spent the night with us Saturday night and then we all hung out here on Sunday. After breakfast, Rich decided that the step stool we bought at IKEA last week needed a face since the two holes on each end looked like eyes. I did the end you can see here while Shelby and Rich did the other.

Here is Shelby wearing their creative masterpiece!

We can find the simplest, funnest things to do. Shelby helped me tear bread to dry for Thanksgiving dressing. Dylan helped a bit but quickly lost interest. He and Jackson brought their X-Box over so they were playing football...what a surprise, huh?

Everyone pitched in to make place cards with menus for Thursday. Rich started that tradition with Sandee years ago so I loved seeing him do that with our grands this year...special times, these!

I cooked potatoes with the skins on to go with chicken nuggets for lunch and so everyone gathered around to smash and load their own potato with a variety of toppings.

Sandee and Shawn came to get them and stayed to visit for quite a while so the whole weekend was one giant treat!

Today was so special because Marianne flew in around noon. We stopped for lunch at Red, White, & Brew...yummy! When we got home we gave her the full tour, then took a drive, and shopped for the last of the groceries. While I worked on photos, Rich taught her to play Farkle. We are enjoying her being here and catching up on each others' lives.

Lovin' Life ~~ The Excitement Builds!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Our Rainy Place

We have been even busier than usual this week preparing for our Thanksgiving guests. We are so excited that they are coming! Just look around your house and then try to imagine starting all over again, moving into an empty house and having to buy every single little thing you use daily plus furniture. It has been so much fun doing that and luckily we love doing the shopping and selecting together! We are also interviewing and now waiting for quotes on some of the large projects we would like to do to this house...whew!

Still, I spend more time than I should sitting here at my desk in the kitchen reading stuff on my computer and watching life outside my window. We have a new resident in our pool. Isn't it adorable? This is the top of the chlorine dispenser...makes me smile!

We also have a number of  birds frequenting our backyard. There are Gambol Quail, Hummingbirds, Thrushes, and others. Also we get see Ladder-backed Woodpeckers and Gila Woodpeckers but this Gila is the only one that I've gotten a photo of since we've been back.

Every day, without fail, we have a number of Cactus Wrens hanging on the bamboo pool fence, the ocotillo, and checking out Kunu's hat! This is the Arizona state bird.

Cactus Wren in flight.

Their favorite place to "hang" around!

Our power went out at 3:45 this morning and I awoke minutes later. Rich called the power company around 7:00 and to my great surprise, a person actually answered the phone and was able to tell him that 1,000 customers were without power due to a major circuit breaker failure and they expected to have service restored at 8:30...Wow! I was so impressed! When it hadn't been restored by 9:00 he called them again, immediately got another live person who said that there still 285 customers without power due to a downed line and they would have service restored by 2:30. What great service from the folks at the power company.

Yesterday Rich had moved the motorhome to a more level part of our driveway and I cleaned it because it will serve as a guest house next weekend. We were worried about the frig/freezer because we have already done our Thanksgiving weekend shopping. Rich got the big extension cord and ran it from the motorhome to the frig, started the motorhome generator, and voila...the frig was back on! 

During all this, I took this shot of my favorite saguaro and the clouds drifting over the mountains.

We went to breakfast...yummy...did some more shopping and when we returned there was a large crew and several power company workers at the intersection near our house. The downed line had been hit by lightning. Shortly after we returned home the power came back on. It continued to rain nearly all day so this afternoon I ventured out in it to take a few photos of our "stream." Yes, of course, it's just a shallow wash that cuts across our property, but today it was a stream!

This is the Arizona state tree, a Palo Verde, and verde it is today! I was so thrilled when I saw this brilliant green.

You've probably seen this dead branch before because it is also a favorite sight and when wet today it was black...a lovely contrast to its surroundings.

Oops, I should have taken photos of the tremendous amount of branches Rich trimmed from our Ironwood tree yesterday. It looks great and thankfully we had most of our scheduled tasks completed before the rains came since it's supposed to continue through the weekend.

Lovin' Life ~~ In Rainy Arizona

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dylan's Weekend

Dylan's weekend was filled with hockey games. They played in Peoria on Friday evening, played in Gilbert yesterday, and had two games in Gilbert today. When we got there today, I asked about the three previous games; they had lost all three but played better each game so the parents were excited about their potential for this last game of the weekend.

Shelby, Rich, and I must be good luck because, not only did they win 2 - 1 this afternoon, but Dylan made the winning goal! And...they played a rough team so there were injuries; it was a hard-played, well-won game! Here are just a few shots...

Dylan #23 is near the center of this shot; his team is wearing white.

No, I did not catch the goal with my camera because I was watching and, in my excitement, didn't react quickly enough. Here his teammates are surrounding and congratulating him! His goal made the score 2 -1. That was near the end of the second period, which made for a long, nerve-racking third period for all of their fans!

His team skating over to greet the losing team at the end of the game.

Dylan was awarded the Game Puck!

Lovin' Life ~~ Thrilled to See Dylan's Goal

Shelby's Weekend

Jackson had plans for Saturday and Dylan had four hockey games this weekend, with the first one out of town Friday evening. We picked up Shelby after school on Friday and she stayed with us until we all met at Dylan's fourth game this afternoon.

Rich was finishing up several small projects around the house this weekend. Shelby and I had a crafting/baking weekend!

Friday evening she made me a rubber band bracelet on her loom. I love it! It has my three favorite colors: teal for me, purple for Sandee, and orange for Greg.

The previous weekend, she and I had picked up a couple of things to make for the holidays but didn't have time to start them then. We didn't get to spend much time on this, but I am teaching her to embroider. There was a bit of a delay before I could start her on this project because I had to re-learn the art myself so that I could teach her.

We took a break to walk out into the yard near the road while Rich was clearing some cactus. Shelby was admiring the eyes and nose that Grandpa added to KJJ recently. If you recall, the kids and G'pa built King Julian Jr a few weeks ago.

 Our Yard

Then we sat outside and Shelby was showing Rich how to use the rubber band loom, while I worked on her latchhook for a bit. The deal was that I would help her because she was making me another bracelet, but she didn't have time to finish it.

Yesterday evening we baked a pumpkin dessert and these Raspberry Bars. Do these look familiar Sandee B?

Again this morning, Shelby worked on her latchhook project for a little while before we left to go to Dylan's hockey game. She caught onto this craft very quickly!

She learned two new crafts and I got reacquainted with them as well, in addition to having a couple of yummy desserts to enjoy!

Lovin' Life ~~ Showing Shelby Things I Enjoy Doing 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pantry Renovation

It's always the little things that make us crazy, right? This pantry was on the long list of little (&big) things in this house that made us crazy because it was divided into these bizarre, inefficient spaces.

By the time I realized that I wanted some photos of this project, Rich had already removed one shelf; you can see the line where it was attached halfway between the top and the (formerly) third shelves. The bottom three shelves had those wire baskets attached.

Problems: there were only about 12 inches between shelves so there were many items that would not fit; the wire baskets were hard to pull out and squeaked loudly; it was impossible to clean crumbs and stuff that had fallen under the wire shelves; with the pantry door hung on the right side, the remaining area was only about three inches wide so nearly inaccessible; and it had never been painted.

Solutions: Rich removed the second and third shelves from the top; the second shelf was discarded; the third shelf was re-positioned a few inches higher; now we will have four functionally sized shelves; he designed three shelves that will pull out and installed them on top of the existing shelves; he removed the new pullout shelves; and painted the inside of the pantry.

After the paint cures in a day or two, he will re-install the new pullout shelves and we can restock the pantry. Bella was this close to one or the other of us all day, here she's supervising the painting. Dora observed from a safe distance.

After using the kitchen for a few weeks now, I finally decided which drawers would hold which things. Most were in good condition and only needed to be washed when we moved in but others I had not used because I needed to line them. In the process of doing that today, I had this center drawer hanging loose so that I could reach all the way to the back to put Contact paper in when it slipped, fell on the floor, and the front tore away from the screws. The outcome of this sorry tale is that Rich got to repair my mess in the midst of his awesome project...geesh...even when I try...

After that fiasco, I just tried to stay out of his way, fixed lunch, made a supply run, and let the girls hang by me since they get a little nervous when we're working on projects. Here's a short movie of them playing this evening.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Home Improvement Projects