Transformations of 2010

Since I'm battling a bad cold, I seem to have plenty of time to blog.  So I decided to join the various parties that are taking a look back over 2010 projects.  I'm happy to be linking up with:
Kim's Boring to Better Party
Table Top Tuesday -- Anything Goes
Top Projects of 2010
Transformation Thursday
Thrifty Thursday
Inspiration Friday
The Best of 2010

The first major project of 2010 was really finishing off our backyard landscape project which had been started in the late spring of 2009.  Not too much happened throughout the summer -- Arizona, remember!
The Man had this pad poured for a garden building when the landscape team laid all the pavers.  This is the view down the side of our sunroom looking right at the concrete pad.

The Man knew exactly how he wanted the building to look and I kept interjecting "Old World" into the conversation.

I got my wish and then some.  Love, love, love how this turned out.  The Man is pretty pleased, too!

We had been discussing trying our hands at growing grapes, so The Man built the pergola & planted grapes on either end.

Lest you think that all I do is take pictures, I'll just remind you that there is always a "helper."  You know, the one who has to "fetch" this or that to hand to the person on the ladder or roof, the one who holds the "dummy-end" of the tape, the one who hops in the car for a quick run to Home Depot, the one who.....well, you get the picture!  Sorry, I just wanted to clear that up.  So, anyhoo, we gradually added some patio furniture, a firepit, and a fountain.

We had been making big plans to do major renovations to both our bathrooms, but not at the same time!  It was going to be a major job -- gutting said rooms & redoing with new floors, new cabinetry, new countertops, etc.  Then one day, a couple of months ago, we were visiting our son and dil and they said they wished we would move closer.  Our son knew that his dad's retirement was due to happen at the end of this year.  Well......we started thinking about that.  We were all over the place about whether we should, could, really wanted to, etc.  As the end of year drew closer, we finally made up our minds.  Yep, we are going to move!  Of course, we have to sell our townhouse or possibly lease it out.  The Man will continue to work until the house sells or we decide otherwise.  That being said, discussion of renovating the bathrooms quickly turned to doing some cosmetic things without spending too much money.

This is what we started with in the guest bath.  It had a rather shabby chic look which is great if that's the look you are going for;  but here it was shabby because it was getting old and worn and not in a good way.  As I've said before, we have had to add storage wherever we could and our little $3 garage sale side table has served well in this small bath.
The Befores:

The Man did some painting, regrouting & the tile looked very good.  We also changed out the cabinet hardware.
The Afters:

Just about the same things happened in the master bath -- regrouting, repainting the vanity, changing the hardware.
The Before:

The After:

We are quite pleased with how both baths have turned out.  They fit the overall look of the townhouse without going over the top (which is what we were planning to do if we had stayed here).

It has been a very long time since we had a house for sale, so any advice from anyone would be much appreciated.  I'm so glad I have this blog with so many wonderful "blog sisters," because I'm sure there will be times during the next several months when I will be close to pulling my hair out.  I will need a place to vent, but I'll keep it clean!  Anyway, thanks for coming along on my wrap-up of 2010 projects.  Hope you will come back again soon.

Taking the Challenge

I'm happy to be linking to:
A Bowl Full of Lemons 21 Day Challenge

I sure hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  We certainly did.  We were with our children and 5 grandchildren in Scottsdale, AZ having a terrific time.

Now we are home and I'm ready to pack away the Christmas decor and move on to the next challenge facing us.  We will be selling (please keep good thoughts) our house and moving to the Scottsdale/Phx. area.  As this daunting task stretches out before me, I look forward to getting things organized, cleaned out and doing some simplifying prior to the move.  I'm sure A Bowl Full of Lemons 21 Day Challenge is going to be very beneficial.

Here's wishing all my "Blog Sisters" a Happy New Year!  Now please write "2011" on your next 10 checks so that you won't mess up your checkbook!


Oh, what fun we had!

We had such a fun Christmas this year.  We spent a week in Scottsdale, AZ with our children and grandchildren and did some very special things.  The first activity was the Phoenix Botanical Gardens Los Noches de Luminaria tour.  We have wanted to do this for years, and it was so worth braving the damp (yes, it was raining in the desert) and chilly night to see this.

Hundreds of luminarias lined every path and adorned all roof lines.

We had the joy of experiencing this special activity with our son, dil & our 3 youngest grandchildren.  This was a beautiful fresh poinsettia tree.  Didn't have a chance to do a vertical photo before the little one was gone in a flash!

 Dale Chihuly created these wonderful blown glass displays.

We did our big family get-together on Christmas Eve Eve because we wanted to include this next activity.  The McCormack Ranch Railroad Park has been here for years & at Christmas they have train rides through a lighted wonderland.  It's something we had done with our own children when we first moved to AZ way back when they were youngsters.  Now we were getting to repeat it with our grandchildren.

This is a real steam locomotive that's always on display, but gets all decked out this time of year.  There is also a big room full of toy trains & all the towns and people to go with them.  These are operated by toy train hobbyists and enthusiasts. 

Yep, we pretty much filled up one whole car!

Next we were off to have pizza and see some of the decorations around the Scottsdale Quarter -- a brand new shopping center.  This is typical of the Christmas decorations found here in the desert.

These little monkeys are always hamming it up.  Didn't take long for the little one to catch on.

After filling everyone's tummies with pizza, we were off to our son's place for presents.  That was pretty much the chaos you would expect with 5 kiddoes, so no pics of that.  What was very special to me was when I gave our daughter & son the albums I had been working on for almost two years.  They were full of the pictures and stories that transpired from just before each was born through their young adult, pre-married lives.

It was so much fun to be able to scan some of their art or class pictures & make them photo-size.

I included some of their school papers by adding tabs to the tops and inserting them between pages.  They couldn't believe I had saved those.

Each albums first page included a letter from me sharing how I found out I was pregnant and how their dad and I felt during the 9-month wait.  Way back then, you didn't know what you were getting.  You just prayed for healthy.  Now our son & dil are choosing to be surprised for their baby due in January.  We do come full-circle, don't we?

These are the exact reactions I was hoping for.  I loved how their children were so curious and interested in what their parents looked like and what they had been doing when they were little.  Sometimes it's hard for children to realize their parents were ever their age unless they can see it first hand.

You could have heard a pin drop, where as 5 minutes before was total chaos & raucous noise and behavior.

Christmas Eve was divided between the two families, for a little one-on-one time.  Christmas Day, our daughter & family went to her in-laws and we went to our son's home.  His 2 older children were with their mom, so we shared the day with this little treasure of sheer delight!

Is she the daughter of two chefs, or what?

Thanks for letting me share our Christmas delights.  I hope all of you had as much fun as we did.
I am happy to be linking to:


Shhh, Betty Crocker has been here!

I don't want to make anyone jealous, but you'll never guess who showed up at my house yesterday & was still here this morning.  Yes, Betty Crocker!  I wanted to get a good picture of her, but she feared she might be recognized and others would want her to stop at their house for non-stop baking.  She would only allow me to show her apron-clad body.

The only thing I had to do was move the Christmas display from the island because she said she would need to use that for baking.  Well, you know us "tweakers" can't just set something aside even when it's only temporary.  So this is my temporary dining table vignette.

Well, then Miss Betty (is it Miss, Mrs. or Ms.? -- I don't know) started setting things out on the island.  I had a list of what needed to be made and had purchased all the supplies which made her very happy.  Oh, she had such a spring to her step as she started measuring, pouring & mixing.  It was truly contagious.  The Man even offered to help by putting our Christmas By the Fireside DVD on the t.v. making sure Miss Betty could hear it over the sound of the mixer.  Wasn't that nice of him?

The first thing she did was to check the recipes for anything that needed to be chilled before baking.  Yep, those Molasses Crinkles from Martha Stewart's Cookie Book needed just that.  You might be wondering how BC felt about using a recipe from MS, but she assured me she was just fine with it.  After all, BC did teach MS all she knows!  Her words, not mine.  Okay, Molasses Crinkles dough is chilling and Miss Betty moves on to Snickerdoodles which is in her Cookie Book.  She decided to double the recipe which I queried her about, reminding her just how many little balls she would need to roll in cinnamon-sugar;  but, that woman is quite strong-willed and reminded me that Snickerdoodles were my son's favorite cookie, so we needed a lot.  Well, really, who am I to argue?

Oh yes, lots of little balls to roll in the cinnamon-sugar.

Nothing smells or tastes quite as good as a warm-from-the-oven snickerdoodle.

She really is one amazing woman.  She actually was washing and cleaning up the area as she worked, but I was starting to notice a bit less enthusiasm than when she started.  I think she may have been on a sugar-low that comes after the sugar-high when you've been doing a bit too much sampling of your own goodies.  Yep, she was sneaking cookies and even giving samples to The Man.  Can you believe that?  Still, on she moved (after a shot of caffeine) to Lemon Squares.  These, too, she decided to double-batch because they are my daughter's favorite.

She enjoyed making these because this was another one of HER recipes and it's super easy.  She was starting to look a little haggard as she gave the Lemon Squares their dusting of powdered sugar.

Next up was a recipe from The Pioneer Woman's website called Cleta Bailey's Toffee Squares.  Miss Betty again acquiesced to preparing someone else's recipe because she is pretty star-struck by anything the Pioneer Woman does.  She prepared the base recipe and popped it in the oven.  Then she grabbed the huge bag of chocolate chips that had been sitting on the counter next to the oven all day, and I could see a bit of concern cross her face.  She said the bag felt a bit squishy in places, but she immediately moved it to a cooler location like that would instantly help.  Please, Miss Betty, why would you leave a bag of chocolate sitting next to the oven (not on it, just next to it, but still)?  She was able to salvage most of the chips and had plenty to go on top of the Toffee Squares for the second layer.  She decided to finish off the Toffee Squares before making a plan for the melted chips.  Just some chopped pecans on top and that's finished.

Now, what to do with all this gooey, partially melted chocolate in this bag?  I ventured to suggest a recipe for fudge that I had just seen that morning in a blog party which was supposed to be very, very easy.  She agreed to give it a try after giving me a long hard scowl.  Hey, she's the one who left the chocolate chips next to the stove, right?  Anyway, this recipe is Super Simple Fudge from While He Was Napping and it was very easy.

By this time, Miss Betty was no longer washing up as she went along.  She was tossing things in the dishwasher that I don't think she had ever put in the dishwasher before.  She was moving toward the door when I stopped her and reminded her that we (I mean, she) still had those Molasses Crinkles to make and some Friendship Fruit Breads.  Again with that darn scowl.  She was kind of being "Scroogy."  She said she would have to return in the morning to finish up.  I thought, fat-chance, she's not coming back here.  But guess what, she did come back and finished up the baking.  She asked me not to plan on her coming back to my house for a good long time, at least a year.  That's okay with me.  My waistline and hips couldn't take her being here any more often than that.  This is the array of goodies she made, and I'm truly grateful.

Look at all that lemony goodness.

Brown sugary crust topped with chocolate & pecans -- yum!

I made several pretty plates of these goodies to share with our children & Grands, some as a "Thank You" for being good neighbors, & one to our Vet who always takes such good care of our little Abby when we have to be away.

I hope y'all enjoyed my little experience with my special guest and oh, before I forget, Miss Betty asked me to tell all my friends that she is NOT for hire!

I am linking to:
Metamorphosis Monday
Cottage and Vine
The Twelve Days of Christmas Goodies
Tabletop Tuesday
Amaze Me Monday

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