A Look at 2013

Hey everyone!  As "2013" is quickly coming to a close, it's always fun to reflect on the things that have happened throughout the year.  I like to do this as a kind of recording and sometimes a gentle reminder that life is short and incredibly valuable, so I need to make the most of it.  Let me share some of the highlights of my year as I reflect, remember, and contemplate what "2014" might hold in store.


Chihuly in the Garden!

Hey everyone!  Hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas.  We certainly did.  When it's all about family, it cannot get any better.  I'm not here today to share "Oh, look what I got," because I personally think that's kind of tacky -- just my opinion, but we keep the gift-giving part of our celebration very low-key.   I do want to share some collaged photos of a special event The Man and I attended last weekend.  The Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens presents "Las Noches de las Luminarias" each year, and this year was extra special with a beautiful exhibition of Dale Chihuly's handblown glass art.  It was so incredible!  My photos truly do not do justice to the beauty of the gardens, but I hope you will enjoy them anyway.

The dark sky you see in the background was providing sprinkles of rain throughout the evening!

There was live entertainment scattered throughout the garden, and the young man above could really make his violin sing, and he loved running around through the audience as he played!

All the beautiful specimens of cacti were really showing off their beauty, too!

This was really a special evening.  The Man and I bundled up, strolled every path, and tried to soak up all the beauty that surrounded us.

Afterwards, we ended up here........

To warm up and get nourished!  YUM!
In-n-out burger

Hope you enjoyed seeing the Phoenix Botanical Gardens dressed for the season.  I loved sharing the experience with all of you!
I'm happy to party here:
The Tablescaper at The Tablescaper for Oh, The Places I've Been


What You Haven't Seen!

Hey everyone!  I thought I would do a bit of a wrap-up of the Christmas decor around here that you may not have seen yet.  I will truly try to keep the chatter to a minimum and just let the pictures speak for themselves.


Be My Guest!

Hey everyone!  I wish this time of year would slow down and drag a bit like summer does around here, but it just seems to be whizzing by way too fast!  At least we are having cool weather!  Today I thought I would share a bit of my craft room, the guest room and bath, and some of this wing of our home.  
This is the first thing you see as you walk down this hallway.  This is so special to The Man & I.  It has photos of us, our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.  I've had these little wreaths forever and thought the colors were perfect to add to this frame with suction cups.


Family Fun Times!

Hey everyone!  In the midst of sharing my Christmas home and all kinds of craft projects, I also wanted to share some family time we had last weekend.  It was a busy day for The Man and I, and we were dragging by the time we got home.  But it was all so very worth it!

Our day started with a Dance Recital for our ten-year old granddaughter, Phoebe.  We were kind of bummed that photography was not allowed during the performance (strictly forbidden), but we got pics afterward.

Phoebe performed a Hip-Hop dance, beautifully I might add, and looked so cute in her 
pretty red costume.  Littliest Miss was so excited to see her!

Little Miss and Littliest Miss were so anxious to give Phoebe her flowers!

And, no, she is not wearing bronzer.  She just has beautiful olive skin (like her Dad).

Proud Daddy, but "fear" lurks behind that smile -- three little beauties to watch over!

Next, we hot-footed it down the freeway to the Phoenix Zoo to meet up with......
Two more beauties -- our 14 year old twins, Taylor & Riley.

Zoo Lights is an annual event, but we've never been before, so this was special fun!

Nana really likes to take photos!

We could not believe the work that went into this event.  So many trees were completely covered in little lights.  

Seeing the lights across the water was stunning!

LOTS of people!

Music was playing throughout and periodically was synced to the lights -- so pretty!

Can you tell this is our gymnast?  This move is called "The Scorpion."  I just
say "amazing & OUCH!"

Hmmm..... the "oldsters" (the short ones in the middle....lol) are looking tired!

Proud parents -- Dad is barely hanging on to his height lead, but Mom has long-since been passed!

This was a super-fun day, but we certainly slept good this night!

Thanks for stopping by and taking a break from the normal Christmas hullabaloo to share in our
  family time! 
I'm sharing this post at:
The Tablescaper at The Tablescaper for Oh, The Places I've Been


Christmas Cheer in Our Family Room

Hey everyone!  Hope y'all aren't getting too exhausted with all the holiday chaos and are actually taking some time to stop and enjoy the works of your labor.  I'm trying really hard to do that this year.  Today I want to share our family room.  Because our family room is open to the kitchen and breakfast room, I try to keep the same feel and colors running throughout the entire space, and it's all about whimsy.  Come on and I'll show you what I've done.

In case you are wondering, that pad on the floor in front of the fireplace is Abby's heated pad.  I'm very surprised she is not on it right now.  It's pressure sensitive so only heats up when she gets on it, or when The Man or I need to warm up our tootsies!


Opinions Please!

Hey everyone!  I really need your honest opinions.   I bought this Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker about two years ago and use it at least once a week.  It is certainly a work-horse in my kitchen.  My query is regarding Dutch Ovens.  I keep hearing all these wonderful things about them, but I just don't know if it's that much different than using this slow cooker, or if I could benefit from having both.  

Hamilton Beach® 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
Now, I am not a "name dropper," so I don't need to impress anyone with this brand.

There are so many different brands, but most of them seem to be the same except for price.  I know the inside surface needs to be smooth and the inside of the lid needs to have the grooves for self-basting.  They all seem very heavy which poses another question -- size?  For two people, would I really need one any larger than 5 quart?  I'm not sure I could even lift one any bigger once it's filled.

Okay friends, toss out your opinions here.  Do you have a Dutch Oven and do you use it a lot?  What brand do you have and why do you love it or not?  Do you also have a slow cooker?  

Thanks so much for sharing your opinions!


A Family Christmas!

Hey everyone!  Okay, we are not talking "Clark Griswald's Family Christmas" here, but I did want to share one of my favorite and most precious (to me) Christmas trees in our home.  Today it's all about the "Family Memories Christmas Tree!"  You did get a glimpse of it HERE when I did a tour of our sitting-dining room area, but I thought you might like a little bit more detail.  You do, don't you?  Well, here it is!

This entry table (aka: the old Singer sewing machine) is one of my most favorite places to decorate -- special times or simple, ordinary days -- and the perfect location for this special tree!  


An Incredible Cookie Recipe!

Hey everyone!  Hope you are having a great week, but it is about to get even better if you try this cookie recipe.  You know how sometimes when you read a recipe, you can just taste how good it's going to be and you absolutely cannot wait to make it?  Well, that happened to me this morning when I saw this recipe from Amanda at Kevin and Amanda.  She teases and refers to these as Secret Ingredient Christmas Cookies, but the official name is Brown Butter Snickerdoodles.  The link above will take you to the recipe, and Amanda is a great photographer so she has lots of photo-steps to guide you in making these little gems of deliciousness!  

This is how mine turned out.
Amanda says that the "secret" ingredients are the brown butter and the toasted pecans.

I'm totally agreeing with her on this.  I usually toast pecans or walnuts for any recipe, but the brown butter is for sure a new concept to me.  Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!

The Man who claims not to be much of a "cookie consumer" has declared these to be the BEST cookie he's ever eaten.  Just so you know, I followed Amanda's recipe exactly.  I will definitely be making these again before Christmas so that we have plenty to share -- truly don't think what I made today is going to be around for too terribly long.  Oh well, more time at the gym.....sigh!

Please let me know if you do try these and what you think.  Happy baking!

I love to party with these fine bloggers:
The Tablescaper at The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays
Karen at Sew Many Ways for Sew Darn Crafty
Cindy at Dwellings--The Heart of Your Home for Amaze Me Monday
Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday
Kathryn at The Dedicated House for Make It Pretty Mondays
Maria Elena at Our Home Away from Home for Tuesdays at Our Home
Marty at A Stroll Thru Life  for Inspire Me Tuesday
Leslie at House on the Way for Twirl & Take a Bow
Mary Beth at Cupcakes and Crinoline for Project Inspired
Karin at The Style Sisters for Centerpiece Wednesday
Angela at Hickory Trail for Efforts and Assets
Kelly at Live Laugh Rowe for Live Laugh Linky Party
Richella at Imparting Grace for Grace at Home
Pamela at From My Front Porch to Yours for Treasure Hunt Thursday
Kathryn at The Dedicated House for Anything Blue Friday
The Tablescaper at The Tablescaper for Oh, The Places I've Been
Jody & Stan at Rooted in Thyme for Simple and Sweet Fridays 
Amanda at Serenity Now for Weekend Bloggy Reading


Lots of Cone Trees -- What?

Hey everyone!  I'm here again sharing some more crafting ideas.  This time it's all about cone trees.  Again, Pinterest is to blame -- I saw THIS idea that Krista at The Happy Housie had done and knew immediately that I had to make some.  Krista shares how to make your own cones out of poster board or cardstock which I already had.  This was just perfect for me, because I was really wanting to add something with a bit of height and texture to the top of my China cabinet.  I especially wanted to do something with drop cloth since I have amassed quite a lot of that.....lol!  So, here is what I made.

Clothespin Tree for the Laundry Room

Hey everyone!  I've been doing quite a lot of crafting lately and having so much fun!  I've been especially drawn to things that I either don't have to buy any supplies for or ones that I can make from Dollar Store items.  Yay, for Dollar Stores!  There is just a non-stop supply of such cute ideas on Pinterest and at all of the wonderful linky parties that have been going on -- so much talent!  Anyway, I saw this really cute idea for a clothespin tree that Brandi at Nest of Bliss made.  Hers is much, much cuter than mine, but I'm still happy with how mine turned out.  I just love having little bits of Christmas cheer in every room in our home (except the Mancave -- not allowed!) and I wanted just something small for our laundry room.  What could be more appropriate for the laundry than a clothespin tree?  Let me show you.

I almost always have something pretty on the door because this is just off our main hallway 
and is so visible.
So....come on in!


Let It SNOW-Flakes!

Hey everyone!  The AZ desert is finally starting to actually feel like Christmas with a few days here of freezing and below and highs in the 50's!  Am I happy?  You betcha!  Sweaters, fleece-lined boots, mittens and scarves -- oh yeah, I'm HAPPY and totally enjoying the Christmas season!  

I don't typically do Christmas themes, but I have found that this year there is an underlying theme running throughout my home -- snow!  Pretty odd here in the desert and probably just wishful thinking, but I seem to have snowflakes or snowmen or snow-related items everywhere in my decor.  Case-in-point, some ornies I made.  If you have followed my blog for awhile, you know that I always make ornaments for our grandchildren each year.  

I made these last year.  See, I told you......snow on the brain even last year!


All Through the House.....

Hey everyone!  I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving;  and if you did any Black Friday shopping, "bless your heart!"  It was absolute craziness out there -- fun to see but not to participate in.  I spent my holiday weekend doing a "wrap" on my Christmas decorating.  I think it took me twice as long this year as ever before (good thing I started way early), but I am very pleased with the outcome.  I took a ton of photos last night with all the lights, but I will be breaking it down and trying hard not to overload you with pics -- HA!  Today I will be sharing some glimpses of our foyer and sitting-dining rooms.  Hope you enjoy!



I'm Getting There!

Hey everyone!  Wow, it's been awhile since I posted, and you know what that means, right?  Yes, I've been up to my eyebrows in tinsel & glitter!  Since I'm not hosting Thanksgiving, I thought I'd go ahead and get a head-start on Christmas.  My goal is to be finished by Tuesday, but I have a ways to go.  Anyway, I thought I'd share just a little of what I have gotten finished.  I almost always start in the kitchen since that seems to be where I spend most of my time.  I'm not showing everything yet, because I still have some tweaking to do.  Do you have something to drink?  Good, then let's get started!

I really like to get all of the areas above the cabinets finished first -- really don't like being on the tall ladder!


Just Some Randomness or Maybe It's Rambling, You Be the Judge!

Hey everyone!  Do you ever have a day where your mind just doesn't want to settle on one thing?  Well, silly me,  I'm talking to Bloggers, and our minds are always juggling a gazillion different things, right?  Right!  Some days are just worse than others, let's put it that way.

Celebrating Our Veterans

A big "Thank You" to all who have served and to those who are still serving to keep 
our country safe.
Veterans Day Stock Photo - 9297847 
With respect and gratitude to all of you!


It's a Birthday!

Hey everyone!  Someone special is celebrating a birthday today, and her name is Phoebe.  Phoebe is our fourth grandchild, and she is ten years old today!  Where-oh-where has the time gone?

We went from this cherub to ........

This young beauty in the blink of an eye -- or so it feels!

But, there were a few years in between!

Phoebe is one very "special" girl. 
She is very smart & excels in school.
She is artistic and loves to draw and craft.
She is dramatic and fun-loving -- you should see her with a karaoke machine!
She is very unique -- the only grandchild with brown eyes & olive skin (like her Daddy).
And if these aren't enough, Phoebe is just the sweetest little girl and is a terrific "big sister."

Phoebe is a wonderful little girl -- an absolute joy to be with.  Her Boppa (The Man) calls her "Face."  Why?  Well, just look at these photos!  

Nana & Boppa love you so much!


A Harvest Party!

Hey everyone!  A little party took place at my home last night, and it was truly a wonderful experience.  I belong to a women's group here in our neighborhood, and we meet once a month just for fellowship and what we loosely refer to as a "meeting."  The meeting part is usually just to plan an activity or an outing, but the fellowship-part is our main focus -- well, seriously, that's the fun-part!  Normally, we meet at The Ranch House (one of our club houses), but I invited everyone to my home this month, and that took place last night.  I just thought I'd share a glimpse around just before everyone got here.

Everything was aglow to light the path to the front door.


Amish Friendship Bread

Hey everyone!  Have any of you ever made Amish Friendship Bread?  Has a "friend" ever offered you "The Starter," but maybe you thought it was too much work?  Well, I'm here to tell you, it is not difficult and makes a wonderful bread with tons of variations.  I have "starter" that a neighbor in our previous home-town passed on to me over five years ago.  Over the years, I have probably passed on "starter" to at least fifty people.  I just love that concept, don't you?  Anyway, I have been a busy "baking bee" the last couple of weeks, using Friendship Bread starter that I had frozen -- yes, you can freeze it so you are not constantly baking bread if you don't want to do that!  It is so much fun to get the starter from a friend, but I realize that is not always possible; so HERE is a link to a recipe for the starter itself.

Don't these look scrumptious? 

No! No! I Won't Let You Go!

Hey everyone!  I CANNOT believe Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is looming just around the corner, and then it will be the "mad Christmas dash!"  Since we are getting into that time of year for present wrapping frenzy, I thought I would share a little something that happened totally by accident; but, of course you need some background.

The picture below is our Christmas kitchen in our previous home.  We had completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen in 2004 -- new cabinets, Corian countertops, new stainless appliances, & hardwood floors.  You can see that complete transformation HERE.  I had always wanted an island, but we just weren't sure if the space would allow it, so we waited.  The Man said we could add one if I decided the space would work.  Well, we just happened to be browsing through Crate n'Barrel one time when we were in the big city (Scottsdale) & discovered the PERFECT island.


Adding a Bit of Halloween!

Hey everyone!  Happy Sunday, and I hope everyone has been having a perfect weekend!  Today I thought I would do just a little wrap-up of a few tweaks and the addition of a bit of Halloween decor around my home.  As I've said before, I'm not into the really creepy spiders, webs & skulls, so my additions are very tame; but I hope you enjoy them anyway.  I have quite a few pics (truly surprised, aren't you?), so I will try to keep the chit-chat to a minimum.  Wish me luck on that....lol!


Some Fall in the Backyard!

Hey everyone!  I'm sharing an area of our home today that I don't show too often, because it still needs a lot of work.  But, oh well, it is what it is and that is our patio and backyard.  The Man wants to build an outdoor kitchen which will be spendy, so we don't want to do too many things that might have to be re-done when that project happens.  The covered patio area is quite big and the uncovered area is huge and is completely usable the way it is, and that's how it will be for awhile.  So, all that being said, here is what we have.

The covered patio sits between the family room (behind me in this photo) & our master bedroom (the tall door goes into our bedroom).  The two big windows across the back are in our 
sitting-dining room area.
This shows about 1/2 of the space.  We have an overhead fan/light that needs to be installed, but we haven't found what we want at the right price to replace the wall-mounted fixtures.  There has even been talk of turning this into a sunroom, but that's another spendy project.....sigh.


No Creepiness On My Front Porch!

Hey, everyone!  I cannot believe how long it has taken me to get my front porch the way I want it -- or maybe it still isn't there yet, and I will need to do more tweaking!  Yikes, how hard can it be?  Well, it's easier if you wait until the weather cools down a bit, which I did not do; so it was slow-going at first.  The other issue is the shape of our entry porch -- almost tunnel-like but with that small alcove area.  Anyway, it took some doing, but I'm pretty happy with the way it looks now.  Let's take a look-see, shall we?
I love taking pictures at dusk!


Some "Fall" in the Sitting Room

Hey everyone!  I hope you've been having a great first week of October.  We've been having some nice cool mornings and evenings, and it has been so nice sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the late afternoon.  Ahhh, I'm starting to remember why we put up with "*&%#" summer!  Well, y'all know I've been decorated for Fall for quite some time now and have been gradually sharing my rooms.  Today I'm ready to invite you into our sitting room.  

Abby is here to greet you!

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