Apr 28, 2011

The Real West! Travel with me...Wickenburg Az.

Caballeros Museum  Exhibit, Wickenburg, Arizona
"Cowgirl Up 2011"
     We live in Arizona 6 months out of every year. We love the aura of a cowboy society.  Each year as we travel home we pass through Wickenburg, Az. If you are looking for a real cowboy, this may be where they live.
    Today when we drove into town, we stopped for lunch at The Cowboy Cafe.  The food was okay but the memorabilia and western art on the walls made the stop worth while.  It reflected the cowboy feel of this little community.
     Here in Wickenburg there is a beautiful "Caballero Western Museum".  For a period of time each spring they feature an exhibit of western art by renowned women artists.  I love the name, "Cowgirl Up 2011".  Those of us that live in the land of cowgirls understand the significance of the name. When our men get wimpy or decide that they want us to serve them we will say "Cowgirl Up".  It means get tough and be a man! Cowgirls are a breed unlike any other...a little soft and a lot tough!
    Wickenburg is one of those places that time has forgotten...not because of the climate or the location.  A river runs nearby and green willows grow on it's banks.  It has all the charm and appeal of a perfect place to live but the interstate does not run close by.  It seems to me that Wickenburg is lucky in so many ways.  While the metropolitan Phoenix only 60 miles away is rushing here and there, Wickenburg enjoys the feel and comfort of a small western community.  How lucky can they get!!!  In the end these small peripheral communities have the last laugh.  Being slow to develop is a very good thing.  I only wish we had discovered it a long time ago.
    In the morning we will play golf at the Wickenburg Country Club.  We had dinner there tonight.  The food was wonderful.  The golf course is nestled in the this small green valley.  We played it year before last and loved it.
    Tomorrow we will finish our 18 holes of golf and then drive on up to Las Vegas.  I will check in with you then and let you know how the day goes.

b

Apr 27, 2011

Tucson to Portland, Oregon via Wickenburg? Hub Pages Link

2009
Hoover Dam bypass construction 2009
Storm over the Colorado River 2010
     Note:  Check out the pictures from my Hub Pages Post called 11 Picture of a Man Made Marvel.  Be sure to click on the images I have posted here and look at them in full size on your computer screen.  It is amazing1

     Going home is always an adventure. We have traveled from Tucson to Portland Oregon in the spring for many years. We try to make each trip a new adventure but it is getting harder with each passing year. Are we missing some new way home? I cannot imagine.  
     Sometimes we go through Palm Springs, then through Los Angeles and up I-5. We have gone all the way to the Pacific Ocean and up the coast on 101.  We have stopped in the Napa Valley on the way home. One year we stopped at Lake Taho after spending some time in Death Valley and taking a route on the east side of the Sierra Nevadas.  We have also gone to Reno from Las Vegas and spent a night there before driving home to Portland.  One year we stayed in Sedona for a couple of nights.
     For the last few years we have been making the trip over Hoover Dam. Watching the bridge being built has been fascinating. I have a chronology of the building of the bridge that looms over the dam and the Colorado River. (Click on the link above) The amazing structure that is now the bypass bridge was completed this last summer. We will travel over that bridge this year.  I hear all you can see is concrete walls.  The story is they don't want drivers to be distracts by the wonder of this place.  Tourist might wreck!
    But, as with any journey, the way you complete your travels is by taking the first step. Our trip will start out with a short drive to a small community called Wickenburg. This will be the third year we have started our trip home with this short drive.  I love to start out this way.  Wickenburg is a sleepy little community about 60 miles north of Phoenix.  The big event for Wickenburg in April was a meeting of the Arts and Culture Commission on April 28th. That's it! We eat at the golf course and do a little shopping down town. It is an easy first day of driving.
     After packing up and preparing the park model for the summer, we are usually very tired. We will get up late, finish our preparation, have breakfast at the Congress Hotel in downtown Tucson and drive until we need a break.  Our life is good  because we have a very loosely planned schedule.
View looking up 2010
     We will stay in Las Vegas on the second night.  Our friends will join us in Wickenburg for a game of golf on Friday and we will drive to Las Vegas afterwards.  We have a night in our timeshare at World Mark on Las Vegas Avenue.  On Saturday night we will stay on Nellis Air Force Base and play golf on the base.  Sunday will be the day we decide which road we will take home from there.  Our choices are all good.  We can go through Utah or we can stay in Nevada and spend the next night in Reno. Who knows.  Right now I don't care.  I am tired and bed is calling my name.
    Safe travels.

b
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Apr 25, 2011

The Teeny Tiny Cottage...a trend?

One of 10 Tiny Getaways on Apartment Therapy
      I have been a fan of the teeny tiny cottages for quite some time. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I have not given this concept in housing much time on this retire in style blog.  THEN I see that Apartment Style had a feature about the tiny houses this week. I want to be Apartment Style anyway and when I saw they had usurped my love of the tiny cottage, I was just miffed! Okay, I admit there is a blog called "Tiny House Blog" and Apartment Therapy is all about small spaces so I cannot lay claim to the small house exclusively. But still!
     You can buy a tiny house prefab...there is actually a company that sells them to consumers.  The company is called Tumbleweed Houses.  The small houses they sell prebuilt are on wheels so you can put them almost anywhere.  If you are a DIY kind of person, they sell the plans too.
      I received a question the other day from a senior citizen living here in the Tucson area wanting know if I know of any "tiny houses" here in the area. I could not give the person an address. However, here in Tucson you will find that very small houses are everywhere you look.  You just have to recognize one when you see it!  Here in the southwest they are called casitas...small house in Spanish.  With the arrival of the snowbirds in places like Green Valley just south of Tucson in the 1960's the small affordable housing craze began.  As I understand it, money from New York States Teacher's Retirement fund was used to built the first casitas and the rest is history.  These tiny little houses are still being used.
From NYTimes Home and Garden Section
     My favorite picture of a tiny house comes from the New York Time Home and Garden section. This little jewel was a stick built house in the Catskills.  I found the article via the blog about tiny houses I spoke of above.  When you go to the Tiny House Blog you will be treated to the elegant and the not so elegant in tiny houses.
     The Apartment Therapy article called 10 Tiny Getaways made me dream of lakes and firewood and sleeping with all the windows open.  The Tiny House Movement could be a dream that takes many forms.  I just thought you would want to know.

b





 Janette said...





There is a co housing place in Tucson that uses casita they way they were meant to be used. Milargro. Most of the houses are small themselves- but the casitas are small and VERY livable.
I keep telling my husband I want a tiny house in my future. I don't want a condo or an apartment- but small houses are rare. What do I need with even 1000 sq feet when I am 90? Much easier than living in a "rest home"

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Apr 24, 2011

10 Gifts a Mother/Grandmother Would Love...Mother's Day is Coming!

Amedeo Modigliani Jeune fille au corsage a poisImage via Wikipedia

Yesterday's post gave you the personality quiz for your mother/grandmother.  Now it is time to shop.  Here is a list of gifts that no mother will turn down.  Take a look.
#11...a little bling!!!
  1. Aveda Lotions (yummy)
  2. Herb Basket 
  3. A cool baseball hat
  4. Trip to the Day Spa
  5. A make-up makeover + lunch
  6. Flowers...on a silk scarf
  7. Flowers...on jewelry
  8. A Kindle Reader
  9. Corsage pin (jewelry)
  10. A subscription to a Magazine (go to A Frugal Friend)
  11. Your time!
Time to go shopping....3 day left!

b

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Apr 23, 2011

10 Things - How to choose the perfect Mother's Day gift!

Greeting Card Birthday 1840Image via Wikipedia
    
     I have learned a few trick for buying gifts over the years. What you need to do is get a picture of what the Mother you are buying a gift for will enjoy. After all, you do want to give her something that she will remember for a long time.  Here are some hints that will help. Answer the following questions:
  1. How old is Mom/Grandma?
  2. What is she doing this weekend?
  3. Is she vain?
  4. What is her favorite store?
  5. What is the weather?
  6. How often do you spend time with her?
  7. Is she a girly girl?
  8. How many siblings do you have?
  9. How does she treat herself?
  10. How long has she been married or is she single?
     These are not the usual questions but you will know more when you answer these than when you answer the hobby related questions. For example, if your mother is elderly and a girly girl, a corsage is perfect. However, if she active and spent the week end hiking, you can be assured that she will not want a corsage. She will love a collection of lotions for aching muscles and a cool new baseball hat. 
     If your mother is a girly girl, single and loves to shop at Nordstroms you will find just what she wants on the counter just inside the door. If you don't spend much time with her and she doesn't have enough money to treat herself to a message, pedicure or nail extensions, spend the afternoon with her...get your toe nails done. You can do this even if you are a man.  
     If she is a vain older woman, she will like a makeover at the department store and a gift certificate for that same store. If she a vain younger woman (your wife or daughter) she will love the same kind of star treatment.
     Always consider the weather on that week. Believe it or not a beautiful spring plant goes over better on a cold day. A beautiful spring day tells you that a trip to the local farmers market and lunch outdoors will be greatly appreciated.  
     If she is surrounded by lots of loving people, then you need to communicate with your siblings. While a petunia plant or a corsage is nice, a herb basket is better for the cook and a pair of flower earrings is better than a corsage.  Trust me on this one. I don't think Mom wants 5 plants and a trip to the local franchise restaurant. Your mother is important!
     All you need to do now is go and buy a Hoops and YoYo card to make her laugh!  Of all the things you do this is the most important.  How can you put a price on a good laugh?
     If you are a mother, please tell your children what you would really like. They will love you for your honesty.  

b

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Apr 22, 2011

AARP Listen up! The Perfect Hobby? - Coupons and Retired Men!

A room full of couponeers and their wives!
     "What do you do for a hobby," they asked.
     "I clip coupons.  We can save lots of money that way," he answered.  His wife just rolled her eyes.  She changed her mind when he began finding coupons online for the stuff she liked.  Golf coupons, Overstock Promo Codes and home decorating coupons.  He finally had her attention!

     Retirement is not the end by any means. Even though someone is not bossing you around anymore does not mean that you can sleep for the rest of your life....even if that is what you have been dreaming about. I know. Lack of sleep was a demon that pursued you all through your working years. One day you wake up rested and want to do something.  Boredom is not a child's thing. Boredom lurks around every corner in a life of total leisure.
     Hobbies always seem to be the perfect answer. Young people studying about old people will always come up with the wonderful idea that we old people would be perfectly happy if we would just find a hobby.  In fact, I have heard younger people worry about their mom or dad and what in the name of heaven they are going to do when they retire. "They don't even have a hobby," they will say.
     This where my husband and his friends came in. Working was a passion, an obsession and the sum total of their lives. Then they retired. Dear lord in heaven please help us all. Those of us on the sidelines waiting for the retirement game to play out knew that whatever these men decided to do we were going to be expected to play a supporting role. Sigh!
     We were beginning to think that it was not going to be so bad. They did rearrange a few things and wanted to boss us around but still, it was okay. Then they discovered the wonderful world of coupons. In fact, two of the men actually took a class. On a designated Thursday night they climbed in their cars and traveled to a classroom in a nearby high school. When they arrived they found a room full of housewives waiting to enter the wonderful world of the couponeering. They learned to clip and file and double the coupons. They learned about Thursday specials published on Wednesday nights. The whole week would revolve around plans for shopping on Thursday. They flitted from store to store yet always managing to save a little gas by wandering into the golf store near the local grocery. They were in the neighborhood so why not?  Oh the glory of it all.
     It lasted for a winter season. We wives were recruited to ride along for a whole day of coupons and nickels and dimes.  Then the new wore off.  The chase didn't seem so much fun anymore.  That was when the men reclined to their recliner passing the important job off to their wives. They still went to the golf store but not the grocery. That gas saving thing just didn't work in reverse.  But they clipped and filed. They would checked to see if the wives had done their jobs at the grocery. When the wives rebelled, the grown children fell heir to the files, coupons, inquisition and savings.
     All this happened many years ago. My husband has not changed.  He coupons from his recliner.  He can print coupons to restaurants, events and for groceries without ever getting out the scissors. He is a fan of Groupon, Restaurant.com, LivingSocial and GolfNow.com. I haven't told him yet but AARP even has ads for coupon sites. We will discover it on his own.  I am never sure if we are playing golf or eating out because he wants to go with me or because he got a good deal.
     I guess saving coupons is better than the hobby of "dumpster diving".  Yes I saw it on a list of hobbies recently. I have learned to live with it at least when it comes to golfing or eating out.  I do not take coupons to the grocery store with me!  It is the principle of the thing. After all, I still have my pride!

b

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Apr 21, 2011

NO. 1 Gift for Mother...pay attention children!

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology - includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers      This is the best news I have had in an age.  The little Kindle e-reader that I traded for is going to be allowed to tap into the local library!  The is wonderful news for senior citizens with compromised vision on a limited income!  Listen up AARP!
       Mother's Day is coming and this affordable gift could be something that your mom should have in her hands.  Reading keeps our mind active and might ward off the effects of dementia.  Give it a thought!
     I've given you the idea...now you go do something about it!

b
  
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Apr 20, 2011

Do you need a hair removal professional...Smart Cowgirls find out with a Makeup Mirrors

     I don't ride horses but I do love to dress up in cowboy boots, jeans and a beautiful white blouse. Cowgirls are a little tough, a little girly and a lot glamorous. Here in the Old West horses, girls and sunny open spaces blend together like chocolate and cream. Here is the problem. I am a wannbe cow girl but I am oldish!
     The rules have changed a bit for me over the years. Now, at the age of 69+, I am more conscious of make-up, sun screen and I use a 10x mirror. Yes you heard me...I look at my face 10x's bigger than normal.  A friend with very good vision has been after me for two years to buy one. She could see things I could not but did not want to be the one to give me the bad news. She was always asking "Do you want to look in my 10x mirror?" I just ignored her.
     When I turned 69 I gave in.  So I went on a hunt for a 10x mirror.  Simple? Not even close. Mirrors, it turns out, come in many grades, styles, with and without lights, stands or wall mounts. It was all very confusing. Adding to the confusion was the cost.  Yikes! I saw small mirrors for less than $15 and really nice amazing glamorous styles for well over $100.  Of course I did really want the most expensive because the mirror and the glass was wonderful.  But.......
Danielle Revolving Wall-Mounted Lighted Mirror, Chrome, 10X
Wall Mounted Mirror
Lighted Adjustable 10X Mirror Compact in Blue Case
     What 10x Make-up Mirror  to buy?  My friend bought one good for travel very similar to those found on Amazon (images from Amazon).  She used it for several years before a grandchild broke it.  But what I really wanted was a lighted wall mounted 10x mirror.  I am still dreaming about that one.     We are leaving to travel home for the summer.  I decided to wait until I get to Oregon to buy the mirror of my dreams...no 7+ sales tax in Oregon.  In the mean time I bought a small compact sized 10x mirror.  Oh my goodness.  I was appalled to find black hairs on my lip, eyebrows running amuck and wrinkles....lot of wrinkles.  Hair removal by a professional was going to be an ongoing process for the rest of my life!  I will use the mirror to help with maintenance.   I could say "Why didn't someone tell me?" but I know it is my own fault. I hate when that happens.
    So, cowgirls, listen up. I don't care if you have NEVER been near a horse...buy one of those mirrors and see what you find. We cowgirls need to keep looking good! Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen...remember the wrinkles! Sigh!

b
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Apr 19, 2011

Tucson to Tubac....Where the Old West meets the modern golfer!

Tubac Golf Resort Casita
Tubac Golf Resort  
Tubac Event:  The Tucson Autism Community Center is hosting its annual Autism Charity Golf Classic on Tubac’s beautiful golf course on Saturday, April 30. 
     Sonoita Wine Festival:  Sonoita Vineyards in southern Arizona is hosting its 33rd Annual Blessing of Sonoita Vineyards Festival on Saturday, April 30.

      Sunday Drive:   When we leave Tucson to head south toward Mexico on the way to Tubac for a day of golf, I am always struck by the beauty of this place in the world. While the freeway from Tucson to Mexico is wide and the speed limit is 70 mph the pace of life slows down the closer you come to the border. Mountains surround the broad open valley. Elephant Rock looms in the East as you pass Green Valley. On down the road a very old ranch owned my the Amado family has become home to a lovely resort.  Situated on the east side of the freeway, the Rex Ranch Resort and Spa low slung building blend into the landscape. True to it's name, the resort provided horse back riding and a spa for those of you that want to be pampered. There are two restaurants on the west side of the freeway that are local favorites. The Cow Palace has been famous for their traditional Sunday dinners and the place will also be jammed on Saturday nights. The Longhorn Bar and Grill across from the Cow Palace sports a building shaped like a longhorn steer head.  Reviews for the food is always good.
     I know I have told you how beautiful Tubac Golf Resort is but have I told you about the old west and open range golfing?  When I say open range, I do not mean golf range.  I mean cattle and cow pies, thorny trees and a road called Palo Parado. Honestly, if you don't take the road to Tubac carrying an open heart and mind, you are missing the whole point of your vacation.  This is the place where Catholic missionaries came to stay in 1691. The Conquistadors were here during 140 years before that. Seriously, I think Arizona is a state that has been forgotten...at least here in the southern part. Maybe it is a good thing that development has been slow and tourism hasn't run rampant. Because Arizona is not a very populated state, you will still get a feel for what it was back before gold, greed and religion brought the Europeans.
View south from the Catalina Mountains toward Tubac.     
     The windmills still stand by buildings along the highway and I suppose they are operating to this day.  These people were the original conservationist.  Then we come to Tubac.  Just north of the little artist community the old Tubac Resort welcomes visitors with an arched gate. I always wax poetic when it comes to this area. The Tubac Golf Resort and Spa has been a star in the crown of Southern Arizona since 1959 when Bing Crosby bought the property and began the business that is now Tubac Golf Resort.
     I have played the golf course several times in years past. We shared the course with cattle and all that an open cattle range bring into the mix. Last fall when my husband played the course once again, the cattle were still grazing on the fairways. Mesquite trees, Palo Verde trees and the Santa Cruz river add to the appeal of a beautiful oasis in a very dry landscape. The historic resort is remarkable in so many ways:
Tubac Golf Resort and Spa is set in the most luxurious and tranquil vacation destination in the Southwest. We are located on the historic 500-acre Otero Ranch in the Santa Cruz River Valley. Its Spanish Colonial architecture and lush grounds are enhanced by magnificent views of the Tumacacori and Santa Rita Mountain ranges.
[They are] member of the Historic Hotels of America®, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, whose goal is to identify quality hotels that have faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture, and ambiance. 
     I received an email from the Renee Radia, the digital publicist of Tubac Resort yesterday telling me about an event they are hosting in the near future.  Want to vacation AND to help out a wonderful cause at the same time?  They have the perfect combination for you.  This is what she said:
I actually just received news of another event happening at Tubac next weekend.  The Tucson Autism Community Center is hosting its annual Autism Charity Golf Classic on Tubac’s beautiful golf course on Saturday, April 30.  This year’s special guest is NFL veteran Rodney Peete, who recently authored his first book titled “Not My Boy!  A Father, A Son, and One Family’s Journey with Autism.”  Proceeds will benefit the Tucson Alliance for Autism.  For more information and to sign up, visithttp://www.tucsonallianceforautism.org/
     So there you have it.  This is just a small glimpse of what the area around Tubac, AZ has to offer.  On another day I will talk (again) about Wisdom's restaurant, the Tumacacori Mission, Sante Cruz Spice Company and Tubac's famous artist festival.  Trust me...you will want to come one day soon.  Put it on your list!

b
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Apr 18, 2011

In Search of Ghosts...Tucson for Tourist & Locals

Mug shot of John DillingerImage via Wikipedia
John Dillinger Poster    
    Do you believe in ghosts?  I have had some ghostly experiences I cannot explain but a believer? I don't know. However, there are places that seem to be perfect for ghosts and the Old Pueblo (Tucson AZ) is one of them. I suppose that is why we like to wander down to the Congress Hotel in the city center. Some very famous bad guys have met their demise there.
    Last Saturday we had breakfast on the shaded patio of the Little Cup Restaurant located in the hotel.  It was very crowded all the time we were there. This little restaurant has been featured on Racheal Ray's $40 a day tv show. I thought it was lots of fun and the food tasted very good to me. 
      The Congress is located just across the street from the old Southern Pacific train station built in 1909 and very near to the historical site when Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday killed Frank Stilwell in 1882. Earp and his followers were exacting revenge for the Tombstone "OK Corral" shoot out. To top it off the famous bank robber John Dillinger was captured in the hotel in 1934. Don't tell me ghosts aren't walking those streets on a hot summer night!  
   Adding to the experience of visiting the hotel is the fact that the current owners have not changed the decor any more than necessary to make it usable, so the old hotel remains pretty much like it was when it was originally build in 1919. The southwest designs on the walls and decorated doors are very true to the originals.
Hotel Congress Room

Shot from the Patio restaurant area
     I was allowed to venture up to the second floor where the staff let me look at the rooms. Each bedroom sports it's own bathroom tiled from top to bottom. The furniture looks like it could have been original right down to the bedspreads on the beds. I could not help but wonder about all the people that had climbed off the train and walked across the street to spend the night.
     The SP Station (Amtrack Station)  has been restored by the city of Tucson. It houses Maynard's Market and Kitchen, the Amtrack waiting room and a museum of transportation history. If you are a train buff, you will love the steam engine they have standing in the back near the railroad tracks. This shiny beauty is lovingly cared for by volunteers.
      Maynard's Market sells some wonderful gift items and pizzas during the day. In the evening the Kitchen lights up for happy hour and dinner.  Their website states:
Maynard's Market
  
Maynards Kitchen, described in the New York Times as “dark and handsome”, and voted “Best Romantic Setting” by Tucson Weekly, will consistently delight you with wonderful food & wine, its hip, spirited bar, and evocative, elegant atmosphere.
Walking Map of Downtown Tucson.
Available at the visitors bureau and in the lobby of the hotel (?)
      Drive on down to the hotel located on the corner of Congress and Broadway in downtown Tucson. Maybe stay at the Congress just to see what a very old hotel feels like. The room rates range between $89 and $119. Listen for Ghosts at night. Walk across Congress Street to the Unions Pacific Station to see the bronze of Wyatt Earp and buy a beautiful bottle of wine at Maynard's Market. Check out the happy hour in the restaurant.
     If you stay more than one night, walk on over to El Charros for dinner (featured in Gourmet Magazine in October of 2008).  It is located on Court Street in the Presidio a few blocks away. El Charro's was established in 1922...maybe Dillingers ate his last meal as a free man there. It is still run by the family that built it all those years ago and it's claim to fame is that is it the nations oldest Mexican Restaurant run by the same family still in operation. Legend has it that the chimichanga we all eat in our neighborhood Mexican restaurant was invented here.  You will get to try some authentic Sonoran Mexican food in a beautiful setting. The patio is quiet, charming and protected.
     Be sure to check out the bario just south of the downtown and go north to the Presidio. Take your camera. You will not regret it. Tucson is called the Old Pueblo for a reason. You will go home with a better understanding of this historic place. And who knows. Maybe you will even have a story or two.  There are ghosts wandering those streets. This is the kind of experience a vacations or Sunday outing is for.

b
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Apr 16, 2011

Hot RV Recipes...the crock-pot & a tiny oven!

     We eat together a lot. Our life style is very much like a co-housing development.  The one big difference is our location...we live in an RV Resort for 6-7 month of the year. Our little park model, circa 1987, has been the scene for many parties and small dinners for friends. Cooking in a very small space like a motor home or a park model requires some careful thought.   But even my small gas stove oven will accomodate a baking dish quite large.  There is no excuse for not baking a cake.
     I have found that a crock pot can be moved outdoors when the temperatures go up.  I use the one shown at the side.The lid clips on and the crock can be removed for easy cleaning.  I love this kitchen gadget!  

     Each season we find that a few recipes reappear over and over.  This year has been no different.  I am including the recipe for a crockpot pork loin that is just delicious.  The chocolate cake dessert is the perfect potluck dish.  No oil, milk or butter if you omit the frosting.  I give this recipe out to people every time I bring it to share.
     I am a fan of Cooks and use their recipes most of the time.  Both of these came from their website.

PINEAPPLE - CRANBERRY PORK LOIN (***** Potluck Dessert)
1 (4 lb.) pork loin roast
Salt & pepper
1 (1 lb.) can crushed pineapple
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 can cranberry sauce
1/4 tsp. cloves

Season roast with salt and pepper, and place in slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over pork. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours on low. To serve, slice and spoon sauce over each portion.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE
CHIP FROSTING (*****Feeds a Crowd)
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
1 (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
1 tsp. almond extract
2 eggs

FROSTING:
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. milk
5 tbsp. butter
1 c. chocolate chips

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using solid shortening or butter, grease and flour 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan. In large bowl, mix dry cake mix and remaining ingredients by hand, stirring until well mixed. Pour into prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes. Cool cake.
     (I omit this frosting step.) Frosting: In small saucepan, combine sugar, butter and milk. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Pour over cake and let cool. Frosting will thicken as it cools.

Note:

  • I cook this in a large flat baking pan. It will be done a little quicker but it feeds a large crowd that way.
  • I put the chocolate chips in the cake. 
  • I do not make the frosting but buy a can of pre-made dark chocolate frosting and sprinkle it with toasted almonds. The almonds finish the dessert so nicely.
Have a wonderful day.

b
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Apr 15, 2011

11 THINGS Boomers DID NOT KNOW ABOUT MAKING A HOUSE A HOME!

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Apartment Therapy "Madeline"s Colorful Studio"
     Apartment Therapy is running a contest sponsored by Benjamin Moore.  The contest is called "Small and Cool".  How wonderful is that?  People submit their pictures, Apartment Therapy screens them and then selects the ones that are the best.  Best of all we get to vote for a winner.  The contest rules are here.  I check the pages every few days to see what is new.  I suppose that is why my conversations are all about decor these days.
     My friends and I were talking about our young married life the other day.  We recall days when only "acceptable" decor was allowed.  Grandma's dining table and Aunt Lulu's sofa moved into our tiny apartment living room.  We left the walls bare because the only "real" picture we owned was the one that had hung in our childhood bedroom!  How times have changed!  
     Today living in a small space does not mean that you must live with dingy decor. In this day and age places like Ikea and Target have everything you need to live surrounded by color at a very little cost. Websites like Apartment Therapy shows us the best examples of living without a lot of stuff...using those things we find on the curb or when we shop.  It is my go-to website for small home decor.  
     There was a lot we DID NOT KNOW ABOUT.  Here is the list: 
  1. The fabric store. Inspirations, small pieces of left over fabric and trimmings can provide you with art at dumpster diver prices.
  2. Spray paint.  The first person to use spray paint to give a dresser a new life was a genius.  I just learned a couple of years ago that a table sprayed with black or espresso spray paint will look brand new.   The finish is flawless and very durable.
  3. HGTV. I call it the designer classroom of the 21st Century. People are learning to take care of their homes, decorate with some confidence and upgrade what they have.  This tv stations has been invaluable for me.
  4. Paint is cheap.  Apartment walls can be painted just as long as you put them back they way they were or get the landlord to agree that you made a good choice.  Who knew?
  5. Antique stores/used furniture stores. While I was accepting my families used stuff, it never occurred to me to dig through the used furniture store merchandise and clean the stuff up. I had the idea it was not good enough. What was I thinking?  
  6. Ross, Home Goods, Tuesday Morning, The Party Store...need I say more. A lot of the things in the party store are considered disposable but it is better than the things I started out with.
  7. Magazines displaying designer ideas. Country Home, Style at Home, etc. Better Homes and Gardens was the only choice and, at that time, the publishers spent very little time on decor. 
  8. Online web sites that show ideas from around the world.  Apartment Therapy, Style at Home
  9. Import stores
  10. Power tools for women....now it is okay for a woman to want power tools.
  11. Small space living.   Loft, park model, apartments.
I am sure you could all add to this list. Applications for the ideas are endless:  Frame small beautiful pieces of fabric with frames from the used furniture store.  Spray paint Aunt Lulu's dresser or dining table. Use ideas from HGTV to upgrade your house, de-clutter, give the house curb appeal. Haunt the stores and buy those sale items.  Find unique ways to display them. Visit Ikea and get what you need for storage so your mess is not on display. Learn to do power tools...your husband or partner or roommate might even learn to use them too. Live simply, small, frugally in style. Our marketplace is set up for you to succeed.  

I need to go.  Tomorrow: recipes that have been the real winners this winter season.

Have a wonderful day.

b
Link to great decorator site:  Lettered Cottage
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Apr 13, 2011

HOW-TO GET that GIFT BASKET YOU WANT....Grandparent Alert!

Family in Our Home!  They were invited and they came.
Just what I wanted!!!
     A couple of years ago my husband and I forgot our daughters birthday. Yes, I know. We are very bad-bad people!  Our daughter is one of three siblings and their birthdays are happy occasions for us and always have been. I plan months ahead, buy gifts, and visualize the day they get their prize. But, on that one horrible occasion, we made our daughter cry! We forgot. Thankfully, our son-in-law gave us a heads up and we were able to at least redeem ourselves to a point.
WHAT GOES WRONG!  
     This particular incident made me take a good long look at what I was doing when I wanted  a gift basket or the perfect piece of jewelry.  I was shocked to find that I was setting the people I loved up to fail. And my family was learning from me. We positioned ourselves to be victims. Deep down in our hearts we suspected that no one loved us or we felt depressed and we lay that special occasion out as a test. The perfect gift from a clueless husband or the perfect recognition of our birthdays/accomplishments by our family didn't happen. Why? Because we set them up to fail. When the desired outcome failed to come, we decided that the people being tested didn't love us and we became the victim we picture. It could be that we liked the misery in some way.
     My daughter and I had a conversation the other day about that birthday. I told her we HAD NOT FORGOTTEN her birthday coming up later this month and her response was "Yes, it is going to be my birthday....I want a present!" She said you taught me: Don't be a victim! Then she told me to write a blog post about this subject.Thank you Susan for being the wonderful daughter you are. I am very grateful that you are still willing stick with me.

SELF-IMPOSED VICTIMS!     
     I think that a lot of older people fall into the "self-imposed" victim category. As I travel around the web or listen to my friends, I find that they want something from their grandchildren and children but aren't willing to tell those people what it is they want.  Why do they do that? Maybe they don't realize what they are doing. I find myself saying don't be a victim!

  •  If you want to talk to your family on your birthday, don't wait all day for the call.  Get on the phone, say "it's my birthday" and sing happy birthday to yourself. Your family will laugh and your birthday will turn into a celebration laced with humor. You will have made your day special. Everyone is a winner.
  • If you want thank you cards sent through the mail, include the thank you card with the gift. Address that thank you postcard and include text on the back. Attach a "giggle" or two.They will love it and so will you!  The note could look like this:
Dear Grandma and Grandpa, 
Thank you for the ______________________. I think it is _________________. I will ______________ it when I _______________. I think you are____________________ when you send me present. 
I love you,  
____________________  
PS. Please don't get old and cranky! I would not like that. 
I think you will be surprised when you get the "thank you" card back.  Don't be a victim!

  • If you want your children to come visit, invite them for dessert, dinner or even a coffee hour. They will come. Then in the allotted amount of time call and invite yourself to their house for coffee.  Don't stay too long.  If that is what you want, do it and do it today.  Most importantly, don't be a victim. Note: Don't save up a list of chores for them when they come. Give them a gift or a piece of candy.  Rewards will bring them back!  Chores won't!
  • If you want a GIFT BASKET for a gift, cut out a picture of the perfect basket and hand it to the poor clueless gift giver.
ONE MORE TIME....DON'T BE A VICTIM!
    The simple fact is we may actually enjoy being a victim.  A little self examination will tell you if that is so.  Our children and grandchildren are busy living. They lean less and less on us as they get mature.  We know in our hearts it is a good thing.  So, as we grow older, we need to carve out a little bit of "importance" in their lives. We continue to teach until the day we die.  Being the matriarch in a family, I know that I need to continue to teach my children/grandchildren to include us in their lives and to do it in ways that satisfy both our needs and theirs. But I will not be a victim of my own making! Never again!  Not ever!

b
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Apr 11, 2011

Tell me wise retirees...should Fox or CNN embrace "newsgames"?

      I need the opinion of people that have lived long enough to understand the news.  Tell me what you think. Are we becoming to simple and fun loving that everything must be a game?
      I noticed an article on TechCrunch.com yesterday I thought you might find interesting. The title was "War, What is it good for? [if you know the answer you get] Three Points". The article was about a movement to make the news more fun and entertaining. Have you ever heard of "newgames"? That would be a way of learning about the news by playing a game.  Imagine news made more exciting for those people that...well...don't like to watch the news. It seems that people are just plain too lazy to watch the news and they need to have a game so they can comprehend what is going on. The writer of the article used the example of that period of time during the 1980's when our government dilly dallied over the budget and our government nearly shut down. I was a young mother then.  I remember. He was very young and just didn't care.  He was very surprised to find out that it had even happened.  He found out last week.  If there had been a game...well who knows. The website called News Games Brain Storming described newsgames like this:
Playing the news is an idea that is taking on many different forms.  Casual games like the iPhone app “Guess the News” to role playing games like “Homeland Guantanamo” are using news content to create game experiences. News organizations are experimenting with using game interactions to explain complex issues like budgets and redistricting. They are also trying to find ways to make an addictive game experience generate repeat visits to sites.
     So it seems that games played by the audience could help people understand how our national budget is created.  I want to laugh out loud. But I suppose if people were as involved with a game like the war video games they would learn something.  I know my family likes the SIM sames.  Anyway I was watching CNN this morning, or was the HLN?  The commentator told about three people that were struggling for one reason or another...a man lost his job and discovered he was a tenor, a little boy with no arms won a hand writing contest and there was a third but I don't remember what it was. Then they asked the viewers to play a game...with these peoples lives...and vote for the one we thought was the most remarkable. I felt a little ill. It seemed wrong to me. But maybe if I were a game player I would have stuck around to find out what the vote was. That would be the purpose I suppose.
    When we watch the news it is very hard to decided who is telling the truth and then try to play the guessing game about what political party or business interest they are representing. I feel I am being gamed constantly. But if there is a game show like Jepardy that used the news as the basis maybe we would get interested and then involved, the world might be better. The author of the article in Tech Crunch let his rant go on a rant. I had to agree with him:
It was ever thus: a world divided into those with the mental capacity and attention span required to read and digest the day’s news, and to understand the importance of doing so — and  the perpetual children: the proud morons who say things like “I’m not interested in politics” (despite being mortgaged to the hilt) or ask “why should I care about stuff happening in countries thousands of miles away?” (despite those being the countries that own all the debt). Tech Crunch
Could it be that, like the government program "no child left behind", no matter how many games we play there will always be those that are never going to understand or even care? Actually, I have come to believe that those that don't have the time or the energy to stay informed by reading and cross checking facts will be the people that have the strongest opinions.  Darn. I wish there were a role playing game that would bring everyone up to speed...but somehow I don't think there is. I could have a party and invite people...why do I think no one would come. What do you think?

b
    
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Apr 10, 2011

Sunday Comics...the New York Times, Howling Roadrunners and other stuff!

In the New York Times:
At the very top of page this morning there was an article about Arizona, restrictive covenants in neighborhoods and grass.  It seems that here in Arizona where water is at a premium, if you own a home with a lawn, you have to keep it green!  There is no choice according to the NYTimes article:

Homeowners’ associations in this arid region typically have rules requiring residents to maintain either desert landscaping or green grass, with brown lawns not an option.
     I have had experience with all the rules that living in a "modern" community involve. The community I live in back in Oregon has rules for everything.  I am sure the color of our lawn is important to them.  But back in Oregon it rains a lot so water is not a huge problem. In the past, homeowners in the Willamette Valley have let their lawns go brown in the summer when the rains decreased. They would keep it mowed very short so when the lawns catch on fire, the house does not burn down. Believe it or not that has happened. But I cannot imagine that the aesthetic of a modern community would allow that now. We have come to think of aesthetics first. Saving resources is not high on the list.
     But Arizona???  Really????  Wouldn't a lawn that is mowed very short be okay brown during a time when the temperature went over 100 day after day?  Obviously not. Well anyway, it seems that people have gotten creative.  One guy has even started a business painting lawns. It would cost the home owner about $200 every three month. I don't know how much water would cost but I am assuming it would be a lot.
     You knew this was coming...here is what I think.  I think we need to lighten up a bit.

Roadrunner on the golf course.
In our front yard.
Hummingbirds at a feeder.
     The humming bird is back in the tiny nest she built on a string of lights under our carport last year.  I always wonder how she remembers where we live?  I was tempted to take the light down earlier this year...those aesthetics you know.  Now I know we will keep them up until she never comes back again. This year we are hoping that the eggs hatch and we can see at least a little bit of the babies. Last year, the babies hatched on the morning we left.  Our friend had to refill the feeder until they flew away. I love our feisty little humming birds.
     The Roadrunner gave us a start the other day. It sat on the fence around the tennis court and made a sound like a trapped dog. We got up and went outside to see if a dog was hurt in Pantano Wash.  No dog. It was a Roadrunner with his neck stretched out to it's maximum length howling like a wounded Rottweiler! I did not know they could do that! Maybe he swallowed Wiley Coyote.

On the web.
     Ari Cohen at AdvanceStyle posted an interview with a 80+ year old blogger from the UK the other day.  He said this about her:
Rita Marcus, a blogger in her 80s, proves you are never too old to learn about new technology. I met Rita while in London for my project with Selfridges last Summer. She told me about her wonderful blog VeryOldGrandmother.com and I have been a fan ever since.
     I am adding her to my bloglist.  I know her name says she is a very old grandmother but from where I stand she is looking younger by the day.  Stop by Advanced Style to read the interview and then visit this talented woman at her blog soon.
     ApartmentTherapy.com is have their 7th Annual Smallest Coolest Home Contest.  I found the one I liked and voted it  up.  It is a 350 square foot 5 floor walkup with left over furniture and big windows.  Wander on over that way and cast your ballot.  You will need to sign up for the website but is it a breeze.

Sunday night deadline.
     My dead line is passing so I will post this now.  Follow me on the Google Follow button.  Leave a comment so I can visit your blog soon.  Go over to BlogCritics where you will find more of my writing. (Article first published as Knowledge vs Opinion Are we so Opinionated Because we are Stupid or Just not Informed! on Blogcritics.) Thank you for coming by.

b
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Apr 8, 2011

When Being COOL Means Being OLD....Blogcritics.com published my story!

Just Shoot Me!Image via WikipediaArticle published as I'm Old...Just Shoot Me Now! on Blogcritics.


     In an article I just published on Blogcritics.com I talked about how watching my husband and I age worries my children. Because it turns out I may be the healthiest although not the youngest in their aging parent group, I am measuring the reactions of the offspring. I am like the youngest child.  I am watching to see what my children do about the other-in-laws. I may need to be careful in the years to come. Maybe!
     Boy do I love my life...writing for fun and even a little money keeps me going with a lot of enthusiasm. I have found that retirement is a lot more meaningful for me since I have started doing what I wanted to do when I was young. I have abandon the dreams of being a model or a brain surgeon. Some dreams will never be and it could be I didn't want to do that stuff anyway. But writing makes me happy. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every thing we chose to pursue did that?  
     I hope you take the time to click on the link above and find out how really COOL I am. Giggle!


b
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