Wednesday, December 31, 2008

¡Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo!

I know I promised Christmas was over, but I couldn't resist posting some photos I took yesterday down in the Tubac, Arizona area. Best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous 2009!

Mission San Xavier decorated for the holidays!

Love this angel!

Table decked out for Christmas.

Mission creche. Notice Baby Jesus in a hammock!

Christmas wreaths.

Pepper garlands for a Southwest Christmas!

Christmas tree decked out with flowers!

A Christmas window.

A desert tree with cotton snow.

A classy nativity.

And the trailer court version. (literally)

Little creche houses.

And a wooden Santa.

Church doors decked for Christmas.

Santa got stuck!

Shop entrance decorated for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top Grinchorial Candidates of 2008

Warning -- Rated R for rant. I know I'm leaving some impressive people out, but here's my candidates for Grinch of the Year 2008!

1. The Big Oil Speculators -- Grrrrrrrr. They crippled the American and world economy and made out like bandits. Let's hope some of them didn't get out quick enough and took it in the shorts (but I doubt it).

2. George W. -- I wouldn't even even know where to start with him, but I'll just say -- "You're doin' a heck of a job Brownie." Don't let the door hit you in the a$$ on the way out.

3. Bernie Madoff -- His billions weren't enough for him. What a last name for a scammer!

4. Sarah Palin -- She tried to set this country back 30 to 40 years. And I'm not talking about abortion rights. Her attempts to divide people by pitting whites against anyone different than them, small town folks against city dwellers, etc... was just disgusting. I hope she ends up back in Wasilla testifying at Bristol's future meth-cooking mother-in-law's trial. And please dear -- keep your kids in school. I can't remember any past candidate dragging their school age kids around on the election trail for three months parading them in the dog and pony show.

5. My dentist -- Bah humbug! He overcharged me $2200 and then acted put out when I requested a refund check instead of a credit on his books. Nothing like having to grovel to get your money back. Truthfully, that's the first time I've run into that situation. And you ask how I discovered it? The wonders of the internet. Take the time and view your insurance benefits and claims online. I just happened across his 'little' mistake.

6. My shutter company -- The owner slammed my Visa card with a huge bogus charge. After charging me the $600 owed, he then snuck in a little $1600 tip for himself a couple of weeks later. And then waited until I filed a fraud complaint with my Visa card to straighten it out. I gave this guy the benefit of the doubt for 2 weeks until I turned him in. It makes me wonder if hard times are resulting in a lot of scams. So check those Visa bills twice because I had 'extra' charges on my credit card four times this year. The 'found' money (including the dentist) for the year added up to almost $5000.

7. The Bumpus's (our not so esteemed next door neighbors) cat -- Okay, I shouldn't be peeved at an innocent animal, but quit fouling our backyard patio chiminea. That's where I hide the extra key! Nothing like digging through cat poo when you're locked out! And can you imagine the smell if we actually burned wood in that thing! I think I'll turn it into a planter in the spring (if I can get someone else to clean it up!). I think the cat is teasing Saby, but PLEASE! :)

8. Sheriff Joe -- Well, just because he's Sheriff Joe! What other urban county in the nation would re-elect HIM? He's a carnival act unto himself! If only Santa would have brought him a new toupee for Christmas!

9. John Edwards -- What the heck! He has an affair while his wife has breast cancer and then runs for President, knowing full well THAT dropped bomb would lose the election (not to mention his wife's humiliation) if he was nominated. What an egotistical schmuck!

10. I reserve #10 for all the guys in big jacked-up pickup trucks who try to run me over daily in my VW Bug convertible. It's like I'm waving a red flag! Today, it was a red Nissan Titan. His front chrome was dented, so evidently he's squashed a few other bugs. I wish I could fly my fickle middle finger, but THAT behavior gets you shot nowadays! Thank God I'm on blood pressure medication!

Feel free to add to the list! It's good for your health to hang it all out once in awhile! Ahhhhhh. I feel so much better!

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Beach Chair

I think my beach chair's still sitting there empty waiting for me on Anini Beach. It looks a little lonely. I've always wanted to spend Christmas on Kauai. It's never worked out, but maybe some year. I'll put that on my Bucket List!

Christmas in Arizona always seems to be rainy and/or cold. We got both this year. We had some heavy rain just before Christmas, and now the skies are clear and it's crispy cool. The patio is draped with sheets and tablecloths we used to cover the tropical type vegetation for the last two nights. We had overnight lows around 29 degrees, and that's a killer on some of these landscaping plants. I just read the forecast and it's supposed to be back up around 70 during the day this next week. Woo hoo! Not swimming weather, but it's great for spending time outdoors.

On our walk today, we saw a guy taking down his Christmas lights. So I guess the party's almost over! I had a couple of neighbors in Bellevue who used to heave the tree out the door the day after Christmas, but I always wait until January 2. Here's one more Christmas tune and then I promise no more Christmas music! :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008


While we were in Albuquerque, I stopped by one of my favorite stores -- Jackalope. It's just down the road from the hotel where we stay, so no way I can drive by without stopping! Check out that link because they have great photos of the interior. Be sure and take a look at the About Jackalope link because the owner has an interesting background. Also read the link on the legend of the Jackalope. I can't figure out whether the owner is still smoking the magic weed and pulling our legs?

Joke or not?

Anyway, they have great imports from all over the world with an emphasis on Mexico and Central and South America. Everything from folkart to large furniture pieces. I love their stuff and managed to find a few goodies this trip. I wish I'd had a big bag of money to spend! :)

No, I didn't bring their sign home with me. :)

This paper maiche painted bowl looks great in the kitchen above the cooktop.

I love these door/wall strings. This one's great for Christmas with the stars and bells.

I picked up this rustic star in the garden center.

They had this Christmas wallhanging drastically reduced, so it came home with me!

Here's another one of the strings. This one is little birdies!

If you're ever in the neighborhood, stop in and take a look. They also have stores in Santa Fe, Hollywood, and a couple other locations. One of the clerks told me they have plans for a Phoenix location. That'd be cool! Albuquerque's kind of a long drive!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Berry-licious Peach Crisp

We started a new Christmas tradition this year. Michael's never been wild about the traditional Christmas cakes and pies, but he loves berries, apples, and peaches. He's a Northwest berry-loving boy! I'm not wild about eating a lot of pie crust, so I decided to make a crisp for Christmas dessert. He picked up the fruit for me at a Whole Foods on his way back from work on Christmas Eve, and I mixed up a crisp to pop in the oven when I warmed up all the side dishes. I consolidated the best ideas from a couple of online recipes, and we all loved it! Here's the recipe. It made 6 'large' servings at our house.

Berry-licious Peach Crisp

3 cups peaches (frozen are fine)
2 cups berries (raspberries & blueberries)
1/4 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla

Toss peaches and berries with sugar and vanilla. Put into bottom of adequate baking dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

5 T. melted butter
3/4 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon

Combine above ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle over top of fruit in the baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. The fruit should be bubbling and the topping browned. Serve with french vanilla ice cream!

P.S. They sent me back out for apples today to try the same recipe, so we'll be eating Apple Berry-licious Crisp tonight!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Is For Kids!

And Saby's the only real 'kid' in the family. Actually, in dog years, I guess she's 63, but she still acts like a kid! Michael got her lollipops for Christmas and she loves them. She also got a giraffe puppet and a new squirrel (since she turned the old one into roadkill).

She was busy the entire day sniffing out meat. Here she's stalking the turkey.

Then at breakfast, I saw her peeping over the edge of the table.

And then, shockingly, she was UP on the table!

I swear to God, we were not terrible parents the first time around.

Of course, she had some encouragement from her big brother.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Our Christmas's change from year to year, depending on circumstances. I remember the extreme joy of those childhood Christmas's, with visits to Santa, opening presents, participating in church and school Christmas pageants . . . . But then I remember years when the excitement level was dim. Santa had left the building, the gifts were often necessities and clothing, and the holiday was missing little children to add that particular 'something'! There were a few years when I don't think I discovered the joy of Christmas. Some years were wonderful, while others were almost sad. One year, my grandmother died the week before Christmas and her funeral was Christmas Eve. I know everyone out there in cyberland has a story like that because for some reason, I lot of ill people die in December. But with age comes a little bit of wisdom, and I can usually figure out now how to rekindle that special flame whatever the circumstances.

Here are a few glimpses from my Christmas past.

I'm fairly sure I slept through this Christmas! I'm the baby, so it was Baby's First Christmas.

I'm probaby two in this picture with my brother. I can tell it's Christmas because my grandmother always bought me a velvet dress or jumper for Christmas every year. I think the big brand was a Kate Greenway -- or something like that.

These were the 'wonder years'. Here I'm at my grandparents with Cousin Rob and my brother Larry. We're all petting our presents.

I can't figure out where my brother is! But from the hairdo and dress, I was definitely in high school at the time. My brother probably wasn't home for college break yet. There's a Christmas tree in the background, but not ours. So I'm guessing my parents and I were at some civic or church event.

I love this picture of my parents clowning around on Christmas Eve at my brother's house in Kansas City. We were married by then, but no babies! But we seemed to be having a great time even without any little kids to up the excitement level.

And here's Michael. His second Christmas and there's still no love lost for the man with the big white beard! But I'm sure he was much happier on Christmas morning!

Christmas at my parents house -- age 3! When Michael sat on Santa's lap that year, he choked and told him all he wanted was books for Christmas. That box is definitely not books!

Christmas in Omaha, age 4. Ready to open gifts!

So, life changes and Christmas evolves. If we're lucky, we adapt to find joy in all the moments! Here's wishing that all of you find that 'special something' this Christmas!

Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas! Mele Kalikimaka!

As Tiny Tim said, "God Bless Us Everyone!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

For the Man Who Truly Has Everything!

Since I fell off the Christmas train this year, I'm in a last minute rush. Just a little suggestion for any others in the same boat -- picking something for the man who truly has everything (including you!).

Sold at -- priced at $10.49. REALLY!

I Fell Off the Christmas Train!

My apologies to all my friends who normally receive Christmas cards or gifts from me every year. I fell off the Christmas train as it rounded the bend and haven't had the heart to chase it down. I promise next year I'll belt myself onto the train and ride it all the way!

I learned some important lessons this year. I bailed out on almost all Christmas shopping and I can't believe the difference in stress level. I've always had all these Christmas tasks that I felt HAD to be completed. I simply didn't do most of them this year. I think a lot of people did the same and it probably doesn't bode well for the U.S. economy. I took care of the mom's and Michael, but I lost my taste for it after that.

We did manage to get the tree up after we finally located it! The day after we got back from our emergency trip to Kansas, Craig went out to the garage to retrieve the 'tree in a box.' He came back in and announced that our Christmas tree had been stolen??? Thank God Michael was around to remind us that we'd put the tree in his storage unit back in July.

Anyway, the tree's up and I bought a turkey today. I'll do the rest of the grocery shopping tomorrow and get the presents wrapped (I did buy a few). This year's different, but I bet we won't even notice! Christmas, in the end, is all about our relationships with those we hold dear, and not all that commercial stuff! It's a time to eat, drink, and be merry with family.

And I promise I'll catch ya next year with the Christmas cards!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baby's First Christmas!

Santa's probably thinking "Good God, give me a DRINK!" Michael's thinking, "Oh my God, what are they DOING to me!" We had the best of intentions, but ten months was probably way too young for Michael to visit Santa. In fact, we may have scarred him for life. I used to dress him up every year and take him to this Santa, the best Santa in Kansas City. But Michael viewed Santa in the same class as mimes and clowns. He liked the presents, but could not stand sitting on the weirdo's lap! He definitely didn't take after me! :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dump Fudge!

Actually, I think White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Fudge sounds better! Here's an easy recipe for a quick fudge that's hard to mess up.

White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Fudge

3 cups white chocolate chips

1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts

1 t. pure vanilla extract

It's called dump fudge because you can dump all the ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat to melt, then dump it into an 8 x 8 pan to chill. And it's done! Having ruined a batch because I scorched the chips in the bottom of the pan, I now use a double boiler. You can use a regular sauce pan on low if you stir it constantly. Dump the 3 cups of white chocolate chips and can of sweetened condensed milk into the saucepan. Add the vanilla. Stir over low heat. Once the mixture is melted, turn off the heat and add the cranberries and nuts. Stir stir stir (they should call this carpal tunnel fudge)! Then fold the mixture into an 8 x 8 glass or metal cake pan that's been lightly buttered on the bottom and sides. I put it in the fridge to set it quickly, then cut into small pieces to package as Christmas gifts!

Here's the finished product!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

True Confessions and Dreamscapes!

Last night, I couldn't get to sleep at all, no, noooo! The sleeping pill I took, was just a waste of time . . . (Who the heck sang that song anyway?)

Let me explain. This last summer, I started taking various prescriptions for various ailments. One of those drugs, we're not sure which, gives me the most horrid restless legs on some nights and I cannot sleep. At all! So my doctor gave me some little pills to use as needed. But everything has a side effect, and this bitter pill gives me the WILDEST dreams!

Last night was one of those nights. I had a heck of a time getting the pill in my mouth. Long story short, I accidentally dropped it into the ice-maker storage bin in the freezer. Don't even ask! So the bin had to be completely emptied at midnight so some unsuspecting person wouldn't happen upon a bonus psychedelic experience. But I'll cut to the chase. Last night's dream was particularly interesting.

Remember the 'award' trip my husband and I took last December associated with his job? If not, click on this link. Anyway, in this dream, we were back in that hazing/hell environment. This year's 'award' was once again a trip to Mexico, and the hazing consisted of three days of rock-climbing in a mountain canyon. (Last year's was the zipline from hell experience.) In the dream, I made it through the first two days of rock-climbing -- which is utterly hilarious because my body is NOT built for rock-climbing (way too bottom heavy!). Anyway, on the third day, they helicoptered us onto a mountain cliff. The trip to the bottom for that day's rock climb involved diving off the cliff with a bungee cord attached. Long story short, I told the boss from hell to bleep off and was back on the helicopter and whisked back to the beach. Tee hee. Craig stayed like a real trooper. In the dream, I sat on the beach watching all the people emerge from an exit door that led directly from the canyon to the beach.

Like a lot of my 'wild' dreams, I woke up and thought -- thank God that was just a dream. Then I dozed back off and was right back in the dream from hell again. By the way, the wild animals from the Isla nativity scene post (lions, elephants, bunnies, and turkeys) were running around at the bottom of that mountain canyon greeting the bungee jumpers. I told you it was a WILD dream!

Oh the joys of modern pharmaceuticals! Whatever happened to Sominex? Take Sominex tonight and sleep. Safe and restful -- sleep, sleep, sleep.

Speaking of bungee jumping in the tropics!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wayne's Game

Isla Gringo has an interesting challenge going. Open up the sixth file, sixth photo. So I tried it just for the heck of it and found a really cute old black and white photo. This is my mother as a girl with her dog Mitzi and the little neighbor boy. I love the sailor outfit my mother's wearing!