Thursday, December 31, 2009

Birthday Dinner Friends

I had a great dinner with friends for my birthday. Thank you for coming to keep me company and celbrating with me!
Kathy, Peggy and Aimee from my Banner Home Care days. Peggy looking fabulous with her chemo hair do!

Helle and Lynnora. Helle works for the Banner Alzheimer's Institute and is my book club. Lynnora and I work together on nights.

The wonderful Mark and Cecelia. Mark was a warrior and the only male at the gathering! Cecelia and I worked together years and years ago at Signature Home Care.

My dear friend of many years, Sue. Know her from church but she works for Banner Rehab institute too.

My "other" friend Sue and I. Sue and I worked together at Banner Home Care and now again at Banner Outreach. She works days. We also went to Italy together. (Do you want me in this picture?)

Part of the group.

Sue, Cindy and Helle. I've known Cindy from Church for about 30 years or so. She and I went to New England this fall and she is my hiking buddy.
We had a great meal at The Rock Springs Cafe in Black Canyon City. Thank you all for taking the time to drive up there and celebrate the evening with me!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Birthday Flowers!!

Aren't they fabulous? Thank you Geoffrey!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dog Park Day

I hadn't been to the dog park for a while, so Cindy and I took my dogs, her dog and the dogs they were babysitting all to the dog park.
Look at this cute french bulldog in her sweater.

Here is one of the dogs being babysat getting an invitation to play.

This dog was a really cute pekingese. Unfortunately my photo doesn't do him justice.

Here is my Winston. Having a great time.

Another of Winston.

This is Cindy's Lexie.

And a final shot of Winston. Unfortunately, Dobbie's photos didn't turn out!

Christmas Book Club

Ok, you have to check out Cindy's post from Christmas book club. Great photos!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Teddy Bear Baby Afghan

Just finished my next baby gift. See the teddy bears? Isn't it cute!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Noca RestaurantEdit 3118 E Camelback RdPhoenix, AZ 85016 (602) 956-6622

So! There are some friends that I go to dinner with regularly. And in December, we usually choose someplace a little nicer to go to. There is a restaurant called NOCA (which stands for North of Camelback) that I have been wanting to go to for a couple of years. They have had rave reviews. I knew they would be pricey but I wanted to go. So this year we made reservations and went.
It's a small space and basically in a strip mall. But it's decorated in an understated way, dark paneling. Lots of servers. They started us with some nice bread with olive oil for dipping. They handed us the menu, but also told us about the 4 course tasting menu. I LOVE tasting menus because it gives me the chance to try so many things. The tasting menu was 50$ for the 4 courses. If you ordered a starter and a main course, you were pretty much at 45$ anyway, so the tasting menu was also a bargain.
So my friend Penny, my sister Wendy and I all ordered from the tasting menu. My friend Cecelia and her husband marked ordered a starter and a main course. First they brought us all an Amuse Course, a free little appetizer. It was a miniature amount of avocado mousse with a spicy peanut and a bit of lemon olive oil, all served on a spoon in the middle of a small plate. It was quite tasty, with a lot of different flavors going on.
Then I got the "Bacon and Egg" for my first course. It was almost like a miniature breakfast. There was a small poached egg, that was dipped in panko bread crumbs after it had been poached and was then crisped on the outside. It was served on a small piece of toasted bread with a piece of crisped pork belly. On and around this were pieces of walnut, date and huckleberry. It was delicious and had all the tastes of breakfast.
My sister and friend both had the heirloom beet salad. It consisted of several different colors and types of beets all in a row on a long rectangular plate. There were also pieces of pear and sprouts and drizzled with a little bit of fruit vinaigrette. They said it was delicious!
The next course was a semolina pasta/dumpling with some local sausage and greens with a cream sauce. It was also quite tasty although, I still liked my first course better.
They brought us another little free course, a small serving of cream of turnip soup in miniature espresso cups. It was great!
Then came the flat iron steak. It was beautifully cooked and nicely sliced, perfectly moist. There was a small amount of mashed potato on the plate, but it was mostly just the meat.
Then yet another freebie, cotton candy in a bowl, for the table to share! What a fun touch!
And finally dessert. It was some time of very rich chocolate mousse, with a little cookie crust. It was served with a small amount of banana gelato. Perfect! Cecelia had a deconstructed cheesecake. All the flavors were there, but it didn't look like cheesecake as you were used to it.
It was a perfect special occasion meal, with lots of adventure and excitement with the food!
I would highly recommend it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cookie Exchange

Don't these look great? I made them for the Cookie Exchange for Church tomorrow night. Cherry Tea Cakes and Chocolate Mint cookies. Y'all should come!


Well...I'm just finishing the first dating book and starting the next. It's incredible how many things I was able to do wrong. I think if there was somebody keeping track, I might have won some kind of title or award for the ability to do the most things wrong.
It breaks my heart that I messed up so badly because I liked the last one. I don't really know more than that, but I knew that. And I had fun. Which was important! So life goes on and I try to learn and apply. I think it's sinking in.
The search continues....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dating IQ

Ok, so we all know that I have very little practical man experience. And based on the outcome of my last relationship, maybe could use to learn a thing or two. It is quite possible that the last relationship wasn't going to be a good one for me anyway, but it seemed to me that it self destructed before there was even an opportunity to really even tell how things might work out.
So I just visited one of the gals I visit teach and she gave me what she called a required reading list. I stopped at the book store on my way in to work and picked up:
Mars and Venus on a Date by John Gray PHD
Why Men Marry Bitches by Sherry Argov
Dating After 50 By Sharon Romm MD
She recommended a few others, but this should get me started.
According to my friend, you can't be the giving, loving, nurturing person that you are and think you should be. Oh vey. Somehow I need to learn how to interact with this foreign species because I really think I want one for eternity. So I guess I have a big learning curve. According to these books, I've already done several things I shouldn't with this new relationship. So we will see how to still be me and still not torpedo the relationship.
I have been a good student when it comes to academic subjects. Lets hope I am a good student with this...
Wish me happy ever after!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Candy Madness

I have had a recipe to make homemade caramels for
a while. I finally decided today that I would try and make them. This is the cook!
I have never been a big candy maker. I think I always found it a little intimidating, needing to watch it so closely and get it to just the right temperature, etc. I have made some before but not a lot. Here is the caramels in the early stages. I'm telling you, if you put cream, sugar and butter together and start cooking it, it smells divine!
Here it is finally getting close to the caramel stage. It took about 40 minutes of almost constant stirring and boiling and watching the thermometer. But it ended up turning out really well and I put it out to cool in it's pan.
While I was doing all that stirring, I was reading the other recipes that were next to the caramel one. There was a recipe for peanut brittle. I've never made it before. I read it and I thought, I have all those ingredients and I bet I could do it. So then I made peanut brittle! And it turned out great.
Next to that was a recipe for Cashew Toffee. I had those ingredients too. So I made that. It turned out OK, not quite perfect, but it tastes good (yes I did take a little taste of everything).
Finally I had a 1/2 cup of pumpkin that needed to be used up. I found a recipe for cranberry pumpkin Pecan muffins. I did a half recipe. They are divine. I put them in the freezer and gave one to my neighbor.

So here is how everything looks. The caramels are on top wrapped in wax paper. The muffins are pretty evident. The peanut brittle is in the front and the toffee in the back! I was so excited because I felt way less intimidated and now I have all this candy to use for gifts and when I have company, etc!!

So I guess I am a candy maker now!
I've been so good on my diet. I hope the scale doesn't do anything bad tomorrow morning after my tasting everything.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kayaking in Topock Gorge

So! About 20 years after I first decided I wanted to go Kayaking in Topock Gorge, I did it! My friend Amy went with me. We drove up to Lake Havasu City the night before. WACKO (Really) the outfitters, took us all in vans to Golden Sands where they gave us a quick lesson and set us on our way. They had two trailer loads of boats. There were about 12 people in our group.

This is Amy and I at the beginning of our day.

Here they are with the boats unloaded and getting ready to put us in.

Amy is a triathlon athlete. So she was very comfortable in her Kayak. At the beginning, she was rowing frontwards, backwards and against the current just to see how hard it was. I was just working on figuring out how to go forwards without hitting anyone or anything! I did get the knack of it after not too long though. And somehow, Amy and I were out at the front of the back the entire day. Amy said I was a "ringer", that at least at one point of the day, she had a hard time keeping up with me.
We had perfect weather, the scenery was gorgeous. It was mostly nice and quiet. We didn't run into too many motor boats until closer to the end of our day.
It was kind of funny, I swear that I had read on the website that this was an 8 mile trip. After we were on our way, I found out it was a 14 mile trip! It was a little disconcerting, but I did fine. I did wish I had brought my biking gloves though. I got a few blisters from paddling. It was quite a workout. My shoulders are a little sore, and my abs are quite sore. I'm not sure I even knew I had abs before!

Here is some of the view in the gorge. Most of you probably know that the Colorado River is the border between California and Arizona. As we went occasionally we had to find a place to make a pit stop. As I was headed to the Arizona shore, Amy said, I am going to go pee in California. It cracked me up. I told her I thought it sounded like a political statement.

Here is Amy doing some of her backwards rowing. She had to work all her muscles you know! I tried it too, but just for a minute or two.

Amy really liked her boat. And for some reason she stayed pretty dry. I don't know if it was because she had a different type of kayak or just superior rowing skills. I was pretty much wet from the waist down all day. Every time I lifted one side of the paddle out of the water, water would drip down onto my legs and into the boat. I was sitting in water most of the day. It was still a lot of fun though. Here is Amy enjoying sunbathing in her boat at our lunch stop.

Here is a view along the river at our lunch stop.

We had lunch at Picture Rock. See all the petroglyphs?

Amy got a photo of me in my kayak.

We did see a wild burro. I got a blurry photo of it. The guide with us said that often they swim back and forth across the river.

Here we are waiting to be picked up. The indomitable Amy, sitting in her boat again! Carrying the boats from the river to the pick up site was the hardest part of the whole day!
I used to always think I wanted a canoe, but now that I have gone kayaking, I think I would like one of those instead! Now If I only had someplace to keep it and someway to haul it....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Going Solo

Usually Cindy and I hike together. She is unavailable this week and I have been having a really strong desire to get out as much as possible. Maybe the beautiful weather has something to do with that? Anyway I had the morning free and decided to do the Go John Trail up in Cave Creek County Park. Cindy and I did it once last Spring. It is longer than I've ever done by myself, but I felt the need for long too. I checked at the visitors center and it's 5.8 miles. The guy said it takes you 2 to 3 hours depending on how fast you hike. It took me 2 and a half hours so I guess I am somewhere between fast and slow. Something I suspected all along. Anyway, I took my ipod and earphones. I've never done that before either. I had some new music I wanted to listen to. I had lots of thinking time. I know I live alone anyway, and what would be so different, but I think at home I tend to be busy with tasks. Here I had nothing to do but think, walk and listen to music. I won't share all of my thoughts with you but here are some of them:
  • The Thanksgiving Album by Windham Hill is beautiful music.
  • How hard do I need to work at finding an eternal companion?
  • People say a lot of things. They say that if you just live an engaged life you will find somebody. I think I live a pretty engaged life and I haven't met anyone, so what do I need to do differently?
  • Do I know what my faults are? And am I really doing anything about them?
  • Do I come across to men as needy even if I don't feel needy?
  • I liked Adam Lambert on American Idol and bought his new album on Itunes before the whole AMA fiasco. I heard about it the evening of the same day I bought his album. So now I listen to it with a bit of a bad feeling. There is a lot of bad lyrics in the songs. It's a shame because he really has a lovely voice.
  • What happened to my voice? I had a nice singing voice but I think it's gone. I think it's a case of if you don't use it, you lose it. I notice my voice cracking a little on notes at church that it shouldn't be cracking on. Is it because I haven't sung in choir or done any solos in a year or more? Or is it just getting older?
  • Why is my right knee hurting? I've lost weight, my joints aren't supposed to hurt anymore.
  • I can find the trail even when Cindy isn't walking ahead of me. Cindy is always in front and I right behind her.
  • I love Norah Jones. What kind of guitar is that on Cry, Cry, Cry that makes it sound so country? Is it a slide guitar?
  • Her song Man of the Hour is hilarious on her new album. I love it. She has a line something like, not being able to chose between a vegen and a pothead. She chose this guy because he ate meat. It turns out it's her dog. I love it.
  • What dreams do I have and how do I achieve them? What control do I have over reaching my dreams?
  • I want to go on a pack trip in the mountains, maybe the Colorado Rockies. Where you ride horses and camp for a week. My friend Robin did that with a commercial group. I think it sounds awesome. I need to check into how much it costs, etc. Anyone want to go?
  • I'm looking forward to my Mule trip down the Grand Canyon in March.
  • My sister's husband rides a mule. He is excited about her losing weight and has bought her a mule too, so they can ride together again in the Spring. My friend Penny laughs uproariously over that and says no man ever bought her a mule. A want a man who would at least want to buy me a mule (figuratively speaking!).
  • Back to men again. Do I really want one? Yes. I want to learn the lessons of a long term relationship. I want to be asked to give and take. I want the opportunity of compromise with someone else. I truly think life would be richer and fuller if I didn't get everything I wanted all the time.
  • Why is my right knee hurting?
  • What do I want for lunch?
  • What is within my control? I used to believe that the scripture,"We love Him because He first loved us." Could be applied to people in our lives too. I don't think I believe that anymore.
  • That lady just scared me. She ran up behind me and passed me. I had the earphones in and never heard her coming.
  • I think I am going to start going to more singles activities in the area.
  • I am back online again on the singles site.
  • It is somewhat overwhelming and emotionally exhausting.
  • Is my openness a fault? Does it scare people? Do I need to change? Is it something I can change? Would I still be me?
  • Why is my right knee hurting?
  • I am going back on the diet in a day or two, what do I want to eat today if I am not on the diet? I want pizza. If I go to Sam's Club, I can get just a slice of pizza and drink for cheap and not have to have leftovers.
  • What is that green mineral deposit near the end of the trail?
  • It's a beautiful day and it's awesome to be able to walk 5.8 miles without stopping and resting.
  • I'm at Sam's Club and there is a cute fireman in line behind me. Is there a way to meet a completely strange fireman in line at Sam's Club. Apparently not.
  • Why am I limping?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Liking the New Me

I am so enjoying my new found ability to do whatever I want to do! Cindy and I have been hiking and I am doing so well compared to last year. We are going to hike the whole length of Central between South Mountain and North Mountain! It's 15 miles. I just want to be able to say that I did it. How awesome is it, that it doesn't even scare me! Now if it was all mountainous or with a pack, THAT would be a different story. I don't know that I even aspire to that. But I am excited to be truly enjoying, biking, hiking, walking, kayaking, swimming, riding, whatever!
Of course I still like reading, gardening, cooking and crafting! I just feel very empowered and healthy!
Life is good.

Free at last!

I have this work ethic in relation to my craft projects. I can't start a new one until I have finished my last one. I wanted to prevent the problem of having have finished projects all over. It works mostly, but sometimes I chafe under it a little. I have been working on this afghan for most of the year. There are many reasons, but suffice it to say, I have been wanting to be done so I could work on some other projects. Finally it is done!
The pattern and color is supposed to be reminiscent of a red lacquered Chinese box. It turned out pretty well I think! And my mom loves it, which is a good thing because I am giving it to her for Christmas.
I am excited to get on to my next project. I have some baby blankets that need to be made quickly. They should be MUCH faster to complete!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Club Refreshments

Book Club is at my house tonight. We are discussing Poe's short stories.
I spent most of the day cooking and cleaning. I made pumkin sandwich cookies on the left and pumpkin empanaditas on the right. Don't they look yummy?
I also made Minnesota Wild Rice Soup. We will have fruit and crackers.
You should come to Book Club!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Famous Author

So my friend Joyce has written two books so far. She is doing amazing things in learning how to promote herself and her book. This time her publisher has been able to get her in Deseret book and Costco. She has done book signings at the Renaissance Festival, but this last several weeks, her publisher has had her doing book signings at Costco 3 days a week!
Joyce is naturally quite reserved and this has been a challenge for her. I am amazed at how she has planned it all out and how many books she has sold at Costco. She has done amazingly well.
So Penny and I went by to wish her well. Buy a copy!

Stroll Down Central Ave

So on Friday, Penny, Cindy and I decide to take a LONG walk down Central. Cindy and I had done it once before and so we had somewhat of an idea of what we were getting into. Penny was along for the ride so to speak.

So here is how we look when we start. Not the best of photos, but I was just holding the camera out at arms length.
We started at the base of North Mountain and headed South. The North end of Central is really pretty. Lots of trees lining and overarching the road. Beautiful homes to look at.
The thing is, even though you are in the middle of the city, if you decide you need a bathroom, there isn't one. I thought I was going to have a serious problem. All these beautiful homes, but no public restrooms. I made it to the Boston Market at Camelback and Central and was very very grateful.
So Camelback was pretty much our half way point. There were a couple of shops there that I had heard about that I wanted to check out.

This one is Frances. It has expensive one of a kind clothing and some fun and funky jewelry. Some of the jewelry was pricey and some wasn't. It was fun to look at stuff there.

We didn't actually get to go inside the Red Hot Robot. They weren't open. I've read though that they have really fun toys inside.

Smeeks was a blast. Lots of retro candy, party supplies and fun things you remember from being a kid.

Then we decided to take a lunch break. This is Penny and Cindy at Maizies Bistro on Central just South of Camelback. It was a fun place that we had never noticed before walking by. Cindy and I were both dieting and so don't have an accurate review of the food, but the menu looked good and Penny liked her food.

Then we went for the second half. One of the fun things about doing this kind of walk is you get to see things you have never noticed before. Here is a beautiful water feature and park at the Viad (Dial) building at Palm lane. You never see this from Central because there is a wal between it and the road.
Then I finally got to see the new piece of public art near downtown ASU. It is supposed to remind you of a cactus flower. It was actually somewhat interesting, but I hear it's fabulous at night, because it is lit and you don't see all the cables holding it up.

I really like the photo from underneath though, looking up at the clouds.

We had parked a car at the end of our hike so we could get back to our starting point. We were a little puzzled by this sign. So if everything is 5$, why don't they just say 5$ parking?

Eight and a half miles later, here we are, only a little worse for wear!