October

I realized with a start that I haven’t written a post in awhile. I have been too busy living my life! Does this mean my blogging days are done? Probably not but I wouldn’t be surprised to find my blog changing again.

No flash fiction because Carrot Ranch is running contests this month. I have entered two of them so far and they don’t want us to publish our entries until late November after the winners are announced. My goal is to finish in the top ten so I can get a critique from Charli who will be practicing on the top ten for her writing class.

This month I have made it a goal to clean or de-clutter one area in my home six days a week. I am picking areas that don’t get cleaned on a regular basis so I am doing odd drawers and nooks and crannies. I have done both refrigerators and I have to say every time I look in the kitchen fridge now I feel nothing but joy. I can’t believe how many expired and almost empty condiments I had!

I am also practicing some self-care and doing a 21 day on-line retreat called “Magical Mindfulness” created by Jools Sinclair. There have been some interesting bits and I am curating a few practices that will hopefully turn long term.

Finally there was the big autumn camping trip. I did a photo Friday of it but sadly it wasn’t that great of a trip because I was sick. ūüėě I had been looking forward to this trip for months and the weather was beautiful but all I wanted to do was nap! I had been sick for two weeks and thought for sure I was going to get better.

After we got back I went to the doctor and found out that I have a virus, most likely two different one’s back-to-back considering how long I have been sick. For seven days I have to eat a bland, light diet to give my gut a chance to heal and drink emergence-C everyday to help the virus go on it’s way. Hopefully all will be well by Halloween.

Time for some cleaning…or maybe a nap ūüôā .

Creating Autumn

It’s finally, officially, autumn. My season. Ahhh. In September I typically feel a sense of relief of having survived another desert summer. But let me start this by saying we are still having days in the high 90’s here. So I am not sure I can say with certainty that I have survived it yet!

I changed up the kitchen sink window this year, bought new “curtains” (two napkins and towel), used a different garland and added a little bird. Makes me very happy.

I am doing my best to be excited about creating my own version of fall. I hung nine, yes nine, leaf garlands around the house. It looked like autumn outside (even if it was 92¬į during the day) as beautiful blue-gray clouds built to the south and moved north to the mountains. We had a marvelous storm while I decided where to put a few strings of orange lights. Thunder, heavy rain, wind and small hail. A dark and stormy afternoon, perfect for autumn decorating!

I have switched over to my “autumn” wardrobe: summer weight but in fall colors. As I write I am wearing oatmeal colored linen capris with a heather pine green (or is it forest green?) 3/4 sleeve shirt. I wear lots of orange and burgundy and browns. I bought two new “Life is Good” t-shirts with autumn themes. They are both short sleeve and oddly, dark blue. I also bought two long-sleeve shirts (one beige and one purple), of which I wore the beige “Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice) to the movies on Friday. (I figured correctly it would be cold enough inside the mall for long sleeves.)

Something else I have been doing is searching for books set in autumn. I found this website and requested a few books from the library. Mentally I will be amidst colorful leaves, brisk breezes and sweaters.

On the eating front we are not ready for soups, stews and chili but I am making pumpkin-cheesecake muffins for bowling tomorrow. And we are starting to eat more pork and turkey (cutlets and tenderloins, not roasting whole turkeys, that would be crazy in this heat!) and the first batch of homemade applesauce from the freezer. I have found adding a few dried cranberries to salad, granola, a baked yam or pretty much anything “autumns it up”. ūüôā

We have our trip to the corn maze/pumpkin patch and more apple picking scheduled. My son has the last Monday in September off from school so my husband took it off from work too. We like to go when it is less crowded and in the past we have found weekends in October to be rather nuts.

We also have our camping trip planned for mid-October, I can’t wait. We will definitely be taking chili and soup on the trip. Even if the days are warm the nights should still be cool up at 7000′.

I am still walking on the treadmill most days (like right now while I type) but more often I watch Youtube videos of autumn walks. I turn my high velocity fan on creating an autumnal breeze and keep myself cool at the same time.

I have been enjoying making this banner for fall:

Sorry it didn’t photograph so great.

And taking my list from this post and making it into a pretty bucket list:

One last project. I decided to participate in the Brooklyn Art Library Pen Pal Painting Exchange. I love it because really no talent is required ūüôā . Here is my 4 x 4 painting:

I wish now I had only done one leaf outline. Live and learn.

So there you have it, how to create autumn in the desert 101. I think I’ll go have some cranberry juice in my new mug.

HAPPY FALL Y’ALL!

May Madness: Minimalism

Recently I did some deep cleaning around the house. You know, actually taking all the books off the shelves and getting all the dust, cleaning the carpets, purging and rearranging just a little in my office.

I have read a lot of articles and books about minimalism, I have Kon-Mari’d some and there are aspects of minimalism that I like. I believe every object should have a home to reside in when not in use. I put things away when I am done with them. I try to get rid of things I don’t love or find to be useful. But I do like having stuff. I have no interest in owning only x number of clothes or getting rid of certain books because I have already read them. I still love them and want to keep them.

My shelves and closets are full but organized. Not crammed with clutter. (Okay maybe a little clutter but I am making an effort.)

In the midst of this bout of cleaning I have realized I wish spouse and small child were minimalists though. To put it bluntly they are both slobs. If they see a flat surface they think it should be filled with stuff. They are both allergic to throwing things away.

I try and compromise. I leave their own rooms alone and in the shared spaces I try to be fair and open minded. There are a few spots where I have allowed stuff to pile up. (Mostly because I have been too busy battling my hormones to engage in another battle.) But here I am trying to clean. I have discovered I don’t mind dusting and doing the floors, the actual cleaning part. But I feel ill used looking at the piles of stuff on the desks. I am tempted to simply throw it all in a garbage bag and be done with it.

Am I the only one like this? What do tidy people do when forced to co-exist with untidy people? Do they spend all their time cleaning? The thing is, while I like a clean house I don’t actually like to clean all that much. It is enough work to put my own stuff away. And don’t tell me to ignore their stuff. Not possible, though I wish it was.

Til tomorrow…

The Good, the Bad and the Not Too Ugly

The Good

I decided my son really needed to start helping more around the house. We have tried out different chores, all met with complaining and avoidance. Because I am struggling to get through the evenings these days I decided he needed to do the dinner dishes. Period. No arguing allowed. And guess what? He actually likes doing the dinner dishes! And he does a really good job. Go figure.

The Bad

Because the moving gracefully into menopause thing isn’t happening I have decided I want to try hormone replacement. Since before Christmas it has been very hard to get a lot done. Even things I want to do I find it hard to find the energy and interest for. I went and saw my primary doctor but she wants me to see a GYN and I couldn’t get an appointment until the first week of March. I tell myself it’s just four weeks, but it sort of feels like forever.

Before

The Not Too Ugly

My wonderful dog Sherlock is 14 1/2 years old and pretty spry and rather deaf. I decided last year that spending all those hours at the groomer’s was getting to be a bit much for him. So I tried a mobile pet groomer and it seemed to go okay. But when she came back before Christmas he wouldn’t go with her. He actually growled at her, something I have never seen him do before. So he didn’t get bathed or clipped.

And now it is February and he is crazy stinky and shaggy. It didn’t help that he fell in the pool two weeks ago.

I am pretty sure the problem is with that one groomer and I thought about trying a different mobile groomer but felt uneasy. So I decided to try and do the job myself. Now we have given him numerous baths but I had never clipped him myself. So I did what every person does who wants to learn something these days: I watched a few YouTube videos.

And then I took him to Dirty Dawgz, a great self-service dog washing place. The owner was crazy helpful. She helped me figure out what blade to use, made sure I knew how to do it and when she wasn’t busy came over and helped me do the more difficult areas.

My dog behaved wonderfully but it was still a very long process. After two hours we both had had enough. I forgot to do his tail and he wouldn’t let me do his feet but he is a lot less furry and he can see again. (I am going to try and trim him up a bit more with scissors this weekend).

I would totally do this again but I would take my spouse next time. It was too hard trying to keep Sherlock standing with one hand under his belly and only having one hand to do the clipping. And hopefully he would be less furry next time, he has a very thick coat that took multiple passes with the clippers. Because he has to be completely dry to clip I would also think about bathing him one day and clipping him the next. It took forever to dry him because of all that thick fur and I had to get him dry all the way through.

Both Sherlock and I are pretty happy, he was all frisky when I brought him home, obviously happy to be able to see again. (Though he completely crashed out the next day!) And I was thrilled that I wanted to pet and cuddle him again. That was some good bonding time with the grooming too, lots of chatting and nose kisses.

After

So there you have it, the good, the bad and the cutie pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is what I am thankful for this week:

  • Cleaning the house as a family Sunday afternoon.

  • A big ol’ turkey.

  • My simple outdoor decorations for this holiday.

IMG_8319

  • Cooler weather (especially for Thursday, roasting a turkey in 85¬į weather is not fun).

  • My son and I doing food prep together Wednesday.¬†

  • Watching the Macy’s parade in my Thanksgiving jammies. (I really don’t know why everybody doesn’t have a pair of Thanksgiving pj’s!)¬†

  • Looking forward to so many things this weekend: a hike, a bowling turkey shoot, the last U of A football game and visiting an arts and crafts festival.

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I hope you have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

 

Photo Friday: How Many….

…leaf garlands does it take to make a house look autumnal in the desert southwest?

Let’s start with the kitchen, one above each window and two under the cabinets.

Two in the family room.

IMG_8114One in the dining room.

IMG_8125One at the top of my bedroom closet.

IMG_8119And two in the upstairs hallway overlooking the living/dining room.

And one in front of my south facing office window that would be really hard to take a picture of.  That makes a grand total of eleven.  So the answer is it takes eleven leaf garlands to bring autumn to the southwest.

 

Keep Your Focus!

 

Photo Friday

This week’s theme is Around the Yard:

IMG_8063Yes, that is 104¬į F at 4:30p in the afternoon (the clock is off, the hour hand is stuck).

IMG_8065Spiderweb.  It seems our spiders are getting ready for Halloween a tad early as the yard is festooned. This is one on my lemon tree.

IMG_8068Can you see all the oranges?  Of course not, they are still green.

IMG_8070Five lemons in one shot, not bad.

IMG_8064And one from the pool. ¬†This is the 5th mouse we’ve pulled out this month. ¬†Seems we have the world’s largest mouse trap, ew.

Keep Your Focus!

Mid-Week Ramblings

The mac and cheese incident

I don’t want my son to be one of those kids who gets to college and has no idea how to feed himself so I am slowly helping him to learn his way around the kitchen. ¬†We have started small (he’s only 10 so we have time) and he can now make scrambled eggs. ¬†The rule is I have to be in the kitchen when he does this.

And I also supervised him making single serve mac and cheese.  The one that comes in a cup and you add water and microwave, not too difficult (or so I thought).  The first few times I supervised but last week-end I was in my office upstairs and he yelled up asking if he could make some.  So I said go ahead and kept on working,  with one ear open but not really expecting any problems.

“Mom, there is smoke coming out of the microwave!” I hear a small panicked voice yell. ¬†The spouse goes down first and I follow expecting to find a dying microwave (it came with the house and I am guessing it is at least 15 years old). ¬†Instead it smells like burnt popcorn and my husband holds up a melted plastic cup. ¬†Turns out small child forgot to add the water. ¬†He will not be appearing on “Kid’s Baking Championship” anytime soon.

 

Halloween

Frankly the grocery store being full of Halloween candy already really irritates me. ¬†Who needs to buy candy two months early? ¬†Especially here where it will be all melted by the end of October. ¬†Do people fear a dearth of candy? ¬†That there won’t be enough for everyone? ¬†Seems to me there is plenty of candy in the stores year round.

I was sharing these thoughts with a fellow blogger and had an epiphany.  For Halloween this year I can dress up as Mrs. Claus or an Elf and hand out Christmas candy, which I am sure will be quite plentiful in October.  Maybe we should put up our Christmas decorations along with Halloween? NOOOOOOOOOOO!

I feel like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” now occurs every year. ¬†I want to enjoy each season, each holiday in it’s own time. ¬†It is August, still triple digit heat, still swimming, popsicle and shorts weather. ¬†I don’t want Halloween being shoved in my face until October.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Dying zinnias do a look a bit autumnal. (no…bad tracey, still summer, at least wait until after Labor Day to start thinking fall thoughts!)

Have a good week (if you want to, no pressure)!

Epiphany

In some cultures January 6th is the big holiday for the Christmas season. This is the symbolic date on which the Wisemen reached Bethlehem and said hi to the baby Jesus and brought him some birthday presents. ūüôā Not celebrated so much in the U.S. but in our¬†home we use it as an excuse to end the holidays with one last bit of fun.

First we go for a hike, symbolizing the journey of the Wisemen.   Second my son gets three last presents representing the three gifts of the Magi. And lastly we eat Mediterranean food which is close enough for me to something biblical yet still tasty.

This year we had some logistical problems with the 6th of January.  Everyone else had finished with holiday time and life was reverting back to normal.  My son had bowling in the morning and I had bowling in the afternoon and then my son and husband were going to a hockey game.  So we delayed Epiphany one day.  A little sad but not the end of the world.

Sabino Canyon finally experiencing autumn color.

After lunch on Sunday we went for our hike. ¬†It was the warmest Epiphany hike to date. ¬†I got a little “hottish and sweatish” in my jeans and t-shirt but enjoyed meandering along the scary dry creek bed and scuffing through the fallen leaves and catching a bit of autumn color. Sabino Canyon Rec Area was pretty crowded but we got off the beaten path awhile and enjoyed the bird song and solitude.

I have never seen it this dry before. Hopefully we will have some winter monsoons this year.

Then my son opened his last three gifts. I don’t buy anything extra or special, I just put three gifts aside when I am wrapping presents.

The last three gifts.

And then we had dinner and homemade chocolate pudding.  Which thankfully turned out this time because the batch I made for Christmas Eve did not.

And now the holidays are over.  For real.

                                                                                          The End.

Twelve Days of Christmas: Days 9 – 12

I love the idea of a yule log burning the whole 12 days of Christmas. Sadly I do not have a ginormous fireplace or a full time staff to oversee the 24/7 burning of a giant log. I thought about a candle but who would leave a candle burning unattended for long periods of time? Not me. So this year I went with a chocolate yule log from the the Vermont Country Store.  Each day we shared 1/12th of it.  It helped depict the passing of the holiday season in a tangible way. (But next year I really want to use an LED candle in some sort festive yule log/holiday way.)

 

Day 9

Today we went to the Pima Air and Space Museum. ¬† The weather was a perfect low 70’s and we quite enjoyed walking around both ¬†inside the hangars and outside looking at all the aircraft. We also enjoyed lunch at the Flight Line Grill. ¬†A little pricey but the food was better than I expected.

 

The SR-71,  my favorite aircraft.

 

Lots of WWII memorabilia. 

Day 10

Today I let E choose what he wanted to do between two options: I could take him to Office Max to use a gift card he received from Santa or I could take him and a friend to a playground. ¬†He chose the playground and spent a very happy two hours running around with two friends. ¬†Again the weather was perfect, 70’s and cloudy which is good. ¬†Even in January the sun can be uncomfortably hot here.

Day 11

Today we went to Bookman’s, my favorite used book store. ¬†My son had a $10 certificate the store sent him on his birthday and I still had a $15 credit from the last batch of books we took there. ¬†We spent a happy hour browsing and then enjoyed a late lunch at Beyond Bread.

Day 12

Today presented a bit of a problem. ¬†The last item we had to do was find some snow at Mt. Lemmon. ¬†Too much gorgeous weather means no snow. Plus¬†celebrating this many days in a row is rather exhausting! ¬†And my son still had some school work to finish. So I must confess we rather fizzled out today. ¬†We opted for a jammie day with both of us getting our needed tasks done in the morning and then spent the afternoon watching a movie he got for Christmas. (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Long Haul”.)

 

How cool is this painted plane?

Yup, that is part of the plane!

So there you have it, Twelve Days of Christmas.  But the season is not quite over yet, next up: Epiphany!