Thanksgiving

It’s been an unbelievably busy month. Thanksgiving flew by, and Christmas is only a few short weeks ahead. Gabriel had a special event with the preschool down the road from his school to share a Thanksgiving Feast. He was so cute up on stage!

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We went to Phoenix for the Thanksgiving holiday. My brother and his wife flew in from Washington, and we cooked the meal at my sister’s house. I was surprised at how much fun it was cooking with everyone in the kitchen! My dad sat by the fireplace, and the cousins had a blast playing together (except when waiting for the food to be served!)

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Can't you feel the joy?
Can’t you feel the joy?

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On Friday, we took some family photos, visited a brewery, and checked out the Phoenix zoo lights. Saturday, Sedona turned 8 years old! We head back to Tucson to settle in for a few days of rest after our trip. My sister sent the kids home with a new toy, which they adore.

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Julian

We spent ten days in Julian. We didn’t plan to do anything – except play and spend time together. It was fantastic not to plan every day out in advance. The kids played in the kid’s club area, doing crafts all morning and playing outside in the bouncy house. After lunch, we’d swim and do other crafts at our cabin. The days just had a nice flow to them.

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We did visit Dudley’s bakery in Santa Ysabel, as well as the Academy of Hand Weaving. We also explored downtown Julian, but the favorite place by far there was Mom’s Pie. The kids had pie and ice cream – and were ready for more swimming afterwards. Julian also has a lovely little library, where the kids read lots of books. We ate lots of pizza from Romano’s Italian restaurant – where Sophia lost her second tooth. We even took a train ride and panned for gold! And a trip to Julian wouldn’t be complete without a visit or two to the local brewery!

 

I taught the kids how to weave. It was fun to see them learning to do something I really enjoy. Even Gabe weaved – I made him a nature loom and placed some string on it. He did weave for a short bit, but cast it aside for a handmade bow and arrow made out of twigs and string. And of course, there was sewing! I made a rope basket and dresses for the girls.

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My mom and niece were with us for a week. The kids had a great time together – and I really enjoyed having time alone with my mom. Jon joined us for a couple of days, and brought Lucy too.

 

Julian was just lovely. I hope the rest of our journey is as much fun and relaxing.

Banana Bread

Sunday morning, Sophia woke up with a low-grade fever and runny nose. The night before, just after Gabe’s party concluded, the rain that had been holding off left loose throughout the night. It was a very cold and wet Sunday in late April, most unusual. It was no wondering we all were feeling a bit out of sorts.

After three days of fever and a worsening runny nose (and still no appetite), we went to the doctor, and discovered it is strep throat. And we can possibly expect all of us to come down with it -or just feel crummy). Lucky us.

So, banana bread. I had a pile of bananas sitting on the counter going bad. Just staring at me. We go through SO MANY bananas, that it’s strange to see them go bad so quickly.  What to do? Make banana bread, of course. But I didn’t feel much like the Joy of Cooking recipe I usually turn too. Too bland.

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I thought about about Smitten Kitchen. She always has good spins on the classics. Sure enough: there was jacked-up banana bread (with whiskey) and double chocolate banana bread. Good enough for me! I like how she used brown sugar instead of white, and not too much. I had enough bananas for another batch, so I made a version of the double chocolate, without the baking cocoa. Just chocolate chips. I’m sure Deb wouldn’t mind.

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And fresh out of the oven, these babies look good! And the whiskey version is especially tasty with green tea. Enjoy for all of us to enjoy over the next few days while we recover from the plague in our house. I may never reach for the Joy of Cooking recipe ever again. Time for a nap, please!

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Spring Break

After my big event at work (which went well!), Sophia had the week off for Spring Break. Naturally, Gabe’s Spring Break is two weeks after hers.

Sophia had many plans about what we should do with our time. I had committed to teaching Monday morning at Gabe’s school, so she taught with me that morning. Afterwards, we went to the strawberry lemonade joint. Our new cistern was also installed!

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Tuesday, we went to see Cinderella with one of her friends from school. I went for the costumes, but it was well done. The actresses were amazing! I always love Helena Bonham Carter and Cate Blanchett, but Lily James and Sophie McShera (both of Downton Abbey) were excellent. Plus, the prince was Richard Madden from Game of Thrones. Go see it!

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Wednesday found us at my friend KC’s house, which was a lovely relaxing time. Her garden is really going strong! I was able to get quite a bit done on my weaving project.2015-03-18 15.21.35 2015-03-18 07.07.45

Thursday, after visiting the lumber store, I built a baby chicken coop or brooder. And we picked up four baby chickens! They don’t have names yet, but I’m leaning towards some literary names (Emma, Jane, Charlotte…see where I’m going?)  We’ll see how the names pan out.

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We had a few more friends over this weekend to play and visit with the chickens. We also put in the new spring garden. I found a strawberry growing, and ate it all by myself.  Jon had to work Saturday, something he’ll be doing almost every Saturday for the next month and a half.

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After cleaning out the pond Sunday morning, I was showing my brother and sister-in-law on skype the garden when we saw a SNAKE in the garden pond! It was trying to eat my frogs! My biggest concern was simply that it climbed over my anti-snake fence along the ocotillo fence and came in! It couldn’t get back out the way it came in and we couldn’t leave it in the garden. It was not venomous (gopher snake), but still not safe for the kids. We tried to get it out of the garden, but it just couldn’t get back over the fence. Sadly, we ended up having to kill it. I couldn’t reach my friend who husband could have come removed it for us. Things to think about when living in the desert.

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I am so glad Spring is here. March weather is all over the place here, but it’s generally lovely. Just lovely. Hope your start to spring is going well!

 

 

 

 

February Weekend

It was the only weekend I didn’t have to work this month, although I was on call with the new exhibit being installed. Valentine’s Day, a silly holiday to most, but one I like to celebrate. The kids were so excited for the last two weeks, making valentines and art every day. They loved their gifts from Cupid, and we really had a wonderful weekend.

We pulled weeds (well, I did), and played outside, just enjoying the beautiful weather. The chickens enjoyed the weeds – it’s mostly london rocket. Their egg production sure has increased! It’s a little disheartening seeing three hours of weeding really only cleared a small area. But, I also dismantled the old garden area fence, and dug out those fence posts. Which actually took a rather long, painful, amount of time. I looked through the blog archives to see when I had installed that old garden area just outside of our bedroom, but couldn’t tell. It was my original kitchen garden, located as far away from the kitchen as possible. Which was why it never really did very well. Removing the ocotillo fence really opens up the back patio. The plans for this space are to add another seating area and an outdoor shower – to use after visiting the hot tub. We really need one! But first, the weeds must go!

Everyone had their favorite meal: the kids wanted pigs in a blanket and boxed mac and cheese. Someday they’ll have better tastes! We had a yummy mushroom risotto and roasted rack of lamb with pistachios and parsley. It was SO good! Sunday was grey and cloudy, but equally nice. We had some friends over for a play date, and I was able to work on my crewel embroidery project.

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Hope you all had a lovely weekend! Unless you are buried underneath that latest blizzard on the east coast, in which case, I hope you stayed warm!