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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Ursala the Sea Witch

I like dressing up for Halloween. I especially love dressing as a villain. Lots of fun, if you ask me. This year I was debating between Ursala and Cruella DeVil…lots of fun make-up and costumes.

cruella ursalaI decided to go with Ursala. It would be a challenge to construct a dress with those octopus tentacles. I turned to pinterest – here’s my board.

I was inspired by the elegant dress and movable tentacles by trumanandamyweston.blogspot.com.  I bought six pool noodles, some leather and sequin fabric in black and purple, and three hula hoops to make the layers underneath the skirt, and grabbed some rope. I sewed eight tentacles (each one side with leather and sequins), stuff the pointed tips with some polyester filling, and put the noodles inside. They were lovely, just not bendable. A trip to the hardware store and eight two-foot pieces of copper tubing later, I had flexible tentacle I could shape any way I wanted. I had found a short strapless dress at the thrift store to use as my base for the outfit. I tied them to the three-tiered hula hoop skirt I made and, voila – tentacles! (This is how I kept my mind busy during my father’s surgery…)

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I then sewed a black satin circle skirt with a gather waist to cover the tentacles. I liked the look of the black satin skirt alone, but the material was different from the base dress…and it just didn’t have a bit of glamour I was looking for!

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I remembered a tulle skirt I had made last year and didn’t end up using. I put it over the top…and liked it. But when I cut the tulle into little strips to allow for additional movement – that’s when it worked!

Here’s the finished product, complete with make-up. I love it!

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Happy Halloween!

Flagstaff Trip

Lots going on this month. My father unexpectedly had open heart surgery – and he’s doing amazing in his recovery! He’s walking nine miles each day, getting stronger every day. The kids had the first two weeks of the month off (well, Sophia had only one week). We decided to explore Flagstaff for a couple of days, with a few days in Phoenix to visit family.

 

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We stayed in a little cabin at the Flagstaff KOA. It was tiny – a bed with two bunk beds, a small fridge and microwave. That’s it! It worked for us. The weather did not quite cooperate…it rained our entire trip. There went our plans to visit Wupatki National Monument and other outdoor hiking spots. Even with the rain, we had fun – in fact – any weather other than HOT was fantastic.

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We visited a couple of breweries in town. The Lumberyard Brewery had tasty food to go with their tasty beers. The Lowell Observatory didn’t have any hands-on activities for kids, other than watching a short film. We decided not to visit. We also visited Beaver Street Brewery after working up an appetite at the park during a lull in the rain, which was more like a restaurant than a brewery. But it was good too!2015-10-05 16.52.18

We ate breakfast at Crown Railroad Cafe one morning. Yummy pancakes and lots of trains!

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And we watched the many trains roll through town. Endless fun for the kids…2015-10-06 17.05.26

We stopped on the way back to Phoenix to visit my grandparents.

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And then back to Phoenix to celebrate my Mom’s birthday! It was so good to see everyone!

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Ten Years Later

We moved into our house ten years ago this past August. Since moving in, we got married (at the house),  added a chicken coop, buried cats, and birthed two delightful children (at the hospital). Not to mention many home improvement projects. Let’s a tour, shall we?
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Then: The front of the house was uninspired. There was a half-moon driveway that went right up to the front door. Very little vegetation in the front.

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2015-03-07 08.36.55Now: We enclosed the front area with an adobe wall to make a private garden. We added a porch so we would have a place to sit and watch those monsoon storms, a flagstone pathway that leads to a pond, and raised veggie beds. Still working increasing the landscaping elsewhere (damn those moles!), but we’re getting there.

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Then: The living living room (and the hallway) was HOT PINK when we moved in. Walls, ceiling, and trim. Awful!

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Now: We added a double sided fireplace and painted the walls a nice creamy light orange and the trim a dark basil color. Currently, we have less furniture in the room. I rather like it this way, when looking back at old photos. Ten years later, we’re painting again! I also took down the old crown molding that was tiny! Stay tuned for more!

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Then: The kitchen was divided from the dining room with the upper cabinets blocking the view. The saltillo tile was nice (except it never looked clean), and so was the yellow color on the walls (until you got something on the wall and had to wipe it away – it was flat paint). I hated, hated the tile on the counter tops. Not that it wasn’t pretty, but that it made cooking so difficult. I did get a promise that within ten years we could remodel.

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Now: We remodeled the kitchen last summer. What a transformation! I still catch myself marveling at the light and open feel of the kitchen. I truly love cooking in here, and I love that Sophia does her homework right across from my while I prepare dinner.

 

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Then: My bathroom was purple, had an old, possible original sink and counter top, and yellow tile. The tile itself wasn’t too bad, but the old glass door in the tub was always hard to clean.

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Now: We ripped everything out and started new. We moved the wall where the tub is located to allow for a larger soaking tub. Not that I get much time in there nowadays with the kids, but I have hopes for the future. The theme for this bathroom was our visits to Maine beaches. Sandy yellow tiles, with a serpentine rock pathway. Sea glass for the tile back splash. Light blues and grey, with greens. Wood, similar to driftwood. I adore this bathroom!

 

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Then: You couldn’t walk from the back of the house to the property line, there was so much overgrown vegetation!

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Now: We cleared the overgrown material, created a space to get married in the back beneath a large mesquite tree where the kids’ place structure is currently located, built rock-lined pathways, and added a chicken coop. Jon installed two levels of flagstone patios. We added a couple of concrete pads (one for a dance floor), the other for a hot tub. We’re working this fall to install another shed structure so Jon can have a separate home office space. Someday, we’d like to put in a guest house in the way far back.

 

 

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Then: The sewing studio was a dream. Old stained carpet, boring walls.

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Now: After a couple of iterations, we have stained concrete floors, just like the kitchen. A lovely turquoise color on the wall brightens the dark space. All of our books are installed along one wall. But the biggest change is this is now my studio. Lots of fabric, a place to sew, and a place to work from home. I adore this space. When I’m home, both the dog and cat are always right there with me. I love having a space for myself! Now to build one for Jon!

 

I love looking back and seeing all we have done to make this place our home.

Simon the Cat

After our last cat past on earlier this year, we knew we could not be without a cat for long. It didn’t seem right to get one too quickly, and then we had such a long trip planned. One of the things the kids and I discussed non-stop on our trip was getting a kitten (or three!) when we returned. Well, that Sunday after we got back, I went to visit the Mesquite Valley Growers Cat Sanctuary, which is part of our favorite plant nursery, Mesquite Valley Growers.  I want to scout out the kittens and the sanctuary before we took the kids there.

It’s an beautiful, old, historic home that is completely a cat sanctuary. No people live there at all. The kittens have three rooms to themselves, and older cats have the run of the rest of the house. There’s even a huge enclosed patio for the outdoor and feral cats to enjoy. It is pretty amazing. Adoption fees cover neutering the pets, and their first set of yearly shots – and that’s it. It’s very reasonable. Clearly, the older and feral cats are cared for continuously.

In the kitten room, we all scattered to explore. We had decided as a family that we would be getting only one kitten, so we all had to agree on the kitten. Gabe and I were playing with the active kittens, which I thought might be a good fit for the boy. Sophia sat down, and this adorable black kitten sat in her lap. She was entranced. So was Jon. They called me in and he crawled in my lap after playing with Gabe. We knew this was the one, only the gal told us he was going to be adopted by another family.   Heartbroken, we continued looking, but no one seemed right.

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An hour later, the gal came back and told us we could have him! The other family had been in three times, and were still thinking. She knew we had made up our minds. After completing the paperwork, we brought him home. We were testing out names (and Sophia kept calling him “her”), so we tried Sascha. Jon suggested Simon, my absolute favorite name. The kids agreed, and now we have a playful, lap-loving kitten named Simon. He’s a doll.

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He approves of fabric…
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watching paint dry
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taking a more active role in painting…
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his favorite place
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don’t mind if I do!
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what squirt bottle? i don’t see it!
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it’s hard watching mama work…

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Simon loves to play, loves to cuddle, puts up with Gabe’s rough play, and has to be right in the middle of everything. Lucy, slightly annoyed the return of noise in the house, seems to really like Simon. Simon is still not sure about this giant furry creature, but he’s getting used to her. After the kids go to bed, he can be found either in my lap, or on Jon’s desk while he works. He’s a content cat! And we are so glad to have found him!

 

Coming Home

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog. Lots going on here though, as seen on instagram. The day we returned from our trip, I feel and sprained my wrist very badly. It’s not fractured, but I was incredible pain for a couple of weeks. Naturally, I did not sit back and let it heal like I ought to, oh no. I decided that the garden beds needed to be dug up and anti-mole wire installed. That even if I could not lift 3 cf bags of soil, I needed to get 18 cf placed in one bed. I also needed to take an old bed frame to the thrift store (after loading it by myself). I also needed to start painting that old green trim white! You can see where I’m heading with this…

So, here we are, weeks later, and I’m just starting to feel better – although I still have pain in my wrist when I type, chop veggies, and drive.  But it’s slowly healing…and I’m trying to rest, but there’s so much I want to do! I had a whole week to myself after the kids went back to school, and before I had to head back.

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I added pockets to an old dress for the perfect garden dress!
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The new and improved garden bed, with the anti-mole wire.
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Shirring! OMG – SO MUCH FUN!
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Made a lovely Washi Dress
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Waited impatiently for the storm to roll in…
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Made yet another perfect weekend dress

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And this little guy in the last picture, well, he’s my new partner in crime. He deserves his own post, but for now, this is Simon.

Hope your end of summer has been just as much fun as mine, minus the hurt wrist!

 

PNW: The Journey Home

Jon flew home from our PNW trip that day after Sophia’s birthday. We began the journey on Monday, heading for Eugene. We stayed at the Armitage Park campground in Eugene. We met up that afternoon with friends we had made three years prior when we were last in Eugene. It was sweet to see everyone – and see how much older all the kids were. Gabe was only six months old last time! The camp ground was lovely, although our spot had little shade when we pulled in at 2pm. Luckily, I quickly set up the tent, and we went off to a park to see our friends and get frozen yogurt!

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The next day we headed for Mt. Shasta. I was worried a bit, since it began to rain on our drive there. We were going to camp again in the tent. Luckily, at the Mount Shasta KOA, they upgraded us to a two room cabin right next to the bathrooms. I managed to unload our stuff just before it began to pour! We settle in to wait a bit, and then during a brief hiatus from the rain, we went out for pizza. We ended up staying there for a couple of hours before leaving in the middle of a downpour. I am so grateful for the upgrade to the cabin – I still don’t want to imagine camping in a tent in a downpour after driving for five hours with two miserable kids!

 

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Next up, we headed south of Sacramento to the Brannan Island Campground, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta area. We have the campground practically to ourselves, which was good since the kids were exhausted. The kids were tired of the long drives, and so was I. They were able to ride their bikes, and I could unwind. We had one more day of long driving to reach our two-day rest place: Morro Bay.

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We stayed at the Morro Dunes RV Park, which is right across from the beach and the Morro Rock. The community had put in lovely bike and pedestrian paths since we last visited. After our respite on the beach, we walked along the boardwalk to our dinner at Tognazzini’s Dockside Too, a fish market right on the dock. We watched the seals and seagulls while being serenaded by a banjo player. It was pretty fun! After running errands, we spent the next day at the beach. By late afternoon, we were ready for some frozen yogurt and pizza!

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Our next stop was Playa del Reyes, where our friends Anne-Marie and her family live. We stayed for two nights. The kids hadn’t seen each other since last June, so they were all excited to see each other. It was lovely to catch up with my old friend. Not that we are old! The next day, more friends joined us: Trinka and her family, and my friend Drew biked over. We played at the beach.  Sophia learned to boogie board, and I tried surfing. We had a fantastic time – for our last day at the beach. Sad to say goodbye, both to our friends and the beach! We spend about 24 days at the beach this summer!

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Our last long drive was to Phoenix to see my sister, niece, and Mom. It was a good end to our trip, since we started out our trip with them. We stayed at my sister’s house and swam in the pool. It was hot! It still is in fact.

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