Friday, March 24, 2017

Weekend Fun



I decided to have a girls' game night so that my Mom could meet some of my friends
while she's in town for the winter (winter is over and my parents are going back to Minnesota soon - sad!)  I happened to find special gifts for each woman who was going to attend and I wrapped them up in recycled wrinkly grayish paper that had been used for things I recently purchased from eBay.  Then I added blue bows in different shades.  Perfect!
Pretty, but not too fancy, so it's still casual (like me).



I tried a new recipe - and I won't be making it again, although about half the pan got eaten, so it wasn't a waste.  Joel Fuhrman's sweet potato brownies.
The recipe was in one of his books I recently read (my favorite is "Eat To Live," though "The End Of Dieting" and "Super Immunity" are also fabulous!)

The brownies were tasty, but they tasted more like a sweet potato cake than like brownies.
I don't make brownies often, and when I do, I don't expect them to be a health food.
I can make delicious vegan gluten-free brownies for holidays or special occasions without trying to make them super foods.



I made some pasta and some veggies (my favorite mix is sweet potato chunks, zucchini chunks, red pepper, mushrooms, onions, and spinach all "fried" using veggie broth instead of oil) and put out marinara sauce so people could make pasta bowls if they wanted.


We had crackers (thanks to Sara)
and the pasta with veggies and sauce
with bananas and strawberries (thanks to Cindy)
and it was delicious!


The fruit dip was really good and I'll be making that again. 


On Saturday, we went to a movie (this amazing movie!!!)
and lunch with my parents.

Stephen didn't want us to go!


I made little snack bags because we were going to be in the movie over lunch time
and go to a late lunch/early dinner.
I make a mix of dried fruits (raisins and cranberries) with walnuts and chocolate chips
and put in a granola bar.



Can you believe the theater had spelled CAMERA wrong in HUGE LETTERS across the front of their building?!





I can't say enough about the movie!
It was inspiring and touching and uplifting.
It's already on my Amazon list.
The costumes are fantastic.
The acting is absolutely flawless.
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Then we went to Joe's Farm Grill! 
Neither Greg nor I had been there before, so it was a fun thing to share with my parents.


The restaurant is in a neighborhood called Agritopia, which is pretty amazing.
It consists of single-family homes, apartments, and an assisted living facility all in the same area, surrounding working farm fields.

The market sells stuff from the farm.


Including dates!




Our food was very good.
I got the farm salad and sweet potato fries.
YUM!!!





 There's an amazing huge tree outside that needs supports.





Eeek!  Danger of scorpion stings!


It also has wires in the branches to keep things stable and safe.


The farm is right across the path and we saw lots of stuff growing.



When we got home, we were really tired because neither of us had slept very well the night before, so we were hoping to maybe take a nap but THIS CAT (Claude) knocked over Greg's nightstand, which had a glass top . . . 


so we had some cleaning to do.


Before we did, though, we appreciated the glass JUMPING and making cool little snappy noises as it broke apart yet more.
We watched it for about 15 minutes because it was fascinating!




Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anniversary Trip To Sedona



Last Thursday was our anniversary - hooray!
We decided that a day trip to Sedona would be a fun and interesting way to celebrate, since it was too hot to hike in the valley.  Sedona is up halfway into the mountains (around 4300 feet elevation) and it's about 10 degrees cooler than it is where we live, in the Phoenix metro area.  Flagstaff is at about 7000 feet elevation and it's usually 15-20 degrees cooler than we are.


We usually stop at Sunset Point to use the facilities and appreciate the view from the top of the Mogollon Rim.



It's grassy up there and most of the year the grass is yellow and brown.
This trip it was green!







Another hour of driving (plus, since there was traffic) and we reached the red rocks of Sedona!



The art shops have neat little wind spinners.



We ate at the Hideaway House because of the view.
It's in a little strip mall right on the Oak Creek canyon.

The liquor store next door had some amusing signs:

"In 1776 there stood here absolutely nothing."


"Out of my mind
Back in 5 minutes"


Here's the view!!!


In the dip below the building runs Oak Creek.
We could hear it gurgling.


The menus are extensive, but we chose quickly because the drive had taken longer than expected and we were hungry!



The water delivery system was stylish.


 The restaurant has blankets available for chilly diners.


I was just cool enough but not chilly.


I ordered pizza but somehow (language barrier with server, I suspect)
got pizza with oil instead of sauce.  Not my favorite, and olive oil is not a health food for sure, but the mix of vegetables was interesting and nothing went to waste!


Greg's sandwich & fries - looks tasty!



The server brought us a free peach pie with ice cream as an anniversary gift.
It was big, too!


That meant we didn't need to hunt for an ice cream shop after lunch
(for Greg).





I loved this wall-hanging in the loo.
I'm grateful that a stranger (Greg) turned into my family! 


After lunch, we stopped by the Chapel Of The Holy Cross, which is an interesting architectural building built onto a rock. 


From the side, it looks like this:


It's in a very beautiful red rock area.



There's a windy path going from the parking lot up to the building itself.



It was quite warm. 85+, I believe.
It was expected to be in the 70s for highs, if I remember correctly, so I thought jeans would be best, but I was wrong.



From the top, there was a good glimpse into the backyard of this mansion.
The koi in that pond were so big that we could see them swimming around.
It isn't a very pretty mansion - it's like an amusement park mansion.


Entrance to the chapel:





A beautiful reminder that art has long been created in service of God and to His glory.


I am not Catholic, but I love the symbolism of all these candles, each one being a prayer rising to an attentive and loving God.



The interior was sparse and reflective.
There were stained glass window like hangings on the walls.



Everything focuses attention on the huge cross.


I found the design moving and beautiful.



On the way home, we drove past this truck . . . 
and it seemed to have bees all over it.


We passed it a number of times and it passed us a number of times, and each time, we experienced lots of bees flying around and trying to catch up with the truck. 


We can only assume that hives were being transported and those poor little guys were trying to keep up with their homes and families!


Here's a bonus:
A new bird enjoying our Chinese Elm trees and singing a beautiful song!


Do you know what kind of bird he is?
I'm still trying to figure it out!