Saturday Meanderings

It has been a very busy and productive week! Some unexpected projects are now complete and I feel like is has been a rich 7 days since our last Saturday Meanderings. Thank you for joining me today as we chat about all good things this week!

Valentine flowers

Valentine’s Day, Arizona’s Birthday, Ash Wednesday

This week is chock-a-block full of holidays, especially this past Wednesday. I hope you did something special on Valentine’s Day with either a spouse, friend, children or the myriad of people in our lives that we love. Typically we host a Valentine dinner party, but this year, it is just my husband and I, which actually felt extra special.

Table for 2

Delicious steaks, arugula salad (with fresh arugula from a neighbor’s garden) with a lemon vinaigrette, roasted cauliflower for two made the perfect VD dinner.

February 14th is also Arizona’s state birthday, now 112 years old. Our home was built in 1912, the same year Arizona became a state. What makes this interesting for us is that the owner of our home at that time, Everett Ellinwood was also integral in writing the Arizona constitution and actually ran for the first governor’s seat (and lost).

Arizona’s 112th Birthday 2/14

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday, also on February 14th this year, marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. Needless to say a very busy holiday week.

Painting Project

Painting my art room

I did spend last weekend painting the art room in Dunn Edwards Cottage White. With an entire gallon in my paint stash, it would be wasteful not to use it. The trim (baseboards, crown molding, window and fireplace) are already painted Cottage White so getting the walls to be the same color is an easy decision.

Painting the walls in stages

Goodbye goldenrod yellow and hello creamy white. Honestly, I did like having color on the walls but for my art room, where I will be hopefully painting more, the walls are much brighter. I will do a full post on the re-do once the room is all put together.

My Stuffed Hen painting

In removing all the canvases from the art room, I find some of my earlier paintings that are, shall I say, a bit rough. At one first year art class, I took an old shedding stuffed rooster (not even sure how it is in my possession) and attempted to paint it with a bowl of eggs.

One of my first paintings!

Instead of tossing it or painting over it, this original is perfect for the hen house! I put it under glass because the hen house gets a bit dusty with all the hay. It looks nice in its new home.

Spring is in the Air

Even though the mornings here are so chilly, the days are getting warmer. The first sign of spring in our yard is when the peach tree puts out its first blooms.

First peach blossoms

In addition the birds (and the bees) are out in force. Even though I mentioned this before, you must get the Merlin Bird ID app by Cornell Laboratories. It is completely free and you can record the bird sounds in your yard, or when you travel, and a list of birds magically appears on your phone.

Merlin Bird ID

Here are all the birds that are chirping in my yard this week. Such a great app and you can find the information here.

Spring Garden

Just yesterday, I finally removed all the frost protection from my garden beds. Our mornings are still nippy but I am hoping we are past freezing temperatures. Some surprises~my huge tomato plants sustained frost damage on the top, but many healthy green branches and leaves remain. When I last checked, the tomatoes were green and growing. Look how many have started ripening now!

Winter tomatoes

Our winter tomatoes are not as flavorful as the spring/summer ones, but they are certainly better than anything you can find in the grocery store! Looking forward to cleaning out the old and planting new for the spring.

Last Call for All Things Lemon

There are only 2 spots left to the All Things Lemon class on Saturday, February 24th. With the weather getting warmer, it will be so delightful to gather on the back terrace. You can click on the link here to register. I will be closing the registration on February 20th or when the last two slots are filled.

Why Do My Hardboiled Eggs have a Green Ring around the Yolk

I love following Lisa, from Fresh Eggs Daily. She lives in Maine, raises chickens and ducks, has written 6 books and hosts her own television show. When I have a chicken question I generally will search her website for an answer.

Image from Fresh Eggs Daily

Recently, she writes a post about that green ring often found in hard boiled eggs. Since I didn’t know the answer to this, I found her post very informative. If you would like to learn more, you can find it here.

Mary’s Must Haves and Updates

Lately I am focusing on natural health remedies. I don’t know about you but I am so tired of all those pharmaceutical commercials advertising a pill or vaccine for everything (and hearing the litany of bad side effects). Granted, some medications necessary, but when did we become a society where we believe a pill cures everything?

Olive leaf tea

Please know I am not referring to serious illnesses here. I am a believer that the world is full of germs and viruses and we should be taking a more active role in building our own immune systems.

Living on a 112 year old property, I think many of our original plants and trees were sourced, not only for their beauty, but possibly for their medicinal value.

Olive Leaf Extract

In doing some research, I discover that the leaves of olive trees can be used as an extract, tea or powder. We have lots of olive trees and am drying the leaves for tea. However, you can purchase the extract~which has the amazing benefits:

Gaia Olive Leaf Extract in liquid

The antioxidants in olive leaf extract are mainly polyphenols. From WebMD: Scientists believe these plant-based nutrients play a role in preventing conditions like cognitive decline, cancer, and osteoporosis, heart disease, and Parkinson’s. This extract also lower blood sugar and helps prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol from building up in your arteries. Olive leaf extract may also reduce the severity and duration of upper respiratory infections. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-microbial effects. Wow.

Gaia Olive Leaf extract capsules

Surprisingly, I’ve never heard of this before now. Olive leaf extract comes in both liquid and capsule form. I am taking 20 drops (recommended is 30-40 drops) in a glass of water daily to see if it improves my cholesterol level and my cognitive functions. Over time, I will work my way up to more drops; I don’t mind the taste either.

Steeping dried olive leaves for tea

Naturally if you have any underlying health issues, always consult your physician before taking any supplement.

Soil Test Kit

I never used to test our soil before planting my garden. Using our own compost (see that post here) seems to suffice, but I find when I do a soil test, I am a bit surprised by the results.

Soil testing results

My recommendation is getting a soil testing kit is well worth it. My Soil Testing Kit is 17% off at $29.99 right now on Amazon. Whether you are planting now or in a few months, you may want to consider getting one. It takes about a week to get a report after you have sent in your soil samples.

My Soil Testing Kit

Queen of Hungary’s water Update

As mentioned before, I did buy Karen’s Botanicals Queen of Hungary’s water. First of all, there is a very strong vinegar smell. In some of the reviews, users indicate if you make it yourself, there is more of a rose water scent.

Queen of Hungary’s water

However, I must say my skin feels very clean and tightened after use. Instead of using both morning and evening, I am only using it in the evening. The description of the product states that it restores the pH of the skin and it helps improve dryness, flakiness and inflammation. Since using it (about a month), my skin feels great. Will it help me look decades younger? Time will tell. Wouldn’t that be nice!

That’s a wrap. Looking forward to sharing the photos with you next week from the All Things Lemon class. Enjoy the long Presidents’ Day weekend. Do you have any special plans?

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Saturday Meanderings

Can it possibly be mid-January already? I hope this year isn’t another one on fast-forward. All my efforts to slow time do not seem to be working. Happy Saturday to you and I hope this blog post finds you comfy and cozy. It is very cold here in Phoenix as we are not used to freezing morning temperatures very often. Let’s get started with Saturday Meanderings where we chat about all good things this week.

Figs are finished

Christmas and Holiday Decorations

The goal was to have all the decorations put away last weekend. However, a bulk of those decorations go into the Christmas room in the basement (see that post here). Monday morning I went to put the last of the boxes away and the Christmas room was flooded. In addition to storage, there are two 80 gallon water heaters in one corner. One of the water heaters split and hence the flooding. We also have flood alarms in the basement and even though one was under water, did it alert us? NO!

Door to the Christmas Room

By Wednesday, our plumber replaced the water heater (when did they become so expensive?). Clean up follows and we are now storing the balance of the boxes. There is always something that doesn’t go according to plan.

A Wildlife week

Cooper on patrol

Since our big dog, Cooper passed away, we are experiencing more wildlife in the yard. I don’t know if it was due to Cooper marking his territory, but we are seeing more critters. A few cute ones~bunnies and a cat who strolls around like he/she owns the place. However, I believe this display of small animals is also attracting a very large coyote.

Cooper, an Akbash

Cooper did a great job keeping coyotes out of the property, but they are back. I fear for the cat and bunny, but hoping they are very fast and good at hiding. Hard to believe we have coyotes, foxes, raccoons, bobcats, peccaries and various birds of prey in our relatively urban environment.

What’s in Bloom

Ornamental cabbages

In spite of the freezing temperatures, we still have things thriving and blooming. The ornamental cabbages planted in the fall look their best now, with their shades of purple and blue/green leaves. Lately I’ve been so drawn to the color purple, lavender and plum. Not sure what that is about but I checked online and it says it represents feeling a strong connection to spirituality. Hmm.

Even though lavender loves a warm climate, it is doing just fine in our cooler temperatures.

Lavender

Along the same colors as the lavender flower and sage colored leaves, is our Texas sage.

Texas Sage

In this new year, do you find yourself drawn to a specific color? In March 2018 I actually wrote a post on why we are drawn to color. It appears then, purple was the big attraction. How odd as it is not a color that is one of my favorites.

Soup Weather

It is the perfect time of year to make soup. This week I made chicken noodle soup from chicken bones and loosely referenced Half Baked Harvest’s recipe, Lemony Pesto Chicken Noodle Soup. Typically my stock consists of lots of bones/parts, onions, celery, carrots and seasoning. Once the stock has simmered for hours, I strain it and then add more chicken, vegetables, seasonings, noodles or rice or orzo.

My chicken soup with a twist

Normally, I don’t add lemon juice, fennel or pesto, but I must say, adding these ingredients elevates my chicken soup. Probably the best chicken soup I’ve ever created. If anyone makes the Half Baked Harvest recipe please let me know how it goes.

Chicken and Barley soup

You have heard me reference the Fast Metabolism Diet book. It has a Chicken and Barley soup recipe that is full of vegetables such as butternut squash, yellow summer squash, zucchini, broccoli and mushrooms. It is more of a stew vs. a soup because of the barley. I tend to season it more as I feel it’s on the bland side, but another great soup that sticks to your bones.

Artificial Intelligence

I am not sure how I feel about artificial intelligence, or AI. However, apparently the images below are created by AI. On one hand, I am amazed at what AI can do. On the other hand, like most things in life, there are those who will manipulate it. The long term impact is unknown but I see many jobs becoming obsolete as a result.

AI generated image
AI generated image

There is an AI tool that you can use for interior design. DecorAI is a comprehensive AI-powered interior design tool that helps users come up with new decorating ideas. Users can take a photo of their room and get up to five free design ideas. I haven’t tried this yet but here are some of their before and after photos.

Image from DecorAI
Image from DecorAI

Technology is certainly changing the world.

Mary’s Must Haves

Aromatherapy blanket

Each night before bed, I heat up my microwaveable aromatherapy blanket and slip it in between my fitted and top sheet. Then I am off to wash my face, brush my teeth and get into my jammies. By the time I actually get into bed, my sheets are so nice and warm. Heavenly!

Sonoma Lavender Co. weighted blanket

This blanket measures 44″ x 18″ and weighs 5 lbs. The lavender scent helps promote relaxation. You can even freeze the insert to help alleviate muscle soreness. The removable cover is washable and oh so soft! It comes in 5 different colors/fabrics. See it here.

Cuccio Cuticle Oil

With the cold weather, my cuticles seem to get so dry. Again, a nighttime ritual is applying cuticle oil to soften and repair damaged cuticles. This particular one has over 121,000 views on Amazon with a 4.7 star rating. Not only does the 2.5 oz oil come fragrance-free, but also has 12 other fragrances to choose. Currently it is 38% off. See it here.

Rifle Paper Company gel pen set

There is something to be said for writing with a pretty pen. The Rifle Paper Company has such cheerful designs and I love this affordable set of gel pens in these happy colors. Whether you journal or just need a good-looking pen, here’s an affordable way to do so. Four Estee gel pens at $18.00~what a nice treat to yourself.

The link will take you to the home page of Rifle Paper and then click on the New Arrivals box. Scroll down about 8 rows and you will find it there.

Gaia Oil of Oregano capsules

For years, I have been using Oil of Oregano. Oregano oils have antioxidant, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. These oils may also play a beneficial role in weight management and infection treatments. It’s a natural antibiotic and may improve gut health. The minute I feel a little off, I take it. When I travel or am surrounded by large crowds, I take it as a precautionary measure. This little gem is instrumental in keeping me healthy. Note: I do take it with food as it can upset an empty stomach.

Naturally always research products before you start taking them. Also make sure you are getting a high quality supplement. If you’re interested in taking oregano oil extract but currently taking prescription medications, make sure to consult your healthcare professional before adding it to your regimen.

That’s a wrap! Have a terrific weekend. Stay healthy and warm!




Saturday Meanderings

Welcome to the first Saturday Meanderings of 2024. I am really excited about this even numbered year. This week is turning out to be a very productive one, and I am thoroughly enjoying the last of the 12 days of Christmas, which is today, January 6th, the Epiphany. Thank you so much for joining me today for Saturday Meanderings, where we chat about all good things this week.

Toasty cup of hot cocoa

My Daughter’s Birthday

Today is my youngest child, Elisabeth’s 23rd birthday. She and her friends are celebrating at our cabin in the snowy mountains of Arizona. When I asked her about a birthday cake, she replies, “oh, I will just pick one up at the grocery store.” Wait? What? After years of a homemade birthday cake, well that is just unacceptable to me. After determining her favorite cake flavor is chocolate, I start planning to make a cake that would be transportable in a long car drive.

Black Forest cake

My favorite go-to cake cookbook is Layered by Tessa Huff. This dog-eared, food stained book has been well used over the years. I try a new recipe for her birthday celebration~a Black Forest cake. Four layers of sour cream chocolate cake with heritage frosting and cherry chocolate ganache between the layers, milk chocolate buttercream frosting on the outside with chocolate shavings and fresh cherries on top.

Cake Carrier from Walmart

Because of the height of the cake, most cake carriers will not work. However, a last minute trip to Walmart, I am able to find this carrier with the proper clearance. The base of the carrier flips so you can use it for cakes or cupcakes. Now, I just hope the cake makes the car trip and is as delicious as all the spoons and bowls I licked.

New Product to Keep on Hand

We often have guests dropping by unexpectedly and we like to be able to offer up an appetizer. I discover this during the holidays and they are perfect with a glass or wine or champagne. Imagine freshly baked French cheese puffs that are ready in 25 minutes! Shipped to you frozen, an order includes 36 of these delicious cheese puffs.

Bougie Gougies

I just received my second order of Bougie Gougies and love having them available in the freezer when I need them. Each box has 36 cheese puffs. They are a bit pricey, but you are paying for the convenience. Now my goal is to learn to make these. Has anyone made gougères from scratch?

New Year’s Eve Brunch

New Year’s Eve brunch

Instead of an evening New Year’s gathering, we decide to do a brunch this year. As I age, I find myself wanting to go to bed earlier and late nights are suffered the next day. I serve the tried and true brunch recipes of my egg casserole, blueberry coffee cake, and a fruit salad (without the unripened cantaloupe). In addition, I try a new recipe of Spiced Dark Chocolate Cherry Saltine Toffee (recipe below) and a Coconut Mojito cake (from the Layered book mentioned above).

Spiced Dark Chocolate Cherry Saltine Toffee

The saltine toffee recipe (from Virginia Willis, author, Secrets of the Southern Table) is excellent and listed below. Now you know why I need to diet and exercise in January!

Daily Planner Week 1

In my post earlier this week, I share my new daily planner and annual calendar. It is so nice to get back on track and I can report that everything that I tasked myself with this week I accomplished! So far it is working!

1st week of using a planner!

In addition to using a planner, each day I am trying to keep ahead of my email in-box. At the end of December, I had nearly 10,000 emails in my inbox….mostly junk. Daily I am taking 30 minutes and cleaning and purging. Does anyone else have this problem?

Frost Warnings

This next week it will be quite cold in Phoenix. I believe the City’s temperature reading comes from Sky Harbor Airport and our property is approximately 6 to 9 degrees cooler. When you see those astronomical summer temperatures, it is mainly due to all the concrete and tarmacs surrounding the airport. Since we have so much vegetation here and in our surrounding neighborhood, it’s important to pay attention to the weather forecast.

Tomato plants

My garden is covered with Christmas lights and a layer of protection. Since my garden greens and tomato plants are so abundant right now and I’m taking extra precautions.

Protecting plants

Mary’s Must Haves

I don’t know if it the cold weather or I’m exerting muscles in a different way, but I am using Arnicare Gel frequently. This homeopathic topical gel, is quickly absorbed, non-greasy, fragrance-free and helps reduce muscle pain and stiffness.

Arnicare Gel

Every night I put it on my left knee and left wrist (injured in my fall last year), and it really seems to help. I like the fact that it is a natural pain reliever from the Arnica montana plant.

4 pack of leggings

This time of year I am content being in a pair of comfy leggings and a warm sweater. I bought these for my daughter for Christmas and she loves them. You can get all black or a combination of colors. Super soft, and non-see through, they are also high waisted. Can’t beat the price at $36.99. See it here.

Zand Elderberry Zinc lozenges

During this time of year when so many people are getting sick, these lozenges are a good item to have handy. At first I balked at having to buy 12 bags, but they are small and we go through them quickly. Each drop contains elderberry and a throat-soothing herbal blend. The 5 mg of zinc per lozenge may help your immune support. I always take a bag when traveling and like the fact they are non-GMO, gluten-free, no cane sugar, artificial sweeteners or colors. See it here.

5 pair cotton socks

I bought these cute cotton socks last year and received them after Valentines Day. These socks are so adorable and would also be a great Valentine’s Day gift. The price is so low at $13.99. It also looks like the delivery date will be a while so order them soon to get them before February 14th!

This weekend we will be dismantling Christmas decorations, which is always bittersweet. Do you have any fun plans? Stay warm out there and have a happy weekend!

As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. My blog may contain other affiliate links but not all links have affiliations. I truly love to share products that I have personally tried and highly recommend.


Spiced Dark Chocolate Cherry Saltine Toffee

Transform a basic cracker into a classic holiday treat

  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers (about 40)
  • 1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter ((2 sticks))
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 12 oz. finely chopped 70% dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed 13-by-9-inch baking pan with nonstick foil or spray with cooking spray. Arrange the saltines, salt side down, in a single layer in the pan. Set aside.

  2. Melt 1 cup butter in a large heavy-duty saucepan over medium. Add the brown sugar and cayenne pepper and raise temperature to high to bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes. Immediately pour toffee mixture over the saltines and bake for 6 minutes.

  3. Remove from oven and nudge the saltines back together if they're floating in the toffee.Set aside for 3 or 4 minutes.

  4. Melt the chocolate over medium heat in the top of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water. (Or place the chocolate in a microwavable container and melt on low power until smooth, about 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.)

  5. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the black pepper to the melted chocolate. Pour over the toffee and spread in an even layer with an offset spatula. Top with pecans and dried cherries. Let stand to cool slightly, then sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer to the refrigerator to harden completely, about 1 hour.

  6. Pop loose from the pan, break into pieces, and store in an airtight container separated with sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper.

Dessert





Happy New Year 2024

Here we go, another new year! Do you change your behavior or make resolutions? Does the month of January mean a new start? After an indulgent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, this month is a time for me to reset. I am ready to eat a cleaner diet and get back into a healthier routine. There is something to be said for having structure in one’s every day life. Happy New Year to you and yours!

Fresh fruit from the orchard

The Concept of Time

I clearly remember how time, especially during grade school, felt like it dragged on forever. Why does time go so slow when we are younger, and speed up when we are older? Perhaps the older I get, the more I value time and want to live more intentionally.

Time flies

Theme for the Year

Some people pick a word or theme for the year. Last year my theme was financial austerity~trying to get a better understanding of where money goes and spending wisely. Not sure I completely accomplished that but I feel like I have a better handle on that responsibility. But this year, I am going back to basics.

Download 2024 Planner from On Sutton Place

For years, as a corporate executive, I faithfully kept a Franklin Press Daily planner. But the last few years, I played life by ear. I prefer to be organized and focused on accomplishing things so I am back to using a daily planner. Not just for work but also for pleasure. It seems I do not schedule enough personal time for me in my life and I’d like to course correct that in 2024.

Pretty pages

Ann from On Sutton Place offers an attractive 2024 planner that you can download if you are a subscriber. In addition, there are weekly planning sheets that I have set up behind each monthly calendar. Simply put it all into a 1″ view binder and you have your planner for the year.

Rifle Paper Co. 2024 17-month planner

If you don’t want to download this planner, check out this very pretty and cheerful one from Rifle Paper Company. It’s a 17 month calendar and on sale now for $21.60. I actually might order one because it looks like the perfect size for traveling. Click on the link here.

Holiday Projects in January

One of the goals this year is to put our holiday decorations away in an organized manner. Not everyone organizes the same way and it can be challenging if two people, with totally different organizational systems, store the holiday stuff.

For years, I would put all the holidays items away and knew exactly where everything was. But now that my husband is helping, he has his own system~which looks very different from mine. The hope is that we can find common ground and create an organizational system that will work for both of us.

Determining the Best organizational system

Another project is updating the holiday card address list. This is one task that I must do right after the holidays or I’m scrambling next November. Each card’s address will be cross checked with what I have on file for next year’s mailing list. Cards are not inexpensive and I certainly do not like getting one back with an undeliverable stamp due to an outdated or bad address.

Since we use Minted for our holiday card production, they have an online address assistant where we input our mailing addresses. It is so easy to update and any changes to this list are made electronically.

Annual Projects~both Big and Small

For those of you who own an older or historic home, you realize the house projects are never quite done. This week I am creating 2 project lists for the year~one for bigger projects (those that will take several days) to small projects (those that can be accomplished in a few hours).

Big and Small project lists

My goal is to complete one big project per month and at least one, hopefully 2+ smaller projects per week.

A Focus on Health

Fortunately, I am blessed with good health. In the past my only trips to a doctor would include an annual (or every 3 years) physical. Anything in between would fall under an urgent or emergency visit (like my shattered big toe). However, since my unexpected kidney stone in October, the last two months are filled with follow-up medical visits, even though I feel perfectly fine.

2024 Goal is Good Health

Each visit, quite frankly, has been awful. Long delays, unnecessary tests, rude employees and the answer to my many questions is “well, you are getting older.” My health goals in 2024 are to be so healthy that I never need to see a doctor, strengthen my immune system so I do not get sick even when around others who are, and continue exercising and eating well.

Who’s with me?

Scheduling some Creative Time

On my new 2024 planner, I am marking out time on Fridays for painting. I love to paint but haven’t really done anything since 2022. The only painting I did in 2023 is a watercolor Valentine’s dinner invitation and a watercolor class with my friend, Tevia.

Valentine’s dinner invitations

My art room is a bit of a mess which will take some organizing, but the goal is to paint 4 days a month and challenge myself to both bigger and smaller canvases too. Here is the only large canvas I have painted to date (in 2022).

Largest painting to date

I start this Friday and am looking forward to outlining subject matter and picking up a paintbrush.

Please share your hopes and dreams for 2024! I’m planning on it being a very good year.




Saturday Meanderings

Happy December! Wow. Already. We are in full holiday decorating mode, albeit slowly. The week is filled with menial, yet necessary tasks (making returns, getting things fixed, paying bills) but there are a few highlights. Are you all decorated for the holidays? Thank you for taking the time to join me for Saturday Meanderings where we chat about all good things.

Anne Geddes

Anne Geddes 2007

Who remembers Anne Geddes and her famous photographs of babies and children? I love her unique artfully crafted fantasies of children. Recently I read an article which saddens me a bit how certain “progress” is to the detriment of others. Here are some excerpts from an article written in Artnet News. “The industry that propelled Geddes to superstardom in the 1990s has all but evaporated. Today, the internet churns out imagery at a pace with which few photographers can compete, while email gobbled up the greeting-card industry, leaving Geddes in dire straits.”

Anne Geddes image

“Geddes hasn’t set foot in a photo studio since 2016. Paper products, the medium by which she amassed her fortune and cemented her icon status in the late 1990s—in coffee table books, calendars, and greeting cards—have all but disappeared, leaving the photographer without reliable or regular opportunities for work “.

Elaborate photography sets, which used to take Geddes months to set up, are now being done in lightning speed with digital photography. If you would like to read the rest of the article you can find it here.

Image by Anne Geddes

But what struck me most about this article is this quote by Anne Geddes:

Children are not only our hope for the future—by their very existence, they will be our future. And yet, we so often take them for granted or underestimate their essential importance. We need to take care of them now, educate, nurture, and love them now; teach them the values of harmony, love, understanding, tolerance, and an appreciation of other cultures now. Because every newborn baby represents our eternal chance at new beginnings.

Image: Anne Geddes

Geddes unique work has sparked smiles and joy and reinforces our love for children.

Goodbye Pumpkins

As we transition from fall to Christmas decorations, it’s hard to say goodbye to all the gorgeous pumpkins. The good news is that my husband saves every unique stem for any future fabric pumpkin projects. He also collects the seeds and gives the rest to the chickens as a treat. After they are pecked clean, they go into the compost pile and turn into glorious soil that gets used again. I love this photo I took at dusk and want to share it with you.

Goodbye Pumpkins!

Clever Use of Ribbon

My friend, Chas from Chas’ Crazy Creations took a piece of the nutcracker ribbon (used in our living room Christmas mantel decorations) and repurposed it into this:

Chas Crazy Creations

A simple, yet elegant DIY that I would have never thought to do.

Making Turkey Soup

My mother taught us not to waste anything. It goes without saying that all those turkey bones and leftover meat are put to good use this week with a delicious turkey wild rice soup. The kitchen is smelling so good as the bones simmer for hours on end. As you may know, bone broth is very nutritious and rich in collagen proteins that supports skin elasticity and joint health.

Homemade Turkey Wild Rice soup

Bone broth is a superfood and even though you can buy it already made, it is so easy to whip up a batch yourself. I think this needs to be a future blog post!

Front Porch Maintenance

As we get ready to decorate the front porch, we notice multiple water, mineral and rust stains on the scored concrete floor. Typically I would be showing you a picture of a freshly decorated front porch, but these stains need tending. After the stains are removed, then a sealant will be applied so I hope to show you some before and after pictures soon.

Water, mineral and rust stains

Making Sourdough English Muffins

Making English muffins in a cast iron skillet

In an attempt to eat more homemade sourdough items, I try my hand at English muffin making this week. On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the most successful) I would rank my efforts at a 5. The muffins look good but I could not get the center to fully cook and get all those nooks and crannies. A quick stint in the oven only made them a bit too dry to eat.

English muffins

We did try the first 2 but the rest will go to the chickens. Looking forward to mastering this recipe so I can share it with you.

A Fun New Recipe to Try

Pinecone brownies

You may see this recipe in social media streams, but it looks easy and impressive. Using boxed or from scratch brownie batter, you can form these into pinecone shapes. Then add sliced almonds for the scales and drizzle with melted chocolate. I haven’t found a specific recipe, but hope to make them this week.

Garden Delights

Eggplants and peppers

Unlike colder areas, gardens in Phoenix are flourishing now. Currently I have fresh lettuces, chard, arugula, herbs, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, eggplant, chives and garlic growing. This week I harvest shishito peppers and eggplant, which sharing the greens with the chickens.

Garden lettuces

Mary’s Must Haves

This week’s dental appointment is a success as I take oral hygiene seriously. It is nice to hear the dentist compliment you on the condition of your teeth, as who wants to be toothless or wearing appliances as we age. Brushing, flossing and using a water pick contributes to good dental health. My old water flosser needs replacing and this week I purchased a new one.

Water Pik Water Flosser

This Waterpik Aquarius is currently 30% off on Amazon. It’s more sophisticated than my previous one, so I am learning about all the settings and tips. Whether you are continuing good dental care or need to improve your current way of cleaning your teeth, I highly recommend this device. See it here.

OXO digital scale

As temperatures drop, my baking/cooking activities increase, especially bread baking. This week my old scale finally died and after some research, I order this one due to it’s great reviews. It weighs up to 11 lbs. and has a pull out display which helps if you are using a large bowl. See it here.

Vitamin D3

Signify Nature Vitamin D3

Why Vitamin D3? As the days grow shorter and sunlight becomes scarce during the winter months, our bodies may not produce an adequate amount of Vitamin D naturally. Vitamin D, aka the “sunshine vitamin,” plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and well-being. Supplementing with Vitamin D3 ensures that our immune system, bones, and mood stay in top form, making it a valuable item for your wellness in the winter.

Why Signify Nature’s Vitamin D3? • QUALITY: Pharmaceutical-grade excellence. • POTENCY: 125mcg (5000 IU) cholecalciferol. • VALUE: A whole year’s supply for only $12.99 – that’s less than 4¢ per day! • CLEAN LABEL: No fillers, no artificial additives. • ORIGIN: Made in the EU with pharmaceutical-grade gelatin. • PURITY: Free of PCBs, heavy metals, mercury, and impurities. see it here.

I am trying this Vitamin D3 supplement and taking one soft gel at breakfast. It’s hard to believe a whole year supply is in one bottle! Great price, too.

What We are Watching?

Royal Doctors Flying Service on PBS

What are you watching lately? Have you seen the Royal Flying Doctor Service on PBS? “Based on remarkable real-life stories, this gripping drama series follows the modern-day heroes of the Royal Flying Doctor Service as they navigate private lives as turbulent and profound as the heart-stopping emergencies they attend to across some of the most beautiful and inhospitable places in the Australian outback.” There are currently 2 seasons and we are adding subtitles due to the heavy Australian accents.

Well, that’s a wrap! Enjoy your weekend. We hope to walk down to the Electric Light Parade tonight and finish up Christmas decorations!

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