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Posts from — November 2014

panic attack

I am having a bit of a panic attack. I don’t want to give you one too, but…

Thanksgiving is 2 weeks from today!

If that wasn’t bad enough….

Christmas is 6 weeks from today!!!!

kims tins

  • How does this happen every single year?
  • How do these major holidays sneak up on me?
  • What the heck am I doing the other 10 months of the year that I can’t be better prepared?
  • Does this happen to you?

Above is a true sign of my full-blown attack – I start asking rapid fire questions in complete and utter disbelief!

Breathe! In and out. Slow and deep breaths.

OK, I’m going to gather myself and dive head first in the holiday season by showing you how I’m going to get crafty with a recent windfall that was bestowed on me.

My dear, very sweet, thoughtful and generous friend, Kim, is moving. She has dropped off goodies to me for a few weeks now. Love!

tins from kim

The other day she brought a box filled with tartlet and candy tin molds.

light string

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November 13, 2014   4 Comments

SF 10.0

drisco hh

Marissa moved to San Francisco on June 19, 2011. I figure I’ve visited her and written about my trips at least nine times in these last 3+ years. Hence the SF 10.0 title.

foggy bridge

The trip this past weekend was a wedding dress shopping trip. It was a success. We found the dress and had a glorious weekend, fog and all! (Do you see the Golden Gate peeking out in the background?)

pretty girls

Kaley, Marissa, Petra, and I went to the Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason, on Sunday afternoon.


There were so many wonderfully talented people selling unique, fun, and beautiful things. Marissa and I each pick up a set of these adorable berry napkins, perfectly packaged in berry boxes and tied with twine. It’s all about the packaging!

ferry bldg

After the craft fair, the girls and I went to one of our favorite spots in the city, The Ferry Building.

1700 pounds

It was there that we ran across this enormous pumpkin named “Roxanne.” She won 2nd place in the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Competition, weighing in at 1707 pounds. Makes you wonder about the 1st place pumpkin!


Later that evening, Petra flew home to San Diego while Marissa, Kaley, and I went to a new restaurant for dinner, Sons & Daughters. The Michelin one-star restaurant is not new, it has been open for four years, but it was new to us.

The menu is prix fixe and expensive. Very expensive. We enjoyed it, but there are so many terrific restaurants in San Francisco that don’t break the bank… I just can’t add it to my “highly recommended” list.

sons & daughter 5

Here are photos of our nine courses!

sons and daughters 4

The portions are tiny, but the meal is rich, satisfying, and surprisingly filling.

cool plates

The beautiful and fun plates were almost as delicious as the food!

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November 12, 2014   2 Comments

wedding dress shopping in SF

white wedding dresses

Marissa and I, along with her maid-of-honor, Kaley, and two of her five bridesmaids, Petra and Jessica, went wedding dress shopping on Saturday.

We visited two bridal shops and although the girls and I thought Marissa looked beautiful in nearly every dress, we have yet to find The One.


Marissa’s attendants were so helpful in finding dresses to try on! I just sat back and watched as they helped her choose dozens of dresses. What I loved most was how open she was to their choices. I knew some were not her style, but she gave all the dresses a fair shot.

I am not permitted to show you, Marissa, in any of them, but these “bottom half” photos will give you a small glimpse into our Saturday.

4 dresses

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November 10, 2014   3 Comments

Friday Frustrations

You read it right, in place of the usual Friday Funnies – today I bring you Friday Frustrations.

Things that chap my hiney. Surprisingly, at the moment, I only have two. I shouldn’t say “at the moment” since these two things have chapped me for years. Oh well, they are the things on my mind at the moment.


You can ask anyone who has ever been at the counter in a Starbucks with me and they will tell you that I am embarrassing to be seen with. I don’t drink coffee, so I always order the same thing in the same way.

“Good morning, welcome to Starbucks what may I make for you today?”

“Good morning, I’d like a medium non-fat iced chai tea latte with 4 cubes of ice, please.”

“OK, a grande non-fat iced chai tea latte, light ice.”

“Yes, but not just “light ice” – only 4 cubes of ice.”

“Your name?”


“That will be $4.43.”

Can you spot the embarrassing part? And I’m not talking about the fact that I refuse to use the word “grande” instead of “medium.”


Well, imagine what happens if I get a cup that is half-filled with ice. If you’re looking to be embarrassed, stick around, things are about to get a little testy.

The reason for the “4 cubes of ice” is that I do not appreciate paying over $4.00 for a couple of sips of the refreshing beverage and being left with a cup full of frozen water. No one needs that much ice in their drink!

ask me

Notice how smart the cashier of this particular order was?

“Ask me.”

I’m sure when the barista did ask, the cashier had a few choice words to go along with, “Yeah, she only wants 4 cubes of ice.”

But what the heck do I care what they think of me!?!

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November 7, 2014   8 Comments

Peggy’s Día de Muertos Posole

Peggy's posole

Peggy had a Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) party on Halloween night. The day before, I was at her house helping her make posole, just so I could give you her recipe.

The sacrifices I make for you lovely people!

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November 6, 2014   1 Comment

Moscow Mule

mix up a batch

Let’s be honest, the best part about a Moscow Mule is the copper mug.

Without the mug, the Mule is just vodka, fresh lime juice, a bit of mint, and ginger beer.

fresh limes

With the mug, the Mule is the most refreshing drink on a hot day. It almost makes it worth it to be sweaty in the summer … almost.  It has become the “it” drink in recent years.

moscow mule fixings

I became interested in Moscow Mules when I purchased this serving set at Sweet Salvage last year at about this time.

The Mule was introduced in 1941 as a way to promote Smirnoff vodka. For the full history of the drink and a recipe that is slightly sweeter than mine, check THIS out.

at Trams

Since I’m lucky enough to have the copper pitcher and serving tray, I love to make a batch of the lime juice and vodka mixed together and then leave instructions for guests to add a 1/3 cup of the vodka mixture to an ice-filled mug, then top off with 1/2 bottle of ginger beer. Finish with a stir, a garnish, and drink with a straw.


The recipe below is for one drink. To make a batch, just multiply the ingredients by the number of mugs you have, set out a tub of chilled bottles of ginger beer, write out the directions and let your guests have fun making their own.

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November 5, 2014   6 Comments

VOTE and then enjoy an artichoke

Do you remember your first artichoke?

I do!


I was about 10 years old. There was an Italian family who lived across the street, three doors down from us. The family consisted of a very handsome dad, a seriously gorgeous mom, and an only child daughter who was a year or two older than me. I idealized the girl. She was pretty and nice and very well-mannered. Their home was calm and quiet and they were polite.

At my house, we were loud and there was always at least one of the four of us kids crying, screaming, yelling, or getting in trouble at any given moment of any given day.

Their family and home were like a perfect rose among a bunch of thorns. They only lived in our neighborhood for a year or two. No wonder with all that crying, yelling, and screaming going on!

Anyhow, one summer afternoon, the girl invited me to have dinner at her house. I was so excited. I remember being on my very best behavior and minding my manners. When the mom brought dinner to the table, there were the strangest looking, yet somehow intriguing, green thorny-looking things on one of the platters.

All three of them could see by the perplexed look on my face, that I had never seen an artichoke before. Of course, they were very kind and helpful in teaching me how to pull off one leaf at a time, dip it in the melted butter and scrape it with my teeth. I remember that when I had finished all the leaves, the mom expertly cut out the artichoke heart for me. I was hooked, I was enamored, I was in love with artichokes!


We lived a block away from the intersection of Chaparral and Pima, just down from Scottsdale Community College. A year or two after my introduction to the artichoke, Artie the Artichoke was adopted as SCC’s mascot to express a difference of opinion between the students and the administration concerning budget priorities. I remember that even as an 11 or 12-year-old, I felt a special kinship with those students and was thrilled by their mascot choice.

Strange what you cling to as a kid!

bouquet garni

I use bouquet garni for my steamed artichokes. You may recall that we made bouquet garni at last winter’s craft party. If you don’t have any one hand, just throw in a few sprigs of fresh parsley instead.

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November 4, 2014   4 Comments

a busy week “off”

monarch cafe

I had not intended to take a week off from blogging. I had plenty of things going on, and lots of stuff to blog about. Honestly, I had too much going on and as a result, I was too exhausted to sit down and write about it!

pallet flags

There will be recipes this week – Posole, Moscow Mules, Perfect Steamed Artichokes, and more. Then on Friday, I’ll be off to San Francisco to “Say Yes to the Dress” with Marissa, along with her maid-of-honor and a couple of her bridesmaids. We will be dress shopping, eating out, and having girl-time all weekend long!

cafe menu

But for today, I shall share images and notes from my busy exhausting week.

On Friday night, Dave took me to Café Monarch for an early birthday dinner. The Café has a prix fixe menu that changes weekly. The only thing you choose is your entrée. I had the trout and Dave had the filet. The ambiance, service, and food were all pure perfection. I highly recommend it!

After dinner, we drove to Sky Harbor to pick up Marissa. Having my girl home, making it the perfect ending to a perfect evening.


Saturday morning brought a shock in the bathroom. While in the shower, I looked up. There above the bathroom door – a scorpion! I got out, dried off, and yelled for Marissa. It was beyond hilarious as we tried to decide how to kill it without risking it falling on us. There is a video, but it contains too much swearing and screaming to share. Rest assured, the thing is dead and we were not stung!

Con and Maris Xmas card2014 copy

Later that morning, Marissa, Connor, and I went to El Chorro to meet with a wedding planner and to show Connor the wedding venue.

That evening, Connor went to work while Marissa, Dave, and I went to Steve and Tram’s annual Okbirthdayfest party. Steve’s birthday is October 9th, hence the “Okbirthdayfest” instead of the usual Oktoberfest.

menu board

But, as you can see, Birthday Boy-Chef Steve cooks up a traditional Oktoberfest menu. How about that gorgeous job Tram did on the chalkboard menu!?! Love me a chalkboard menu!

chef steve

Chef Steve with his prized heat lamp-board of outstanding tender and delicious Sauerbraten!

marissa and zoey

Plus a very happy Marissa – holding sweet Zoey!


Guests were asked to bring their favorite cocktail to share. I brought Moscow Mules. Recipe later this week.

night before

Sunday was our neighborhood Fall Fling. It was a blast! I spent the entire preceding week hunting and gathering items for the party.

hunt and gather

All patios and nearly every flat surface were covered with party fixings. This is the part of event planning I love.

party patio

I love the party part too. Over 100 neighbors had a great time.

restroom and more

Even the setup was fun.


We had plenty of things to do for young and old alike.


As usual, I didn’t take nearly enough pictures. Darkness fell quickly on a cloudy night. The cleanup consisted of getting everything off the street and onto my driveway and patio.

morning after

This is what greeted me on Monday, my birthday, morning. Thankfully, my kids and my fantastic neighbors also woke up early and helped clean it all up.


An added bonus – my beautiful friend and neighbor, Karin, brought me birthday flowers! How sweet and thoughtful!

birthday flowers

Before the day was through, I had flowers from not only Karin but also from Dave and from my beloved friend, Lori, all the way from Tokyo! xoxo


Connor took the day off work, which was a gift in itself. After cleanup, he and Marissa took me to The Biltmore Spa where the three of us had hot-stone massage pedicures! The perfect thing for weary legs and feet! We had a delicious early dinner at Pizzeria Bianco Town & Country.

salty sow

To end my “mom and kids” birthday, after we dropped Marissa off at the airport, Connor and I stopped by the Salty Sow and tried a bunch of different cocktails and had quality mother and son time.

Tuesday brought a birthday lunch with my dad, an HOA committee meeting, and work that night.

Anne and Cruz

Wednesday I spent most of the day trying to put away all the party stuff. As of today, it’s still not all put away! Maybe by the end of this week.

Peggy and Anne took me out for birthday dinner at Rusconi’s. We met at Peggy’s house, where grandson Cruz was visiting and Anne fell in love.

rusconi cocktails

If you haven’t discovered Rusconi’s American Kitchen yet – get over there and thank me later!


As you can see, we loved every bite and wished it was in good taste and manners to lick the plates.

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November 3, 2014   6 Comments