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A “tail” to tell

Yes, I’ve used the word TAIL in place of TALE in my title for a reason that you will soon understand. I’m going to lay out the details of this tale in a way to make it easy to follow along, at least I hope it will be easier to follow along in this way.

First, let me show you the layout of the exterior of my home that is pertinent to the story. Here is the built-in grill from the backside. The two openings are there for any possible propane gasses that may leak, hopefully never, to safely escape and dissipate.

This is the front side of the grill with the access door to the underworkings of the grill propped opened. Make a mental note of the high-top round table on the far right end.

Here is the shed that houses all the items in my Miscellany Shed, a business that never really took off, but which still physically exists.

When the shed was built at my new home, the ground wasn’t quite level, so one end is propped up with bricks. So, yes, now there is a crawlspace or living area underneath for creatures of a certain size. Not ideal, but that’s the way it is.

This is the gate to my front courtyard. It has a Ring Doorbell that delivery people and guests are supposed to ring when they arrive, but at least 80% of the people, come in and ring the doorbell by the front door, making it nearly useless as a doorbell. But as a camera, it is very effective, sometimes too much so.

And sadly, yes, the sign I had made is 100% necessary. Even with it hanging there, delivery people (mostly FedEx) still leave packages sitting outside the gate for all to see, thereby leaving them at risk to be stolen. I don’t get it, but that’s another tale to be told.

OK, now that you have the lay of the land, I can tell you my story.  It was about 9:30 last Wednesday morning, May 22nd. I had the windows open because of this weather! Crazy cool and wonderful for late May, seriously wonderful! Anyhow, since the windows were open I could hear what sounded like an animal in distress. I couldn’t tell what type of animal but it was crying and it sounded as though the crying was coming from my backyard neighbor’s yard.  They are winter visitors, and had already left for the summer, silly them! I grabbed the stepstool from my pantry on my way out the back door to look over the fence into their yard.  I looked but saw nothing, then the crying started up again and it was coming from behind me, in my yard. I looked around and saw the tinniest sweetest orange kitten standing on its hind legs trying to get back into the holes in the backside of my grill.

I picked her up and went around the front side, figuring that if she wanted into the grill, she probably came from inside there. I opened the grill door, and sure enough, there were two more sweet little black and white kittens in there.

I put Miss Orange back in and then all three kittens ran away to the far side of the structure, around the corner to the round table part. Now I could not see them. Dang it!

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May 28, 2019   6 Comments

winner, winner…

…will something from Trader Joe’s or Target be on the table for dinner? I bet you thought I was going to say, “chicken dinner.” Nope, I’ve done that before for a contest. Got to be creative over here! Today is the day to draw the name of the winner(s) of the 2,000 Post Contest. There are two $100 gift card prizes up for grabs.

Whether you left 12 comments or one, I truly appreciate you. There were eight of you in contention for the first $100 prize. To qualify for that prize, a person had to have left a comment on every blog post for the month of April.

The eight ladies in the running are Shelley, Betsy, Lisa, Anne, Lina, Debbie, Marilyn, and Shirley. Many thanks to each of you for playing along so faithfully! I would love to share with everyone just how I know each of you.

Shelley’s daughter, Elizabeth, attended my children’s cooking classes at Les Petites Gourmettes for years and truth be told she was one of my favorite students. Is it OK to admit that? I don’t teach kids any longer, so I’m going to say that it is OK. Elizabeth is now a student at Tufts University. Amazing!

Betsy is a long time and loyal follower of this blog. She regularly comments, even without a contest! We’ve met in person while grocery shopping and I found out she is related to a high school friend of mine, whose daughter was a grade school friend of my daughter’s. Small world!

Lisa and Anne are dear friends of mine. Lisa was my neighbor in Equestrian Manor for the 18 years I lived there. The first time we met was when she asked me to teach a cooking class for her 7-year-old daughter, Emily’s, birthday party. Emily is a grade school teacher now. Heck no, that doesn’t make me feel old at all.

Anne and I have been BFF’s since our boys met in 2nd grade. Those boys are 28 now. OK, feeling older now.

Debbie, Lina, Marilyn, and Shirley are all wonderful women I have been very fortunate to meet because they have been students at Les Gourmettes. Marilyn and Shirley are currently in my series classes, the first of which was on Wednesday night.

I took a video of myself drawing the winning name, but it won’t load here. So I had to go back and take still shots to reenact it. I’ve loaded videos on here before but I can’t figure it out and it’s after midnight, so I’m giving up and posting this for the morning. Sorry for being technically challenged today.

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May 3, 2019   9 Comments

this and that

I’ve been busy with personal stuff this week, so not much cooking going on. Except for last night when I taught the first of my 3-class series at Les Gourmettes. Today I’m going to catch you up on what’s been going on around my house and give you a valuable tip for cutting fig leaves and branches.

I have four fig trees in my backyard, which is three too many for my needs, but I’m going with the flow. I use the figs, of course, but I also put the fig leaves to good use on the Harmony Boards. They are best used under very soft cheeses and also when mixed in with other greens for the base of our Crudités and Frudités Boards, as seen above. All of the leaves on the board above are from my yard. We’ll talk more about the garden in a moment. First I want to tell you about the issue I was having with the fig leaves.

When fig leaves or branches are cut, they immediately begin to wilt, even when quickly put into water. I don’t know if this is caused by the milky fluid they put out when they are cut or exactly what it is that causes the wilting, but it’s annoying.

I discovered that if the stem gets a fresh cut under cold running water or is cut while immersed in water, the leaves are quickly revived. They will look great for days. Amazingly, the leaves will even stay unwilted when pulled out of the water several minutes later when I use them for a board.

Here is that same wilted branch, come back to life, only 35 minutes later.

When I was getting ready to post these photos I was thinking, “why should my readers believe that the wilted photo was taken first and the revived photo of fresh looking leaves taken after?”

Why, indeed?!? To prove that this is the case, here are the same photos with their timestamps. The photo above was taken at 8:06 AM and the photo below was taken at 8:40 AM. See, wilted and then refreshed after being recut under cold water. Like Magic!


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May 2, 2019   8 Comments

Au revoir Les Gourmettes

If you’ve read more than a few posts here in the past nearly 10 years, then you know all about Barbara Fenzl and Les Gourmettes Cooking School. Barb started the school 36 years ago and has been selling out classes ever since. I came on board 30 years ago, but it doesn’t seem that long ago at all.

Barb has decided to hang up her apron and close the school. I understand, when you know it’s time, then it’s time. That is exactly how I felt when I closed Les Petites Gourmettes Children’s Cooking School after 18 years.

The Red Book Magazine’s April 2019 issue has the most wonderful article all about Barb and Les Gourmettes. Karen Fernau, the former food editor for the Arizona Republic, wrote the loving and lovely article. You may view and read the full article (pages 48-54) HERE. (Use the – + feature at the bottom of the pages to zoom in and be able to read the print. Also, the photos in this post are screenshots I took from the online magazine.)

Below is the last paragraph from the feature.

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April 13, 2019   18 Comments

2,000 is worth $200

Good morning and a very Happy 2,000th Post Day to you!

I’ll bet you didn’t even know there was such a thing as 2,000th Post Day but there is in the world of LesPetitesGourmettes.com! This is my 2,000th post! That’s quite an accomplishment if I do say so myself. To celebrate this milestone, let’s have a contest and giveaway. Since I don’t have $2,000 laying around to give away, how about I give away 2,000 pennies? Wait, that’s only $20, that doesn’t seem like much of a treat. OK, let’s make it 2,000 dimes or $200. That’s a nice prize, right?!?

I’m going to split that in two and give away two (2) $100 gift cards to Target or Trader Joe’s. The winner(s) will have their choice since I know that not everyone has a Trader Joe’s in their town but I’m certain that a majority of you have a Target. If you can prove to me that you don’t have a Target either (Mom) I will consider making it a gift card to … Walmart. There, I said it. Don’t shop there myself but will make the exception if absolutely necessary, because I’m just that nice! There will be two ways to win and if you complete both of them, then you’ll have a chance at both gift cards or two entries in the contest.

Here is the first way you may enter to win: Leave a comment on every post here on LesPetitesGourmettes.com during the month of April. That includes this post and the previous post from April 1, 2019, and every post from now until April 30, 2019. Now, I don’t post every day, so you’ll probably only need to leave comments on about a dozen posts. I’ll remind you every now and again. I’ll gather up the names of all those who leave a comment on EVERY APRIL 2019 post and those names will go in the pot for the first $100 gift card. (This means that Shelley and Nancy already of a leg up on the rest of you since they left comments on the 4/1/19 post already. Thank you, Shelley and Nancy!)

*I should also mention that leaving comments on Facebook, where these posts show up automatically, does not count. The comments must be left here on LesPetitesGourmettes.com. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the comments there, but rules are rules, y’all!

The second way you may enter to win: Get on Instagram and if you haven’t already followed my Harmony_Boards page, do that! Next, get a minimum of five (5) of your Instagram friends and family to follow the Harmony_Boards page. Here’s the tricky part of this way to win, I will need to know that you sent them there to follow the page. So they will need to send me a DM or leave a comment on one of the photos letting me know that you suggested they follow Harmony_Boards. I understand that this is more complicated than leaving a comment on a post, but it is another way to win, a way to have two chances and maybe win BOTH of the $100 prizes. That’s pretty cool!

There is no “also-ran” in this contest. If there isn’t anyone who leaves a comment on every post for the month of April, that $100 stays in my pocket. Ditto on the Instagram portion of the contest. I’ll still love and appreciate each and every one of you, but I’m not just giving money away for nothing here! I’m not Oprah or Ellen, after all.

The winner(s) will be drawn, notified and announced on Friday, May 3, 2019. There are no restrictions on this contest, any and everyone may play and have a chance to win. Good Luck! xoxo This contest is not endorsed, sponsored or supported by either Trader Joe’s or Target.

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April 3, 2019   16 Comments

the perfect comeback

Instead of a recipe, how about a little story about my experience at Costco today?

You know how you’re in a situation and after you walk away you think, “Why didn’t I say, “this that, or the other?”

Yeah, it happens all the time, you don’t think of that perfect response or comeback until the situation is over and you’re away from it. Happens to me all the time too.

You know why? Because we don’t have TV comedy or drama writers following us around. It’s hard to think of the perfect thing to say in that second when you’re caught off guard.

Well, not today!  (actually, by the time you read this it will have been tomorrow, but as I write it, it is today.)

Today I had the perfect comeback and I couldn’t be prouder of myself. Here’s the story –

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October 17, 2018   No Comments

savings bonanza

I’m in Carlsbad, CA at my timeshare this week with Marissa and my cousin, Michelle Lorts. Michelle and I drove over on Saturday and picked up Marissa, who flew in from Austin, TX.

This is the view from our balcony. Not too shabby.

We’ve had a wonderful, relaxing and coooool week thus far. Not missing the 110+ degree AZ days one single bit!

Here are Michelle and Marissa out in the front of the resort under an African tulip tree. Isn’t it gorgeous?

But the real news I have to share is the amazing deal I got on wine at Von’s (Safeway in AZ) grocery store. We went in to buy some orange juice and a couple of bottles of Michelle’s favorite Sauvignon Blanc, Brancott Estate. When we strolled down the wine aisles, we immediately noticed that all the wine was on sale with yellow tags on every shelf. The Brancott was regularly $13.99 a bottle and was on sale for $9.99. Sweet!  Michelle grabbed 2 bottles.

Then I looked a little farther down the aisle and saw a couple of red tags among all the yellow. Upon further inspection, I saw that the Robert Mondavi Oakville Fumé Blanc which was regularly $34.99 a bottle was on clearance for …..  wait for it….

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August 9, 2018   5 Comments

yellow is the new red… and green

Do you remember a few posts back when I shared my excitement over finally being able to grow something, besides herbs, in a garden?

Well, are you ready to see the surprise harvest?

The surprise is that I forgot what I’d planted. I thought it was zucchini and watermelon but turns out it was watermelon, cantaloupe and English cucumber. This weekend I had another wonderful surprise!

The watermelon was not your run-of-the-mill red fleshed watermelon, it is yellow!

I had completely forgotten I had planted the super cool yellow instead of the everyday red. I was overjoyed but honestly a little disappointed too.

Disappointed because I’d looked for yellow watermelon in the market when I was creating the Harmony Board for Lisa’s birthday last week but I could not find any. And there it was – in my own backyard the entire time. Doggone it!

When shopping for the board, I may not have found the melon I wanted, but I did find yellow kiwi at Costco. Did you even know there was such a thing? I discovered it a couple of summers ago, but this was the first time I saw it at Costco. The green kiwi is the smaller fuzzy one on the left. The yellow is slightly larger and has no fuzz.

Just as with the watermelon, they taste much like their everyday cousins.

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August 3, 2018   No Comments

Thursday round-up

First up, I want to share with you the Harmony Board that I created for the birthday dinner celebration for my dear friend, Lisa, on Tuesday night.

I’m spending my summer working on a business plan, website, social media pages, logo, etc. for Harmony Boards. Kim and I are going to her family home in Canada later this month to escape the heat and to brainstorm and plan the launch party for late summer or early fall.

Of course, I’ll keep you posted once we have the date locked down.

Secondly, while I was going through the photos on my computer looking for some pictures I took back in April, which I needed for my last post, I came across something I’d meant to share, but then forgot all about.

If you remember in THIS POST from May 2nd, which was about my backyard remodel I said,

“In a future post, I’ll share with you all the drama that occurred on granite delivery day. It was quite the thing.”

Do you think July 26 is too late to finally share it? Hopefully not, because here we go.

Photo credit: Lifted from Ronnie’s FB page

On the early evening of Wednesday, April 4, 2018 my friends and former neighbors, Mike and Ronnie Jaap, stopped by to see my backyard remodel. They were considering using the same company I was using and wanted to check out the progress over here. Afterwards, we had plans to go out for dinner.

Earlier that day, in the late afternoon, a load of granite had been dropped off in the road on the south side of my house. The pile was in the street on the other side of my double gates. The pile had orange cones on all sides. This is common practice around construction projects and is allowed.

It was about 6:00 pm as Mike, Ronnie and I were walking on the far north side of the backyard, talking about how happy I was with Garden Plus Landscape & Pools. Suddenly, we heard a loud crash and looked toward that double gate on the other side of the yard to see a huge plume of dust and dirt explode over the gate.

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July 26, 2018   2 Comments

cave-life

As I type this on the afternoon of Monday, June 23rd, it is 115 degrees outside and I am hunkered down in my house. It may be more appropriate to say that I’m hunkered down in my cave because that is what I have turned my home into. And not for some fun reason – like having little kids over and building forts and caves out of sheets and blankets.

No, I live in a cave now because of my most recent electric bill. I only regret that I didn’t create my cave sooner!

The bill arrived while I was in Texas. When I got home, I tossed all the bills on my desk without opening them. I went to pay them this morning and was horrified to see that my electric bill was $150 higher than it was last month. What the what?!?

I’m already exceedingly conscientious about turning off lights and keeping the blinds and curtains drawn in the heat of the day. I don’t run my large appliances until late night or early morning and I resist the temptation of setting the thermostats too low. In fact, when I go to bed, the A/C on the opposite side of the house is set to 86 degrees, which is quite warm when it often doesn’t get out of the 90’s outside at night. So a $150 increase seemed insane!

Granted there were 3 more days in the billing cycle this time. Last month was 30 days for May 8 – June 7. And this bill was 33 days for June 7 – July 10. But $50 more per day does not add up.

The front of my house faces west, which is not ideal, especially since the double front doors have glass fronts.

So in anticipation of the summer heat that would stream through those doors, I bought a shade panel at Costco back in April and hung it outside to block the sun from coming in through those doors.

No doubt that has helped immensely. But obviously not nearly as much as I’d hoped.

Here are the steps I’ve taken to see if I can get that bill down into the almost bearable range.

The first thing I did was cut out a large piece of cardboard (thank you Amazon!) and blocked the light coming in through the skylight in the kitchen. I actually did that the week before I left for Texas.

Today, I closed the vents and doors to one of the bedrooms, the office and one bathroom. Less square footage to cool is the hopeful thinking there.

Next, I put more of the cardboard over the glass blocks in the master bath.

That window faces south, but as you can see, it lets in plenty of light, which translates to plenty of heat. It may not look attractive, but I don’t give a hoot about aesthetics right now.

This house has another front door on the west side, a mother-in-law set-up of sorts. And that door also has a darn window in it.

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July 24, 2018   2 Comments