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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 at 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!

(My electricity bills look good, thanks to everybody who helps in keeping my cooling devices in a good condition. 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 far from 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

cooking day 1- Friday

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

My real work for Chante and Cody’s wedding weekend began on Friday morning. Extremely. Early. On Friday morning!

Sleeping in a “camping cabin” was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it gave me more hours in the day to cook and get all I needed to get done finished. A curse because I was bright-eyed but not quite bushy-tailed at 4:45 AM on Friday morning and 3:45 AM on Saturday morning, which is why I think it would have been better to travel and stay in an Overlanding vehicle. I mean, it could have gotten the same kind of amenities in my van as I got in the cabin. Moreover, I think that I would have felt more active and more comfortable had I been in my own space. Yes, it is true that I might have to consider buying a few things like an Overlanding solar setup or a roof rack had I chosen my vehicle. But, I guess that would have been alright for me. Perhaps, I will implement this idea during the next adventure trip.

Anyway, coming back to the cabin, I felt a bit uncomfortable during my stay. On those mornings, at those times, I awoke needing to use the bathroom. At home, when that happens, I stumble a few steps in the dark to the toilet, with my eyes closed, do my business, stumble back to bed and immediately fall back to sleep.

When the bathroom is in the forest, across a little road, up a slight incline and it is a public bathroom … well, the eyes closed, barefoot, nearly naked, the stumbling routine does not fly. Shoes must be put on, more clothing is needed and the flashlight on the phone gets activated.

And on that first morning, when I turned on the bathroom light, what I thought was a bat flew in through the slightly cracked window and into the stall I was in. It turned out to not be a bat, but an extremely large bat-size moth. So basically, by the time you get back to your little cabin after that experience, you are fully awake. Time to start the day! In the dark.

Friday morning, I got dressed, drove up the windy road to Rec. 2, and started cooking. Since it was still dark and there were not only the cabins that our people had rented out but also campgrounds nearby, I locked myself in the kitchen. Once the sun came up, I opened the windows and the door and kept working.

The photo above was taken from the doorway into the kitchen. Soon after I opened that door, I was standing at the sink, with my back to said door, when I heard a little rustling behind me. I quickly turned around to see a deer standing in the kitchen. He was fully inside, with his hind feet on that door mat. He had walked up the stairs of the stone patio and came inside without an ounce of fear.

When I turned, he slowly stepped back, out the door, and onto the patio. Obviously, it was breakfast time. I grabbed my phone and pulled out a bag of carrots.

It wasn’t until then that I noticed that he’d brought his herd of 6 more sweet deer along for the morning meal.

I fed them all, then they were on their merry way. The next morning, they got corn. I’m aware that they are used to this treatment, but it just made my day.

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June 20, 2018   2 Comments

wedding weekend – Thursday

Yesterday, I gave you a lay of the land for the wedding weekend in Hualapai Mountain Park. I failed to mention that this all took place over Mother’s Day weekend and that the Hualapai Mountains are just outside Kingman, AZ., in the northwest corner of our beautiful state.

And see those deer in the corner of the map above?

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Yeah, they are there because the deer are so tame in the park, that they eat out of your hand, walk into kitchens, and pose in wedding photos.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

As you can see above, that is the handsome groom, Cody, trying to have his wedding photos taken but was interrupted by a curious little deer.  It’s lovely when something spontaneous happens that can create a really beautiful image. In this instance, it’s obvious that the deer didn’t want to be upstaged. Speaking of deer, I too, had a fun encounter with a herd of them… but we’ll get to that tomorrow.

First, I want to tell you about the brilliant and life-saving idea my friend and mother of the groom, Kim Howard, had.

A few weeks before the wedding, Kim realized that we had much more food to bring up than we could ever fit into coolers.

She found the perfect one at Mobile Cooler. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without this thing! As you can see, it can be used for beer kegs, but we just used it as a mobile refrigerator.

The refrigerator in the Rec. 2 kitchen would not have held a tenth of the food we brought up. In fact, this photo shows us toasting after my first full day of cooking and as you can see, items are nearly falling out… this is nothing compared to what was still in the refrigerated trailer at this point.

Here is a photo I sent to Kim on the Wednesday before we left. It is my kitchen island after unpacking the goods I bought at Food City. I also shopped at Costco, Safeway, Fry’s, Trader Joe’s, A.J’s, and Smart & Final. I didn’t begin shopping for perishables until after the trailer arrived, because I didn’t have room in my two refrigerators for it all.

Kim really did save the day. Actually, she saved the weekend!

The trailer was delivered to my driveway on Tuesday evening. I plugged it in and it was chilled to the perfect temperature in less than an hour. I began filling it up on Wednesday morning and we had it filled and ready to hitch up to Kim and Paul’s mid-size SUV on Thursday morning.

Cody enlisted the help of one of his employees, Eloy, to help get everything up to the site, unload it all and then reload and bring it all home on Sunday. Eloy was the first to arrive at my house on Thursday morning. He had his truck and an open flatbed trailer. He filled both to the brim with the majority of my patio furniture, 20 folding chairs, two 60-inch round, two 6-foot folding tables, an 8-foot folding table, card tables, etc. along with quite a bit of goodies from Miscellany Shed. The photo above shows some of the decor/serving items that went back into the shed on the Monday after the wedding.

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June 19, 2018   2 Comments

Hualapai Mountain Park

Photo credit: Lake Havasu LIVING Magazine

Hualapai Mountain Park, in the beautiful Hualapai Mountains, was the setting for Chanté and Cody’s wedding.

Hualapai means “People of the Tall Pines” in the Hualapai language and the park is part of the Mohave County Parks Department.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

There are 24 rustic cabins that sleep from two to twelve. Nineteen of those are equipped with beds, tables, gas ranges, refrigerators, heaters, electricity, bathrooms and showers, hot and cold water and most have fireplaces or wood stoves. Each cabin also has a barbecue grill and picnic table outside.

One of the five camping cabins

The remaining five cabins are called “camping cabins” and have a double-size bunk bed, table, microwave oven, and an under-counter refrigerator. The restrooms/showers for the camping cabins are located just across a small road.

Cody and Chanté visited in November 2017 and rented all the cabins. All but the one that was already reserved, that is. In mid-January, 2018, over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Cody, Chanté, along with Cody’s parents, Paul and Kim, and I visited to get a lay of the land and make a plan for the wedding and reception. Well, honestly, the couple already had a grand vision, they shared it with us and we collectively made a plan on how to execute it.

They knew that they wanted the reception to be in front of three of the five camping cabins. The three were on level ground, while the remaining two cabins were down a slight incline. When partying, dancing and alcohol are involved, it’s rather important that level ground is also involved.

The first cabin was to be the bar, the middle was for the band and dance floor and the third was my staging cabin for the food, with a buffet dinner set up directly in front of it.

Along with the cabins and camping facilities, the park also has three recreation areas. Each has a full kitchen, restroom, playground, and a lighted ramada with picnic tables. We had Rec. 2 – Pine Knoll. The stone and wood lodge was built in 1983 and has electricity, hot and cold water, a sink, refrigerator, stove-oven, wood-burning stove, and two tables to use as a work area.

Rec. 2 was up a steep switchback road from the camping cabins. I can’t even count how many times I drove from the camping cabins up to Rec. 2 and then back down again. My cabin for the weekend was the fourth of the camping cabins. That will come into play in later descriptions of the wedding weekend. Although, I spent the majority of my time inside Rec. 2. Not a bad place to work for a weekend!

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June 18, 2018   No Comments

this and that

Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.

– Anthony Bourdain.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

I want to give you a heads-up; next week I’ll be posting all about the wedding I helped with over Mother’s Day weekend. It’s been nearly 4 weeks since I last mentioned it in THIS post. That is because I was so much “at the moment” and honestly too busy, to take photos of the food or the gorgeous setting and set-up. That’s a good thing in the scheme of it all, but not a good thing when you need photos to blog about!

Thankfully, the wonderful wedding photographer, Jen Griffith of Griffith Imaging, sent me photos to share. So please come back on Monday to see all the beauty that was Cody and Chanté Howard’s wedding weekend.

Today, I want to share a great cooking tip that I thought most people knew about, but realized I might be wrong in that thinking when I found out my own kids didn’t know it … and they used to live with me.

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June 15, 2018   1 Comment

harmony

I’ve wanted to put up a post about the wedding reception I did for Cody and Chanté over Mother’s Day weekend, but I don’t yet have the photos to do so.

So, while we wait for those, I have a sneak peek at a new business venture that my friend and colleague, Kim Howard, and I are looking into embarking on.

I put together this 3.5 x 1.5 foot Harmony Board for the reception. It consists of a cheese board, charcuterie board, crudités and fruit board.

We’ll call it Harmony Board 1.0.

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May 21, 2018   3 Comments

a month in the making

A month can seem like a long time or fly by in a minute. I’ve experienced both on my backyard remodel.

It took only one month for the wonderful people at Garden Plus Landscape & Pools to tear out my old backyard and install something beautiful and new.

And it’s taken an entire month for me to round-up and Photoshop all the photos so that I can finally get this post up. No time like the present, so let’s get on with it! These first four photos are the renderings that Garden’s Plus presented me with.

Lovely, aren’t they?

The rest will be the before, the between (the progress) and the after photos.

As a refresher; in May 2017, I moved out of a 4,000 sq ft house that I’d lived in for 18 years, into a 2,000 sq ft rental that also served as my storage space. Then in November 2017, I moved into this 3,000 sq ft house. I adore this house and it felt like home immediately.

Well, except for all the excess stuff that was piled deep and high on the back patio and along the very narrow eve on the north side of the house.

Thankfully it doesn’t rain in AZ very often! If it did, there would have been much more of this situation.

It all felt so very claustrophobic, suffocating and downright awful.

To rid myself of that stuff and those less than warm and fuzzy new home feelings, I needed to pare it down and spread it out. The paring down came in the form of a garage sale on March 3rd and 4th.

And the beginning of being able to spread it out began at the same time, in the form of a new covered patio that would be nearly 3x the size of the original covered patio.

This is something that has been in the works for a while now. The original covered patio needed revamping because it was just so damaged. It didn’t look good in terms of appearance and it was probably even dangerous to walk on. So, this is why we are all super excited to contact somewhere like this Milwaukee Concrete Brick Edging service to get it recovered with better material. This will definitely add some spice to our renovation project.

How amazing does that sound? I’ve always dreamed of having a great patio space that will allow us to spend more time outdoors so we can make the most of our surroundings. This is what it’s for, after all. To expand the life and workability of the pool deck and walkways, we decide to look into construction materials that are resilient to all weather conditions. We may look into concrete flooring options, perhaps consult a BM Concrete Reno or in our neighborhood, so that we can utilize our outdoor space to the fullest. Moreover, there are just so many options that you can take advantage of when it comes to your patio space that I’m slightly worried that it could become dirty as soon as it’s fitted. And, of course, I would hate for this to happen straight off the bat.

When I told my friend about my initial concerns, she told me to get in touch with a professional pressure washing service like Malachi Exterior Wash (www.pressurewashingclarksvillemalachiexteriorwash.com) to come as often as is needed to ensure that every inch of my patio, as well as my driveway and walkways, have all been cleaned to the highest quality. And as soon as she said this, it filled me with great joy and relief.

Knowing this bit of information allows me to enjoy the renovation process and to take in every second.

At the same time, the chipping plaster and cracking border tile of the original pool needed to come out and be replaced with new tile, coping and pebble finish. The old cement under the long but narrow covered patio, the faded cool-deck and a good part of grass area were to be replaced with travertine.

A built-in gas grill with dinning table was getting built, along with a beautiful accent wall/planter, which was inspired by a vintage French wall fountain I scooped up at Sweet Salvage several years ago.

Being installed in between the accent wall/planter and the pool, an eye-catching harlequin-pattern of travertine tile and faux grass. I’d love to take credit for that design element, but all credit goes to Adrian at Garden’s Plus. He spotted the French fountain among all the stuff piled on the patio and came up with the idea and design.

Had he told me that the first order of business to upgrade your patio was to get everything off the patio, or not, that’s what I somehow wanted to do. I moved all the boxes into the garage and figured out what would be kept and what was to go in the sale. I moved all the outdoor furnishings onto an extra-large tarp in the grass on the far north side of the yard and then the guys covered it with more tarps to protect it from possible rain. It rained for two days before I was able to move stuff to the grass, but it hasn’t rained since … that was February 27th.

Note: As if to prove me a liar, it rained only hours after I pushed “schedule” on this post. Yes, it rained last night! Hallelujah! Praying it’s raining up north and helping put out or at least control the Tinder Fire.

Actually now that I look at the photos, I remember that the guys started putting up the masonry columns even before I moved my stuff off the patio. That seriously lit a fire under me and put the pressure on!

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

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May 2, 2018   4 Comments

stupid funny

Do you want to hear a funny-stupid story?

Yes?  OK, here you go…

Last week I showed you the indoor daybed that I turned into an outdoor patio daybed. It has a twin mattress that I had ordered an outdoor cover for. (I’m going to be talking about two types of mattress covers here – the standard white cotton mattress covers we use for all beds and a special outdoor burlap mattress cover that basically encloses the mattress for outdoor use. Try to follow along and not get lost in all the “mattress cover talk.”)

While waiting for the outdoor cover to arrive, I went to Home Goods (I LOVE HOME GOODS!) and purchased a thick and plush cotton mattress cover to make the bed extra soft and cozy.

I was so excited when the outdoor mattress cover arrived…

…until I noticed that the bulky, extra soft, thick and plush cotton mattress cover showed through and did not look good at all. In fact, it looked downright awful. Boo!!!

I knew what I needed to make it work. I needed fitted twin sheets to go between the two mattress covers. The problem is I had gotten rid of all unneeded sheet sets in the garage sale last month. Dang, It!

A few days later, I was working on an outdoor closet that had stacks of boxes from when I moved in back in November. I cleared it out and put items in my car to take to Goodwill. On my way to drop those items off, I stopped at Costco. The entire time, cursing the fact that I’d need to go into Goodwill to buy fitted twin sheets while, at the same time, donating more valuable items. All the while, I was mulling over an imaginary scenario in my head – how I would love to ask if they would be willing to give me a couple of fitted sheets for all these items I was donating. I knew full well that the answer would be no and it was ticking me off! Absolutely Ridiculous, I know!

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April 24, 2018   4 Comments

daybed

Long before there was such a thing as Craigslist or Offer Up, I bought a cute little white iron daybed from a classified ad. It was used for guests and sleepovers. The bed sat up in the playroom for many years. I disposed of the trundle-bed portion about 8 years ago.

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April 16, 2018   No Comments

not quite ready

I’m still working on the photos for part three of the house tour.  It is so difficult to get the lighting right! In the meantime, I want to share a minor victory with you. A first-world problem sort of victory.

When I moved in, I bought a new washer and dryer. Dave used our old set for a rental he is bought.

I am happy with the new machines, but I had a little annoyance each time I put in a load of wash. Logically, the laundry soap and fabric softener sheets were in the cupboard above the washer. The problem was that the lid of the washer interfered with the doors on the cupboard. I warned you, it’s a small problem!

Last night, I found the solution at Home Goods. People, I know I’m not the only one obsessed with Home Goods, am I right?!?

Anyhow, the area of the store I always hit first, is the clearance aisle. It was there that I found this porcelain cutie for $5. I knew instantly that this would fix all my worldly problems! OK, not all, but this one little pain in the rear, for certain.

I nailed it into a stud in the wall, and filled it with the dryer sheets, laundry pods… and a pair of tongs.

Why the tongs? Well, I’ve recently learned that I have short arms. I went all my life without knowing about this physical deficiency of mine. The washer basin is so deep that I can’t reach the bottom to pull out the clothes. I know, another first-world problem … thankfully with an easy solution, kitchen tongs!

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March 30, 2018   6 Comments