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Our trip to Arizona Part One

We left our friends' house in Denver very early in the morning knowing we would be facing a long day in the car. We were very thankful for the nice rental car that we had. It got good mileage and the air conditioning worked well as we traveled through the desert.

Our friend Steve had helped us map out a route and let us borrow his atlas. We were very thankful to have it since our GPS and even our phones did not have service in some of the remote areas that we drove through. We were amazed at how the landscape changed over the course of the day. We left the lush green mountains of Colorado and entered the dry, brown mountains of Arizona. We saw very few animals--just a few cattle and horses.

Here are a couple of pictures from our dirty car window:



We saw very few birds and on some parts of the trip we would drive for 50 miles or more without seeing another car. We did see some saguaro cactus that was in flower and there were birds that were feeding on the nectar. We were later told that those cactus only grow in Arizona, California, and Mexico and that they are highly prized and protected by law.


When we thought we had just another hour to go before we would reach our friends' house in the Phoenix area we realized that there was an hour time difference between there and Denver, much to our dismay. We finally did arrive and received a very warm welcome from Dave and Becky S. and their children Laura and Davy.


After some light refreshments they took us to a guest room at International Baptist College where Dave teaches and Becky is an executive assistant. The guest room was lovely and we were very thankful for such a nice place to stay.



The next morning which was a Saturday Dave and Becky picked us up and gave us a tour of the college and of Tri-City Baptist Church where Dave is the music pastor. They have a lovely facility and it was encouraging to hear how the Lord has provided different items for the school and church music programs. After our tour we picked up the kids and went out to lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant.

After a delicious lunch we went to the Heard Museum which has a focus on American Indian art and history. We took a guided tour for part of our visit and enjoyed learning about some of the beautiful artifacts on display.


They have pieces that are very old and then similar modern pieces. We especially enjoyed the pottery and the beadwork displays. The detail in some of the beadwork is amazing. It's hard to imagine the amount of time it would take to construct some of the items which are completely covered in the tiny little beads.

This is a beaded baby carrier:


These beaded vests and the purse were among my favorite pieces:


It was very sobering to visit the displays about the Indian children who were sent off to schools far away from their parents to try to discourage them from adopting their native culture and language.

After a brief rest in our room Dave, Becky, and the kids picked us up and took us to a very unique place for supper. Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, Arizona.The restaurant features pizza and live organ music played on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ which was built in 1927 and has nearly 6000 pipes. We sat up in the balcony where we could easily see the organist "pull out all the stops" as he performed.


For some of the songs there were additional props such as puppets which he could also control from the organ console. People were able to write their requests and place them on the platform and he played many of them. After dinner we taught the whole family how to play the game Tenzi. It was a very fun evening and something we will always remember.

The next morning we attended church at Tri-City Baptist Church which was located just across the parking lot from our guest room. In our Sunday school class we met the parents of some people we know here in Greenville and the parents of one of Rob's students. Rob also talked with a man who was in some of his college classes way back in the last millennium. :)

During the church service Dave surprised us by singing one verse of Be Thou My Vision in French. Dave had gone on a mission trip to France with us twenty years ago and he dug out his old mission team notebook and polished it up again just for the occasion. That was a very special moment for us.

After the service we went out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant with our friends and another family from the church. Even though our time there was rather brief we had a wonderful visit and were thankful that they were willing to take time from their busy schedules to accomodate us and make us feel so welcome. We enjoyed hearing how the Lord directed them to move from the ministry they were at in Vermont to move to Arizona and were blessed to see how He is using them in the ministry there.

Mid-afternoon we were back in the car again and heading to our next destination, Williams, Arizona.


A little bit of this and that

I do fully intend to get back to my travel series but life has intruded upon my blogging time lately. DD Megan and her family were here for about a week and we had lots of fun doing things as a family.

I mentioned in the meme in my previous blog post that we had planned to try a new recipe for baked doughnuts while they were here. Megan made them for us one morning and they were very good. If you don't have the special doughnut pans I think you could probably bake them in muffin tins and just adjust the baking time. I find that most muffin recipes advise you to bake them at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Here is what the pans look like:


Apple-Cider Doughnuts with Maple Glaze

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 1/2 tsps. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsps. cinnamon
1 large egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
1/3 cup apple cider (we used apple juice)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
3 Tbsps. cooking oil

Maple Glaze
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat doughnut molds with cooking spray or oil. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together egg, brown sugar, apple butter, maple syrup, apple cider or juice, yogurt, and oil. Add dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Divide the batter into the prepared molds. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Loosen edges and turn out onto racks to cool.
Makes about 18.
To make Maple Glaze:
Combine powdered sugar and vanilla. Gradually whisk in maple syrup to make glazing consistency. Dip one side of the doughnuts into the glaze to coat then set them on a rack for a few minutes for the glaze to set.


We really liked these and it was fun to have them for a special treat.

One night all the guys in the family went to a baseball game. Megan, Nora, Maddie, Della, and I stayed home and decided to have a "Dip Night" and to watch the movie Frozen, which Megan had brought down with her. The girls each made savory dips. Megan made a spinach artichoke dip and Nora made a refried bean dip.


I made a sweet Oven Baked S'Mores Dip that I had read about over on Southern Plate. It took all of five minutes to put together and another five to heat up. I kept teasing the girls about how hard I was working on my part of the refreshments. We used animal crackers to scoop up the rich chocolaty dip. I also used two cups of chocolate chips instead of the blocks of chocolate. It was really quite good and I would encourage you to try it if you need a quick and tasty treat. (We did share these dips with the guys when they returned from their event.) Grandson Drew enjoyed the leftovers the next day when they were reheated in the microwave.


Buddy, our cat, is a little intimidated by the children when they are here visiting, but he really seems to enjoy watching them and loves it when they will play with him by dragging a string or ribbon or throwing his toys for him to fetch. Right now four of our grandchildren are three years old or under so we have two high chairs in our kitchen and a third one that folds up is just outside the kitchen in the garage. Since the children have gone home Buddy has started sitting in one of the high chairs at mealtimes. Maybe he misses them?



Another thing that has been keeping me busy the last couple of weeks has been the garden. We are getting quite a few beans and tomatoes and the figs have just started ripening. I've also purchased a few other vegetables that have gone into the freezer. I've canned some tomatoes and today made a batch of Tomato Jam using a recipe that I learned about from Elizabeth last year. It takes a while to cook to the jam stage but has a really delicious intense flavor. It's sort of like the best catsup that you have ever eaten. I would highly recommend that you try making some if you have a few extra tomatoes on hand.

What's been keeping you busy these last few weeks of summer vacation?


A meme

Barbarah over at Stray Thoughts tagged me in a meme this week. I haven't done many of these but I thought I'd give this one a try. So, here goes. :)

Aprons, yes or no and what does your favorite look like?
Yes, I wear an apron nearly everyday. What can I say, I'm a very messy cook and baker. My favorite right now is one my friend Kathy gave me for Christmas. It is reversible and is pink on one side and has the word Love printed in differing scripts on the other side. It has long ribbon ties and I love it.

Baking/favorite thing to bake
I love to bake and it's hard to say what is my favorite thing. I love to try new recipes and techniques. I enjoy yeast bread baking, but since it's just the two of us we don't eat a great deal of bread.

Clothesline, yes or no
We are not allowed to have a clothesline in our subdivision but we do have a retractable one in the garage that I use for drying rugs and large items like comforters.

Doughnuts/have you ever made them?
I have made them quite a while ago. My daughter and her family are here visiting, and we actually are planning to make some baked doughnuts this week with the special pans she brought with her.

Everyday/one homemaking thing you do everyday
I cook something nearly everyday, even when we are planning to go out to eat I try to cook something and put it in the freezer. I also make the bed each morning.

Freezer/Do you have a separate freezer?
Yes, we have a small chest freezer and then two refrigerators with freezers on the top. I love the ability to buy and make things ahead. We also store some of the berries and vegetables from the garden in the freezers.

Garbage disposal/Do you have one?
Yes. We compost a lot of our food scraps, but it is really nice when rinsing dishes to not have to worry about things going down the drain. We have a little removable screen that helps keep silverware from dropping down by accident.

Handbook/What is your favorite homemaking resource?
I do have some books that I turn to for certain information but increasingly look to the internet for information.

Ironing/Love it or hate it?
I wouldn't say I love it, but I do enjoy it when I have everything set up and ready to go. I try to catch up on my ironing when I am sewing so I never have a backlog.

Junk Drawer, Y/N, where is it?
There are several in the house that are pretty junky, but probably the most official one is in the kitchen.

Kitchen--color and decorating scheme
The kitchen is yellow with light oak cabinets, and the curtains have a floral theme. We also have an old Hoosier cabinet which I use as my baking center.

Love--what is your favorite part about homemaking?
I really enjoy cooking and meal-planning.

Mop, Y/N
We have a Libman sponge mop, but I rarely use it because my dear husband usually does the floors.

Nylons--Handwash or in the machine
I still wear them in the winter because my feet are always cold. They go in the laundry in a mesh bag.

Oven--do you open the door to peek or use the window?
I do both! If I can't see what's happening clearly enough I open the door to check further.

Pizza--what do you put on yours?
It varies. Sometimes we have mushrooms, sliced onion, or sliced kielbasa. We almost always have ripe olives.

Quiet--what do you do during the day when you have a quiet moment?
I sit at the kitchen table and read or catch up on email at the computer.

Recipe card box, Y/N? If yes what does it look like.
I have a large recipe card box that my friend Cheri gave me. It was originally intended to store photos. It is stuffed full and I really need to purge a few so there is more room. I also have many cookbooks and a couple of notebooks full of recipes that I have printed off the internet to try. So many little time.

Style of house--What style is your house?
It is a ranch that is about 20 years old. We are very thankful to be in this house and feel like the Lord gave it to us. Developers bought our last house in a very miraculous way and paid us much more than we had paid for it. This enabled us to buy our present home. Our decorating style is "Early Attic" or "Contemporary Basement."

Tablecloths and napkins, Y/N?
I have a vinyl tablecloth on the kitchen table, and Rob and I use cloth napkins daily. When we have company I sometimes use a tablecloth in the dining room (but not so much when there are a lot of children) and then we use paper napkins.

Under the kitchen sink--Organized or toxic wasteland?
It's a bit cluttery, but I can find what I need down there.

Vacuum--how many times a week?
Usually once a week, again by my dear husband. Sometimes it gets a touch up when we have lots of company.

Wash--how many loads of laundry a week?
Most weeks it's 4-5 loads unless I'm doing some deep cleaning.

X's--do you keep a daily list of things that you cross off?
Not generally. I sometimes keep a list of things to do when preparing for an especially busy time. I do keep a couple of shopping lists and a list of things I need to cook ahead.

Yard, Y/N? Who does what?
Rob takes care of the yard and garden. I cook, can, and freeze the produce.

Zzzzs--What is your last homemaking chore of the day before going to sleep?
This can vary from day to day. I sometimes will take something out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator to thaw for the next day. I often check the cat's food and water to make sure he is taken care of for the night.

This was fun to do. I will tag Megan, Deb, and Carrie who read my blog. I won't be offended if you don't want to participate or don't have time at the moment. Anyone else who would like to can also join in. Just leave a comment so I can check your blog.


Wildlife in the West

I wasn't quite sure how to approach the topic of wildlife for this post. We saw quite a variety of wildlife during our time in Colorado. We saw very few animals during our time in New Mexico and Arizona.

While we were staying in the YMCA camp our friends took us on a couple of day trips to nearby places of interest. One day we went to Bear Lake which was pretty close to where we were staying. The water was a beautiful blue and there was still snow on the ground in a few places near the lake.


As we were driving to the lake we had our first glimpse of elk and we also saw a magpie. We had seen magpies in France before and of course we remembered Heckle and Jeckle from our childhood. :)


On another day we drove into the Rocky Mountain National Park and went up nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. We saw many elk from a distance and while we were eating a picnic lunch some very friendly elk came pretty close to us.


We also were fortunate to see some moose. We saw some from a distance and then we happened upon a female standing quite close to the road.


When we were pretty high up in the mountains it actually began snowing a little and we got a picture of a few flakes that landed on Rob's shirt. He wanted to "enjoy the cold" so he didn't wear a jacket.


There were signs up at the higher elevations asking people "to respect the tundra" by staying on the paths which were provided.


Some very cute little animals who live at the higher elevation are the marmots. They look sort of like groundhogs and we saw several of them sunning themselves on the rocks. We saw one who appeared to be kind of a ham. He stayed out while many tourists were taking his picture and he kept turning to allow us to get shots from different angles.


We also saw wildlife near our cabin at the camp. From the porch we saw chipmunks, ground squirrels, and mule deer. Rob got this picture of a mule deer one evening when we went for a walk.


Late in the first afternoon we were at the campsite we went for a walk and talked with a couple who were staying two cabins away from ours. They told us that while they had been away that afternoon a bear had come onto the porch of their cabin and had gotten into their hummingbird feeders.

The next afternoon when we returned to our cabin we noticed the rangers were at the cabin next to ours. While the people were out in the afternoon a bear had broken in the screen in a window they had left open.


The bear crawled through and had made a real mess in the cabin. She had opened the refrigerator and had eaten lasagna and yogurt and had smashed eggs all over the floor. She had opened cabinet doors and had smashed in the microwave (apparently she couldn't open it without thumbs.) She had opened a jar of nutella and a jar of peanut butter. She took the peanut butter with her. When we arrived on the scene she was sitting behind the cabin eating peanut butter. The rangers kept trying to run her off but she kept coming back for the peanut butter. We later found out from the neighbors that she had two cubs up a tree behind the cabin.

Below is a video Steve captured of the bear not far from the cabin she broke into. If you are reading this blog post in e-mail or in a blog reader, you will probably have to go to the blog post itself to view the video. Be patient - it may take it a few seconds to load.

The next morning we learned that the bear had come back during the night. The neighbors had two cars. One car was locked and one was unlocked. The bear got in the unlocked car and just walked around a bit. She actually tore the door handles off of the locked car. We discovered that she had investigated our car but fortunately didn't do any real damage--just some minor scratches and some paw prints.


Before we started our trip Rob had opened a private Facebook account just for our family so we could tell our kids what was happening and post pictures for them. He named the account Rob and Becka's Great Adventure. Our friends Steve and Karen had never seen a bear at the camp before and they blamed it all on us for wanting an adventure. :)

We had one last encounter with wildlife when we returned to Steve and Karen's house. They had a friend dog-sit their little daschund, Nikki while we were at the cabin. In the early evening when we returned they let her out in the backyard and she ran to a corner and was barking her head off. There was a raccoon in the yard and he quickly climbed the fence and scrambled up a tree. Nikki even barks at animals on TV. Here she is in action:


In my next post I will tell about some of our adventures in Arizona.


Something good to do with those tomatoes


I'm working on the next travel post but wanted to share this idea for using tomatoes once again. We really like these and they are easy to prepare. I think this would work best with a Roma type tomato. Rob planted what was called a grape tomato plant in the garden this summer and the tomatoes are more like small Roma tomatoes, so that is what I have been using for this recipe.

Roasted Tomatoes

Slice Roma tomatoes in half and then place on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet with the cut side up. Brush the cut side with olive oil and then sprinkle with garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and roast for an additional 20-30 minutes. Watch carefully to see if they are getting done to your likeness. If you are using very small tomatoes they may take less time.

You may wonder what to do with your roasted tomatoes. Well, they are quite good for snacking. :) They are also good on sandwiches. Be sure to try them on a grilled cheese sandwich. They are also good chopped up and added to green beans or in this White Bean Dip. I like to make a tray full and then divide them into little snack bags and freeze them. Then when they are needed for a recipe you can just take out a portion and thaw for your recipe.


Enjoy those tomatoes!


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