Tuesday, December 30, 2008

a peek at 2008

This blog refers to a good idea on this blog -- taking a peek at 2008 through 10 favorite photos.

This was hard to do because sometimes an event has no favorite pictures, and sometimes the favorite pictures don't go to a specific event. Ok, if you're actually going to count, there are 11 photos. I had a hard time scaling down from 17. Roxanne says the before and after picture of the kitchen count as one. So there you go.

Out with the old.

In with the new.

We acquired a new member of the family.

A trip to Nashville for just Dave and I.

Our kids are now done with elementary school. They are all now in high school and college.

Lots of reasons for family to gather.

Hiking in the hills nearby.

A few crazy days on Catalina Island.

Going to cool events with friends.

Three generations of Hale men.

For the most part, we all just plain like each other.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

comments as we opened gifts

Brady: No, it's not a crowbar. It's a prybar. It is for 'prying' situations.

Cynthia: Look, slippers! and they are bedazzled!

Melanie: I got a big bottle of lotion.
Rachel: What flavor?
Melanie: Mango . . . I can't wait to taste it.

Brady: Nice! Tow straps!
Cynthia: Tow straps??!
Brady: It's a man thing.
Dave: I did some shopping at Freight Harbor.

Brady, opening a cool new jacket: What are all these zippers about? Does this come with instructions?

Roxanne: Yay! There's no such thing as too many hair products.

Cynthia (handing a gift to Brady): It's heavy. It's no hair product, I'll tell you that.
Brady: It's a man toy.

Melanie: I love rings. . . they complete me!

Brady: Nice! a magnetic tray for nuts and bolts.
Cynthia: Dave, you have shopped somewhere I have never shopped in my life.

Dave (to Rachel): I picked out a book for you. It's not about Vampires, but . . .

Dave (opening a gift from Brady): Us men know how to buy for each other!

We began this morning with a little incident involving Silly String that everyone had in their stockings: There was some creative gift wrapping (a dozen bottles of nail polish).
Lexi even got some new toys.
The rest of the day was restful. Waffles, puzzles, movies, games, gingerbread houses, dinner, visiting, reading, relaxing. It was raining all afternoon. We didn't have any plans to go anywhere, but the rain just made it seem like we were supposed to be enjoying the cozy indoors. It was as much a winter day as we ever get here.

Only 364 shopping days until Christmas again!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

holiday food

I'm not one to post and share recipes because there is a little bit of inconsistency in the cooking department at this house. Nevertheless, I found a delicious recipe we enjoyed Christmas eve. Brady helped me make this and it was quick and easy.
Pecan Maple Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple flavored syrup
1/2 cup pecan halves
  • Between sheets of plastic wrap, flatten each chicken breast to 1/4-inch thickness (I pounded it with a rolling pin, start in the middle and work outward)
  • In a 12-inch skillet, melt butter with salt over medium heat. Cook chicken in butter 1 to 2 minutes, turning once until brown.
  • Stir in maple syrup and pecans. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, turning chicken once and stirring pecans once or twice, until chicken is no longer pink in center.

Very, very delicious.

In other areas of deliciousness -- Dave's famous Apple Dumplings. I can't share this recipe because I have never made it. But you don't even have to taste them to see that they are the most beautiful and delicious holiday dessert ever.

Here is one other item that always makes it to our holiday table. I don't know how, when or why this started, but there is always a bowl of Chex Muddy Buddies on the table. It is not even a pretty food item, but always yummy and always required on the holiday table.

It was a pleasant little Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 22, 2008

good night, sleep tight . . . and try not to get shot at in your yard tonight

Ahh, . . . the sounds of slumber. It's late at night. We are snuggled up in our warm bed, and we are being lulled to sleep by the following phrases being shouted out of a bullhorn from a police helicopter.
Ok, so my question is . . . who is outside trying to see the police action? There were floodlights from the helicopter shining all over our block and up and down our street, in our yards, on our roof, in windows. There were multiple police cars around, a police helicopter overhead . . . and our neighbors were walking outside to see what was going on ???!
I love living in the city.
p.s. I did not take that photo. I was in bed with the covers pulled up over my head. It seemed to be safer there.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

o christmas tree, o christmas tree

We had a ward Christmas party last weekend. It was held on a Saturday morning which was perfect. There was a huge turnout, great food, a delightful program. (Cindi, did I tell you I loved the program - you did a fantastic job). There was one thing that surprised me though. Something I don't think would happen at an evening holiday party. A huge number of people came to the party dressed as though they were coming to a work project, sweats and t-shirts. It was a more casual event, ok I get that. But still.
Anyway. My assignment was to make a backdrop for family photos. Not actually a backdrop, but a prop. I didn't come up with the idea, but it turned out pretty cute. I cut out and painted a plywood Christmas tree with several cutouts that a family could be the ornaments on the tree.

Holiday parties are over now, assignments and projects are done and we've got a few days to relax and enjoy our own family. I'm looking forward to a nice week.

I love you, Mr. Chihuly, but your eyepatch kind of creeps me out

I might as well cut and paste the same entry Suzanne posted this week. She and I went out to the Desert Botanical Garden other night. It was a perfect evening. The weather was perfect, the walk through the gardens was pleasant, the luminarias were magical. But what made the gardens amazing was the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture installations. Absolutely breathtaking. Again, I'm not much of a photographer so look at these photos and imagine them 10 times more beautiful and brilliant.

baby it's cold outside

I like the fact that we have irrigation in our neighborhood. It is so much less expensive than a sprinkler system. It waters the yard deep and thoroughly. It is so pleasant in the summer and fall to step into the cool water while watering and working in the yard.
It has a few down sides though. Tonight the water came into our neighborhood in the middle of a rainstorm. It's dark. The air is cold. The rain is cold. The irrigation water is cold . . . no, freezing. And I had to schlepp through the yard to get the water started. Then when I finally warmed up, I had to go out into the water again and move the water flow to the other side of the yard. AAAHHHH! I cant stop sh-sh-sh-shivering.
If I have to go out one more time tonight, I'm going to wear a pair of these:

Friday, December 5, 2008

everyone loves a parade

It's the electric light parade tomorrow night. Dave has spent the last month building and wiring a float to enter in the parade.
The theme of the parade is "Family Holiday Traditions". So Dave realized one of our family holiday traditions is attending the Electric Light Parade. So he made a float depicting a parade. Clever, huh?
All the floats were gathered tonight to be organized and judged. Hundreds of people came down to wander around and see all the floats lit up. It was fun to see them up close.

So heat up a thermos of hot chocolate and come watch the parade Saturday night!

Friday, November 28, 2008

our shining beacon

Let's play a game, shall we? Who can find Dave in this photo? (Hint - he's camoflauged against the natural flora) Yeah, he was our shining beacon. No one was going to get lost. We could all see him. Everyone on the mountain could see him.
It's fun having Brady home for the weekend. Dave and I are loving having everyone together.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

hallucinations on a sunday afternoon

I made some bread this afternoon. I took a turn making some refreshments for our church choir practice. I had the bread timed so it would go into the oven as Dave and I left for practice. The mess was cleaned up, the dishes were all done and put away. Then Rachel and Melanie were going to take it out of the oven and deliver it to the church piping hot with some butter and honey when practice was over.
So . . . Roxanne fell asleep all afternoon. She said as she was waking up she could smell fresh bread. She could almost taste it. She was excited to wake up. She got up and the house was empty. "I'm ok with no people in the house, but there was NO BREAD! I looked everywhere for it. How can there be smells of hot fresh baked bread and there are no loaves of bread anywhere?"
Sorry, Roxanne. You snooze, you lose.

Friday, November 21, 2008

random thoughts

Random thoughts running through my head:
#1 Last night's "Survivor" episode was a classic! The meanest, crabbiest contestant ever got voted out in the trickiest blind-sided vote. Usually the show is edited so the audience doesn't really know how the vote will play out. But this was a hilarious twist of events and the producers just let it play out like it happened. Laugh-out-loud funny.
#2 Roxanne and Rachel went to the midnight showing of "Twilight". (who didn't?) Roxanne could go on the condition that she still make it to seminary at 6:15 am. I think she got less than 3 hours of sleep. As it turns out, she got up and left on time this morning, nearly fell asleep on the 10 minute drive, and stayed in her car and slept in the parking lot at the church. Oh well, nice try.
#3 Seminary students can be bribed to read their scriptures. We had a big hot breakfast reward day this morning. Waffles with a million toppings, hot chocolate, milk, juice and fresh fruit. Is bribery appropriate? I don't know. But waffles or not, it comes down to the fact that teenagers are reading the New Testament.
#4 As I started my hike this morning, I had to walk through a picnic area to get to the trail head. As I walked by an older couple sitting at the picnic table, I startled about 100 birds. Yikes. I'll tell you what, they weren't the only ones that were startled. I was not expecting that. These people were feeding the birds. I was a little worried to have to come back to the car later in the morning. It looked like they had about 7 loaves of bread and a 3 gallon bucket of bird seed. It was all a little too Alfred Hitchcock horror movie to me.
#5 The hiking trails guide map should have a little bit more information on it. I got on a trail up and over North Mountain this morning. I realized that although the trail was rated "moderate to difficult", it should have been rated "WAY difficult with a teeny bit of moderate thrown in for fun". I felt like a shaky mountain goat on a precipice. I made it to the top but wasn't exactly sure how (or if) I would get down. Luckily, I found this on the other side of the mountain:
Thank the heavens above. A paved maintenance road. I got down off that mountain in about 2 seconds.
#6 There is a cute little family of squirrels that live in the rocks at the lookout point at the top of the mountain. Aw, how cute . . . until I suddenly saw about 19 of them and they were all over the place and they weren't afraid of people and they kept coming within about 2 feet of my shoes. EWWWW - Rodents - creepy.
#7 Sometimes this scenery, living in the desert, is pretty to me. Sometimes it is not. Today? It is absolutely breathtaking.

#8 Roxanne falls asleep very often after school. I certainly knew she would today because of the midnight movie. For some unknown reason, she always sleeps sideways in the recliner instead of on the couch, on her bed or even stretched out on the floor. Ok, she's tiny, but sleeping bent up in a ball just doesn't look comfortable.
#9 We are going to start window painting next week. I am dreading it a little bit. I always do. But once we get started and get back in the groove, it's enjoyable. Maybe there will be good stories to tell. Well, there are always good stories to be told when you hang out with Shannon for any amount of time. (Just most of it can't be retold.)
#10 Life is good today. The end.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

getting some fresh air

I've been out hiking the last few weeks. I thought I'd carry a camera with me one day to see what I could see. Although there are great views in every direction, I find I mostly just keep my eye on the trail. Well, that is probably not an accurate photo of what I am seeing. Mostly it is just this: The trail is so very rocky, I have to carefully watch my step. I have a slight fear of stumbling and busting my kneecap in two or cracking my tail bone. I don't need the population of the whole valley "tsk-tsk"-ing me as I am being air evac-ed off the mountain on the 5 o'clock news. So I just watch my every step. But once in a while I stop and look up and enjoy the views.Ok, I'm not a great photographer, but that is downtown Phoenix amidst all the smog. And even with the smog, it is a very pretty view in real life.
I don't know why I haven't used these trails and enjoyed these mountains very much over the years. I live right by them. I could conceivably walk to the Phoenix Mountain Preserves from my house. (But if I walked there, by the time I arrived I would be done with my walk so what would be the point of that?) Anyway, here is the view from my front yard over the neighbor's roof. And I drive right past them every single day of my life carpooling the kids around.
I hiked up Shaw Butte the other day. I found some curious things on my walk. This:
I couldn't figure out what a manhole was doing on a dirt trail on the side of a desert mountain. As it turns out, there are radio towers and some utility buildings on the top of this particular mountain. So I suppose there are things that need to be wired, plumbed, drained and flushed up there. Another curious thing I ran across:
What the heck? Hiking a strenuous summit trail and smoking along the way? I don't get it.
Also - evidence of another unhealthy hiker. A bag of Cheetos. Not only was this empty bag thrown aside, but there was a trail of Cheetos for a significant section of the hill. Was there an issue of leaving a trail of crumbs to find their way back? I found it helpful to just follow the trail markers, but I guess everyone has their own system. Maybe it was just a clumsy Cheeto Eater.
Cindi and I are hiking a 4 mile summit trail tomorrow morning. (There are no bathrooms around for miles, so we are planning on some speedy hiking. Wish us luck.)