Saturday, May 30, 2009

slip n slide

Melanie talked us into helping her throw a water party at the park this morning. Rachel and Brady thought it sounded like fun, they came along and Rachel invited some of her friends too.
After everyone was sufficiently banged up and bruised from the kamakaze slip and slide, an all out water fight started. The girls spent all day yesterday filling up buckets and buckets of water balloons. When the balloons ran low, Dave gave his team a distinct water power advantage and sprayed the girls with a fire hose.
There's got to be some way to turn videos from my camera right side up, but for the life of me, I can't figure it out.

We're all tired, sunburned, bruised and sore. But there is no time for naps today. The girls are putting on a dinner for a camp fundraiser in a couple of hours and it's going to be a long (and fun) day.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Lindsey - thanks for the fun idea. I'm still not a great cake baker and some aspects of this left some room for improvement, but it was a fun cake for our party. You can get the full "from scratch" recipe here and some other ideas here and here and here.
I took some shortcuts and just started with 3 white cake mixes and 12 disposable cake pans. Fill each pan with 2/3 cup cake batter mixed with neon food coloring (I got some cool colors at ABC Cake Decorating). I had six colors and made two layers of each.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, three layers in the oven at a time.

Then place a 8"round cardboard (you'll need it to transfer the cake to a plate later) onto a cooling rack over a cookie sheet and drizzled the fudge sauce over each layer . . . .
. . . until it looks like a big stack of pancakes and syrup. I stopped at 9 layers.
If I had more time, I would have made a good frosting recipe, but I was running short of time and grabbed a can of ready made frosting. Didn't I already say I've never been able to frost a cake properly? Here's the proof of that. (In my defense, though, this didn't have straight edge sides.)
Nevertheless, the end product was fun. Here's the fudge sauce recipe:

3 cups sugar

1/2 c cocoa

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

12 oz. can evaporated milk

1 T. vanilla

Mix everything except the vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until icing has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes (it will resemble chocolate syrup but will thicken as it cools) . Stir in vanilla. Let the icing cool until thick enough to spread, but still pourable (I let it cool almost an hour).

happy graduation

We've had a handful of graduations in our family this month. My brother, Curtis, graduated with a Bachelor's degree.
Note: don't hire me to be an event photographer. This one is titled "I think this might be you graduating, but I'm not really sure".
Then, my sister, Lauri , graduated with a Master's degree (she has out-educated everyone in the family now).
Then, Roxanne graduated from High School and is ready to enter the real world. (Well, after she recovers from her sleepless all-night school graduation party, that is.)
For the rest of us, it's just a great excuse for a party.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

by the dawn's early light

I'm such a night owl. I generally have nothing to do with the pre-dawn hours. I even had to do some research to see what time the sun comes up these days. But I got an idea in my head to take a sunrise hike Saturday morning. I'm not sure why. It is definitely too hot to be going out later in the mornings as I have been doing all winter. I set my alarm for 4:25 am, left the house at 4:4o, arrived at the trail head at 4:50. I wanted to hit the trail the minute it began to be light enough to see. I thought I might be one of the first ones in the park. I was the 13th car in the parking lot. (Are these people crazy??) . I started hiking at 4:55. I supposed I would have a half hour or so of that magical early morning light.Obviously I don't know a thing about morning light. I walked along and took some pictures for about 5 minutes, then *poof* the whole world was light.Enough for that idea.
I walked the circumference trail around Piestewa Peak. I walked the east side before the sun actually came up, then once the sun did come up, I was on the shady side of the mountain, then just 20 minutes or so back to the car on the east side at the end. I was worried about the heat, but didn't need to be, it was overcast and rained a little bit. By the time I got back to the car, there was not a single parking space in the entire park, cars were waiting at the entrance to get in.
The first time Suzanne and I hiked this trail, I thought it would be a fairly easy trail, just walking around the base of the mountain. Little did I know you have to hike halfway up the summit trail before it veers off around the back of the mountain. Then the trail goes over another stiff climb at the other end to come back over into the park again. The summit trail is my least favorite area of the park. It is so very crowded, and it is more of a staircase composed of rock and concrete than a trail. Once we can get off that trail and around to the backside, it is quiet and beautiful with gorgeous views of the city.

In other areas of randomness around our house, apparently Rachel has some rabbits. In her room. In our house. And I didn't know. I don't know how some things happen in our house. They just happen. (Rachel, just don't let any baby rabbits "happen"!)

And the girls went to the Chihuly exhibit at the Botanical Gardens. I think this is the last week it is in town and definitely worth getting out there.

School is ending this week and I'm looking forward to a relaxing few days. This week will include a three day weekend, High School graduation, a birthday party, an awards banquet, a dinner fundraiser put on by the Young Women, some long overdue projects around the house and I think some general sleeping in. It doesn't sound relaxing when I write it down, but I'm not in charge of anything except making dinner and a birthday cake for Dave. That's not so hard. (Except for the fact that I have never made a decent birthday cake in my life.) Any ideas for a good - and easy - birthday cake idea for someone who is a little challenged in the icing a cake department?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Suzanne and I spent the day in Aravaipa Canyon yesterday. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! It was a bit of a drive to get there, but worth it. The canyon is several miles long with a creek running through it. It is one of the few creeks that flows year round in Arizona. We'd walk along one side of the creek, then be blocked by a canyon wall and hop over to the other side of the creek for a while, then there were spots with rock walls on both sides and we'd hike right up through the creek for a ways. The water felt sooo nice. We read that it would take an strong hiker 11 hours to hike to the other end. We weren't quite up to a 22 hour round trip, so we hiked a couple hours in, then a couple hours back out.
Guess what we saw?? Alright, you'll never guess so I'll tell you. A javelina. Who would ever think you'd run into one of those? A friend asked me last night what a javelina was. Well, kind of like"Pumbaa". Only this one didn't talk, sing or dance. (Actually, Pumbaa is a wart hog, not a javelina, but I wouldn't like to be in close proximity to either one).
Another not so nice surprise we saw, almost stepped on was . . . want to guess?Cree-ee-ee-py!!! It was HUGE, probably about 5 feet long and it freaked us out! And see the rocks just to the left of the snake? That is the trail we were walking on. Luckily, it was a lazy snake and had no intention of taking out two shrieking lady hikers. I usually walk in front of Suzanne. I don't know why, but we always fall into that pattern when we walk together. For whatever reason, Suzanne was in front of me when we came upon our deadly friend. (Suzanne, did you notice I stayed behind you most of the rest of the day? That was a little bit on purpose.)
We also saw a squirrel the size of our Lexi, a deer, a million lizards, and I was surprised to see how many fish were in such a shallow creek. I suppose we may have seen some other life form up on the cliffs, but we were kind on concentrating down on our feet, for obvious reasons. There are supposed to be a lot of big horn sheep in the canyon.
I think I'll have to go again sometime. Anyone want to go?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

styx: noun, classic mythology

Curtis invited us to a concert last night. He asked if we wanted to go to an REO Speedwagon concert. (Isn't that what you said, Curtis?) I've heard of the band. Obviously they were huge during the 70's, but I couldn't name a single song they sang off the top of my head. I was sure some songs would be familiar if I heard them. It was while we were at dinner before the show that he mentioned REO would probably be performing first, the STYX would close up the show. What? We're seeing STYX?? I know STYX, I know lots of their songs. I even bought a CD of theirs recently and have it in the pile of music I listen to regularly. YAY! We're seeing STYX! How could you have not mentioned that, being the most faithful, long-running fan ever!

Before the concert, we went to a restaurant called "Tuck Shop" on 12 Street near Oak. It was a cool little place, and very yummy. But because I am a bit restaurant retarded, I had to have most of the menu explained to me in layman's terms. "Medjool dates stuffed with Schrieners Chorizo, melted gruyere" and "Panko walnut crusted fontina, savory and sweet dipping sauces". Ok, I get the dipping sauces, I just didn't know what I would be dipping into the sauce. Nevertheless, a delicious dinner enjoyed by all.

Curtis is a rocker, always young, always pushing the edge on fashion and loves classic rock and loves good music. He's been in the music industry for years and is a successful DJ. So . . . I wasn't sure what it would be like to go to a concert with him. Certainly I don't know how to dress for a rock concert. I asked Melanie what we should wear. Her only advice was that it would be hot, so nothing long sleeved, and to dress comfortable so I could do some dance moves. (She then demonstrated the moves I would allegedly be doing . . . um, no) I told Dave I felt like I would be dressed for Sunday School sitting next to my brother.
I asked Lesa last night if she went to concerts with him very often. She isn't quite the dedicated rock fan that he is, but goes every year or two. But Lesa knows how to dress for a concert. She always looks cute. I wished I had snapped a picture of her purse. Way cool.

Curtis goes to STYX concerts regularly and he had some less than stellar comments about their order of songs, and lighting mistakes etc. I didn't notice anything but good music.

It appears that older men in rock bands have a lower than average risk of male pattern baldness. They all had a full head of long thick hair. Including the opening act, we saw three bands full of olderish men and only one was wearing a hat. It seems like there would be more men loosing their hair at their ages.

We had an advantage with Curtis being our history buff. He knew who the original members were, what year they made it big, where the replacement band members came from. Anyway, it was fun. Shaw came along to the concert too. He is 8 and is a real trooper. He had his earplugs in and curled up in his seat dead asleep for the last 45 minutes.

We had good seats. The floor level is problematic because there is a group of people who stand in front of the stage, so the first few seated rows also have to stand to see over their heads, so then the next rows have to also stand to see etc, until the entire floor level has to stand for the whole 3 hours. We sat in the second level up. Perfect. But then, a group a few rows in front of us decided to stand up. A whole group. "Hey, Hey, HEY PEOPLE. This is the sitting down section!! None of that now!"

Side note: Dave and I went to a concert at the Marque Theater in Tempe a couple years ago. We are way too old for that venue. There are no chairs in there. None. We went to see one of Dave's clients who plays in a tribute band. There were many many bands performing, we didn't know what order, or when he would be performing. Everyone was drinking, the only benches were outside in the smoking area, just not our comfort zone. We stayed for hours and never saw him perform and our legs were giving out. On the upside, there was a band that night playing Pink Floyd music and I knew the words to almost every song. That was weird. How do I know Pink Floyd music?? I don't think I had ever owned their records. (Yes, all my music in high school and college were vinyl records.)

So last night, it's always fun to just watch people. There was one woman who was compelled every so often to stand and bust out a move. Her body swayed to the music on a regular beat, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how she could not keep a steady beat clapping her hands. How can your body have rhythm, but not your hands?

Another woman in the next section over danced incessantly like she was a featured stage performer. But no one else in her whole section stood up. I imagine because there was real danger of getting whacked by her hands, arms or elbows. She was really moving.

Then there was a man that from the back appeared to be flicking his head to get his hair out of his eyes. Then I realized his hair wasn't long enough in front to be in his eyes. Then as he got more and more into the music, he would just flick his head around in a seemingly uncomfortable jerking motion somewhat to the beat. His neck had to have hurt at the end of the evening.

In the end, we experienced a adequate amount of rock and roll and had a fun night.

Monday, May 11, 2009

silly brady

Didn't I just say last week that Brady doesn't perform for the camera? I guess I was lying.

I'm not sure what this clothespin activity around the dinner table was all about, but I know it had to have been started by Melanie!

(But isn't he handsome in his new suit?)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Dave had to travel up to Page to do a service on a fire pump and asked if I wanted to go along for the ride. It had been a very busy week so I meant to say no, but I accidentally said yes.
(But now I'm glad I did)
It is a five hour drive, and the service on the pump took just under 2 hours. Oh, and then five more hours to get home. So we decided to stay overnight and made a mini vacation out of it. (I love having olderish kids so we can just leave town at a moment's notice and not have to make complicated arrangements for them.)
So when we got up there, it was too early to check into our hotel so Dave went to get the service work done and I told him I'd go for a walk. I needed a destination where I could meet him in a couple of hours or more if the work took him a little longer so we decided on Walmart. It was CLEAR across town so I headed out with my walking shoes and my MP3. When I arrived just 20 minutes later I had plenty of time to walk up and down the aisles and see what I didn't need. As I was wandering aimlessly, I found out I did need some board shorts for my swim suit this summer.
So now it was 3pm, work is complete and we began our vacation. We check into our hotel and I remember reading that this little hotel had a heated pool and a jacuzzi so we headed outside. We got a funny look from the front desk when we asked about towels for the pool. We did enjoy sitting in the jacuzzi for a bit, but the pool was hypothermia-inducing cold. I re-read the brochure and realized it didn't say just heated, but it said 'solar' heated. Well, that leaves the pool useless 9 months out of the year.
After we called Suzanne to get a restaurant recommendation from the myriad of restaurant choices up here,we had a bite to eat then we went to the movies. Well, actually the 'movie' . . . singular. There is one movie theater, one movie, one option. The whole town turned out for the premier of "Wolverine". We arrived about 20 minutes early and I would have thought we were at a premiere of "Pinocchio". We were sitting in a sea of 7 year olds, and 4 year olds, and toddlers. It was a very high ratio of the under 13 crowd. As the movie progressed I became very uneasy at the high amount of graphic violence as I was watching it with pre-schoolers. Yikes.
Saturday morning we kind of slept in and had to rush to make it to the complimentary breakfast hour. After we ate, we realized it wasn't after 9, it was only 8am. Somehow, my cell phone had picked up Utah time and we were an hour earlier than we thought.
I wanted to take Dave out to show him one of the slot canyons nearby, Antelope Canyon. I have been there before with Suzanne and it is the most beautiful place you can imagine. However, they were charging $32 per person. I had already seen it. We couldn't justify $64 our of our budget for a 30 minute tour.
So we went back into town to go through the John Wesley Powell Museum, but it was closed on Saturdays (a tourist attraction closed on Saturdays? go figure). We were going to go to the arts and crafts fair in the park, but it didn't begin until 11am. So we went to the dam to take a tour. Yes, tours were available, but the next one was in 1 1/2 hours. We finally realized that Page is a great place to visit if you have a boat, a tent and hiking shoes, but the town has very little to offer. We finally found some scenic lookout points and took some photos
I guess we should have taken the kids with us after all so we would have had someone to take our pictures together so it wouldn't look like Dave took a trip all by himself.
Dave decided he wanted a piece of pie for lunch. Not lunch itself, just a piece of pie. We went on a massive search all over town for a restaurant, cafe, sandwich shop anywhere that sold pie. We did find two places that didn't really have a big selection, but did have apple pie. Disappointed, we finally settled at Denny's. They had 3 flavors on their menu. It didn't quite hit the spot for him, but it was the best we could do.
We headed out mid-afternoon and stopped in Flagstaff to take Brady out to dinner. There was a cute little waitress that Dave almost asked out for Brady. We always have to remind him that opportunities abound!
Anyway, a fun couple of days.