Friday, November 23, 2012

The Turkey Stood No Chance


Yesterday was such a wonderful day. We were invited to a few different places but were really excited to hear from the Jensen family about a month ago. Not only did they want us to spend the day with them for Thanksgiving, but they didn’t need me to make the turkey.

Done and done.


Of course, I did get a little carried away with making things to bring. I got to make some Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. Other than the frosting being just a tad too sweet, these were incredibly yummy!


The cake was moist and spicy…in a good way. I shaved some 72% Ghirardelli Chocolate on top to bring the frosting back into reality. It didn’t do much to cut the sweetness, but these were still enjoyed by all.


Dessert wasn’t the only thing that I got to make today. Since I didn’t have to make the turkey, we slept in until 8:00 AM. Nice! I woke up and made some cupcakes, and then some savory dishes to take to the pratty.


These are the only spuds that I make any more…Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes. After adding butter and cream cheese (and more butter), they go back in the oven to bake for a nice crust on top. These are simply heavenly.

I also made honey butter for Karen’s homemade rolls, which were out of this world. And a Green Bean Casserole, which shamefully didn’t get a single photo op during the whole day. How is that even possible?!


Karen’s mom, Barbara, brought the turkey goodness today. It was so moist and perfectly done. I really love turkey. Every time I eat it, I wonder why on earth we only do this once a year.


There were seven of us today at the Thanksgiving Feast. Chris and Karen are dear friends, and they have two adorable teenage daughters, Rachel and Hannah. Barbara was there, too, since it’s rude to just accept a turkey and not invite her to dinner. And then Hubby and I brought up the rest of the attendees.

And Jack, the Russell Terrier, was also there. He was so excited for today but didn’t get much turkey from anyone. Did you know that Russell Terriers shake when they get too excited? There was lots of shaking going on today.


I love walking into a house with incredible Thanksgiving smells. Turkey, rolls, turkey. This is going to be good.


This is sweet Hannah, whom I love. These girls are just incredible…smart, funny, and cute. What more could you want in a teenage daughter? Hannah is fun and witty. All of her friends try to sit next to her because she is just awesome. I have Hannah in the Beehives group at church, so I get to enjoy lots of her during the week, too.


And this beauty is Rachel, who just turned sixteen. Hannah’s arm photo-bombed the picture, which only makes it more fun. There was a lot of photo-bombing going on today!

Rachel is musical and is always selected for the All-State team for choir. She plays piano and was building a bridge for her Advanced Physics class before dinner started. And she is beautiful, but you could tell that already. Rachel is one of my Laurels at church.


Hubby and I also brought some Cranberry Fizz drink for today’s festivities.


And, like always, I made a ton of it. You never want to be without a drink when turkey and spuds are involved.


Chris, being the man of the house, got the esteemed privilege of carving the turkey. We all stood around and “oooohed and aaaaahed” with each cut. Do you think that we were hungry?

This guy is just wonderful and oh so funny. We made bets before arriving to see if he would be wearing an Oakland Raiders t-shirt or Star Wars t-shirt. It was the Raiders today.


And this pretty lady is Karen. She runs The Cupcake Stand with me, but I like her for more than her mad baking skills. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends. Karen is always such a great conversationalist. It’s a treat to have such a neat lady just a few blocks away.


Here are the girls with their grandma, Barbara. She is an excellent cook and sure loves these girls.


Barbara also made stuffing, which was scratch-made with homemade bread! Holy smokes, this stuff(ing) was amazing. My stomach is growling just thinking about the wonderful feast that we enjoyed for Thanksgiving!


The veggie tray was a good idea…kind of like a fruit tray at an Annual Family Christmas Snack Table. I didn’t waste much time with this “filler.”


Here is a picture of Karen’s incredible rolls. And I brought some flowers as a hostess present that were only on the table long enough for us to realize that they were too stinkin’ tall to keep there while we were eating and talking!


Olives at Thanksgiving is an absolute must, so I’m glad that someone thought of them. Because I didn’t until I ate half of these!


Karen had a beautiful green cupcake stand to display some of our desserts. Is this almost the best day of the year or what?!


I love how everyone pitched in to get dinner ready. It was really nice today to not be making everything for dinner. I got to relax and enjoy most of the day. While stuffing my face, of course.


Wow, how do you pick a favorite thing when stuff like this arrives on the table? The turkey was simply divine. I think I will have some for lunch today, just to remind myself of how yummy it was.

Hubby is coming home from work today to enjoy some of these leftovers with me. I guess he had the same idea, too, huh?


Here is my first plate! Turkey and gravy, Green Bean Casserole, spuds, olives, corn, and a pickle (why?). Later, I would also add a few rolls with some honey butter, and some delicious stuffing.

I really love Thanksgiving. I wonder why?


With so many incredible things to enjoy eating today, you would think that it would all start to blend together. But let me say this…Chris made this homemade Apple Crisp Pie. We added vanilla ice cream and homemade caramel sauce, of course, and then died. This was one of the best desserts that I’ve ever been privileged to gain weight from.

And it was worth every single pound.

We had such a wonderful holiday. Blessings beyond believe!

How did your special day go? What did you eat?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Day!


Today will be spent with loved ones, family, and friends. In fact, I’m probably wearing stretchy pants at this very moment…it’s going to be a wonderful day.

I hope that you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have so much for which to be thankful. It’s always nice to have a full belly while such reflections can be made.

I’m personally grateful for people who read this here blog! Spanks!

Off to get more turkey…why don’t you do the same?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Making Ditches in the Front Yard…For Good Reason


After we dug up the back yard and made a mess, I asked if we could work on the front yard first since it is certainly seen more. I thought that we were just going to add a drip system to the planter boxes, and hopefully get a new planter box in the process.


Little did I know, Hubby had different plans out here. He hated the present sprinkler system and decided to use the nice winter weather to make it right. It was about seventy degrees while we worked today. Just about perfect!

No more mowing over sprinkler heads in the middle of the yard! No more water being blocked by the two mini palm trees! The entire yard will now get double coverage from a rotary sprinkler head in each corner of the yard.


To begin this labor-intensive process of redoing the sprinkler system, Hubby starting cutting chunks of homemade sod where he needed to dig into the yard. This way, when he is all done and the new system is in, he can fill the holes with grass strips instead of bare dirt.

It would take a long time for bare dirt to fill in with grass again, so I appreciate his thoughtfulness on this one. Though it meant a lot more work for him…poor guy!

This was his idea…I promise.


Here he is skimming the sod off the top in nice, neat five-inch-deep squares to place back down when the new pipes are all in. I will do a post soon about how he then dug trenches to get the old system out…and found an even older system underneath that one! Sheesh!


He was sore for days after this because it was such awful work. We only had one shovel that could do this type of digging, so I stayed busy trimming bushes and trees in the yard.


I passionately hate our two bougainvillea plants. They are covered with spikes that inflict the highest amount of yard-working pain possible. I want to get rid of the one in front of the house. I guess we can keep this mailbox one, as long as it stops biting me when I trim it back.

Fat chance!


The previous owner, a landscape architect, no less, placed the sprinkler heads right behind these two mini palms. Smart move, guy!


As you can see, I got a little trim happy with the clippers this morning. I’m still trying to convince Hubby that we should dig all of this out and start from scratch with a new planter box. I feel like we’re only doing this job half-way if we leave it as-is. He might be considering it…since he asked where the sprinklers could go if we did something new here. I’ve hated how this looks since we moved in 2.5 years ago.

Fingers crossed!


We added a new tool to our collection for this job…an awl shovel. Is that the right term?

As you can see, we treat our equipment with the highest level of love, respect, and care. Even the new stuff gets such special treatment!


Hubby is pretty good at eye-balling straight lines in grass, I must say!

Do you like my neighbor’s latest hoarding purchase? I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to now see a 1981 RV sitting there every time that I look outside our front windows. Absolutely awesome.

The neighbor said that he is surprising his wife with another Lincoln for Christmas. I asked if he was going to trade in one of their present eight nine vehicles to get it. He looked at me like I was crazy or something.


After trimming, I grabbed our green barrel and filled it to the brim with bush scraps. This was a pokey and painful endeavor!

Probably not as painful as Hubby’s back, though, so I’ll just shut my mouth now.


And, once it was all cleaned up, the front was already looking much better! I would love to tear out those three bushes in front and put in a new cement border to create our new planter box. This might actually happen. Yippeeeee!


And Mr. Death the mailbox bougainvillea lived to see another day. I’m sure that the mail lady appreciates not being bitten by these fierce teeth every time she tries to drop off a bunch of junk mail!


I was really excited to have this out on the street for pick-up today. But the green barrel guy had already come way early this morning…way earlier than I wanted to be awake! And we forgot to put it out in time this past week, too, so we are still being graced by all of these trimmings each day.

IMG_5615   IMG_5616

Hubby worked hard and has the muscles to prove it. I’m so glad that I married such a hard worker. I wouldn’t be able to handle a lazy guy. Even soaking the grass first didn’t make this an easy job.


Once he “sods” the trenches, he will dig out the old system(s) to get ready for the new pipes to go in. I must say…it was rather nice to haul the ten-foot piping home in a nice, big Pearl. Hubby still insists that his Corolla could have done it, too.

Should I tell him, or do you want to do it?


Hubby made it to this corner and is now headed to the front corner on the other side. Four giant rotary heads will now keep our front lawn watered and gorgeous. I can’t wait until it’s all in and spraying!


After I cleaned up all of my trimming mess, a great view can be seen of the crappy planter box right now. They ran out of bricks and just kept going anyway.

It’s full of weeds. And cat crap. Lots of cat crap.

Won’t this be pretty as a new planter box with a cement border like we’re going to do in back? We are putting in a drip system inside this planter box, too, so things might have a fighting chance of survival now.

“Might” is the key word there.


You should see the blisters on this boy’s hands from all of his hard work today. What a good guy. I’m so glad that he wants our house to look nice, too. Right now it looks like a cemetery with a bunch of huge trenches…but it will be the almost-prettiest yard on the block soon!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rainbows and Unicorns


OK, we didn’t actually see any unicorns on our flight home today. But you wouldn’t believe all of the rainbows! We should have cold fronts move through more often! I think my total count of rainbows from our flight to Van Nuys and back home empty was five.

Five. Five rainbows. Ah ah ah (in a Sesame Street’s Count von Count voice, please).


The Pentastar Aviation lobby is nice. I’ve spent lots of time here waiting for passengers to arrive since this past February when I started my new job.

Can you believe that it’s already been that long?


Pentastar is a small FBO chain that originated in Detroit in the early 1900s. That explains why the lobby has a bunch of really cool and ancient photography on the walls from Ford Motor Company and some early airplanes associated with it.

I want this picture. I need to decorate with more airplanes in my house, that’s for dang sure.


It’s such a beautiful cockpit.


And these are my absolute favorite shoes right now. Have you ever heard of Bobs by Skechers? They give a pair of shoes to a kid in a third-world country every time that I buy a pair of shoes. That’s a wonderful idea and all, but I am in love with the shoes because they are awesome, too.

My best friend, Ann, calls these my mermaid shoes. She was with me when we went shoe shopping a few months ago. Because of their white soles, I was afraid to wear them for a month or so. As you can see, I certainly got over that fear of potential dirt damage!

I get so many compliments on them, and they are so comfortable! I love them.


This picture showcases the pages that we have up on the Multi-Function Display, or MFD, when we start the engines on Gladys. I am usually in back with the passengers, handing out drinks and giving passenger briefings as necessary, when engine start takes place.

Because we were empty on our way home today, I closed the door, checked for seven green tabs to ensure that it was properly locked, and then climbed up front. Watching the entire starting process is always a treat!


We landed on Runway 34L just a few hours earlier and had a long roll-out to end at the Pentastar ramp. Luckily for us, a short taxi resulted from them switching to Runway 16R just before we took off from Van Nuys.

This beautiful Gulfstream V was headed out just in front of us.


Van Nuys is a great airport to base news and hospital helicopters because they can easily escape the LAX airspace from this satellite airport.


Here is a little Phenom 100 on final approach, and a small prop airplane on its final approach for the parallel runway just a few hundred feet away. This airport is one popular place.


This Falcon was also ready to leave. The Gulfstream left first, then we were next in line, then the Falcon behind us.


It had only been a few hours since we flew through all of that yucky weather to get here this morning. It was still lingering around California for our takeoff and had even moved into Arizona, too. It was a weather-filled ride home today.

Goodbye, Van Nuys!


I love going through clouds in a jet. Sometimes, it’s hard to grasp how fast we are zooming along until we burst through a cloud. I love that feeling! And the beautiful blue skies above remind me that I left my sunglasses in my flight bag waaaaaaaaaay back in the cabin.

I wasn’t even thinking of sunglasses when we were under such murky skies just a few moments ago!


These clouds were left behind from the cold frontal pass. Little did I know that I was flying home to freeze all weekend.


So we stayed up high today instead of descending into Phoenix on the arrival. We needed to fly over the Phoenix VOR (Very-High Frequency Omni-Directional Range) radio beacon to record our RVSM (Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums) accuracy above 29,000 feet.

We simply flew over the checkpoint with all of our equipment transmitting down to the station. In a few weeks, we can check their website to see how well we did. It was the perfect time to perform this flight test since we were empty in back.

Look at the pretty virga again!


Let’s get our rainbow counting skills prepared for the rest of our flight back into Phoenix airspace now. Can you see our first one from our return trip? I love the gorgeous sun rays shining down near the rainbow.

That’s probably where the Lost Dutchman hid his gold, in case you’re wondering where to dig.


After our check, we were cleared to Willie VOR, then to Phoenix VOR, then to Scottsdale. I sweet-talked a shortcut to the north instead to set us up for our landing on Runway 21. Here you can see the Superstition Mountains underneath some gorgeous storm clouds.


I just love how the lighting plays such beautiful tricks when storm clouds move through. We are just ahead of the cold front moving into town now. The worst will be here later tonight, but we will be safely down by then.


This is one of my favorite shots of the day. It just showcases some of our typical Arizona desert so well. And, again, the lighting is just incredible!


Holy smokes. Not just one in this picture, but two rainbows?! What is going on today?!

I’m not complaining, mind you. I love all of these rainbows. It’s been years since I’ve seen one, and today I saw five! Is it March? Should I be pinched?!


Oh my goodness. This is so beautiful that it almost looks fake! Definitely my favorite shot of the day! Look how defined the rainbow colors are.


Hello, Home. It’s good to see you. I’ve haven’t been this close to you since…this morning! I guess we’re done with all of our rainbows for the day.


Or so I thought! Look! Another pretty rainbow by Tower. Should someone sing a song or something to channel all of these rainbow sightings?


We pulled onto our ramp and starting prepping Gladys for just a few nights in the hangar. We have another flight in just a few days with five people in back. Guess where we are going?

If you said Van Nuys again…then you’re right! I have all of the frequencies memorized because we’ve been there so much lately! How fun!


This guy pulled in right behind us. Ironically enough, the pilot in here used to fly with El Capitan in my old job in the Beechjet! He’s been flying Pilatus PC-12 airplanes ever since he left that company six years ago.


Good night, Gladys! Thanks for all of the rainbows today! See you bright and early in a few days!

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