Friday, January 11, 2013

Some Sweet Meals for Christmas


Christmas Day wouldn’t be complete without a delicious meal on which to gorge ourselves. Amazingly, neither of us ate too much! It was just Hubby and I for our yummy Christmas Dinner today. And it was so nice.

We had ham. It was in the slow cooker all day, which meant that it was oh-so juicy and practically perfect in every way.


We had cheesy potatoes, which I would have been fine with as the solitary dish of the day. I made a huge batch, and we munched on them for many a day after. In fact, the last meal of these potatoes was used to make breakfast burritos.

Breakfast burritos from made-from-scratch cheesy potatoes. I’ll just sit here to think about that for a few minutes…


Of course, we had to have something fun to drink to celebrate such a wonderful day. So Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple-Grape it was! And it was delicious. Cold grape juice is one of my favorite drinks in the whole wide world.


It was fizzy and grapey. Perfect!


And last but certainly not least for our Christmas Day feast (I could rap!) was bacon-wrapped asparagus. Somewhere along the line, Hubby told me that he actually liked asparagus. So I try to include it in as many fun meals for him as I can.

And the slightly-sweet brown sugar sauce that I made and poured on top made this really incredible. It was such a nice balance of salty and sweet!

Hey, we ate our vegetables today!


A few days later, we still had some ham left in the fridge. Is there any better sandwich than using a giant ham like that?!

Since the ham was still delicious, I decided to make a recipe from my new cookbook to use it up. Hubby gave me this America’s Test Kitchen cookbook for our anniversary a few months ago. I can honestly say that it’s the best cookbook that I’ve ever owned, and maybe the only one that I’ll ever need!

Their recipe for Split Pea Soup just happened to be on PBS when I sat down for a quick bite of lunch. So I watched. And for the first time in my life, I said to myself, “Man, that Split Pea Soup sure looks good.”

I checked my book, which has every single recipe from every single season of their twelve. Yup, it was in there! So make Split Pea Soup I shall.


For some reason, we were experiencing a split pea shortage in Mesa. I went to three stores before I finally found some. Maybe I should have taken that as a sign to not make a green soup. I’m glad that I moved forward with peas and made it anyway.

Of course, making a small batch of their homemade Butter Croutons to top our dinner only made things better.


We ate this thick, hearty, and healthy soup for a few days as well, since the batch was gigantic. But it was so incredibly good!

So that’s a wrap-up of our yummy Christmas (and post-Christmas meals). What was the best thing that you ate over the holidays?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quick Flight for Not-So-Quick Maintenance


Just before the holidays, and when we were sure that the airplane wasn’t needed for any more day trips before the holidays, we flew Gladys to another airport in town to have her annual maintenance inspection.

Of course, she was buried behind five other airplanes in our hangar when I arrived. But it’s always fun to watch airplanes being stacked (and unstacked) in a hangar. I would not want that job!


This beautiful Citation X was parked in our hangar this week. It is a loaner for one of the owners who bases his airplane here while his is off getting fixed in maintenance, too.

Since our folks will be out of town for most of the time during maintenance, we didn’t need to worry about borrowing another airplane to keep them aloft while Gladys was getting a little work done.


As you can see, they get these airplanes in here nice and tight in order to fit everyone. Now you know why I wouldn’t want that job!


After pulling out two airplanes to get to Gladys, we still couldn’t quite get past this beast. So they pulled her out, too, so we could get by.


This Hawker was already outside and prepping for a flight. What a pretty boy!


Gladys has such a nice-looking cockpit. It’s so clean and helpful. Remember…this airplane is designed to fly with just one pilot, so everything is easily within reach.

I, personally, am glad that we fly with two pilots. For my own selfish reasons.


I hand-flew from our home airport to Mesa-Gateway Airport  today, which is why I don’t have any pictures of the flight. I’m no octopus! It felt great to do some takeoffs and landings and simulated emergencies as part of my currency here on the field today before bringing her in.

I really love flying. Can you tell?

Here we are parked on the ramp at Embraer. They will have Gladys for almost a month doing some service bulletins and updating some software, as well as doing a general annual inspection to make sure that everything is up and running.


We really love the guys at the Embraer facility. I’m so glad that we have maintenance just a seven-minute flight away! They take great care of us, and I always feel that we are in good hands.

Which is nice, considering my life literally is in their hands!


Does it look like she’s smiling? Maybe she thinks that “getting some work done” means a tummy tuck and Botox. This girl doesn’t need any of that!


The maintenance hangar was busy inside, but the best part was seeing two other Phenom 300s being worked on! I’ve never seen another 300 near Gladys, so it was beyond cool to see three of them so close together.


Eek! Another Phenom 300! They are prettier when not torn apart for maintenance, though, I must admit.


And this is Gladys’ little brother, the Phenom 100. This one is flown by the flight demonstration team from Brazil, which is in town for a few things to get fixed.

This is the airplane that potential customers are wowed in before they sign up to buy.


And this pretty guy is here getting worked on as well. Now you know where all of your banking fees are going, huh?

This will be about the size of our upgrade in a few years, and I can hardly wait! Won’t it be fun to easily go to Europe and Hawaii? Yes, please!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pretty Pieces for a Previously-Painted Property


After painting their home, it was time to give our neighbors some of their house fixtures back. I bet you’ll never guess who took them and spray-painted them all for a new, fresh look!

Even their mailbox was given a new life!


I really love the idea of keeping the old and making it look new. These house numbers were probably put up by the homeowner’s mother back in the late sixties. They used to be a fiberglass color…if you can imagine what a fiberglass color looks like!

With a little spraying action using my favorite Rustoleum paint, these beauties are now covered in a gorgeous Satin Nickel finish for all the world to see.

Now we just have to figure out the best place to put them.


I brought the best worker to help in all of this. And by help, I mean that he did it all while I took pictures. Hey, someone has to do the hard part!


Once all four of us agreed to the perfect spot, Hubby tacked them into place with a tiny nail. It actually looked like rivets when they were all up, so double-bonus on that little surprise!


We even managed to keep the original-to-the-house doorbell, which was just enchanting carrying the Medallion Homes logo. With a fresh coat of Satin Nickel paint, it looks better than ever.


After the numbers were up and looking great for everyone to enjoy, it was time to move on to the classic doorbell.


Since the homeowner was so excited to keep this original fixture, Hubby carefully wired things back into place. Even with such gentleness, the metal tabs on the back still had corroded enough that they fell apart while being prepped to go back on the wall.

I wish that everything was going to be finished and perfect for them today, but this little guy broke and doesn’t want to play along.


So we moved on to the new light. Yes, it perfectly matches all of the other fixtures. Because the homeowner and I went shopping for a fixture that we loved, and then I spray-painted it along with everything else to match!

It was a weird feeling painting something brand-new, but we all love the results. And it looks incredible at night when it’s all lit up!


After we got it all wired and then screwed into place, Hubby tightened the light bulb so that we could give it a test run.

We were all getting pretty excited by this point.


And holy smokes, it looks amazing! I really love it. But, more importantly, the homeowners really love it! Mission accomplished!


Hubby tried to take another look at the doorbell to see if he could weld it back into place. No such luck today, but the homeowners agreed to check out Home Depot to find a replacement part soon. I just hope that they can find the button so they can keep their original doorbell.

Update: they did! A small button was replaced, and the doorbell now works like a charm while still looking circa 1968!


For today, we just pulled the wires through. This way, visitors can hot-wire the doorbell to get a response from inside. It’s actually kind of cool, but I could see how exposed wires would get old eventually.


I am just loving how all of this looks. You know that I wanted to do this the very afternoon that we finished painting but anxiously patiently waited until the paint was ready for some fixtures again.

Like most things, it was worth the wait.


And this is the view from the driveway for people approaching the house. I still have the door left to paint, but it needs to warm up just a little to allow me to start early enough to do three coats in one day (sand and prep, then prime, then two coats of paint).

I am really looking forward to the dramatic transformation that a “new” door will make to this now-beautiful home! This has been such a great project.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas 2012: What She Got


We’ve already seen how good Santa was this year to Hubby, since he had lots of nice things to open on Christmas morning. But now it’s my turn.

And I think that I scored big-time.


First of all, let me just remind you again that I married a thoughtful, romantic man. If it matters to me, it matters to him. He said that he needed some time to set things up out in the living room, so I showered and got ready for the day.

And then I got back in some pajamas. Because it’s Christmas!

When he finally came to get me, he was holding a giant cup of hot chocolate for me. And then he walked me down the hall, and I saw a crackling fire awaiting me on the couch.

Yep, on the couch. That’s how nice it is to have laptop fireplaces! He was also playing my favorite Christmas music by Andy Williams. It almost felt like I was coming down the hall as an excited kid again!


He makes hot chocolate with milk. Why am I only discovering this creamy goodness in the past few months?

My life will never be the same. This stuff is sooooooooo goooooooood.


First, I opened a present from our best friends, Ted and Ann. My look was due to the fact that we told them not to get us anything for Christmas, but they did anyway.

Now that is true friendship!


Ann and I are always talking about how fun it is to get our nails done, and she actually did something about it by giving me a gift card to her favorite salon. I always feel so pampered when I get a manicure, so this was just one of the many ways that she was telling me that she listens and cares!

I have insisted that she go with me when I use it. She is all in.


One of our favorite things to do with Ted and Ann is to eat. Of course.

This year, we got them a gift card to Fox Restaurants Concepts, which could be used for anything from Sauce to True Food Kitchen to Culinary Dropout to The Arrogant Butcher to Olive and Ivy to Blanco Tacos. We plan to go along with them, of course.

Because they can’t get rid of us that easily!

So they returned the favor and got us a gift card to Brio Tuscan Grill…a place I haven’t been! Just more proof of how well Ann listens to me, because I love trying new eating joints!


Ann gave me a copy of one of her favorite books. This is actually on our Book Club list, so now I won’t have to track it down from the library or digitally when it’s time to read!


Hubby opened some corn nuts, but I think that I got a better deal from Steve and Amy.


When we visited them in Arkansas a few years ago, we stopped for a treat at The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. So Steve and Amy know that I love that place!

I have never tried the Peanut Butter Pails. Please allow me to say that they made all of my wildest dreams come true.

I am sad to admit that these are already gone. But I would like to additionally admit that I shared them all! No, really!


But the fun from Arkansas didn’t stop there! They know that I love to bake…


…and got me this adorable apron that is supposed to remind of our wonderful trip to visit them! It says, “Merry Christmas, Y’all!”

I love it. So thoughtful!


Next I opened the present from my parents. My Mom kept saying over the phone how it wasn’t that great, but I beg to differ.


She had Papa’s stories copied and made into a book. Papa is her dad and is such a huge influence in my life. Now I have a collection of short stories that he wrote about his childhood. Words can’t express how much this means to me.

I cried. What a perfect present. Thank you, Mom and Merrill!


After I got all teary-eyed, Hubby decided to give me something fun. I am only realizing now how applicable his wrapping paper was on this one.


Because he got me a few “Where’s Waldo?” books! We had these growing up and loved them. Hubby and I ran into an old, battered copy in a waiting room a few weeks back, and I kept going on and on about how hilarious they were to us as kids.


He must have picked up the right vibe from me, because he ordered a few of them to be under the tree for my Christmas morning. I’m so glad. I love these! It will be fun to search through them again…as a grown-up kid.


This past week, Hubby has been shouting out from other rooms things that he is finding in the books, too. So it looks like we’re both going to have lots of fun with them.


So this present comes with a little backstory…I love walking around with a cape blanket on in the chilly mornings. One particular Saturday, after making us some breakfast, I leaned a little too far over the still-hot stove.

Poor Bluey, as my old blanket was named at the time, got a little singed. And not in a good way. His entire corner melted and became crispy and hard. Not exactly successful cape blanket material.


I trimmed off the burnt ends, so to speak, but Bluey was never the same again. In fact, he even got renamed Crusty. And it was appropriate.


So you can imagine my relief when I opened a box to reveal a new, soft, un-singed cape blanket. We’ve named it Oscar, for obvious reasons.

Since I’m sure that it’s completely normal to name inanimate objects that we use. Everybody does it. I’m sure.


I would like to report that Oscar is comfy and cuddly. And, after an initial washing, he hardly sheds at all. In fact, he is around my shoulders this very moment as I type, keeping me all safe and warm.

And now I don’t need to feel guilty about putting Crusty in the guest room for our beloved visitors. They won’t even know, right?

Hubby is excited that my Mom might be the first to use Crusty in that location when she visits next month. Now you have something to anticipate, Mama! A Crusty!


I loved the candy cane wrapping paper that we used this year. I found it on clearance after last Christmas.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to wait almost an entire year to use something so dang cute?!


And, on the up side, at least we now know that I can be a hand model if this whole flying thing doesn’t work out for me.



I opened a box with a random connecting wire in it. Since I didn’t know what it was, I acted insanely happy about it. And he just so happened to snap the picture at that precious moment.

Just keeping it real in here, folks. Just keeping it real.


Hmmm. A wireless keyboard and mouse. A connecting cable. And now a giant box to open. I like where this is all going! Especially because he told me to hold this one very gently.

And then I got my hopes up.


Could it be? Is it really possible that my Hubby is so thoughtful and great at listening that he is solving a years-old dilemma for me this very Christmas morning?


And the answer to that is…yes. Of course he got me a giant monitor so that I can design things easier from home! He pretty much turned my laptop into a dream working station for when I am designing stuff. And my computer can still be a laptop to take on the road with me when leave for I work.


The best part is that I will no longer have to squint or zoom in 1000% to see what I’m working on. I am so ridiculously excited about this! I’m looking at it now and am still impressed!

It’s huge. And is the latest technology that allows me to see it from any angle. It’s really the most beautiful monitor that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few!


If he great or what? He is so supportive of all the little projects that I work on. I think he knows how happy it makes me to be designing stuff. And now I can do it on a gigantic, crystal-clear screen. Talk about gourmet!


One last present to open. He really did think of everything. And I knew that I wasn’t imagining sawdust in the garage last week!


He built from scratch this little wooden stand to cover my laptop to place the new monitor on top. He then stained it perfectly to match my desk. Isn’t he awesome?!

Is this my “Andre Bocelli” impersonation?


Being married to a computer geek has so many advantages…if he gives you wonderful technological gadgets for Christmas, he will then set them up for you! It’s a win-win for me, really.


Just look at all of those ports! I think this monitor is as fancy as he says it is! I believed him before, too…


First, he had to hook the new monitor into my laptop to get the screens to talk to each other. Even turned to the side, this guy is so much bigger than my laptop! Eeeeek!


Well, that’s a good sign. It works! Now we can place the wooden stand on top of the closed laptop, and then place this giant beauty on top.


Getting closer…


At least the views were nice while I patiently waited.


Well, shucks. It is just incredible.

And, considering that I never knew how much better things could be by having this guy, I think that I am one happy camper. Hubby was so thoughtful to give me such a perfect place to “work.” I am really hoping to break into the designing/blog-designing/card-making industries, and this monitor just proves to me that he is behind me 100%.

That means so much.

What a great Christmas. Talk about being spoiled rotten! What was your favorite present this year?

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