Thursday, December 31, 2015

Here's to a New Year!

Here is a toast to 2016!  I'm hoping the new year will bring health and happiness to all my readers.  I'm toasting today with an Arizona wine at my favorite place for walking, The Desert Botanical Garden.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Citrus Season

One house near by me had the trees in the yard decorated with colorful bulbs.  But, those same trees had their own natural bulbs.  Big, juicy oranges!

They were fully loaded with the delicious fruit.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas and Sports

Last Wednesday night I went to the Phoenix Suns game with my friend Janet and since it was two days before Christmas, there was definitely a Christmas theme going on.  The dancers had their Santa suits on.

And, there were some high-flying Santa's showing off their skill at the game of basketball.

I also notice that Santa Claus himself was taking a break from all his preparations to enjoy the game with some court-side seats.  He must have had those elves packing up the sleigh all by themselves.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Christmas Dinner Food

As I promised yesterday, here is the line-up of our fabulous group Christmas Dinner.  We started with a chilled mango-ginger soup made by Julie.  Delicious!

Then we had a spinach salad with a rainbow of cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and baby cucumbers.  Julie made this one too.

The main course was beef wellington (purchased and cooked at Julie's house) with my friend David's best ever mashed potatoes.  (I helped with those potatoes so I could learn the technique. I might have to purchase a potato ricer sometime soon.)  The roasted Brussels sprouts and glazed carrots were made by Rita and Tim.  Put all together and that was one very delicious dinner!

We had three desserts and somehow I only got a photo of one, the chocolate mint brownies with a little dessert wine.  We also had a wonderful pumpkin pie made by Rita and fabulous bananas Foster topped with ice cream.  David made the bananas Foster which was down-right decadent.

We had perfect wine pairings with every course and the whole dinner started with a magnum of champagne that Jim brought from is wine cellar.   Thanks again to everyone for the fantastic food and perfect company.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Dinner with Great Friends

I enjoyed a fantastic Christmas dinner with great friends at Julie and Dave's house.  Around the table starting to the left of my empty chair is Jim, Glenda, Julie, Tim, Marsha, Dave, Rita and David.  Tomorrow I'll tell you more about the food we prepared.  I'm glad Julie has such a huge kitchen so all of us cooks could work our magic without bumping into each other.  Its a perfect place for these kind of group dinners.  We had a wonderful time!  Thanks Julie and Dave for hosting and thanks to all for providing such great food.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  Have you heard of Sleepy Hollow?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Good China

I cooked a holiday dinner last week so I got out the good china with the holiday accent plates.  I have to use them at least once a year.  They sure make a pretty table setting.

Friday, December 25, 2015

To heck with the sleigh and eight tiny reindeer....

Imagine my surprise when I spotted this guy waiting to make a left turn while I was doing the same in the opposite direction.  Obviously, Santa has discovered that a tricked out Harley-Davidson will get him places faster than that traditional sleigh and reindeer.  I hope he roared over to your place and left some gifts and treats.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Jolly Old Cactus

I found this rather jolly cactus out in north Scottsdale.

It's got lights and it's got Santa and Elf hats.  That cactus is ready for the festivities to begin.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Photos with Santa

I did some shopping and had lunch with my good friend Glenda on Monday way out in north Scottsdale.  We found Santa all set up for photo taking and there was a large line of mothers with kids all ready to get that Santa shot.  But, among the crowd were a few adults with their four-legged kids getting in on the fun too!  "Say Cheese" or maybe it's "Say Treat".

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

All I Want for Christmas is.....

Just kidding!!
However this Ferrari is pretty darn snazzy looking if you ask me.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday Wreaths

Berridge Nursery is just down the street from where I live and I find myself wandering around there every now and then sometimes just to take photos.  This time of year I like to look around their shop which has been totally re-stocked as a Christmas wonderland.  If you happen to be in the market for any kind of Christmas decor, I'll bet you can find it here.  I spotted a few Holiday wreaths that caught my eye.

These first two are made from leaves and a very simple design.

This one is more traditional with a large bow and lots of holly.  

I didn't buy any of them.  I just stuck with the one I've had for several years now.  It's all holly and it's been decorating my front door for about 8 years.  In fact, I featured a photo of this same wreath on the door of my old house back in 2008.  

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Country Roads??

I was out running errands last week and the traffic was so heavy that I decided to take a little detour through a neighborhood that I don't visit very often.  That's where I found this gorgeous golden tree and that big, very rural looking mailbox.  The funny thing is, this is right in the middle of busy Phoenix.  This neighborhood is really a peaceful little oasis in the midst of the busy city.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I have some high-end holiday shopping on view.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Nutcracker Guards

I love the two Nutcrackers guarding the front door of this house.

And, those candy canes are lining the entire walk and driveway.

Very Festive!

Friday, December 18, 2015


Cityscape is an office/hotel/restaurant/retail complex in the heart of downtown Phoenix.  It's where I met Janet for lunch on Wednesday.  She works in the office tower there and we had lunch at the restaurant at the hotel.  Just outside the door of the hotel were these giant Christmas ornaments decorating the plaza.  Cityscape is divided into two sections across the street from each other and the ice skating rink I featured yesterday fills the street in between the two sections.  I believe it will remain there closing the street until the end of January.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ice Skating in Phoenix

I met my friend Janet for lunch in downtown Phoenix yesterday and I checked out the ice skating rink that is up over the holidays every year.  It was a cold day in Phoenix yesterday so there weren't many people out there skating.  (I know that skating and cold should go together but, this is Phoenix after all.)  There were only six skaters on the rink so I decided to zoom in on the skates instead. The young lady wearing these skates was taking a break for a while.

This young man was brave enough to try skating in his shorts.  He is a brave soul. His friend was dressed a little more warmly.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Holiday Parties

Have you been going to a lot of holiday parties lately?  It certainly is that time of year when friends, families and colleagues get together to celebrate the season.  I snapped this photo at one such party at a good friend's house.  Good friends, good wine and good food add up to a fun time and a sparkling Christmas tree in the background makes it just about perfect.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Holiday Window Display

When I was at Scottsdale Fashion Square last week, I found this interesting window display in the Bottega Veneta store.

It was a whole row of these glass Santa busts each one holding up one of the leather items that this store is known for.  I like these glass Santas but, I think they would look better holding an assortment of chocolates or maybe a piece of pie.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mark Twain

I find the best sculptures in old town Scottsdale along Main Street where there is one gallery after another.  In fact, this particular spot seems to be the best place to see a new sculpture every few weeks.  This time it was this great bronze of Mark Twain.

You might remember two other sculptures that I've featured here that were located in this same spot.  This one I posted back in 2013 and this one I posted in May of this year.

I did not see a sign for the artist on this one but, whoever it is has quite a talent.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Fall Colors in the Winter

I was running some errands on Friday when I passed this yard with all the trees turning a golden color so I knew I needed to turn around and get a photo.  The trees turn colors much later here in the desert southwest so at a time when most of you are looking at bare trees, we are just starting to see some gorgeous color.

Yesterday I took the road through the Biltmore Estates to get home and I had to do a quick U-turn to go back and get some photos of these beauties that are turning a brilliant red.  They were all clustered together in a little median strip in the center of the road.

I don't get to see too many that turn this color here in the desert so I had to stop and walk around under their crimson branches.

I took this shot facing east so you could see the stormy looking skies we've been experiencing the past few days.  It's been quite a change from the sunshine we had earlier this week.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  A glimpse of fall colors on the other side of the country is on hand.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

End of an Era

Wednesday was the last day of business for my all time favorite movie theatre, Harkins Camelview in Scottsdale.  This was the area's "art house" theatre showing independent, small and foreign films.  I did a post about Harkins Theatres back in 2008 telling the history of the locally owned chain.  You can see it here.  What I didn't know at that time was that this theatre got its start as an "art house" because the big movie companies owned most of the theaters in the country and they wouldn't release their films to Harkins so he started showing films produced independently and foreign films.  People loved the choice and his business prospered.  Can you see that mid-century modern look of the place in the photo above?  Those parasol-like structures were pretty and functional providing shade for people waiting outside.

I stood in line in front of this box office many times buying tickets for some exciting and interesting movie.  I'll miss it.

This message of thanks on the marquee says this place has been here for 42 years.  It's sad to think it will soon be gone making way for something else.  (I haven't heard what yet but, the property belongs to the mall so I'm sure it will be something commercial.)  Harkins is moving this theater to a new spot inside the mall and it will open next week.  It will be much bigger but, they say it will still show independent films mixed in with the bigger films.  It will be interesting to see how that mix will change the dynamic of the crowds buying tickets.
I'll have to get some photos of the new place to show you after it opens.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Visual Stimulation

If you are in the market for some serious visual stimulation that isn't on a handheld device, take a stroll through a Z Galleria store near you.  They are located all over the US but, sorry I didn't see any in other countries when I visited their site.  I spent some time in their Scottsdale store yesterday and was quite dazzled by all there was to see.  This over-the-top place setting was quite an eye catcher.  Can you imagine sitting down at a dinner table set like this?  You would just know that a special meal was headed your way.

Behind the table with those place settings was this wall of goodies.  Ceramic deer head anyone?

I think my favorite thing was this big pile of cuddly bears on the foot of a bed.  I just wanted to pick one (or two or three) up and give it a hug.  Sometimes shopping can be so much fun and you don't even have to buy anything.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


On Tuesday I had lunch at the Patio Cafe at the Desert Botanical Garden where this little cactus wren was extremely interested in what I had to eat.  I think that so many people feed the birds and squirrels in this area that they get pretty brave around people.  This one perched on the chair across the table from me and every now and then jumped right on the table and inched it's way closer.  When I shooed it away, it just went right back to the chair where it could watch.  It was a very persistent beggar but it's persistence didn't pay off in this case.  I didn't leave anything for it.  People food is not good for wild critters.  (If any of the medical research studies that come out are at all accurate, it's probably not good for us either.  ;-) ) 

I found this centerpiece arrangement in my favorite little garden area and thought it was quite festive in a subtle sort of way.

I also saw lots of bees taking advantage of the lavender blooming in the herb garden.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Patio Dining

On Monday I had lunch with a good friend at the Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley.  It was a beautiful day, perfect for dining on the patio and I must say it felt good to have lunch in such gorgeous surroundings.  I've posted photos from the Montelucia before.  You can see one of them here.

On the way out, I had to snap a photo or two of the beautiful Mediterranean architecture.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Saturday before last (Nov 28th) I went with David and some other friends to try out a brand new tapas restaurant.  While we were there, a couple came in with a young girl who was completely wired up with Christmas lights from head to toe.  She even had on mittens with the finger-tips lit up.  We never did hear why the young lady was all "lit" up.  The trio didn't stay for very long.  It will remain one of life's little mysteries.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Photo Session in the Park

It seems like every time I take a walk at the Scottsdale Civic Park, I see a photo session going on and a week ago when I was walking there was no exception.   What looks like a huge wedding party was out posing for the camera.

Another beautiful young lady dressed in her finest and surrounded by friends and family.  I never get tired of seeing these scenes.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Missing Tree

Every year I bring you a photo of the poinsettia tree at the Biltmore Fashion Park Shopping Center so imagine my surprise when I went the other day and found a traditional tree in it's place.

It is a very nice tree but it just seems out of place after seeing that red one year after year.

I later learned that they did have a poinsettia tree after all, they just moved it to a different location.

Hopefully everyone who loves seeing it this time of year will find it in it's new place of honor.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm visiting a charming city in South America.