Friday, March 1, 2013

The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show

by Heather
One of the events I most look forward to in February is the annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. People from all over the world fly themselves and their horses in to compete in various categories during the ten days of the show. Competitors range from little tots to adults in my age range (really, really old) and it's a riot to see them in their show gear -- everything from western wear bling to tailored English habits to exotic foreign Arabian costumes. The shopping, of course, is world-class with vendors displaying furs, leathers, jewels and home furnishings.
These pets provided lots of fun growing up and the bucolic pastures were a wonderful place to ride.
We grew up with horses; the neighbor across the street had a pony that was shared amongst us and then my family bought three horses that were stabled nearby. Even though I was never the avid horsewoman my sister became, I always enjoyed being around them. We never had formal riding lessons but my sister and mother were good enough to belong to a parade unit. Tom and I (dating in our teen years) went along for the ride and cheered as they rode by in the numerous small town parades that make up a Minnesota summer. We feel right at home when we visit WestWorld to view the equestrian events at the Arabian Horse Show.

Indoor event -- judging time
Getting ready to compete...
Exiting from the show...

Each major horse farm has a stable in which the horses and their owners stay for the duration of the show. This one had a beautifully carved bar with horses' rear ends as bar stools (there's probably a joke in there somewhere).
Tom and I posing in front of one of the many stables. Note the near-perfect-for-a-horse-show Anthropologie top that I''m wearing: navy and white stripes with bright coral horses.
Accessories: gold, coral bangles from Nordstrom's; watch, purse, ring from Michael Kors; navy and gold wrap bracelet from Rue La La 

No major event at WestWorld would be complete without a little shopping!
Model Metalworks is owned by this gentleman, Eric Young and his wife, Erika, who operate it out of Mexico. The products are wonderful and so is the story behind them. Check it out at:
We loved his line so much that we bought this beautiful bowl and filled it with lemons and grapefruits from a friend's trees.
That's my sister-in-law, Marianne, working for a vendor who sells fine Italian leathers.
My favorite jacket is the middle black and tan one below. 

Okay, enough of this equine stuff. Get your steel horse ready to ride. The next big event at WestWorld (at least for us) is AZ Bike Week. Two of my favorite bands will be playing, Steppenwolf and the Doobie Brothers, along with many others. Join us April 5-14 in Scottsdale, AZ, for some of the best motorcycle riding and partying in the country!


Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Veggie Garden

February 28, 2013
The entrance to my side kitchen garden

By Sheila

I come from a family that loves to garden.  I think it’s really an extension of loving the outdoors and loving to eat.  My Grandma Lola had a garden that I think would feed a small country.  Two of my aunts are Master Gardeners, and so am I.  This is a program sponsored in each state by your land grant college.  It is specific to your area, and provides all kinds of research-based information regarding successful cultivation for where you live.  In my part of Arizona, the only “down-time” for a gardener is really July-September.  This is a mindset that takes some getting used to for all the transplants that put down roots here.
The mesclun mix is our favorite; a seed packet variety of tender greens. Note the drip system; a must in the desert!

My vegetable garden is a fairly small space.  It’s right outside the kitchen door, making it very handy for harvesting.  I planted my winter garden in November, and have been enjoying the freshest lettuce varieties since the middle of December. We have Romaine, Red and Green Leaf, Arugula, and a Mesclun mix of loose-leaf lettuces that provide us a wide variety of salad greens all winter.  In addition I have radishes, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, carrots, peas, green onions and bush beans.  A variety of fresh vegetables providing food and fun for us for months.

Newly planted; a few transplants, lots of seeds, and of course a flower border!
While I am the gardener at our house, my husband likes to harvest the goods, and he is very enthusiastic and appreciative of the bounty.  He has a great partner-in-crime in our almost four year old granddaughter Camryn.  She loves to pick everything, but especially the pretty red radishes.  Her Papa has taught her to look for the red tops breaking through the soil and how to gently pull them out.  Not that she will eat them!  She will feed anything to her little sister Paige, though.  And Paige can make a carrot from the garden last for hours gnawing on it.  We are going to plant strawberries soon, and I hope she’ll like to eat those.  I confess to outright garden bribery when my nephews were little.  My brother was instructed to always call before he came over so that I had time to get to the store to buy strawberries to “plant” among the strawberry plants.  Those boys thought I was the best gardener around and loved to look for new strawberries to eat when they came over.  And so easy to pick!

Last year's spring garden; can't wait to plant the tomatoes!
I didn’t have the time, patience or inclination to garden when I was younger, but I get a great deal of enjoyment out of it now.  I like the tranquility and beauty of a garden.  I like the magic that happens with a handful of seeds thrown in the soil.  Especially the giant hollyhocks and the nasturtiums that I planted from seed once and they continue to produce more plants, year after year.  I like the renewal that starts this time of year, when plants that you thought might be dead from frost, start to show a little bit of green.  And like my friend Bob, I find it very satisfying to prune stragglers back into a better form.  Mostly, I find it very relaxing to wander through the garden with my basket and my clippers, pulling weeds, picking produce and watching the hummingbirds and the butterflies share my little corner of the world.
Camryn requested that we install this scarecrow, "'cuz she's not too scary, Nana"!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Favorite Money Books

By Sheila
You can see how well-worn my original copy on the right is!

People sometimes ask me what my favorite books are.  I know generally they are talking about the greatest novel ever written, but my mind always jumps to my favorite books on money.  I re-read these books every so often, and each time I gain some new insight or grasp a new way of thinking about money that I am now prepared to do something about.  All information about money does not apply to all of the people all of the time.  It depends on where you are in your financial journey through life.  Something that you may have discounted as too complicated or not applicable at one point, may be just what you need now.

One of my all-time favorite books on this subject is Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.  It was first published in 1992, but a revised edition was printed in 2008, with more updated advice for this millennium.  It provides a perspective about money that helps the reader decide what the real value of work is, and what items are worth trading that “life energy “for.  In addition, the authors lay out a concrete plan for determining “how much is enough” for each individual, and how to reach the point of financial independence, based on what is important to you.  While many financial experts do not agree with the investment advice in this book, the concepts are profound and worth thinking about.  If you like this book, check out Getting A Life by Jacqueline Blix and David Heitmiller.  Theirs is the story of these principles put into action. 

I also like The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. This book debunks the myth that people that spend a great deal of money on expensive status symbols are obviously millionaires.  In fact, not keeping up with the Jones’ is a key contributor to many people becoming millionaires, according to the extensive research explained in this book.  Not that this should come as a surprise to any of us, but some of the habits of the typcial millionaire might surprise you.  A very interesting book that opened my eyes regarding wealth and status.  The implication here is that according to Forbes magazine "nearly anybody with a steady job can amass a tidy fortune".  There is something very powerful to be said for keeping your expenses reined in.

And for investment advice, I like Charles Schwab’s New Guide to Financial Independence.  It’s easy enough for an amateur like me to digest, yet a thorough explanation of investment options and advice to consider in order to have our money working  for us, instead of working for a paycheck all of our lives.  I like the section that suggests some specific ways to estimate how much money you will need to retire, and how much you will need to save to achieve that goal.  Very practical and easy to grasp.

I have purchased Your Money or Your Life several times and given it as gifts.  I think I even remember dropping it in the bathtub a few times, as you can see from the state it is in.  It has been well-read.   Of course, I bought the last two books at the Goodwill.  $1.50 vs. $25.00?  I love that!  It gives me an extra big thrill to buy a book about being wise with your money at a thrift store!

What are your favorite books about money?  Have you read these?  What are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear from you!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tinga de Pollo (Spicy Chicken!)

by Ann

We have a busy, exciting week in store -- this is "wedding week" for our dear niece Megan, and her fiance, Aaron.  Amanda and Eric, the first out-of-towners arrived on Friday from Germany where Eric is a pilot for the Air Force.  Wanting to be able to spend some time catching up with this niece and her hubby before the wedding related festivities get going, I planned an informal family dinner so we'd have a chance to see what they've been up to without having to compete for their time.

What to make for dinner?  I wanted to do something simple and and southwestern, so decided on "Tinga de Pollo," a recipe that was shared with me by a Culinary Arts teacher whose Hispanic students introduced it to her.  Be forewarned! It is very spicy! The flavor-packed chicken can be made into a burrito, tostado, taco, or served on top of a bed of lettuce.  Spanish rice, black beans, salad, guacamole, chips, and a multitude of garnishes were also served.

The ingredients for Tinga de Pollo are few -- basically just chicken, onion, tomato, and a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I was very reluctant to add as much onion as called for, but once cooked it does not seem too "onion-y" at all.  The recipe calls for 3-5 onions.  I used three and a half, one at the beginning of the cooking process, and the remaining sauteed with a bit of garlic prior to adding the chicken and sauce.

The small can of peppers packs  A LOT of punch!!

Yes, this seems like w-a-y too many onions, but it all works in the end!  Cook  them until they are soft prior to adding the chicken.
I knew that the dish was very spicy, and wasn't sure that my guests would all be brave enough to eat it that way, so I kept some of it out plain.  Because of that I was reluctant to add all of the sauce at once, so I added the sauce to the chicken gradually.

Once we were ready to eat, everyone grabbed a plate and tortillas, got chicken, rice and beans, and moved  on to get the toppings (see below) 

Tinga de Pollo

6 chicken breasts, skin removed if not skinless
2-4 chicken bouillon cubes, or the equivalent
3-5 onions
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T oil
6 medium fresh tomatoes, or the canned equivalent
1 7 ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2-3 c water

  1. Cook the chicken breasts in a crock pot or in enough water to keep moist with the bouillon cubes for a bit of extra flavor and 1 onion, roughly chopped until thoroughly cooked.
  2. Cool chicken and shred meat with two forks.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet and cook remaining onions and minced garlic.  (I used 2 and a half more large onions – it seemed like A LOT of onion, but it worked out great.)
  4. Place tomatoes and entire can of peppers in sauce in blender, processing until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the chicken and tomato to the onions in the pan, and cook until the sauce is evenly distributed.  Add broth from when the chicken was cooked if needed, but the chicken should be somewhat dry once the sauce is added.  If there is extra moisture, cook until it is absorbed.

With tortillas, chips, tostado shells, or on salads with sour cream and avocado slices.

Yield:  LOTS!  It's amazing how much five shredded chicken breasts and a pan of onions can feed -- if you serve it with what I did, this could easily have been dinner for ten or more people.

I will also include my recipe for Spanish rice.  I came up with this back in my teaching days when my students needed to make large quantities of rice for events.  It is simple and good, I don't even like rice very much!

Spanish Rice

2 c chicken broth
1 t garlic salt
½ c salsa
¼ t cumin
½ t chili powder
¼ t ground oregano
2 T dehydrated onions

1 c converted rice

1.      Bring first 7 ingredients to a boil. 
2.      Add rice, and bring back to boil.
3.      Cover tightly, and simmer 20 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed.

The guests of honor with my mom, Amanda's grandma.
P.S. - I tried to find a translation for "Tinga" on the Internet with no luck -- but there are lots of similar versions of this recipe available online.  It's popular for good reason.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Camo and Lace

by Heather

I've been seeing a lot of camouflage fashion in magazines and blogs, but camo and lace together? The juxtaposition of lace and camouflage...the dichotomy of the feminine lace and the military-inspired camo -- just couldn't resist it when I saw this infinity scarf online at Nordstrom's juniors' accessories. 
Nordstrom infinity scarf; Loft jacket (old); Chicos tank
White House Black Market jeans, and sunlight playing games on my jacket
I am in LOVE with my new black, gold, and bling Michael Kors watch! Three bangles from Nordstrom
 Aldo boots and a Rebecca Minkoff purse

I love wearing scarves so I've been trying to increase my repertoire of scarf ties by watching videos and looking at pictures. Below is one of my new favorite ties, using an Ann Taylor scarf.
The navy and orange scarf below from Banana Republic gets wrapped easily around the neck and the ends drape over the front.
This is not a hard one to do (below); it's just hard to see what I've done. Moral of the story is use a different scarf to demonstrate this tie and put it against another color! I included it just because I love the color orange and the white birds flying all over the Norstrom's scarf.
Another Banana Republic scarf (yes, it's the same pattern as the orange and navy one but I so liked the colors that I had to get this one, too) in one of my favorite ties.

If you're scarf-challenged like me, try watching the short video from blogger Wendy Nguyen (Wendy's She's one of the most beautiful and fashionable bloggers out there with a truly inspirational story (read more about that at her blog). 

25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 minutes at:

Another short video "16 Ways to Tie 4 Scarves" can be found at:

There's a great blog with pictures and videos on how to tie scarves at:

My plan is to try a new way each time I wear a scarf and maybe with a bit of practice, I'll have several more in my skills set.  With the weather the way it's been across the country, I think we'll have at least several more weeks of scarf-wearing weather.