Friday, July 5, 2013

Celebrating the 4th

by Ann
Happy 5th of July!  I hope your celebrations for our nation’s independence were fun and safe, and that you’re not sporting nasty sunburns.
This year my niece Megan and her hubby, Aaron hosted a family get together.  My contribution was to be snacky-food. 
What did we do before Pinterest?  I typed in 4th of July appetizers and instantly many creative, delicious and attractive ideas staring at me from the computer screen.  I decided on a simple red white and blue fruit treat (today's topic) and firecracker shrimp, which I will write about in a subsequent post.
So here's what I used to have to do -- look through all these cookbooks until I was inspired...
Pictured below is the fruit treat I made, which was delicious and simple.  Cut the tops and bottoms off of strawberries the size of bite-sized disks.  Big strawberries provided two discs.  The tops made for great snacking! 

Pipe a dollop of a simple mixture of a seven ounce container of marshmallow whip and five ounces of cream cheese.  Yum!
Top each with a blueberry, and you're good to go.  Simple, attractive, and delicious.  Thanks, Pinterest!

What did we do before dollar stores?  Each holiday there are cute themed platters and decorations that no one feels guilty about tossing at the end of the party.  

Cute!  Perfect for Megan's party - The "crystal" bowls (4 for .99) will be used for dips.
The party was great fun.  The temperature was well over 100 degrees which made for perfect swimming and outdoor game playing.

Our local paper ran the blow picture of Arizona residents enjoying a picnic around 1900.
Even though the story was in reference to the 4th of July, there is no way this could have been summertime in Arizona!
We've come a long way.  I'm glad to live in the era of Pinterest and dollar stores.  Makes me wonder what the world will be like in another 100 years!  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

God Bless the USA

by Sheila

The Stars and Stripes

Tomorrow is Independence Day in America.  When I was a kid, that meant going on a camping trip with all of my cousins, finding a "swimming hole" and playing baseball in a grassy field somewhere in the beautiful Oregon wilderness.  Grandma always brought a box of sparklers for every kid and I looked forward to writing my name in the night sky with my sparkler.  There was always good picnic food and lots of it.  What great memories!

Check out the vehicles and the hair-do's!


Hard to beat swimming in melted snow

In more recent years, my parents have thrown a great party in their backyard that included some serious Olympic-style competitions, such as watermelon seed spitting, volleyball in the pool and horseshoes (I think Heather and Ann actually won Gold Medals at some of these events).  It is here that we heard several heartfelt speeches from guests who had recently earned their US citizenship, my mother-in-law included.  Those that have worked hard to successfully make a new life in this country do not take opportunity and freedom for granted. 

This is some serious competition!

Alec & Chelsey strut their stuff!

It is also a time to be thankful for those who have fought to defend our freedoms, and all of those who work to make this a better place to live.  I enjoy traveling to many different places, but there truly is no place like home.

The 4th of July is a day to celebrate all that is great about this country. We will do that in many ways across this great land tomorrow, but there will be some common threads.  There will be picnics and BBQ's, parades and parties.  The Stars and Stripes will be on display on flagpoles, yards and T-shirts.  There will most certainly be amazing displays of fireworks to cap off this day of celebration.  

My family will be cheering rodeo contestants in Prescott, Arizona, and we will be praying for the brave firefighters who lost their lives battling the flames near here this week.  Thank you again to all the men and women and their families who risk their lives to protect us and our country.

I hope you and yours have a special day planned to celebrate the home of the free and the brave!

Happy Birthday America, from Sea to Shining Sea!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Heavy Hearts in Arizona

by Heather

I'm writing this from the Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona, as I wait to see if I'll be picked for jury duty. As I tried to get to the parking garage for jurors earlier today, I encountered road closures around the courthouse and the parking structure which is next to the county medical examiner's offices.  Nineteen vans carrying the nineteen fallen firefighters who had given their lives yesterday fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire were being escorted to this location.
As I walked to the courthouse, I saw the somber faces of firefighters and other first responders awaiting the arrival of their fallen brethren.  Media vans with television cameras and newspaper columnists were capturing the moment with pictures and words while helicopters hovered overhead, monitoring the progress of the procession. As I made my way to the steps of the courthouse, I thought of the memories I have of Yarnell Hill.
The firetrucks' ladders formed an arch over the procession of vans. The upside-down American flag signals distress.*
Yarnell Hill is a well-known locale among Arizonan motorcyclists and it's one of our favorite rides out of the Valley of the Sun. We pass through the historic town of Wickenburg, often stopping there for breakfast, and then continue up and around the winding roads of Yarnell Hill, always stopping for coffee at the Yarnell Hill summit restaurant .
The winding road up Yarnell Hill
The Yarnell Hill Restaurant, where we stop for coffee, is still standing.
From Yarnell Hill, it's a  challenging ride through heavily forested, mountainous switchback lanes into the frontier town of Prescott.  Prescott is a small picturesque hamlet with turn-of-the-century saloons and shops along the famed Whiskey Row which fronts the old-fashioned town square.The nineteen hotshot firefighters who lost their lives were all from the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew of Prescott, Arizona. Only one from the crew of twenty survived the devastation by being in another location at the time of the tragedy. 
As of Monday night, the fire is 0% contained with unpredictable winds adding to the difficulty of fighting this fire.
An estimated 200 homes in Yarnell have been destroyed.
The road up Yarnell Hill will never be the same.
In memory of the nineteen...

We join the small community of Prescott in grieving the loss of these brave first responders -- young men who were sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, friends, and colleagues.

Title 36, U.S.C., Chapter 10
As amended by P.L. 344, 94th Congress
Approved July 7, 1976

§ 176. Respect for flag: No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Liberty Bell - July 4th Fashion, Friendship, and Fun

by Heather

When I retired about a month ago now, I knew my life would change, but I wasn't sure in what way. My plan was to spend some time ruminating on the direction my life would take when it wasn't being scripted by outside forces (i.e., a job). I'm a believer in fate -- good or bad -- and I believe fate had a hand in what was coming next.
Chico's denim jacket (old), TeamDiva hat, WHBM earrings
I was exploring getting a pet to keep me company now that I'm home more than I'm gone. We've had cats up until the last couple of years and have always considered ourselves cat people. I love the independence of a cat and never worried about working long hours when they were home alone. Hubby is allergic to them, however, and we decided when the last one died from old age, that we would not longer have cats as pets. I tried pet rats and honestly, they were much smarter, more personable, and cleaner than I would have guessed but their life span is short, so for the last year, we've had no animals in our house. In the back of my mind, I've thought about getting a dog. I've always loved the Wheaten breed and they're considered hypo allergenic. I did some Internet research on getting one (either through rescue or breeder), but it seemed way too complicated and lengthy a process.

Anyway...when a thought is put out into the universe, fate has a way of making things happen.

Enter my sister-in-law, Marianne, a devoted dog lover. She's always had dogs and currently has a Bernese Mountain dog and a Jack Russell terrier. The Jack Russell was enrolled in agility training and the training was being handled by some of the people who run the local Giant Schnauzer Rescue Group. When the Giant Schnauzer Rescue Group was given a neglected Wheaten a couple of weeks ago, one of their people sent out an email blast to see if there was any interest before turning the dog over to the Wheaten Rescue group. Marianne forwarded the email to me and the rest is history. After filling out the application and a home visit from a GSRG representative, we were the lucky recipients of the most beautiful, sweetest, 18 month old female Wheaten I've ever met. Her name was Bella but we've changed it to Liberty Bell (Libby for short), a name that my brother Scott (M's husband) came up with. How perfect a name for a little dog who was liberated from a neglectful home the week before our country's Independence Day!
The new love of our lives: Liberty Bell
Since her arrival, our lives have changed. My day starts before five (must get Libby out for a walk before the sidewalks heat up -- we're enduring a heat wave of 117-119 degrees F here) and includes playing games of fetch and tug-of-war with her two favorite toys (a long faux fur rabbit squeaky toy and knotted rope toy), combing and brushing her long hair, and getting her signed up for baths and grooming sessions, training classes (more for us than her, I think), and play dates with children or other dogs. I've put my trip to Oregon on hold (it's too hard to leave Libby when she's been here such a short time) and haven't spent any time doing any of the organizing projects that are on my to-do list.  Hubby gets greeted by a very enthusiastic, tail-wagging, face-kissing female dog (you know the word I wanted to use here, but didn't) every time he comes home from work -- not that I wasn't enthusiastic about greeting him, too, but with Libby, it's pure untethered, unbounded, unconditional love.

The perfect jacket for patriotic events
Swarovski crystals make up the United States flag
Free People flag tank; navy Target cami  (have to admit I've worn the tank without a cami underneath, but didn't want that image captured for eternity on the Internet!
Target wedges; Michael Kors purse; WHBM bracelet; Chico's bracelet
Hard to catch her standing still...
A few minutes of rest and then off to see the granddaughter
Of course, even Liberty Bell is accessorized for the  July 4th holiday!
Wishing you a wonderful week and a glorious 4th of July!