Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Backyard Visitor

Monday, March 30, 2009

Stuff 'n Save Your Money

Since we eat Mexican food no fewer than three times a week, I'm always looking to try something new. So I bought these Old El Paso Stand 'n Stuff taco shells.
The concept behind these flat-bottomed shells is that you can set your taco down upright and the filling won't roll out. It's a good idea, in theory. These shells do exactly what they're supposed to. But the design was just poorly executed.
I'm not a physics expert so I'm not going to pretend to give a scientific explanation. But something about the not-so-gradual folds in the taco shell make for a weaker product. When Q bit into his first taco, the shell cracked on the creases and the whole thing fell apart on his plate. He had to eat the rest of his taco mess with a fork.
I had slightly better luck. It was cumbersome, but I managed to hold the shell together long enough to eat the entire taco. My spillage was limited to some meat and a slice of avocado. But I did have a problem with the fact that the above-average width of the shells made them difficult to bite into without the ability to unhinge my jaw.
One positive attribute is that since the Stand 'n Stuff shells are wider, they hold more taco filling than traditional round bottomed variety. But in my opinion, that alone is not worth the price of admission. Next time I'll go back to the smaller, rounder shells. And if more food is desired, we'll simply help ourselves to a second, third, or fourth helping.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Renaissance Festival

Yesterday, we went to the Renaissance Festival out in Apache Junction. Below are a few pics from the day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Goodwill Rescue

Today's Goodwill trip yielded the following score:

Eight Fiesta napkin rings--four Rose and four Seamist. These look like they have never been used. Lucas commented that "they don't even smell ghetto!"

I got them for a grand total of $3.99. And it wasn't even half-price day.

Thursday 13: Right Now

1. Right now, it's 4:01 AM and I can't sleep.
2. The only good thing on TV is VH1 Classic. The video for "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" by Aretha Franklin and Annie Lenox is currently playing. I haven't heard that song in YEARS.

3. After I'm done here, I'm off to iTunes. While I'm there, I'll download Adam Carolla's latest podcast, which, BTW is the #1 downloaded podcast on iTunes. It's beating anything NPR is putting out there! If you need a good laugh, give the Ace Man a listen. (WARNING: Subject matter is graphic and unsavory language is used often.)
4. NPR = Not Particularly Relevant.

5. Right now, I'm having to share the ottoman with Jango. She's being quiet, for once.

6. There's a bunch of Scarlet birthday Fiesta that needs to be detagged and washed. (Thank you, Mom).

7. It's 57 degrees in Peoria, AZ. The weather widget in the sidebar is wrong. It's NOT 79 degrees outside. It's not even that warm inside.

8. Right now, my hair feels parched and crispy. I place all blame squarely on that tea tree and eucalyptus conditioner I bought at Trader Joe's last week. Because the dry air in Arizona has nothin' to do with it. :-)~

9. I wonder if the recycling barrel got taken out to the curb.

10. Right now, there's a basket of white laundry that needs to be folded. Sorting socks SUCKS!

11. I'm thinking about what errands I need to do later today. I need flower pots that fit the wire plant stands I bought a few months ago. Kyle asked me to pick some duck tape. Maybe I'll see if the Happy Valley Goodwill has more unwanted Fiesta sitting on its shelves. I'd also like to see if the new issue of Modernism magazine is in stock at Barnes & Noble. Then I'll scrounge through the clearance racks at Old Navy.

12. "Tonight She Comes" by the Cars just started. This is the very first time EVER I'm seeing this video...even if it is over 20 years old. Cable TV availability was very sporadic when I was a kid.

13. Right now, I'm going to pick out what color to make the font for this post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shamrock! Shamrock!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Everyone!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Green Day!

Look what arrived just in time for St. Patrick's Day:

The hole in my Ironstone/Amberstone sugar bowl collection has been filled.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Flip That Cap?

About a month ago, one of the hubcaps fell off our car. A missing cap made the car look so ghetto that I felt self-concious driving it. Q, on the other hand, only has two requirements of a car: it has to get him to work and have AM radio. Even so, my husband still considers the latter item a luxury on par with Corinthian leather seats and a heated steering wheel. So driving the ghetto car didn't bother him.

Meanwhile, I turned to the Internet in search of a replacement hubcap for our 2001 Dodge Stratus. I was looking to get something cheap, and prices on eBay were going for higher than I was willing to pay. Remember, we are talking about an 8-year old car here.

Eventually, I got very impatient and bought a used, blemished hubcap with a $20 buy-it-now price. It arrived three days ago. We put it on the car. End of story.

Not really.

Today, we set out for biweekly trip to Goodwill's half-price Saturday. It was here where I found not one, but THREE 15-inch Dodge hubcaps just like the ones on our car! My heart sank.

I called Q over and showed him my discovery. He tends to keep his emotions very much in check, but I'll never forget his reaction. He clenched his teeth and muttered "oh my god".

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. I had just shelled out $30 (with shipping) for a used cap with scratches and here we happen upon three more that appear to be in better shape.

The price was better, too. WAY better. Even though we no longer needed them, Q decided to buy the hubcaps anyway. At $2 apiece, he couldn't afford not to.

I'm not sure what we'll do with these extra hubcaps. We will definitely swap out the $30 eBay cap for one of the prettier Goodwill ones. We might also keep one for a spare. The rest will probably be flipped on eBay.

Also at Goodwill, I found two more pieces of Fiesta: a Cobalt salad plate and a Cinnabar luncheon plate. I didn't want 'em and I didn't need 'em. But at 34 cents each, they needed to be rescued

Friday, March 13, 2009

Big Score

Today, Q and I spent a nice, leisurely day lunching and dishing in downtown Glendale (if you're in this area, La Piazza al Forno on 58th and Glendale Ave. is a must stop for pizza).

After seeing lots of damaged and overpriced ware ($65 for a Plum disk pitcher that I can buy in Dillard's for $28), I was giving up hope. Still, I wanted to hit one more shop before going home. It was there where I glanced down onto a low shelf and found this beauty--a vintage Fiesta comport in cobalt blue:

It is damaged. In addition to the chip, there is a long hairline crack through the center of the bowl. But for $25, I didn't care. These things commonly sell on eBay for $200+. This is a piece I never thought I'd own in any condition for any price. I certainly didn't think I'd find one in the wild.

It was also a little dusty and filmy. Nothing that a little soapy bath couldn't fix. But as I started sponging down the bowl, this strange yellow resinous film started flaking off:

I managed to remove all the film. It was only on the outside of the bowl, not inside. I'm assuming this was the former owner's strange attempt at a repair. I just hope I didn't do additional damage.

Additionally, I should point out that this bowl cost less than our lunch.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Finished Product

Click on the photos to enlarge:

Yes, I know I have a lot of learning to do. In fact, I'm already finding stuff I could have done differently.

Work in Progress

Below is my current project for my presentations class. Here, we had to redraw a picture from a magazine...including color gradations and value changes. So far, I only have the marker work done. I have been assured that the drawing will really take shape when the colored pencil work is done and texture is added. We shall see...

Click on the photo to view larger.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Friday, March 06, 2009

Volunteer At Large

That's me. Or you can just call me VAL. Oh, but most of you already do that. Bad joke, I know. But it was a use-it-or-lose-it kind of thing.

I spent the evening selling snacks at the Mardi Gras dance at the boys' school. Most of my time was spent at the popcorn machine because other than the PTSA officers, I'm the only one who knows how to use it without burning myself (NOT an easy task). Even with repeated showers, I will most likely be smelling like salty butter all weekend.

According to the PTSA president, finding volunteers for these events is quite difficult. Funny, because I find that I actually LIKE schlepping junk food at school functions. For starters, helping out is a great way to meet people and it's good for the community. It gives me something to do other than numbing my a$$ on a Formica cafeteria bench.

And that's what a lot of the parents were doing. Since this was a family event, students were not admitted without a parent or other responsible adult. Apparently, most were under the assumption that they could just dump off their kids and go have a quiet dinner at the Chinese place down the street. Nope...it doesn't work that way. We're not running a babysitting service here, people!

So there we had it: a vast sea of kids (90% girls) out on the dance floor partying down to the likes of No Doubt, Beyonce, and whoever sings "The Electric Slide". Meanwhile, their pi$$ed-off parents sat bored at the purple plastic-covered tables and counted the seconds until 9:00.

So, dear readers, when and if you do have kids, make yourself useful and help out at their school. The PTA officers of the world will thank you. You'll be making their lives easier, and you'll be showing your children that sometimes it's important to pitch in and do work without the expectation of monetary payment.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thursday 13: Weekend Plans UPDATED

1. Research and write a paper for Geology class. The topic is earthquakes.

2. Sell snacks at the Family Dance at the boys' school. DONE

3. Clean out my dresser...remove all baggy jeans, winter pajamas, ratty underwear, and other clothes that no longer fit and I no longer wear.

4. Go to the outlet mall and check out the new Banana Republic Factory Store. Maybe spend the gift card/coupon that BR sent me for my birthday. Any purchases can help fill the void left by item #3. DONE

5. Diamondbacks vs. Mariners Spring Training game on Sunday. I parked illegally and risked being cited or towed to buy the tickets for that game. TIIC really need to provide adequate short term parking for those of us who are there spend money at their box office!

6. Scrape the wallpaper fishies off the boys' bathroom walls (Maybe...this a big, low priority project).

7. Reorganize my iTunes playlists (Another maybe...another big project).

8. Try to find Lucas' good tennis shoes. DONE

9. Replace the hubcap on the Dodge (Pending arrival...the eBay seller shipped it on Tuesday). NOT DONE...didn't arrive in Saturday's mail.

10. Go to a trunk show that one of the stores near my hair salon is holding. NOT DONE...stayed home and played drunk Trivial Pursuit with Q and Lucas...except instead of tequila shots, Lucas did Pepsi shots.

11. Scan some stuff for a future blog post.

12. Go to the gym. NOT DONE...decided to do the opposite and go out for deep fried shrimp tacos instead.

13. Go to Target. I'm not sure what for, but I'm sure somebody will think of something. We seem to end up there nearly every weekend.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Since the economy has fallen into the toilet, the glut of credit card offers that used to clog up our mailbox has pretty much dried up (thank God!). They have been replaced by coupons. Lots and LOTS of coupons. Pictured above is just one weeks worth of accumulation.
It seems just about everyone with something to sell is coming out of the woodwork. They are using special offers an other incentives in attempt to lure us into spending money at their establishment. Except for those offering 2 for 1 smoothies, most of these coupons will go unused. We currently have coupons for:
Health and wellness...
orthodontics, chiropractic services, dental care, hemorrhoid relief, elder care services, orthopedic shoes, eyeglasses, weight loss centers, testosterone replacement.
Personal care...
laser treatments, haircuts, tanning salons (we have a pant-load of these places here in sunny Arizona. Why? I don't know), colon hydrotherapy, manicures, pedicures, botox, teeth whitening, facials, yoga classes, massages, skin rejuvenation, eyebrow waxing.
Auto-related services...
car rental, airport parking, car washes, windsheild replacement, brake jobs, transmission repair, oil changes, window tinting, coolant flushes, collision repair, camping trailer rentals.
Goods and services for inside the house...
window blinds, carpet cleaning, game room supplies, granite countertops, flooring, cabinet refacing, pest control, plumbing, electrical, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, handyman services, closet organization, air duct cleaning, tub-to-shower conversions, consignment furniture, heating and air conditioning repair, grout cleaning, carpet stretching, popcorn ceiling removal, furniture movers, upholstery cleaning, room additions.
And outside...
tree nurseries, concrete slabs, retractable awnings, tree removal, pool remodeling, landscape design, pool covers, window replacement, house painting, wrought iron gates, barbecue pits, precast fountains, stucco replacement, imitation grass, security systems, patio-to-sunroom conversions, pool tile cleaning, stone facings.
And even in the garage...
garage door repairs, garage cabinets, overhead garage shelves, mini storage, garage floor coating, garage door replacement, garage door openers.
"Mom" stuff:
scrapbooking items, art and craft supplies, boutique clothing, jewelry
Stuff for the kids:
martial arts classes, zoo admission, preschool and day care, go-cart races, learning centers, pottery painting, museum admission, dance classes, foreign language lessons, inflatable and party slide rentals, bowling, mobile game truck party rentals, swimming lessons.
Stuff for the animals:
pet grooming, online pet medication store, pet sitting, pet doors, obedience training, tropical fish, aquarium decor.
frozen yogurt, Thai food, Chinese food, Mexican food, smoothies, fish and chips, pitas, sushi, coffee and donuts, ice cream, hot dogs, fried chicken, pizza (I found more than a dozen pizza coupons, but NOT ONE for a sandwich shop).
Modern conveniences:
satellite tv, long distance phone services, digital cable, high speed Internet, cellular service.
Coupons for those who have a little extra cash in their pockets:
bottled water delivery service, dry cleaners, concierge services, gourmet desserts, housekeeping, catering, wine tasting.
And coupons for those who wish they did:
bankruptcy consultation services, jewelry buyers, rare coin buyers, tax preparation services, divorce lawyers, eBay selling services.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Beep! Beep!

Our gym is located on the campus of the community college near our house. The campus is also across the street from open desert.

We're always seeing different wildlife here. Today, I spotted this roadrunner:

Last week, I saw a coyote running around near the bus stop. Luckily, I was in the safety of the car--he had a small animal hanging out of his mouth. And, of course we are always seeing jackrabbits.


Over the weekend, over two dozen houses in our neighborhood were attacked by kids shooting paintballs. It happened late Saturday night after everyone was asleep so nobody saw anything. The boys did say they heard noises around 11:30, but they thought it was just dry leaves blowing in the wind.

Luckily, we were only hit once in the garage door. The paint--which was pink, BTW--came off easily, but left a bit of an oily residue. Many of the other neighbors' cars got hit. The guy whose Hummer got splattered in day-glo green was pi$$ed.

But it could be worse. We could be living among these attractive nuisances:

Monday, March 02, 2009

When We Were Kids...

On Friday afternoon, Lucas gave me a bit of a scare. When he didn't get home from school at the usual time, I got worried. So I hopped in the car and set out to find him.

As I drove through the neighborhood, I called Kyle to ask if he'd seen his brother (Kyle was at a friend's house and had already called to check in). Kyle suggested that Luke might have gone to the park with a bunch of other kids from his class.

Then I remembered! Friday afternoon football games in the park had become a ritual among many of the fourth and fifth graders at the school. And Lucas was a regular participant. So I drove by the park, and there he was running, laughing, and playing with his friends. I had worried for nothing.

I saw the following passage on CMG. But I'm posting it here as a reminder that I need not be such a helicopter mom.

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's!!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate bleu cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps--not helmets--on our heads.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes.

Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this..

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And, we were OK.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times,we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's and X-Boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms. WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

If YOU are one of them, CONGRATULATIONS! You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives...for our own good. While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it ?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Hair by Mustang

I'm having a REALLY GOOD hair day today.