Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Going Public

I don't know if this will change anything or not, but I just changed this from a private, invitation only blog, to a public blog. I removed anything I was worried about. We'll see how it goes!

Guilty Pleasures

I was just writing a note on Bandanamom's blog about books that I don't always admit I'm reading. It got me to think about other things I enjoy and don't always admit to.

The photo has nothing to do with it. If you look closely you can see it's a double rainbow. I took it on the way to Chinle.

So... I sometimes enjoy books that are entertaining but have no literary value. I love See's Candy. I love being done with my Christmas shopping, shipping, cards and decorations and it's not even December yet. (Sometimes I think that one's going to get me killed.)

I love a hot soak in the tub. I love dishes and table linens ( we already know that). I love having my own schedule at work. I love my IPOD. I love Burl Ive's voice on old Christmas songs. I enjoy shopping and spending money. I love calenders. I love Yankee Candles. I love eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough. I love phone messages. I love animals. I love Survivor, The Amazing Race, Top Chef, Project Runway, why don't I just say a lot of reality TV. I also like Lost, the Office, CSI and Heros.

I love Netflix. I love it that Dobbie is finally "housebroken" and not marking anymore. I like being the driver and yet sometimes I like to be driven. I love "new" things, new resturants, new stores, new books. I love variety.

I love the sound of wild birds. I love trees and plants in general, although mine often suffer from neglect.

I love how comfortable my new chairs are and like nothing better than to sit in them. I love the smell of clean laundry.

I love the seat heaters in the front seat of my car. I love Book Club. I love to to thunk those tubes of biscuit dough and make them pop. I love laughing at something with my sister and her seeing it exactly the way I do.

I love planning a trip. I love the temperature in the low 70's and crispness at night and in the morning.

I like mail (at least if it's not a bill). I like being right. I like not having to set the alarm. I like being able to walk around the house not fully dressed and never having to shut the bathroom door.
I love the smell of rain and anything do with rain, thunder, dark clouds the sound of rain.

So what do you like?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Field Trip for Grown Ups

My friend Penny is a good sport. She is pretty much willing to go along with me no matter where I seem to take her. One time we were going out to Florence because I wanted to check out the gift shop where inmates sell things they've made. We were well on our way in the middle of nowhere and Penny asks me, " Where are we going again and what are we doing?"

This Tuesday, we had both arranged a day off to go to the Queen Creek Olive Mill. It was something else that I had read about in the paper and wanted to check out. They make olive oil and have tours. Penny was amazed at how far it was to Queen Creek and was pretty sure we were lost before we got there. I wasn't exactly lost, I knew where I was I just wasn't sure where the Mill was. After calling twice for directions we found it, almost across the road from Schnepf farms.

At first we were a little stunned. I expected to see large olive trees all around and a lots of buildings. Instead, all we saw was this:

It didn't look very promising. The olive trees were small. But we had driven an hour to get there and so we were going to check it out.

Inside was a nice gift shop full of all kinds of olive products, tapenades, olives, flavored oils, olive oil soap, olive oil lotion, olive wood products. You can taste everything.

We bought a 5$ ticket for the next tour.

We gathered together on some picnic benches outside under some shade. The owner came out and told us all about the olive mill. Apparently the groves are to the north and not really visible from where we were. They grow about 8 different types of olives. It was really very interesting and we learned a lot. Did you know there really isn't anything like a black olive? What we eat as black olives have been changed that way through a chemical process to hide bruising. Ugh. Suddenly they seemed very unappetizing. It was quite interesting to learn all about olive oil and the different grades and the process to make it. Then he took us inside and showed us the machines. He let us taste some oil that they had just extracted. He had warned us that it would be bitter as they hadn't finished the process of getting the water out yet. It tasted terrible.

Afterwards we ate lunch from the little restaurant inside. This is what we had:

It was pretty good! And the other food we saw going by looked good too. There were busloads of folks from various retirement communities out there. It was a bustling place. I bought several different samples of their products, some as Christmas gifts. They are big participants in the locally grown movement. Their oils and olives are used by a lot of local chefs around town. They were selling some fresh breads too that came from the Willo Bakery. I found it rather amusing that I had driven an hour to this place and the Willo Bakery was about 10 minutes from my house. I have sampled some of the things I bought and it is delicious!

As we left, Penny and I discussed how we felt like we'd been on a field trip fro grown ups. It was lots of fun and I would recommend it to anyone! Be careful of all the old folks out there! The tours are on the hour between 10:30 and 2:30, closed on Mondays.
And here is the long suffering Penny!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


My name is Suzanne Barker and I am a dishaholic. I am not sure when it started, but I recognize that I have had this problem for many years. I'm not sure what I get out of it. I know that when I see pretty dishes, bowls, glassware, table linens, I get a thrill out of thinking what a beautiful table I could set with this things and how nice it would be to eat or serve out of them. I think I am finally at a point where I can deal with my problem. Being able to admit there is a problem is the first step.

Until last Sunday, I had an enormous amount of Franciscan Desert Rose Dishes. I had been given them by my father after his mother's death. It wasn't like I had a choice about it really. Other members of my family got other things, and he decided this was what I got. While I love dishes, it wasn't really a pattern that did anything for me. And not seeing my grandmother very often, especially not in her home in Kansas, it wasn't like I had any particular memories or attachments to the dishes.

But, not having any other "nice dishes" or anything like the size and number of them, I took them and over the years added to them quite a bit.

As you can see I had a million coffee cups, coffee pot, 3 sets of salt and pepper shakers, a sherbert dish, luncheon plates, mugs etc.....

I finally had bought 6 place settings of china that I really loved at the Lenox outlet. It's called June Lane by Kate Spade. It's really expensive but the nice thing about the outlet is you can get seconds. If you look through them well you can find some that look alright even if they have a fault. I would never have been able to afford them otherwise. But with all the Desert Rose burting out the seams, I had no where to really keep these new dishes plus the Butler Pantry that I used as every day. How many dishes does a single woman really need?

Anyway I had tried to get rid of them, half heartedly in the past. I had offered them to my sisters and their children. While they didn't really like the idea of my getting rid of them, they didn't want them either.

I thought about selling them, but was a bit daunted about the process. They were in varying condition, from perfect, to chipped to cracked and some were quite old and some pretty new. Finally I just decided to give them away to a good home. My friend, Cynthia, had some from her mom and while she didn't want the entire collection was willing to take some. I mentioned it to my relief society president at church, thinking she could announce it in Relief Society. It turns out HER mother had them when she was a kid and she had loved them. Her sister had gotten her mother's dishes and she would dearly love to have mine. So...they are now all gone.

The test to whether or not this was the right thing to do is how I feel now that they are gone. I feel great! So I think it was. It 's amazing how much room I have to better organize the dishes I love.
And buried under all the desert rose were other treasures I'd forgotten I even owned. I made a pot of hot chocolate Sunday night in a teapot that my dad had sent from Japan to his mother when he was stationed there with the marines in the 50's. It's beautiful China and says made in Nippon on it. I used the little teacups and everything.
I'm still a dishaholic, but I think I am more reasonable now and don't buy everything I see just because it's beautiful. But If I had a Martha Stewart type of kitchen with her room..... I'd be dangerous.

Dias De Los Muertos

I find an interesting phenomenon that this Mexican holiday is finding an increasing amount of popularity in Arizona lately. I have always found the holiday and the folk art associated with it fascinating. My neighbor had a Dias De Los Muertos party on Friday night. She said to bring a photo of someone you want to remember and come and tell stories about them. What a nice tradition that is! It sort of like a more party like Memorial Day with an emphasis on those who have passed on instead of the 3 day weekend.

There have been some celebrations around town too. I decided to go to the one at the Mesa Arts Center since I hadn't been there before and it was free.

The Mesa Arts Center is a pretty place. I think that at least during the time that Penny and I were there, there wasn't a lot going on. I did decorate a sugar skull with the kids. I had always wanted to do that and it was fun. There were some mariachi's playing too.

In Mexico they actually go to the graveyard and have a kind of picnic with those of their family that have passed on. I think it's all a nice idea. The imagery is not scary or evil, skulls and skeletons dressed in bright colors. And I like the idea of taking the time to remember those who have passed on.
So how do the rest of you feel about it?

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I enjoyed seeing the kids at our little Halloween party for them at Church. My favorite costume was Hannah Montana! And she came up with it herself...which I thought was even better. Here she is with her pirate sister.

For some reason, I decided to dress up this year. I'm not sure why. I guess I just thought it would be fun. Someone asked me what I was. I said, umm...Scary?

I would not remember that I looked ummmm... scary, and was trying to take some photos of some of the kids. Some of the little kids were a little nervous of me. Look at some of these expressions.

This is Dennis the Menace.

It took a lot of coaxing for this puppy to get this close to me.

I also had watched the Martha Stewart Halloween special and put this little spider together with glow sticks. I put on a spider web on my trunk. It was a big hit!

I only had 16 trick or treaters at my house. I guess I should be glad I get any with the neighborhood I live in. Hope you all had fun!