Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Diane!

Today is my oldest sister's birthday!  She stopped counting birthdays long ago, and I honestly don't keep track, but I can tell you that she is the first born in our family and I was born 5th, so that gives you an idea how much older she is than I am.    Yes, I'm the one that was always pestering her and her girlfriends to let me play with them and they always thought I was just an annoyance because I was too young.

I do appreciate the fact that she laid the groundwork with the teachers in our small town by being a model student and getting good grades in her classes.  Of course that was all undone by the 3 siblings in between us, so it just depended which Perkins child they had in their class whether they thought I'd be wonderful or trouble makers.  I, of course was an excellent student so it was sometimes tough to undo the rebellious reputation of my other siblings, especially in the upper grades.  Oh well, that's life.  I learned to deal with it and my teachers and I learned not to judge a person by their siblings or by other people's opinions of them.  Good life lesson overall.

The first photo here is Diane and my oldest brother, Rusty.  The black spot on his nose is from a faceplant of some sort (he was a rambunctious boy - see reference above).  My mom must have taken a whole roll of film with him like that.  Not sure why...doesn't Diane look like the perfect big sister though? We won't talk about the time she accidentally almost killed him.

Next one is a family  photo before my youngest brother Michael came along.  Aren't we all so spiffy and sweet looking?  Diane's standing by my mom. (I'm in front on the left.).  Sharon always had better hair than I did.

Next is a photo from 1960, also pre-Michael.  Diane is on the left in this one.

Then one of the 4 remaining siblings in our family (L to R) from youngest to oldest. The photo above is at least 15 years ago when all of us sisters happened to wear pink, which was very unusual.  We are all VERY different from each other in oh so many ways, not the least of which is fashion choices.

The next is a Stratton family photo.  We miss their son, Nick and it was good to see Steve on Thanksgiving Day.

Lastly, these next 2 are of us 3 girls on a trip to Breckenridge with my mom a couple of years ago.  The last few years since Terry and I moved back to Arizona from California, us girls have been trying to do a trip each year together with my mom, who loves to travel!  She will be 86 in a month and we have a trip planned to go to Florida in February to visit her half sister, Alice.  Mom is looking forward to it and these trips have given us sisters a chance to get reacquanted after living apart for over 18 years.  I've learned to love and appreciate them more as we spend quality time together.

This last pic is an awesome sailboat ride that we took in Colorado.  It was the first time on a sailboat for most of us, which is pretty surprising considering we grew up a few hundred yards from Lake Erie.

I'm thankful for my sister, Diane.  She has been a sweet friend and big sister.  It's been fun hanging out with her these last few years since I've been back.  I look forward to many more years of "hanging out".

Diane, I hope you had a Happy Birthday!  Love you lots!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I trust that everyone had a great day, filled with the love of family and friends.  We shared a great meal and did some catching up with the Perkins family today.

This is the gang (above) that was there for dinner.  I'm right there behind the camera, as usual.  I didn't want to take the time to take the picture with the timer while the food was getting cold.  I'm not sure why Terry looks so puzzled.  Oh well.

There were 11 of us all together, which is a small group for our family, but since our kids live out of state and weren't able to come this year, that reduces our numbers by 3. Both my sisters'other kids were out of state too and Dustin was at his girlfriend's house, which reduced the numbers even more.  Left to right around the table: Terry, my brother - Pat, my oldest sister - Diane, Russell's friend - Sharon, my mom - Jaye, my sister Sharon's son - Russell, Diane's daughter - Lisa, Diane's ex-husband - Steve, my sister Sharon's husband - Steve, and my middle sister Sharon.   Kind of funny - 2 Sharons and 2 Steves in that small group.  Steves kind of run in our family for some reason.  None of them are Perkins', they just joined the family one way or another.

Here are the girls in the kitchen getting things ready. I was kind of surprised that we 3 sisters have so many different ideas about cooking the traditional Thanksgiving foods.  You would think that we would have all learned the same way, but I guess over the years we've discovered new recipes.  I did realize that we never really all cooked meals together with my mom when we were young.  I guess it's because when I was getting to be old enough to be interested in cooking my sisters were both already out of the house.  So now we get the chance at least once or twice a year to spend a little time in the kitchen together.

Doesn't this look like the refrigerator of a Grandma?  I think it's sweet that bits of Kassidy, Jacob and Josh's names can be seen in the alphabet soup there.
Our family never seems to be short on desserts.  In fact, we had 6 different desserts for 11 of us!  That works out to more than a half a pie each.  I think that's a bit of overkill, but we divided up the leftovers and managed to send it all home with someone.
Nothing significant about these peppers.  I just like the way they coordinated with the plate they were on.  Aren't they lovely?

This is a little bit of the fresh cranberry orange relish that I made.  I'm not a big fan of the canned stuff so thought it would be fun to try a recipe with fresh cranberries.  It was so easy!  Here's how to do it.

1 bag fresh cranberries (washed and bad ones discarded)
1 orange with the peel left on (washed)
1 apple with the peel left on (washed and cored)
1 cup sugar
Cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger (optional - to taste)

Throw everything but the sugar and spices in a food processor and chop.  Place in bowl and add sugar and spices.  That's it!  This can be made 3 - 5 days ahead and it tastes even better.

I also added some of this same mixture to raspberry jello to make a cranberry jello salad.  I think that was even a little better than the relish by itself.  But both of them turned out pretty good, I think.  They're not nearly as sweet as the traditional canned or cooked cranberry sauce.  The orange rind gives it a citrus tang, which I personally prefer over the ultra-sweet of the other kind.  Try it sometime with ham too!

This last photo is a little centerpiece that I put together to transition from fall to Christmas.  Fall items with Christmas colors.  The green apples are faux, but there are two huge fresh pomegranates in the jar as well.  I hope they stay fresh for a while.  I love the deep red color of them.

Well, I'm planning to do a little bit of Christmas shopping on Black Friday.  Terry has to work, so I have the day to myself.  Not sure if I'll go out or if it will be online.  I never go out early...usually sometime mid-morning.  As are most people, we're cutting back some on Christmas this year, so I have to be more selective in what I buy.  It's hard for me because I like to show love by giving gifts.  It's also tricky because Kevin will have to carry everything back on the plane and A & A are in a tiny studio apartment so don't have much room for anything of any size.

I just realized that this is getting pretty long so I'll close for now.  I'm thinking about trying to journal about Christmas every day in December, but we'll see how that goes.  Be sure to check back again soon.  There's lots going on in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas ideas are brewing...

I just opened one of my favorite emails from Better Homes and Gardens ( and with just a few clicks found some great Christmas ideas

Below is the description that shows with the first photo, but the idea that I like best is having the pegs by the front door and a shelf too.  We don't have a fireplace, hence no mantle and I haven't found a great place to hang our family stockings, but I love this look and it would be so fun to have stockings hanging by the entry and a shelf to put our favorite Christmas trinkets.

"Set near the front door, a multi-tiered dessert stand offers departing visitors an array of thanks-for-coming confections, including cellophane-swathed molded cookies, bags of crimson candies, and tiny baskets chock-full of sweets."

I also like the idea of painting or writing on glass.  They show a mirror here, but you could do the same thing on a window or glass door.  I was thinking of some simple snowflakes and a few cheery greetings.

This same email also had some fun ideas for non-traditional holiday color schemes.  Since we have a red sofa in the living room, our Christmas colors pretty much NEED to include red, so I'm a little bit limited.  Soon I'm hoping to get a neutral colored slipcover for my sofa (it's on my wish list) so I can branch out to some new colors.  Anyway, this year I bought some natural colored kraft paper and some simple red and white print paper to wrap gifts.  I'm thinking of throwing in a little touch of black to make it a little more classy.   Picture brown kraft paper and red/white papers with red or black twine or ribbon of all sorts.  I'm not sure yet...we'll see how things turn out when I get everything out to decorate.

I'm looking forward to getting started with decorating this weekend.  Even though it's not the end of the month yet, we have a busy December so I want to start early.  Besides, last year we were out of town for part of December so I didn't do much decorating.  This year I hope to have some more time to work on it.

What are you planning that's new for your holiday decor this year?

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Ted is Terry's 4th oldest brother.  From oldest to youngest they are Terry, Tom, Tim, Ted, Tod (and Julie).  Talk about a tough time getting to know their names when I first started dating Terry.  It was crazy!  This photo is before Julie came along.
Ted's the middle one in the front row of kids above.  I'm sure he was a busy little guy, keeping up with his 3 older brothers.  See next photo.

I've known Ted over 30 years and these are just a few bits of info I can share about him in honor of his birthday.

  • He doesn't particularly like to get his picture taken.  These 2 photos above are his favorite poses.  Either he covers his face with his hand or makes an ugly face (sticks his tongue out or something).  He also gives me a really dirty look sometimes, like he's going to deck me. But since it's his birthday I didn't want to show you his "mean" face.  Anyway, I have DOZENS of photos in one of these 3 poses of him.  Sigh...maybe someday he'll come around.

  • Once in a while when he's distracted by kids or others, I can sneak in a photo of him and he looks great!  
  • This picture of Ted and Kristi holding Amy at their wedding when she was just a couple of months old is one of my favorites!  Don't they look too young to get married?  
  • I think they were more excited about me being pregnant than I was.  They used to bring me pickles and ice cream every week and they watched Amy and later Kevin for us all the time.  They have always been a great aunt and uncle to our kids.  Well except maybe for the time that they lost Amy under their bed or let Kevin get his head stuck in their stairs, then made him sit there while they took a picture.  (Oh well, nobody's perfect.)   Who has that picture anyway?
  • We loved having them nearby when we lived in So Cal.  It was so nice to have family around to share our holidays and special occasions with or just to hang out on a quiet weekend.  We miss seeing all of them more often.
  • Did you know Ted loves to dance.  I'm not sure he'll admit this one, but as you can see, I have several photos to substantiate this rumor.  I'm also aware of a video that's floating around somewhere from a decade ago which can also confirm that fact.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get my hands on it or I would have posted it here for proof.  True story.
(just kidding, Ted)
    I guess that's all I'll share for now.  Ted, I hope you have an extra special day.  Just wish we could be there to share it with you!

    Love, Nancy and Terry too.


    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Holiday Baking - Cranberry Nut Bread

    Those of you who know me, know that I don't do a lot of baking, but it doesn't stop me from appreciating excellent baked goods when I see (and taste) them.

    My friend, Cathy made this Cranberry Nut Bread and shared a slice with me.  It was delicious!  Moist and full of flavor but not too sweet.  Now is the time to make it because cranberries are in season and often on sale. would be great for gifts too!

    She got the recipe from "A Taste of Home" magazine and you can find it on their website here.

    And here are some fun ideas for ways to wrap the loaves if you give them as gifts!

    Try it - you'll love it!

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Check out these great ideas for decorating, entertaining, gardening and more at this website...from the experts at Real Simple, All You, Coastal Living, Southern Accents, Southern Living and Sunset magazines!  Not sure about you, but these are some of my favorite mags!  And being a magophile* (similar to bibliophile**) that's saying a lot!

    And here's a sweepstakes to win $5000 toward a room makeover!

    Here are more sweepstakes too, if you enjoy the thrill of the possibilities.

    *Magophile = a person who collects or loves periodicals or magazines.

    **Bibliophile = a person who collects or loves books.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Did you know that Ladies Home Journal has a daily giveaway sweepstakes?

    Just go to and find out what you could win today plus be entered for their $5000 grand prize.

    Friday, November 13, 2009

    A Quiet Weekend at Home while Terry's Away

    I'm sitting here in my PJs eating little wedges of a giant Rome apple that we brought back from North Carolina and drinking a glass of Riesling called "RELAX".  The house is quiet except for the hum of the laptop and Shredder's purring every once in a while.

    Terry is probably just landing in Las Vegas for his annual Football weekend with Greg and Mark.  Unfortunately, Kent couldn't make it for this 18th (or is it 19th) annual getaway.  The guys will get into town tonight, get settled, filled and rested for their 2-day marathon.  Saturday they'll get up relatively early to have breakfast, then snag a good set of seats at their chosen casino sports book.  They prefer the ones that have personal monitors at each seat so they can select their favorite games to watch thru-out the day.  That is a personal monitor in addition to the 2 or 3 DOZEN HUGE TVs filling every inch of the walls of the room.

    Once they get settled into their seats for the day, they'll try to keep track of ALL the college football games going on all over the country.  They may bet a little on a few of them.  When the crowd cheers, they'll search the screens to figure out which game just had a great play and watch the replay.  Once in a while they'll take a break (one at a time so as not to lose their prime locations) and maybe go play a little video poker or slots or grab a quick bite to eat.  They'll probably trash talk about their picks and compare notes to see who might get lucky and have a good day, but mostly they just enjoy the camaraderie and the annual overdose of  uninterrupted football.

    After the majority of games have ended they'll leave their posts and head out for one of the amazing buffets along the strip.  Then on Sunday morning they'll start the routine all over again with the NFL football games.  Oh and they'll probably sprinkle in a few NBA or NHL games as well.

    I don't even think that they talk much about their lives, even though they usually only see each other this one time each year.  Once Terry came home and I asked him for an update on the wives and kids and he said they never talked about it.  He tries to get at least a little bit of info for me now because I gave him such a hard time about it that time.  Maybe we should try to plan a get together with the husbands AND wives so we can find out what's happening in everyone's world.

    Well, I told him to win a lot of money so we could go to Ireland next year.  Do you think there's any chance of that?  I always fall back on the fact that Terry's brother, Ted won $20,000 on the 2nd Keno card that they ever played!  Can you imagine?  Wow! 

    As for me...Shredder and I have the house to ourselves.  Even though I love spending time with my hubby, I also enjoy these quiet weekends when I can do absolutely anything that I want.  I could stay in my pajamas all weekend if I wanted to (but I won't).  I can get projects done, go hang out with my girlfriends, go shopping, read, stay up late, blog, sleep late, watch chick flicks all weekend or whatever in the world I want.  Not that I couldn't really do any of these things when Terry's at home, it's just different somehow.  When he's home (especially on the weekends) I want to spend time with him and that's my priority, so personal projects get set aside more often.  I'm glad these weekends don't happen too often, but I enjoy it once or twice a year.

    So maybe I'll get caught up on some of my blogging this weekend.  And I'm already planning an outing tomorrow with a friend.  I do need to get going on some Christmas shopping too. I'm sure I'll manage to fill up my time before I know it. 

    What do you do with your alone time? 

    Have a great weekend, whatever you're doing.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    We brought a little bit of North Carolina home with us...

    Just before we left on our trip, someone asked Terry to bring home some fall leaves from NC and I actually remembered to do it.  The last day we were there I took a Ziploc bag on our walk downtown for lunch and gathered a dozen or so leaves of various colors.  Red, green, brown, golden, orange and shades in between.

    After collecting so many beautiful colors, I didn't want them to go to waste, so I'm preserving them in a solution of glycerin and water.  Have you ever done that?  When we were kids we used to press them in books and iron them between sheets of wax paper, but I've heard that the glycerin process works much better.

    I need to leave them in this solution for 3 or more days.  I hope they look almost as beautiful when they're done as they did when I picked them.

    In case you're interested here's a description of how to preserve leaves in several different ways.

    Sunday, November 08, 2009

    Recovery Day Tradition

    We seem to have established a tradition on our last day of vacation before going back to work.  We order Chinese take out for dinner, usually from Dragon Palace at 13825 N. 32nd Street (just north of Thunderbird).

    After being away from home, we generally don't have a lot of food in the house and don't feel like cooking or shopping, so take-out is the perfect solution.

    Some of our favorites at Dragon Palace are Sauteed Happy Family, BBQ Pork Appetizer.  The Moo Shu Pork is also very good.

    Here's a quick review that I did on Yelp.


    Saturday, November 07, 2009

    More pics of our NC visit.  I just added our day at the Biltmore Estate!

    Go here to see them all!

    Friday, November 06, 2009

    Nov 6 - Happy Anniversary Amy and Andrew
    Today Amy and Andrew will be celebrating their 4th wedding anniversary.  It's hard to believe that their big day was that long ago.  Time has just flown by.

    So many things have changed for them in these last four years and I'm sure the next 4 will be the same way.  They are busy following their dreams and enjoying life together.  What a blessing to have them in our family.  We look forward to seeing where God will lead them in the years to come.

    Happy Anniversary you two!

    We love you both!

    Wednesday, November 04, 2009

    National Parks Postcards

    You may remember that we discovered some great vintage reproduction National Parks postcards when we were at the Grand Canyon.

    Well, we saw a similar poster at Great Smoky Mountain National Park yesterday and wondered if we could find more of the postcards for the Eastern parks.  They didn't have them at the Visitor Center, but they did have notecards and we looked at the package to find the website where we could buy the ones that we want.

    This is what the Smoky Mountain one looks like and there are others for parks we visited as well.  I'll be placing an order for a few when we get home.  Then we want to put them all in a large frame and hang it in our office with the rest of our travel posters.  So far, all the ones we've bought have this vintage look.  Kinda fun, huh?

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    We're enjoying Fall in North Carolina!

    For those few people out there that check my blog but are NOT on Facebook, here's a link to some photos that I've been posting of our trip to see Terry's Dad and his wife, Ginny in Hendersonville, NC.  This is them in the photo (left).  They do a lot of walking around town.  They live less than a mile from Main Street, so have access to a bunch of fun places to visit when they're out and about.

    Tomorrow  we'll drive to Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  The park is celebrating their 75th Anniversary this year.  I will be taking my National Parks passport book to get stamped and we'll try to find a poster or postcard from the park that we can include in our collection of places that we've visited that hangs in our office. 

    Check out these gorgeous red leaves that were on a tree right on main street.  Aren't they amazing?

    I hope you enjoy the other pics too.  I'm trying to post a few more each day, so check back again later too.
    It's Fall in Arizona!

    I wore a jacket and scarf last week and this week we're enjoying the cool crisp air in North Carolina!

    Here's a great recipe for Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili that I found on  I tried it last year and it's VERY easy and delicious!

    Give it a try and let me know what you think.