Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Weigh-In

I lost a whopping .4 pounds this week.  I figured it would be a lower number because of last week's high number.  A total of 53.5 pounds gone. 

Tomorrow is the big feast.  I plan on eating a portion of all my favorites... except for desserts.  Fortunately, I'm not a big pie person, so it won't be that hard. 

I'm thankful for so many things, but especially my family and my health.  I'm thankful there is a whole world out there ready for me to live more life!  I love life!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  See you back here on Monday!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hieroglyphics Hike with Tammy

Last week I went on the Hieroglyphics Hike in Gold Canyon, AZ with my friend, and hiker extraordinaire, Tammy.  The hike, in the beautiful Superstition Mountains, climbs gradually and steadily through saguaros, creosote, cholla, brittlebush, and other desert flora.  We went on a cloudy morning, so my photos didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, but trust me, the scenery is stunning!

We ran into a few people and a few lizards on the trail.  A group of snowbird hikers were picnicking on the boulders at the turn around point. 

This hike is rated "easy".  Maybe for experienced hikers.  It was very rocky so I had to watch my step almost constantly.  At the end, to get to the actual petroglyphs, you have to scramble up and down some big boulders.  I looked at the petroglyphs from afar, lol.  It was a good workout for me.  I was dripping with sweat when we reached the end of the uphill portion and breathing hard the whole way.  I could still talk but it wasn't easy.  This hike was an easy one for Tammy, though.  I'm not sure she ever broke a sweat and I never heard her breathing hard.  She's a rock star! 

To start the trail, step over this gate.

See the sign up ahead?  It will tell you to stay left on the Hieroglyphics Trail.

And you're on your way...

Looking east from the trail.

I told you it was a rocky trail!

There were some interesting mountain formations.

Getting close to the end.  I turned around and took this photo of the view behind me.  That's San Tan Mountain on the far right way in the distance. 

By the time we had reached the end we had climbed 588 feet and hiked 1.5 miles.

The turn around point.  You can't see it but there are little pools of water at the bottom left part of this photo.  I'm going to have to take my kids here because they would love to climb around on all the rocks. 

The view from the turn around spot.

Making our way back down.  It's surprising how green the desert can be.

This is the second gate on the trail. 

Turning around one more time for the view.

This is a great trail for your out of town visitors.  It shows off the desert in all its glory and it isn't too difficult.  If I can do it, anybody can do it!

Directions from Mesa, AZ:  Take US 60 East to Gold Canyon.  Turn left on Kings Ranch Road.  Turn right on Baseline Rd.  Turn left on Mohican Rd.  Turn left on Valley View Dr.  Valley View Dr. turns into White Tail Rd.  Turn right on Cloudview Ave. and drive until you hit the parking lot for the trail. 

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Starring Kevin and Camille in the Ward Talent Show

Over the weekend our ward (church congregation) had their annual talent show.  Camille and Kevin played a fun duet on the piano for it. 

Since it's the week of Thanksgiving, let me say how thankful I am that my kids play the piano.  One of my very favorite things to do is listen to them play.  I'm also grateful that they get along well enough to play (and practice) a duet without killing each other. 

Indulge me this video of Camille and Kevin playing their song at the talent show...

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Friday, November 16, 2012

California Casserole

This recipe is the genius of my sister-in-law, Kristy.  It is also a staple at our Arizona Thanksgiving feasts, which is why I'm sharing it today.  This is what Camille looks forward to most on Thanksgiving. 

California Casserole 
You can double this recipe and put it in a 9x13 casserole dish instead.

1 package frozen California Mix Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots) thawed
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Mix vegetables, cheese, soup and milk in a large bowl. 
3.  Transfer to 8x8 casserole dish. 
4.  Melt butter and combine with bread crumbs.
5.  Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over vegetable mixture.
6.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.  It will need more time if vegetables are frozen.

This is what it looked like before I put the bread crumbs on it.

Baked casserole.  So good!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Whole Grain Natural Bread Company

Back in the day, Jay and I used to be part owners of a bread bakery.  From Summer 1993 to Summer 2003 we owned Whole Grain Natural Bread Company in Las Vegas, NV.  Our partner in the business owned two other Whole Grains in Northern California and then he franchised one in Mesa, AZ.  We sold ours in 2003 and moved to Arizona.  Our business partner sold the Northern California ones in 2005.  The only one left in the world is in Mesa, AZ! 

After eating great bread for 10 years, I was not looking forward to going back to eating store bought bread after we moved to Arizona.  Fortunately, the Whole Grain in Mesa, AZ is only about 10 minutes away from my house.  I buy the hearty 9-Grain bread, the whole wheat dinner rolls, and the Country White bread on a weekly basis.  These breads have no oils, all natural ingredients, and no preservatives.  My favorite, the hearty 9-Grain bread, has 100 calories and 5 grams of fiber per slice.

I'm telling you about this bakery now in case you are wondering what to do for your Thanksgiving dinner rolls.  We have eaten Whole Grain Natural Bread Company's dinner rolls for Thanksgiving for the last 18 years.  I highly recommend them!  I also highly recommend reserving your rolls before the Wednesday before Thanksgiving... they go fast!

Call 480-325-3200 to order your rolls.

Store Location:
1244 S Val Vista Dr.
Mesa, AZ  85204

Store Hours:
6:00am - 7:00pm Monday through Friday
6:00am - 6:00pm Saturday
Closed Sunday

Located on Val Vista Dr. just south of Southern Ave.

The inside of the bakery.  Check out the pumpkin bread bowls on the white hutch.

All kinds of yummy healthy breads.

Jay when we started at the bakery in 1993.

Our Las Vegas store.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Weigh-In

Well people, I'm excited to report that last week I lost 3.9 pounds for a total of 53.1 pounds gone.  I'm celebrating that I'm "half way there" with one of my most favorite songs ever.  Bon Jovi take it away...

I feel lighter.  Sometimes I feel like I could just start running because there is so much less of me to carry around.  24 weeks ago I was carrying around 77 hardbound Harry Potter and the Deathly Harrows books wherever I went.  24 weeks ago I was carrying around 6 gallons of milk with me all the time.  Try going up the stairs holding onto those babies!  You know that really heavy suitcase that you take to the airport hoping against hope that it doesn't weigh more than 50 pounds?  I've lost a whole suitcase!

You'll have to excuse all my gushing.  I haven't been this weight in years and I'm feeling pretty psyched.  Think how good I'm going to feel with 100 pounds gone!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Family Hike in Papago Park

Two Saturdays ago we headed out to Papago Park in Phoenix to do some hiking.  The park is in the middle of the city and very close to the airport.  It boasts the Phoenix Zoo, the Desert Botanical Garden, and quite a few hikes up and/or around the buttes... the most famous being "The Hole in the Rock" hike.

We got there later than I had anticipated but it ended up being perfect timing to watch the sunset through the hole in the rock.  We started out on the West side of the park and hiked the West Park Accessible Trail.  At least we started and ended on that trail.  In between we found hike #5 in the actual desert and hiked that for a while.  The West Park Accessible Trail is an asphalt trail that leads from the parking lot up to the buttes.  It is 1.2 miles long.

After finishing that trail, we got in the car and headed over to the east side of the park, on the other side of Galvin Parkway, and hiked up to the Hole in the Rock.  Both hikes were fun and very scenic.  Next time we go, I want to make sure we have enough time to do all of hike #5, which winds 4 miles through and around the buttes. 

Just starting out.

The kids thought these looked like dragon eyes.

What do YOU see?  I see a gorilla profile.  Kevin sees George Washington.

There is a ramada half way up the trail for picnicking. 

Downtown Phoenix skyline with Chase Field on the left.

We decided to take the trail up to what looked like caves.

180 degrees rule... don't forget to look behind you for a photo op.  See that brown post in the middle of the trail?  If you're on hike #5, you follow the posts that have a 5 on them. 

Coming down.

Rattlesnake skin

The rest of the Phoenix skyline to the North.

Right about here we saw the two biggest jack rabbits I've ever seen.  It was so big and so fast that at first I was unsure whether it was a coyote or a jack rabbit.  Then the second one hopped into view.  I figured a jack rabbit wouldn't be chasing a coyote so the first one must have been a jack rabbit too.  It was good to see them looking so strong and healthy.

Family photo

Going back down now.

Plane after plane kept flying by.  Surprisingly, we couldn't really hear them.

Looking back at the buttes.

Creosote bush

Map of Papago Park just to the left of the West Park Accessible Trail trailhead.

On to the Hole in the Rock trail.

The trail goes from the parking lot to the back side of the butte.

Views of Papago Park along the way.

Walking up the backside.  There are actually two holes in the rock.

Because it was near sunset, there was an eerie glow emanating from the opening.

The view through the hole.  Here at the top was a little scary for me.  My knees started wobbling.

There are stairs built into the rock that take you to the ledge.  Everyone around us could tell that I was really nervous to go over the edge.  This random lady puts her arm around me and starts push/pulling me down the rock stairs.  It was kind of a weird thing to do but she was successful... I made it to the other side!  I really wish I wasn't so afraid of heights!

We were there in time to watch the sunset.

The downtown skyscrapers reflected the waning sunlight.

Directions to Papago Park from Mesa, AZ:  Take US 60 west to the Priest Drive exit.  Turn right onto Priest Drive.  Priest Drive eventually becomes Galvin Parkway.  Turn left on Pagago Park Road to get to the west side of the park.  The trail starts on the southeast corner of the parking lot.  Turn right on Papago Park Road to get to the Hole in the Rock.  Take your next left and go all the way to the end.  You will see the butte with the hole in it.  Hike counter-clockwise around it and go up the back.  The trail is only about 1/10 mile long.

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