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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Birthdays! Birthdays!


Celebrating is always in fashion. Take January for instance. My siblings and I got together in California to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday. The weather was absolutely perfect in sunny Southern California ... wandering along the beachfront in Redondo Beach and enjoying each other's company. What a crew...




Kris (my niece), my mom Carolyn, my sister Karen, me, and my brother Greg

We had a great time visiting the Huntington Gardens (which after 35 years in California) I had never before visited. These gardens magically melded from one to the next - Chinese, Japanese, Desert, Australian, Camelia, Bamboo, and more. 






The statuary and art complexes were fabulous! 
You can visit the Huntington Gardens website at www.huntington.org for more information. 

A drive around the Palos Verdes Peninsula lent us an opportunity to visit the Korean Bell of Friendship. This massive and very cool icon was a gift to the people of Los Angeles from the people of the Republic of Korea in 1976 to honor those lives lost in the Korean War and to cement a true friendship between countries. 




Did you honestly think there wouldn't be a cemetery???
This lovely bit of L.A. is the county's oldest and is located near the Mission San Gabriel. 




I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Hamilton, the Musical to Gammage Auditorium. It finally arrived and we so enjoyed the production - great music, beautiful costumes, fantastic choreography, and an absolutely delightful evening with these two. 



How Lucky We Are to Be Alive Right Now!!




Speaking of Lucky - How Lucky am I to have this gal as one of my best pals??
Nice wander near the Arizona Waterfalls (again... NEVER been here before!!) 
Enjoyed this day immensely and the back side of water below. 




The Celebration Continues with Arizona's Birthday! 

Jeff and I headed out to 
Wesley Bolin Plaza in downtown Phoenix 
(Again - I have NEVER been here!) Shame on me. 

Check out some of the fabulous monuments and memorials



Another symbol of friendship between The People's Republic of Korea and the city of Phoenix 
(that's TWO Korean Friendship Bells in less than one month for me!) 


The Bill of Rights


Code Talkers Memorial 


Father Eusebio Kino Monument 


Enduring Freedom Memorial 


The Arizona Capitol Building & Museum 



Flag from the USS Arizona (within the Capitol Museum) 

I recommend a picnic lunch and a visit to the Plaza, or stop over on a Thursday mid-day when the Farmer's Market ropes you in with delicious Food Trucks and local foodie delights. 


 I am so grateful for this little bug in my life. Her parents make me so proud of the way they are taking care of business. Bravo Mike & Maria - Your baby girl is the luckiest little chica around. xoxoxo

Next Up... 
Kauai, Hawaii ... cannot wait!!!
:) Deb 








Sunday, January 21, 2018

Brrr... It's Chilly Outside!


Brrr... It's Chilly Outside! Well, it was for Erin and her fiance, Jeffery, when they traveled to Montreal a few weeks ago. Getting down below zero was a first for her. We just don't do that here in Phoenix!!



She is totally fogged in!! 


Smith Family Christmas came and went this past December and celebration ensued from California to Arizona to Canada. We are becoming an international family this year with the addition of our Canadian son-in-law-to-be. Can't wait!  And here is is on the hunt for the perfect Christmas pic!






Celebrating Zach's 30th Birthday - Nothing happier than Karaoke at Monkey Pants. 
You should've heard Erin belt out an Eminem song without taking a breath. 
I can't believe he's 30!!! I am the luckiest mom on the planet. 





Zach & Sierra - baking in my kitchen and stealing a smooch or two. 
This year is going to be filled with love and dreams - two weddings for the Smith's!! 

Cali Christmas couldn't have been better. Check out these adorable pics of my Cali family. 



Emma's 1st Christmas


JG4 with Santa!


These two are too stinkin' adorable! 


Girls... Girls... Girls... 


January brought us right back to reality with a quick trip to Carmel, California and a stay at the Happy Landing Inn. This B & B is the perfect little respite. I mean... perfect! The rooms are cozy and private, breakfast is delivered to your room each morning, the staff are amazingly gracious and friendly, and did I mention the fireplace and cozy room?? If you're headed that way, check them out at www.happylandinginn.com. You won't regret it. 

Carmel is a great dog-friendly city with loads of places to shop, eat, and relax. We love this quiet little hamlet along the ocean. OH, and this week the waves were intense. We saw some that were over 12 feet tall with surfers trying to catch that perfect wave. Damn, I didn't get a pic!! 



It's hard to tell from here, but this is along the 17-mile drive between Carmel and Monterey. The day was hazy, but the water was aquamarine blue. The pic on the right is the Lone Cypress. 


Our perfect cemetery stop for this trip was a little cemetery in Paso Robles, right near Graveyard Vineyards. That's two graveyards in one perfect visit! 




Best Tombstone Ever!



My traveling pals - Jeff & Wyatt outside Graveyard Vineyards. Stop in if you get a chance and chat with Cabernet Frank! He is knowledgeable about the area and all their wines as well. Graveyard Vineyard has a website, and here it is: www.graveyardvineyards.com


One of my retirement goals is to visit all of the standing California Missions along the Camino Real. On this trip, we were able to visit three of them. We first stopped into San Miguel Archangel, the 16th of the California Missions. This lovely place was founded in 1797 by Father Lasuen and is a thriving place of worship to this day. 





We also fed our tummies in San Miguel at a little place called Taco Mafia. They don't have a website, but this town is pretty tiny. You'll be able to spot them on 14th and give them a try. Their posole and street tacos were out of this world!!! Yelp has 'em too. 



Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad is located just outside Salinas. Built in 1791, this mission produced 100,000 bushels of wheat in its heyday, and owned over 17,000 head of cattle. The grapevines pictured below have been a part of the fence here for decades. Just beyond the grapevines you can see a mound of adobe that was the retaining wall for the workshop of Native Americans who lived at the mission. 




My favorite mission of the trip was San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, the 2nd of the California missions. Founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1770, this location is said to be his favorite. It is also his final resting place. This grounds are well-kept and the history throughout is immaculate. There is a thriving parish and elementary school on the campus, and it's all gorgeous. 









If you're interested in visiting the California Missions, here's a few links for more information:
www.missionscalifornia.com 
https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=22722


I believe that donuts were the theme of this trip. And now I know where those 3 extra pounds came from when I got on the scale at home. 


Donuts Along the Way:
Stevenson Ranch Bakery @ 25814 Hemingway Way near Santa Clarita
Monterey Donuts @ 2440 Fremont Avenue in Monterey
Wongz Donuts @ 30628 Benton Road in Winchester, just outside Temecula

Until Next Time ~ Travel & Be Happy!!!
:) Deb 













Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Retirement Continues !!!


I am happy to say that retirement is progressing nicely around our house. But we have been very busy!

Emma.

This little darling has stolen our hearts. I got over to see her a few times this fall and she is as endearing as ever. Here she is with her proud daddy! I cannot get enough of her sweet face.




Disneyland to celebrate with Kristi!
Girls' Day at Disneyland with every single on of my gals. We had the best time as you can see here.



And that 60 minute wait for Mickey... SO worth it!!! 


San Francisco with Zach & Sierra.
What a fun time we had - eating and wandering and seeing the sights. This town has so much appeal time after time. We had some of the best egg custard cups ever from a place in Chinatown called Golden Gate Bakery. Our wait time was only 30 minutes and well worth it. We visited the Antique Vibrator Museum, and a great Cidery, called Upcider (www.upcidersf.com) - Amazing ciders!! Our boutique hotel, The Adagio on Geary, was centrally located with a nice happy hour bar and gorgeous rooms. Well Played Adagio! (www.marriott.com) Food... glorious food. From the best dim sum ever at Hong Kong Lounge on Geary Street to the ultimate Hawaiian Brunch at Aina (www.ainasf.com) to the wonderful array of Tiki Bars - this was a great weekend all around. Love these two.




Knee Replacement.
Not for me, mind you but for my hubby. He is now 5 weeks post-op and doing great and I have loved doing all the driving around town. Truly - so proud of his progress!




Fantasy Football.

This mindless sports debacle and competition among family members and friends has us rattled to the core on a weekly basis. Right this very moment - Mr. Smith and I are vying for 9th and 10th place out of 10 teams. Righteous. I'm pretty sure he's got me on this as his team is waaay better than mine. Not saying much - but we have enjoyed our weekly bouts, and have come to love the Philadelphia Eagles


and most notably, Carson Wentz.  Image result for carson wentz This quarterback has thrown incredibly well on the field, and continues to shine as a role model and regular ole human being too.

Gearing up for the holidays around here and looking forward to spending time with all our loved ones. Until next time :)
Deb