Monday, August 31, 2009

Mini Vacay to the Fiery Depths of Hell, I Mean Phoenix

To Do List:
*Pack Clothes and Toiletries - Check
*Pack Dogs' Everything - Check (but not really because I forgot the leashes, woops)
*Pack Ice Chest and Snack Bag - Check
*Give Husband a High Five for his Superb Marks on Exam - Check Check
*Make the Most Fantastic Sandwiches for the Drive - Check (Jay couldn't even wait until we got on the road, only 6 inches of his 12 inch sub sandwich made it out the door)
*Drive off into the sunset - Check... nice!

The drive was not too long...just a little uneventful. There really isn't much excitement driving out in the desert, and then when you turn out the lights, there really isn't anything to watch pass by. So a couple hours later we start to get close to Phoenix. We stopped in Tempe to fashion a leash out of some rope at a Home Depot. Jay liked the Eagle Scout way better than just going to the Pet Smart across the street. I stayed in the car while he went on his scavenger hunt because we noticed as we were approaching the store that it was 105 degrees outside!!! Are you serious, the sun had been down for almost an hour! That's when we began to understand the intensity of the scorching desert where which we chose to vacation. The new plan for the rest of the weekend was to stay in doors by the blasting air conditioner unless it was absolutely necessary to go outside. haha

However, the agenda did include a grab and go breakfast the next morning with the dogs. They even got their own bagels from the restaurant. We went to the park and let them run around before the heat was turned up too high. After re-hydrating and a cool down session in the hotel, Jay and I headed out for lunch at a well known pizza joint in Gilbert (suburb of Phoenix) La Piazza Al Forno. Guy Fieri suggested it and Jay was excited about the brick oven in the restaurant. Thankfully there weren't any tables available because that allowed us to sit at the 'pizza bar'. We were front and center for all the dough tossing action and got to chat with the chef who we remembered from the Triple D episode. Very Cool! So what do you think of our selections? Can you guess who ordered what?

One pie is the Italian Stallion and one is La Piazza Verde. The pizzas were made with the freshest ingredients. No shredded mozzarella here, only fresh slices. The dough was made that morning with flour imported from Italy, and the crust was a perfect texture and most importantly, not too filling. Jay topped his order off with a cannoli, of course.

With our bellies full of the culinary worlds' natural sedative, Italian food, we were set for a nap in the freezer we called our hotel room. We hopped into our oven on wheels (very carefully avoiding burns) and saw the truck was on the verge of melting right from under us. 127 degrees, a.k.a. the Fiery Depths of Hell.

The baseball game was next on the agenda. I said a quick prayer that the Astros would actually show up since this was Jay's only MLB game this year. With neither the Yankees nor the Rangers on the roster and it being Louis Gonzalez Day at Chase Field, I found the nearest beer stand to try to smooth things over. However the odds were against me, before the game started we had to endure a tribute to Gonzo's career with the Diamondbacks, and footage of his most memorable baseball moments. This was especially harsh for Jay to watch, since the top highlight of his career was game 7 of the 2001 World Series vs. the Yankees when he hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th off of Mariano Rivera. So my lasting hopes rode on the Astros, never a good position to be in. We left before the 8th inning when the Astros were down by 9. Oh well, the pretzel, nachos, and beer were AWESOME! Optimism won.

Unfortunately Jay had to fly out of Phoenix unexpectedly Sunday morning to attend his sweet granny's funeral. She was very ill, and had been fighting Alzheimer's for some months now. She is now reunited with her loving husband in heaven and is no longer feeling any pain. Please keep Jay, his mother Betty, and their family in your prayers.

I thought I would end this entry with a little love song by who else...Journey.

Loved By You
Every time is like the first time tenderly
Loving you is like breathing spring
Seasons change but your heart beats constantly
Count my blessing every day as you love me
As the sunset disappears across the northern sky
You look for forever in my eyes
All I can say, long as I have a voice
I’ll thank God above that I was your first choice

If I should die before I wake
I’ll go into the night whispering your name
If lying in your arms is the last thing that I do
At least I know that I’ll be loved by you

In about a hundred years from now
When all of my love letters are found
And someone reads these words I’ve written only meant for you
They’ll know how forever came true...

Let the years roll on by
These are the best times of my life
I’ll just smile when my days are through
Knowing that I’ve been loved by you
At least I know that I’ve been loved by you

Monday, August 24, 2009

Higher Place

So you think you got it all in place now
No distractions under control
Yet there's something missing inside me
I'm chasing shadows of myself
And the clocks are ticking
Oh my world is spinning
Spinning 'round and 'round
And 'round and 'round again

And I try
I try to reason why
Don't you know I can't go on this way
Baby please don't walk away there is this place
Where I toss away my pride
So you can see that I'm the one
To take you to a higher place this time

Jay and I feel so fortunate to be in such an enlightened place in our lives, where we've climbed out of the sadness of our past and are ready to stand tall again. I think many of our friends and family were very surprised at how gracefully we were able to brace ourselves after such life altering experiences in our first few years of marriage. We are almost at the end of year 4 and it really doesn't seem as though our careers as husband and wife have been that long. That's probably because technically we haven't been husband and wife in the same house for even half that time. Hahaha, you should be laughing too because we find nothing but humor in that. We have experienced many blessings in our short tenure and wouldn't change one moment of the last few years.

We climbed many mountains to get where we are today and because of those journeys we bask in the panoramic views of life that many aren't as fortunate to see. We are very lucky to be standing tall, hand in hand facing what we feel is a peak in our life. We are together and are both very healthy, such an accomplishment in itself for us :). In turn, we were energized to take on a climb to a peak in the Sierra Vista Mountains. I am a hiking virgin, but I am married to a well traveled and experienced climber. So my handsome and rugged tour guide made sure I was outfitted for the trek and we set out for breathtaking views of the valley in which we call home for the time being.

We started out around 6 a.m. on Saturday. The previous night's showers left the air crisp and the sun hidden behind the lingering clouds as it rose; perfect climate for a hike. We hiked, as far as I was concerned, up a very steep grade to our lookout point in about 30 minutes. First of all, I was so proud that I made it, and secondly I made it without getting spooked by any rustling noises that I would swear were snakes. The lookout point was actually a pile of large rocks set out on the edge of a mountain, a picturesque perch perfect for viewing the valley. I couldn't think too hard about hugging the side of a mountain or I wouldn't have done it. I just took Jay's hand and climbed the rocks to the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in Arizona. Jay and I basked in the cool air, God's gorgeous landscape, nearly 360 degree views of the Huachuca Valley, and most enjoyably, each other's company until the sun finally split through the clouds. That is by far my most favorite part of Sierra Vista, AZ.

Our next task on our To Do List for the weekend was to head over to Tucson for a little ink job. You all probably know that we are not foreign to the idea of marking ourselves with symbols, words, or objects that mean something to us. We have been anxiously awaiting our next tattoo for sometime now especially since I've had it drawn and Jay's been carrying it around for over a year. We just wanted to make sure we chose the right artist and we were both in the same place. Saturday at Majestic Tattoo in Tucson, AZ proved to be that right time and place. We both wanted to memorialize Abigail in a very special and everlasting way. Jay and I are so pleased in how they turned out. As we were driving home, we got a sign that Abigail liked them too.

And finally, I feel as though you are all waiting for me to discuss our delicious delectables we dined on this weekend. After all your comments, I felt so guilty for making everyones' mouths water especially since you all were probably reading that entry at work where there wasn't much but snacks to dive into in your desk drawers. But don't worry I'll be back soon with another enticing entry on good eats in the Phoenix area when we visit this weekend.
I will, however, leave you with one food for thought... After hearing how vegetarian diets are better on the environment and our carbon footprint, Jay came to a decision that he was willing to try one vegetarian day a week. To my surprise, and I'm sure yours as well, my carnivorous husband was opening his mind to food in ways I had never expected. I was so pleased to hear that since I have been eating less and less meat over the past few months. So we had our first vegetarian day Sunday, and I am happy to report Jay was fully satisfied Sunday evening when we sat down to read before heading to bed. He even suggested we try adding an additional vegetarian day every couple of weeks. I was shocked! even think there might be an entire vegetarian week in our future...holey tofu Batman!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wine and Dine Weekend

This weekend edition is jam-packed with fun times and good food, so strap on your seat belt and hold on tight!

Jay and I were planning to play some golf last week, but the rain delayed it until Friday after work, which proved to be the best time to play golf. No one on the course, great weather, and half price green fees! You pay for 18 holes and fit in as many as you can before the sun sets. We were able to shoot 15 holes. As the sun set, the jack rabbits began to take over the course. Crazy stuff, apparently they are used to balls flying by them because they didn't hop away when my ball rolled by. We kept seeing signs warning us of poisonous snakes and how they are protective of their homes. That was almost too much for me. But Jay, the Eagle Scout he is, reminded me that they don't really attack unless they feel attacked themselves. I will never be okay with those creatures. We managed to avoid the water, sand, and animal traps and shot some not so consistent golf. Oh well, it was good hubby and wife time, we saw a beautiful sunset and it allowed us to plan the rest of our weekend, which we were both really excited about! Well it's more appropriate for me to say I was excited, and Jay was thrilled for what the weekend had in store...

After golf, we decided we needed to experience Mexican food in southern Arizona. We tried out La Casita in Sierra Vista and were pleasantly surprised. Jay had a dynamite margarita and I had a lovely Sangria to start, both tasty tonics. We moved on to our table passing the full crowd, so we figured so far we had chosen the right restaurant. However, we all know the salsa is the first true sign if you are in the right place. The waitress approached, placed a bowl of chips and salsa down on the table, then asked if we would like the hot salsa as well. We said, oh YES! The mild salsa was very flavorful, a little chunkier than we prefer, but very good. The hot salsa was less flavorful, a little hotter than medium and just okay. Cut to us asking for another bowl of the original salsa to put on all over our meal.

Mariachis serenaded the restaurant and it really took us both back to the Mexican market in San Antonio. We were a little nostalgic for a short while but then our food arrived and we came back to reality. I ordered my staple, a tostada with beans and guacamole and a chicken enchilada. They both were delicious. The enchilada was served with a red sauce and was far from dry. Jay ordered the carnitas plate which is basically a fajitas plate with pork instead. His was awesome!! The pork was so moist and tender not to mention had really great flavor. The tortillas were perfect, except that they only served 3 to Jay with his plate; none for me :(. Needless to say, I had to drive home because Jay hurt himself over eating, AND we still brought home leftovers. So far we like Mexican food in southern Arizona. (We'll be researching more and will bring you the results as they digest)

Saturday was predicted to be a big day, especially for Jay. All he had been talking about for the past two weeks was In and Out Burger. He learned about this west coast burger joint a long time ago, and everything anyone ever said about it was that it was life changing or the best burger joint ever. So when Jay discovered there was several locations in Tucson, it moved to the top of his To Do List. However, at the top of the 'Household To Do List' was a trip to the grocery store to fill our barren kitchen. If any of you have yet to learn this about me and Jay, grocery shopping is, in the words of one of Jay's instructors, a significant emotional experience for us. Love is not quite right, it's more of a passion for walking the aisles, feeling the fruits and veggies, and singing/dancing to the always upbeat music playing.

After an hour or two of filling our cart with our upcoming week's recipe necessities, we headed to the house to prepare for our drive to Tucson. The dogs were prepped for a long afternoon nap and we were prepped with empty tummies. We ran a couple of errands before we made it to In and Out just to make sure we were famished enough to really enjoy 'the best fast food burgers in the world'. We finally made it to the burger joint around 3 p.m. thinking it would be less crowded. I mean who wants to take on a hugely popular restaurant on a Saturday around noon in a college town. But to our surprise the restaurant parking lot was packed and the drive thru line was wrapped around the 3 P.M.! The restaurant was so crowded you had to stalk people for their table. I actually asked someone if they were about to leave before they even got up. I mean, it was everyone for themselves. We waited for about 15-20 minutes, or as Jay would refer, a lifetime.

We made sure we had rehearsed our ordering lingo since there are no menus and you've got to have the inside information to know your ordering options. They only offer a hamburger, cheese burger, or a double double (double meat, double cheese) with all the standard toppings at the register. However, they have secret ordering options for which we opted. We both got ours animal style (mustard flavored patty, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, grilled onions, and their special sauce), and of course Jay doubled up. I don't think I have really built up the anticipation he was feeling, so I felt the need to capture it in a picture. I don't think I really need to describe him, the picture sells it.

After we downed our burgers and fries, I thought I caught a lasting glimpse of hunger in Jay's eyes. I looked at him, and said, "You're not done, are you?". He smiled a huge mischievous smile. You'll see him again at the counter anxiously awaiting his second ride, this time with a chocolate shake! So in the end...In and Out Burger definitely 'Quality You Can Taste'!

Sunday was another feast-ive day, but this time we started early at the Sierra Vista Diner...I know what you are thinking...we are so gluttonous, but really we just love to try new places to eat! We do it well and have fun at the different eateries. Such a cute place screamed our attention. Our breakfasts were perfect, not too big but with good variety. They filled us up just long enough until dinner when we feasted at home on Asian surf and turf. Grilled tuna and chicken wings with a soy ginger glaze, grilled pineapple and mango, and edamame fried rice. We felt like we were at a restaurant again it was so good!
We're hoping to tempt some visitors to come see us and let us cook for them....huh huh any takers???

Monday, August 17, 2009



Such a short word with such an fulfilling promise. A word that seems so certain, predestined in fact. But for what, for whom, and for how long. The latter being the most consequential mystery of all.

The hesitancy that can come with not knowing what lies ahead can overtake our ability to really enjoy the present, a time that is blooming with possibilities. Opportunities can be overlooked if we aren't remembering the blessings that stand before us. Our gratefulness abounds when we step back and recognize what gifts we have received. Those gifts can take the shape of anything such as a moment, a setting, a relationship, or the most familiar, a person.

The most significant gift Jay and I have ever received was a beautiful baby girl named Abigail Jane. Whose life was so uncertain from the very beginning, yet predestined and no doubt fulfilling a promise. God vowed to change our lives forever and to make us stronger than we ever thought we could be. And she did just that, by making us so blessedly happy with just one squeeze of our finger. Her unyielding strength inspired us to face the unknown in life and enjoy the entire ride.

Her breath was taken away one year ago today, but her life will echo between the hearts she touched forever. Join us in remembering Abigail Jane...

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Got a Reason

Lyin' there I watch you sleep
One kiss before I leave, what you've done to me
I'm gonna tell the world... Yeah

We hope you all had a great weekend! We did, and it was quite successful! Friday night Jay had the opportunity to socialize with his classmates over drinks and appetizers. Spouses were not included on the guest list due to limited budget, so I offered to be his designated driver and dropped him off at the Blues Cafe (side note - I've been wanting to try the Blues Cafe since we arrived in AZ of course they choose it as the site of their social). It felt as though I was taking a teenager to a friend's house on a friday night. As he closed the door, I yelled in a motherly tone, "Call me in a couple of hours, and I'll come pick you up". So silly.

Saturday we thoroughly enjoyed the Yankees/Red Sox game and later were invited over to our neighbors' house to watch the UFC fight. Our other neighbor was there as well, and we had a great time laughing, getting to know each other and watching several men kick the living crap out of each other. However, I still don't get the thrill of it. I mean, come on, it's no WWF circa 1990 when Randy Savage takes on the Undertaker. It looked too real.

Sunday was probably the most successful day since the Yankees ended up sweeping the Red Sox in an exciting rivalry series. Jay was screaming like he had just won the lottery, but in a way he really kind of did. The Yankees are up 6.5 games over the Red Sox in the AL East AND the Rangers are now tied with the Red Sox for the wild card position. Sadly I have no really exciting news to report of the Astros, but maybe someday I will. Until then, I can relish in my adorably ecstatic hubby's excitement.

Also on Sunday morning, we took the dogs for a walk down by this park we found. It was a beautiful morning, as most are in Sierra Vista around this time of the year. Nice and breezy and not too hot. After a few laps we thought the dogs might like to a try a different activity. Killer kept pulling us to the shady spots as we were walking so we decided to let them play in one of the few shady spots, aka the jungle gym. You know the ones with the slides, tubes you crawl through, the different ladders and steps. They LOVED it! Killer was a little weary at first, but her first swoosh down the slide settled her in. She slipped and slid on her backside for a short bit, but landed squarely on all fours. Daisy was a pro and all about the climbing and sliding. Killer's favorite part was the fact that it was in the shade. We felt like kids again and can't wait to ride down the slides with our own kids soon.

Another great weekend with the one and only person I was meant to be with. We have such fun together and we are so thankful for our time together. I love the fact that we can make the best out of any situation we are thrown into. Life is funny sometimes, and I think the best thing we can do is laugh along with it instead of trying not to smile. Wouldn't you agree! So don't forget to smile at life today, and everyday that follows. :)

I got a reason to feel alive
You put the smile on my face
There'll be no more lonely nights in this town
Oh no... no... 'cause I got a reason

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Weekend!

As I take a break from drawing, I feel like giving a shout out to all our family and friends in hopes that you all have a wonderfully awesome spaztastic weekend! You deserve it!

I want to remind you all that Jay and I love you all so incredibly much. You have stuck with us through all of our swerves, flat tires, speeding tickets, and construction zones of life. We know it couldn't have been easy for you to stay so supportive and always think of just the right thing to say. You all rose to every occasion and provided the utmost unconditional support we could ever need. Each one of you is a guardrail bouncing us back on the road and keeping our eyes on the prize. There is no way we would have made it back on track without you. Please know we thank God everyday for you and your loyalty to us. We are so incredibly blessed to have each one of you riding shotgun with us down our boulevard of dreams.

Okay so I know those were some silly repetitive cliches, but I thought I should stick with the traveling theme and reflect our blog's title. I just hope I perked a smile or two. :)

Happy Friday everyone! We love you!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Turn Down the World Tonight

Caught up in living
Getting through each day
When all the tomorrows become faded yesterdays
Are you slipping away?

Lighted by our schedules
Rushing here and there
Become strangers to each other
Miss you everywhere
How did we get this way?

Spontaneity, is who I am referring to as I recall Journey's lyrics. As many of you may have noticed I enjoy schedules, thrive on planning, and relish in research. The excitement of creating such a perfectly planned day gets me all worked up.

Man that is sad, just as I reread that, I felt sorry for my pitiful self and for Jay. But to his credit, he does battle my anal methodical mind by hyping up his dear friend, Spontaneity. He presents it as such an attractive raw alternative to a safe sure thing. He claims it's more exciting, it gives such a thrill, it really knows how to curl your toes, and it creates memorable experiences like you could never know amidst a planned day. And when I rebuttal with my 'what if's and 'but's, he swats them away with a well known mantra he encourages me to chant along with him daily..."Screw It". Supposedly this minimalist two word phrase can solve all my anxiety towards a hap hazard way of life. Two measly words will make up for all the options A, B and C's; the rainy day plans; and the reviews from experienced patrons. Ummm you've got to hear the scepticism in my words, right!

Well I subtly ventured in to the relaxed way of life this weekend, and in more than one way, I might add. Friday night, Jay and I talked about having a date night. We tossed around some options but never narrowed anything down, so come Friday afternoon as you would guess I would typically be researching reviews of restaurants and menus, but no, I decided to just wait it out and see what happened. Jay called on his way home and asked if he could pick anything up for a toast to the weekend, and what did I say..."Surprise Me". Yeah that's right, I didn't even think three times about it, I just thought once, twice, and then said it with a very "screw it" tone. However, when he arrived with my favorite beer, I felt awful when it just wasn't what was tempting my taste buds that evening. How great a husband was he, when he went across the street and got me a mini bottle of wine. Okay, so give me time...I'm getting to the really crazy stuff.

We ended up at a new sushi restaurant and martini bar. An exciting choice since it was so new there weren't any reviews or menus online. We went in blind and after a long extended evening there, decided it had decent sushi with better drink options than service. A decent date with Spontaneity.

The next day we planned (haha sometimes I rub off on him) on celebrating the dogs birthdays since there were no formal parties this summer for either of them. Daisy's big one was in June, literally she turned 1 and she's huge, and Killer turned 3 in July. So as we were talking about what their birthday weekend was going to entail, I casually mentioned that there was a wine festival at a nearby vineyard. We decided on the fly that we would check it out and postpone the dogs' day to Sunday. We grabbed our gear, being each other and our 'screw it' attitudes, and headed west into the thunder mountains, to which I believe they are referred.

Sonoita Vineyards was a lot of fun. Wonderful panoramic views and great weather set the scene for wine tastings, vineyard tours, wine pairings, live music, and grape stomping. We thought the spontaneous afternoon was a hit, very romantic and a tasty treat. Later that night we headed back to the house to grill some turkey burgers and watch some Triple D. (if you don't know what that is, you are missing out big time!)

Sunday was puppy day, and we started off at the doggy park we found in town. It was expansive and deserted, perfect! The dogs loved it, they could run for days, but really it was barely an hour before they were both tuckered out. The sun was beginning to make it unbearable for our little Killer. We got them two new frisbees and were headed back to the house for a big succulent bone. As the dogs slept off the morning, Jay and I headed off to take in a movie on the fly. The first showing of the day=great matinee price! We slapped our legs and laughed our heads off at "The Ugly Truth", mimicking my sister's reaction.

What happened next was sooo unlike me and I loved it! Jay suggested we jump in the car and drive north to Tucson for the evening. I shockingly retorted, "But, it's Sunday!". Obviously a day when I never saw, thought about, or even flirted with Spontaneity. But Jay had that 'screw it' sparkle in his eye, combined with a killer smile and I couldn't say no. We had no idea where we were going once we got there, just thought we'd find some shops to look at and then maybe have dinner.

To my surprise it worked out really well, the shops were open on Sunday afternoon which is always a gamble. We found an Olive Garden right near by and I just happened to have a gift card from my parents in my purse. Um yeah that's what I'm talking about, when everything just seems to fall into place! That's what curls my toes! So me and Spontaneity rubbed elbows a little bit this weekend and I must confess, I kind of enjoyed it. I'm glad we could reunite and combine forces to create a fun filled, non-chaotic, and romantic weekend. It may have even helped me and Jay enjoy each other even more. So lesson learned, less time planning can sometimes lead to surprising more fulfilling experiences.

Help me turn down the world tonight
Take a quiet moment, somewhere we can unwind
Losing touch, we forget to take time
To share what's in our hearts
Speak what's on our minds

So much information streaming at us fast
What I really need to know is if
We can make it last
I wanna keep you close