Hello Friday!

sunrise in Arizona
Sunrise out my bedroom window.

I had to share the beauty I saw this morning. I felt privileged to be included in the show. Our bedroom faces east and this is the delight we were blessed to see from bed.

Sunrise view in our backyard.

I had to walk outside and be part of it. The photos don’t do it justice. What a gorgeous way to start the day. I can’t wait to see what other beauty awaits as the day unfolds.

Even the kitty stood by the sliding glass door in staring in awe. At least she looked mesmerized.

Have a wonderful weekend!

It’s a Game Changer…

Lentil recipe with veggies.
Red lentils with veggies that I cooked Sunday.

Saturday evening, after watching a show on Netflix called The Game Changers, my husband announced he wanted to go on a plant-based diet. He said the show talked about the health benefits and that we should try it several days a week. Not go full vegan, but cut out meat three to four days per week. The movie featured professional athletes and Olympians who went plant-based and got stronger and gained more endurance. It argued against theories we’ve grown up with that to be strong you need to eat animal protein. The movie explained that plants also offer complete proteins.

When our kids were young, my husband told them that if they wanted to grow up big and strong they needed to eat something “with a face.”

At the exact time my husband said he wanted to cut out meat, I was charring a giant tri-tip on the barbecue that I found half price at the store. I also sauteed shishito peppers in sesame oil, cooked green beans from the farmer’s market and heated up mashed potatoes. It was a delicious meal. Yes, we eat a lot of meat. Would I be able to give it up? Or cut back? I crave protein and eat beef, chicken, pork and fish.

Charred rare tri-tip, green beans and mashed potatoes.
Last night’s dinner. Tri-tip charred on the outside, rare inside and veggies.

I watched the show on Sunday and thought I could try it a few days a week and see how it goes. We’re both feeling aches and pains we didn’t a year or two ago — and if a plant-based diet makes us feel better and healthier, why not? So, I cooked a batch of lentils. My son introduced me to lentils a few years ago and they are a staple in his diet. He’s not a vegan, but he definitely doesn’t eat meat every day.

I tried a different type that that I haven’t used before, fast cooking red lentils, and I simmered them in vegetable broth for 15 minutes. The package said one cup lentils to three cups liquid. They need to be rinsed before you cook them. Then I prepped garlic, onion, peppers, carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes.

Red Mill red lentils
The lentils simmering on the stove.
lentils draining after simmering
Red lentils draining after 15 minutes of simmering.
onions, peppers, celery, carrots and cherry tomoatoes
The best tasting and most beautiful part of this dish.

I sauteed garlic and onion and spices in avocado oil. I’m an avocado oil fan because it cooks at a higher temperature than olive oil. It cooks faster and hotter.

garlic and onions sauteed in avocado oil
Sauteed onions, garlic and spices of cumin, ginger, ancho chile powder, turmeric, salt and pepper.

The secret is to come up with a blend of spices that you love and season it well. The lentils pick up the flavors of their surroundings.

It was filling and delicious. I sent my husband to a friend’s house with a big slab of the tri-tip roast. I’ll enjoy the leftover tri-tip on a non-vegan day, but if I’m going to try going meatless three days a week, I don’t want it sitting in the fridge staring at me.

Should I try going plant-based three days in a row? Or, mix it up?

Have you tried a plant-based diet? How did it make you feel? I’m not known for a lot of will power. Do you have any tips or recipes I should try? Is it cheating to eat cheese or use butter? Would you give up meat? Why or why not?

Here are some plant-based recipes from the The Game Changers website: CLICK HERE.

Let the Games Begin!

Kettler Cabo ping pong table on the patio
Our new ping pong table with a view.

We had a ping pong table gathering dust at our old home. We went back and forth on whether we wanted to move it or not. Our movers showed up with too small of a truck, they had to find a Uhaul to complete the move — so that set the nail in our ping pong table’s coffin. We donated it to Angel View Crippled Children’s Thrift Shop.

It had some good years of use. We raised our kids playing ping pong. We had relatives and friends over to play. The swim team played at our house. But lately, it had sat folded up in a corner in our garage.

Once we moved, I didn’t think about ping pong until our August beach vacation. At the park above the beach there were two concrete ping pong tables. My husband and played several games a day. We’d laugh so hard and it kept our heart rates going.

Summerland ping pong tables in a park
Beach ping pong at the park on concrete tables.

Then we went to Berkeley for a long weekend to visit the kids. My son found as an amazing airbnb that had a ping pong table in the living room. We played with the kids every evening. My son who had shoulder surgery had to play left handed and he was still beating us. It turns out that at his former job, they had a ping pong table at work. He played hours with someone he said was very good. It will be interesting to see how he does when his shoulder is healed and he plays us right handed.

airbnb with a ping pong table in the living room
Ping pong at the airbnb.

After the beach and Berkeley trips, I decided to order a new ping pong table. It would have been so much easier if we had kept the old one, but that’s like crying over spilt milk. We researched tables and decided we wanted one that was outdoor and could stand up to weather. I was so disappointed when it was delivered!

ping pong table in a box

The ping pong table arrived. Now about that “some assembly required.”

I’m usually pretty good at assembly required projects, but this one had me spooked. My husband cut open the box and there were multiple plastic packages of bolts, screws, nuts, etc. numbered starting at 40 going through the 50s, jumping over a hundred and ending at 128. My first step in assembly is making sure all the parts are there. I got out the instructions and they listed all the parts — but the numbers started at one and were consecutive — contrary to the contents in the box. I noticed the same type of screws in multiple bags. It completely overwhelmed me how to start.

My husband said, “Let’s send it back.”

I googled our area and ping pong tables. I found a game room guy. I called and asked if he’d assemble the table.

He said “Yes, next Wednesday for $450.”

My husband said, “Like I said. Send it back.”

I texted our realtor and asked if he knew anyone to assemble ping pong tables. He told me to use a website called Thumbtack.com. Good advice. They have service professionals at reasonable prices to do whatever you need. We found an affordable person who turned out to be a nice young man in his early 20s who assembled our ping pong table just like that for a fraction of the cost of my first quote.

So now I can say “Let the games begin!”

What fun activities do you like to do on vacation and at your house? Do you play ping pong or pool? What else do you do to stay active?

Do you like assembly required projects? How do you approach them?

Living in the Wild Kingdom

Two of the six javelina we spotted in our neighborhood Sunday morning.

Last week we were fortunate to see our bobcat in action inches from our bedroom window. I posted photos and video HERE.

Sunday on our morning walk, I caught sight of a squadron of javelina. Yes, that’s what a group of them are called. These were six youngsters I believe, because they were smaller than ones I’ve seen in our yard. Also, they didn’t have tusks. I thought they were related to pigs, but a docent at the nearby preserve told us they are in the guinea pig family.

Javelina enjoying freshly ripened prickly pear.

There’s never a dull moment in the desert of Arizona. I’m enjoying the surprises!

I’ll admit I got a little nervous when this guy stopped and faced me.

What are some of the creatures you have in your neck of the woods?

Views from my visitor’s eyes

I had so much fun showing off my new home to my guest this week. I had the company of my sister-in-law to visit thrift shops, consignment stores and an outdoor mall called Scottsdale Quarter. We went out to lunch, had fun sitting around talking until late in the night — (anything past 8 p.m. is late to me!) We hiked, walked and swam in the pool.

We took her to the lake last night. She loved it and said she’s coming back with her husband. They have a boat and spend summer days on a lake.

We watched sunsets and of course the wildlife with our bobcat as the highlight. It was interesting to view my home of nine months through the eyes of someone who has never been here before. It was like seeing it for the first time.

These are the photos she took with her Android. I have an iphone SE and my camera isn’t nearly as good!

Saguaro at Lake Bartlett
Bartlett Lake near our home. My sister-in-law loved the juxtaposition of mountains, saguaros and water.
Lake views in Tonto National Forest
The lake is in the Tonto National Forest. Weekdays hardly anyone is there. The weekends are packed.
Bartlett Lake Arizona
We had a lot of rain in August and the water level looks better.
Sunset view from Raven's View
We went to a wine bar for a light dinner called Raven’s View. This was the sunset view.
Arizona sunset
It was a gorgeous sunset.

What are your favorite things about having guests? Do they stay with you or nearby? Do you like to cook for them? If you do, what do you like to prepare? If not, where do you like to go out?

It’s a jungle out there!

bobcat on the patio
This precious kitty was inches from my bedroom sliding glass door.

My husband called to me from the bedroom. “The bobcat is here!”

“Where?” I asked scanning my view past the fence in the backyard.

“Right here.”

Wow. The bobcat was lounging inches away from our sliding glass door. She looked hot with mouth open breathing. But instead of panting, she was scenting her next meal. My cat Olive used to do that when scouting for birds in our backyard — before we moved to the wilds of Arizona.

I called to my sister-in-law to come into our bedroom and we stood fascinated watching our very own “animal kingdom.”

The bobcat nonchalantly grabbed a bird midair and took it behind a potted plant to munch. She climbed a tree and came down with another snack of a baby bird. Another baby bird was hopping on the patio oblivious to the danger. That life ended quickly.

The bobcat moved into the shade and fell asleep on our patio, sated with an afternoon meal.

Climbing into a tree to fetch a baby bird snack.
Arizona desert bobcat
Acting casual before catching a snack.
She looks like she owns the place!

I’m a little nervous to go outside after dark. You don’t know what’s out in those trees or under our patio furniture. It’s literally a jungle out there!

Thanks to my sister-in-law for the amazing videos.

Olive cat the barfly
Here’s Olive our wild cat who is hanging out on the bar.

Happy Trails to You!

McDowell Sonoran Preserve trails.
It’s cool enough to hike at 6:30 am. so we hit the hiking trails by our house.

We haven’t been out hiking for months in the preserve by our house because of the summer heat. Finally, the weather is breaking and it felt wonderful to be out in nature at the gorgeous McDowell Sonoran Preserve once again.

We have a house guest, my sister-in-law, and it’s fun to show off our new town to her. She loved the hike, too and took some great photos of our desert life. I’m looking at things through her eyes and it’s inspiring to me.

prickly pear cactus
Prickly pears.
quail
Quail in our backyard.
saguaro cactus
A majestic saguaro.
cactus cookies
Cactus cookies that my husband’s sister made for us. She has a cookie business as one of her many endeavors.
saguaro growth chart
I found this chart helpful to learn about saguaros and how old they are.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again

Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then

Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?

Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather

Happy Trails Roy Rogers & Dale Evans

When you have a guest, what are some of the things you like to share or explore?