Kisses from the Missus

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I almost always have nude, light pink or sheer lips. But today I decided to go with Salsa Red lipstick! At first my lips were almost neon they were so bright and stark. To tone down the red I knew I had to blot my lips. But instead of blotting my lips on tissue, I decided to use Odie’s head.

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Maybe it’s just me but I think he looks adorable with smooches!

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In case there are PETA reps out there, No animals were harmed during this photo shoot… Yes, Odie doesn’t look happy, but he’s a bulldog and just can’t help those forlorn faces he makes! (I know that inside he’s as happy as a bulldog with kisses!)

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Free (or close to it!) stuff that will make you smile

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Okay, so there are a few sites out there making money by blogging. A Reel Chick is not one of those sites. So, I’m all about stuff for free (or close to it!) that can make for a better blog. Here are a few things I’ve found that I’d like to share with fellow frugal bloggers:

Shutterstock: Yes, you have to pay to use their photos and illustrations but if you sign up for their newsletter, each week you will get an offer to download some of their images for free. (The cute chalkboard image I used for the headline of this post is a Shutterstock image I got for free.)

Miss Tiina: Since we’re on the subject of this post’s headline… for the text, I used a font I got for free from Miss Tiina. She has a bunch of fonts offered for free, just be sure to follow her Terms of Use. (The font used for my headline image is Miss Tiina’s MTF Epic font.) I lovd Miss Tiina!

Stupeflix: Horrible name but really cool site that lets you create a video using music and your photos and video clips. I wanted to put Odie’s first trip to the Pacific Ocean to music and created this video in about 30 minutes. This first video was free but I can pay as little as $5 a month to create more videos. Click on image below to see the fun, free video I created.

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Jones Design Company: How cute is this freebie below? Walk, make that run, to the site and sign up for all sorts of cute free designs!

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Adobe Photoshop CS2: Digital Trends has a post that give instructions on how to register for a free version of Photoshop.  For the serious Photoshop enthusiast this version won’t cut it… it just provides basic crop, cut, and lasso capabilities. But for the rest of us, it ’s the only way to legally get your hands on Photoshop without the big price tag. I followed the steps on Digital Trends and am loving the ability to use Photoshop basics!

SurveyMonkey: Not related to blogging, but it’s free and it helps me contribute money to the U.S. Humane Society, a cause I care about. Sign up for free and contribute money toward one of your favorite charities. So far, I’ve contributed $9 toward the U.S. Humane Society just by taking a few surveys!

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Road Trip to the Pacific Northwest!

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In Phoenix, saying that the fall season is almost here isn’t very convincing. After all, we hit 102 degrees just the other day! But there is the reality that all of my summer travels are over. So from that perspective it does feel like another summer season is almost gone.

In August, Mr and I hit the road in The Turd (our 42 foot long fifth wheel RV) and our two dogs. We traveled through six states, had a couple of meltdowns, had one tire blowout (not for the faint of heart when you’re towing a fifth wheel!), visited two cheese farms, picked fresh berries and vegetables, and had an awesome adventure!

I got a pair of amazing cowgirl boots bequeathed to me!

Even though we were camping, I managed to bake an enchilada casserole, tomato tart, caprese salad, lasagna, sweet & sour chicken, and egg roll!  And, drum roll please… Beef Wellington!

I had a lot of fun using the “Vintique” app on my iPhone to create really cool effects and frames for some of my travel pics:

Stop #1: Tonopah, NV. Our first overnight stop was in Tonopah, Nevada. Our RV “site” was a parking lot behind the Tonopah Station Casino. The parking lot was pretty gross but we did appreciate having full hookups for A/C and water. Funny thing is that we got to this site (the last one available!) about 10 seconds before another RVer so, gross or not, we felt lucky to have scored the spot.

970655_10200913749418332_1526229518_nI took this teepee pic on our way out of Tonopah, Nevada.
Just like one of my best friends said, “Black gunpowder and ROCKS… That about says it all!”

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Near Lathrop wells, NV (80 miles north of Las Vegas). A Brothel AND Alien Travel Center! ‘Nuff said…

Stop #2: Tule Lake, CA: Okay, so I wasn’t the best co-pilot. My job was to read the map and steer Mr toward our stop at an RV camping spot near Tule Lake, California. Well… I got us to Tule Lake but unfortunately, the campsite was about 25 minutes south so we had to backtrack (have I mentioned before that I hate to backtrack to a destination?). We eventually got to our campsite.

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Can you spot the deer (it’s smack dab in the middle of the photo).

Mr thought the campground was really cool and rustic. But right next to the campground there was private property and the lawn was artistically littered with dried out animal horns on stakes. Creeeeeeeepy… But, the deer coming so close to our camping spot was really cool. (Maybe they were just trying to get away from being “art” next door?!?)

Stop #3: Moolala, OR. We were able to pitch up our RV on the property of a friend who lives in Moolala, Oregon. It was great! Though technically dry camping (or boondocking) since we weren’t connected to electricity or water, we could walk up the expansive lawn and hang indoors with friends. Oh, and the house? A gorgeous 10,000 square foot Victorian home! Who says camping needs to be rough?

182352_10201027373698868_1508420622_nOdie and his Big Ol’ Cow Tongue fits in with all the cows in Moolala.

Moolala is the nation’s Christmas Tree capital. So there were Christmas tree farms everywhere. And cows. Also abundant were roadside farms where you could pick peaches, berries and all sorts of yummy stuff.

IMG_1371My first Beef Wellington! 
Now I know why Gordon Ramsay makes this dish part of his Hell’s Kitchen menu.
Not an easy dish to nail–but I think Gordon would have been pleased with my attempt.

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My old girl, Indy, takes a siesta next to my newly-acquired cowgirl boots. 

What’s better than a new pair of boots? A pair of boots already broken in and ready to wear! A huge thank you to Bridgette (a REAL cowgirl) who decided to bequeath these beauties to me!!! Bridgette lives in Moolala and does an amazing job of being an integral part of her family’s cattle business while being a loving mom and wife. All cowgirl outside, all sweetheart inside!

Stop #4: Pacific Beach, OR. After Moolala, we took a drive west toward the Oregon Coast. I really wanted to camp in Astoria (where they filmed Goonies!) But all the camp spots were full. So we decided on Pacific Beach. This was Odie’s first time seeing the Pacific Ocean. He had a blast!

1146648_10201012236280442_927151095_nOdie hits the beach at Pacific Beach, Oregon. COWABUNGA!

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After his romp through the Ocean, Odie snuggles underneath a towel, in front of the heater.

Stop #5: Boise, ID. We stayed at Country Corners RV Resort in Caldwell, Idaho, which is about 30 minutes outside of Boise. The campground was super clean and pull thrus made it easy to park The Turd. But best of all were the vegetable gardens at the campground. Guests are encouraged to pick their own corn, squash, onions, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and more!

1175583_10201039350278275_288270245_n (1)I don’t have a green thumb so this was heaven! I got to pick fresh veggies without tending to a garden.

Stop #6: Park City, UT. Our stops in Utah were actually in Wasatch Mountain State Park near Heber, Utah, and River’s Edge RV Resort near Park City, Utah. Mr and I made a trip into Park City (which hosts the Sundance Film Festival). I kept looking for Robert Redford but, alas, no sighting.

598768_10201005283346623_1879202955_nSpotted this Five Wives Vodka on the shelves of the state-run liquor store in Heber, Utah.

Stop #7: Cameron Indian Trading Post near Flagstaff, AZ. You know how when you are heading home from a trip and even if the trip was great, there comes a point where you just long to be home “right now”? That’s sort of how we felt on our final leg heading home.

1187186_10201039823050094_2144689106_nSeeing this sign added to our bout of homesickness.

We decided that even though we were only a few hours away from home that we should avoid driving The Turd at night. So we pulled into an RV spot at the Cameron Indian Trading Post just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.

vintique_imageSign at the Cameron Indian Trading Post RV campsite

Do you dream about a road trip through the Southwest? Think that signs like the one above will be dotted all along your journey? Well then, you won’t be disappointed. Having traveled through parts of Arizona, I can confirm that this part of the country is full of signs, one-light towns, sleepy main streets and abandoned motels and gas stations that capture a nostalgic, vintage setting. You might think you’re in a David Lynch movie, but no, this is Arizona in all of its Route 66-inspired charm.

Final Stop: Cave Creek, AZ. (Home!) A great road trip and fun memories; but glad to be home.

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Ennio Morricone and Spaghetti (Westerns)

From:      Pandora
Subject:  It All Started with Ennio Morricone Radio

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So this morning I got the above email from Pandora. Looks like the first Pandora Station I requested was for Ennio Morricone. I’m not surprised, I have loved Ennio even before I knew his name. In fact, I’ll bet that you, too, have known and loved Ennio for most of your life even though you might not know it…

Think Clint Eastwood. Think the iconic whistle theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” The soundtrack for Sergio Leone’s all-time classic Spaghetti Westerns, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” includes Ennio’s unforgettable whistle and wail theme:

Ah-ee-ah-ee-ah, wah wah wah

So, did you sing or whistle the tune? In your head or out loud? (You gotta admit that it’s hard not to, at the very least, hum it under your breath.)

The website CD Universe states the tune is “so familiar as to be a cultural touchstone. Even an abbreviated sound byte of the theme is enough to conjure images of desolate desert plains, rolling tumbleweeds, and a cowboy-booted figure standing ominously in the distance.”

Another click on the internet and I pulled up someone’s online comment that Ennio’s theme runs through his head every time he and his roommate get to the last slice of pizza and face a standoff. 🙂

Ah-ee-ah-ee-ah, wah wah wah

I dare you not to whistle this theme sometime during the day!

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“Spaghetti Western” Spaghetti

In homage to Ennio Morricone and summer flavors, here’s one of my favorite go-to meals:

Ingredients:

  • Thin Spaghetti
  • Tomatoes (one Roma or a handful of cherry tomatoes)
  • Lemon
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Black Pepper and Sea Salt

Instructions:

  • Cook pasta according to package. Drain.
  • Transfer cooked pasta to bowl.
  • Add Roma tomatoes (diced or cubed) or Cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Add Basil leaves (can be shredded, sliced or whole).
  • Squeeze half a lemon — drizzle over pasta. (Variation: squeeze half a lemon, then combine the juice with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, whisk and then drizzle over pasta).
  • Top all of it off with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, black pepper and coarse salt.

Easy peasy!  Add grilled chicken for extra protein and a heartier meal.

P.S.

I sometimes wonder if Mr really does read my blog. I mean, I know he subscribes to my site and will make comments like, “Hey, I saw that you posted today.” But does he reeeeally read my blog? Well, he does (or at least he did yesterday).

Mr sent me a note about my “Orange you glad it’s June?” post. He reminded me that I missed the biggest statement I make regarding my love of the color orange, “You should have put a pic of your car on there!” And right, he is!

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I own a 2013 Orange Prius C!

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It’s actually, “Habanero” color according to Toyota. In fact, here’s Toyota’s Habanero Guacamole Recipe.

You know I just love a car that has its own recipe!

I love it!!!!  I love the color (it makes me smile), I love that it’s new, I love that I get 50-60 miles to the gallon, I love that I feel like I’m doing something good for the planet,I love that, though small, I can still fill it with dogs, friends and shopping bags,  and I love being able to easily find my car in a parking lot (Habanero orange is hard to miss!).

Orange you glad it’s June?

Just got my Charming Charlie’s email blast and the Color of the Month is Orange…

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This is all sorts of awesomeness because my birthday is in June and my favorite color is orange.

Here are a few Reel Chick celeb fashionistas rockin’ it in Orange!

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Look at all the different skin tones, hair and eye color…
Don’t be afraid to try the color, it suits blondes, brunettes and redheads alike!

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Celebrities-Including-Beyonce-Diane-Kruger-Gwyneth-Paltrow-Wearing-Orange   dcf9f28ce2481073f0d71a3f28ee4585

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Emily-Blunt-Wearing-Orange-Dress   Ginnifer-Goodwin-Wearing-Orange-Dress-PaleyFest-2013

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Same orange dress, different skin tones. Same result: Fantastic!

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America’s iconic Girl Next Door, Jennifer Aniston, stuns in orange!

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Okay, you got me. Not everyone looks good in orange…

Bologna Sandwiches

3296081Photo courtesy of Ben Reitman

I was going through old photos and mementos and came across something that I’d written many years ago. You know how sometimes you write something and then go back to it later and cringe? Well, not this time. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed revisiting it:

Indio, California is about 30 miles away from its glamorous neighbor, Palm Springs.

But 30 miles might just as well be 3,000 miles, as the two cities have little more in common than sunshine and hot summer days.  And decades ago, Indio hosted a transient population. Migrant workers came into town to pick local crops and the railroad running along the edge of town brought in the last of a dying breed—the American Hobo.

During Kindergarten and first grade, I would spend many afternoons at the home of my Abuelita (Spanish for little grandmother). My cousin, Anna, and I would walk the block together from Van Buren Elementary to my Abuelita’s house. Though my Abuelita has been gone for many years, she is the woman who is at the center of a patchwork of memories which linger in my mind and soul. She came from Mexico and never fully adapted to the culture or language of the United States. Yet, I think she was really quite comfortable in Indio, for it provided a simple life.

I have memories of my Abuelita offering food to the hobos who would come into the neighborhood. I remember being intrigued by the fact that this slight, old woman would open her front gate and the shelter of her front porch to those hungry, dusty hobos. She could only afford to offer a bologna sandwich and a heart of hope. I remember her telling me that the reason she fed the needy was because one could never tell if the outstretched hand was that of Jesus. He, after all, had so often relied upon the goodness of others while here on earth.

I think back upon seeing the dirty hands of the hobos, calloused and browned by the sun, in contrast to the stark whiteness of the Wonderbread sandwiches they held. I know that not a single one of my Abuelita’s front porch diners was Jesus, yet they gave her a visit of faith. Through them, my Abuelita showed me her belief in the goodness of man and the conviction of her faith.

Has this patchwork memory made a significant impact on my life? Only in the aspect that it is a memory which continues to return to me. I remain cynical and skeptical. I don’t go to church or carry much of a religious conviction. I walk briskly past an outstretched hand. I tend to dismiss the “will work for food” signs as really meaning “will beg for money.” Yet, time and again, my Abuelita’s patchwork comes back to me.

Perhaps in time, I will inherit more than my Abuelita’s dimples and brown eyes. For now, I am content to marvel in the memory of her faith and goodness. I believe that, in a way, Jesus really did sit on my Abuelita’s porch and that He did like bologna sandwiches.

Fish and Chips: $27 USD

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“Fish & Chips ‘Only’ about $27 USD.  $12 a beer.”

                                                                                     – Mr

Mr is in London (he got there yesterday) and I’m really looking forward to joining him in less than a week! But he sent me a photo of a menu and a note about the price for Fish & Chips and a beer. Holy Cow!

Maybe my trip to the UK is a good time to start dieting!

Liebster Award!

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What fun! I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Pippin Run Wild. Thank you, Joanna, for the nomination. It makes me feel very special indeed!

These are the rules for accepting a Liebster Award:

  • The award is given by bloggers to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.
  • Each blogger should answer the questions the tagger has set you.
  • Choose eleven new bloggers to pass the award to, and link them in your post.
  • Create eleven new questions for the chosen bloggers.
  • Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
  • Each blogger should post eleven random facts about themselves.
  • No tag backs (i.e. you can’t nominate your tagger).

Now, the fun part—answering Joanna’s questions!

If you could pick an animal totem, what would it be?  Well, I didn’t know very much about animal totems so the researcher in me did some Googling and found this quiz . Come to find out, I am predominately a WOLF! According to the test W,olf’s utmost priority is leadership and kindness. The Wolf makes friends easily and steadily, learns quickly, and cares about others, hurting as much as they do when they’re having a hard time.

What’s your favourite book?  “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Do you prefer coffee or tea?  Coffee (unless it’s jasmine pearl tea)

What’s your favourite quote or saying?  “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― Oscar Wilde

If you could go back in time, when and where would you go?  Probably the 60s. I love the bouffant hair, dramatic eye makeup, and frosty nude lips. And with regards to fashion, what’s not to love about a decade where you could wear either a mini skirt and go-go boots (Twiggy) or gloves and a pillbox hat (Jackie Kennedy)? Also, that’s when people still dressed up to travel…

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What new skill do you most want to learn?  I’m going to change the question to “skills” (plural): Sewing, woodwork and speaking fluent Spanish. (I didn’t take woodwork in school because I was a bit leery of the stoners in the class and also that I might lose a finger.)

Who’s your favourite fictional character?  Ramona the Pest

Favourite family meal/recipe?  I love cooking a traditional Sunday roast with Yorkshire Pudding. Living in Arizona, USA, this is not a usual family meal so when we have company over for Sunday roast they love it!

What country would you most like to travel to?  The countryside of Italy or France… the cheese, wine, bread, pasta… heaven!

What type of scenery/landscape (i.e. mountains, coastal, cities, etc.) do you feel most at home in?  I guess desert landscape since I live in Arizona and grew up near Palm Springs. Cactus and palm trees seem to always be part of my backdrop.

Who or what inspires you most often?  My home (Mr and I have a fantastic home and yard that offers many opportunities for DIY projects, gardening, entertaining, great meals, etc.). Also, I really am in awe and inspired by the creativity of fellow bloggers.

Here are eleven random facts about me:

  1. I am an American born in France. I joke that gives me permission to be rude to myself (my apologies to any Francophiles).
  2. I am an only child and so I never had siblings to play with 😦  This might explain my newly acquired habit of trying to force board games on our house guests.
  3. I can wiggle my ears.
  4. I love the color orange.
  5. I’m not sure what sort of B-movies I saw as a child but I have a fear of getting trapped in quicksand.
  6. I love mustard – I have about 8 different kinds in the fridge right now.
  7. I won a Blue Ribbon at the State Fair (scones category).
  8. I once caught a 69 pound yellow fin tuna while deep sea fishing off the coast of Mexico.
  9. I love picnics.
  10. I played Prince Charming in my school’s 3rd grade production of Cinderella.
  11. I wish I owned a giraffe or a fainting goat.

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Now for the best part, below are the 11 amazing blogs I’ve nominated. Thanks to all of you for sharing your wonderful posts!

  1. http://theromcomdiaries.wordpress.com/
  2. http://hamsterandthebee.com/
  3. http://kayseblair.com/
  4. http://fashionbeautysisters.com/
  5. http://sillystyle.wordpress.com/
  6. http://kristahprice.com/
  7. http://annielka.wordpress.com/
  8. http://thehappenstanceplace.wordpress.com/
  9. http://girlnglasses.wordpress.com/
  10. http://justmidlife.wordpress.com/
  11. http://prettygirl1920.wordpress.com/

And to the 11 bloggers, here are my 11 questions:

  1. Honey bees, Honey Boo Boo or Honey Badger?
  2. Would you rather have the ability to be invisible or fly?
  3. Which reality show would you most want to be on: Top Chef, The Bachelor/Bachelorette or Survivor?
  4. Your favorite Romantic Comedy?
  5. For dessert: sweet & chocolatey or tangy & lemony?
  6. Morning person or night owl?
  7. Favorite cheese?
  8. Dogs or Cats?
  9. London, Paris, Tokyo or New York?
  10. Fashion item or style you would most like to see come back?
  11. Elvis Presley or Elvis Costello?

Thanks again to Pippin Run Wild for my Liebster Award!