A Milestone Day

Saturday marked Mother's milestone birthday, it is hard to believe because she has been joking about it for so long but here we are! It actually worked out well with it falling on a Saturday as Mother is not a big dinner fan and I was able to schedule a nice weekend brunch. I chose Lon's at the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, which is only 13 minutes away. This restaurant is recommended again and again by locals as one of their very favorites in the Phoenix area. The day was slightly overcast but the temperature was very pleasant for dining outside. Mother treated herself to a drink called "An Invite To Dance" which is pear flavored Grey Goose, apple brandy, quince, lemon, honey and cinnamon. She absolutely loved it! Unfortunately about 10% of the drink was lost as the server fumbled a bit bringing it to the table. Kuochun and I chose non-alcoholic drinks - mine was called Child's Play with Seedlip Grove which is a blend of Mediterranean orange, lemon peel, lemongrass and ginger combined with coconut, pomegranate and cranberry. Kuochun selected a Virgin Mary.

We went with Monkey Bread as a starter - I have had it once before several years ago when I took a trip to Wauwatosa WI, Mother's hometown and dined at a local spot which used to be Heinemann's, my grandparents' favorite restaurant back in the day. I have many memories there, especially of their famous Lush Torte. But I digress, this version of monkey bread was very good and we were told several times back and forth that it was sold out, we got one of the last two, sold out, etc. but it would have been better warm. I usually go savory for breakfast even though I have a huge sweet tooth but this time I decided to get the chocolate chip oat pancakes. I was glad that the serving was not huge. Kuochun selected salmon sliders on pretzel rolls and Mother chose shrimp tacos. Everyone enjoyed what they ordered! The atmosphere was lovely with birds hopping around hoping to be fed. There was a fountain behind a wall and all we could see was the sphere at the top and one of the birds decided to land on it and stay a while. Overall it was a great experience and both Mother and Kuochun felt it was the best restaurant they have been to in Arizona so far.

Mother did not want a cake and there is a pie shop close to her pulmonary therapy called Piefection. Her oxygen machine ran out so she could not go inside but I made the choices on my own. I knew she would not want a whole pie so I picked up four slices instead - Strawberry Rhubarb, Michigan Cherry, Almond Joy and Arizona Orange. I tried the cherry and Almond Joy and thought they were both very good.

Melinda was not able to join us on Saturday so Mother and I met her at the Fountain Hills Spring Fountain Festival Of Fine Arts & Crafts on Sunday. This was our first time visiting Fountain Hills for anything larger than their farmer's market which is not big. It was the 50th anniversary of the festival and it was huge! This was one day when having the scooter would have been most helpful. Parking was a challenge, accommodations for the handicapped were non-existent and there were no signs directing people to the event but we figured it out. The town was very organized about labeling parking areas which were reserved for the local businesses where festival parking was not allowed. We ducked into an antique store which had a high-end look but smelled like baby powder. The people minding the store will kind of aggressive which was a turn-off. They had the most jewelry I have seen in a store of this type but nothing we wanted to purchase. We did not purchase anything at the festival either but it was nice to check it out even though it was kind of hot in the sun. I wanted to show Melinda the shop I like in town where I have purchased a lot of jewelry props and baskets in the past because I thought she would like it too. She found a really pretty agate slice which will complement some amethyst pieces she already has. Last time we were there the shop owner did not want to sell me the petrified cactus but this time she was more accommodating and I found five great props for the collection.

I found pieces of petrified cactus which were not quite as pretty as the one the store owner wanted to keep but they will do. One is large but should fit in the light box and the other is small and perfect for these individual shots. I was so surprised to see the large piece priced at $5.00 and she let me have the others for only $4.00 each. This is a sterling silver pendant from Bali with a large piece of Hubei turquoise from China.

Here is the other horse pendant from Bali in my inventory, also with Hubei turquoise. I purchased these pieces four years ago and now is the time to get them online!

I also found two small pieces of driftwood to experiment with. I recently joined a new Facebook group for jewelry and although this group is Native American centered, they also allow any type of turquoise jewelry as well as vintage pieces. Someone in the group requested horse jewelry so I thought I would take the opportunity to shoot a few photos with the new props. This piece of driftwood has great movement which is perfect for this running horse pendant by Navajo artist Chimney Butte.

This little experiment lead me to decide that except for the vintage Native American jewelry, I am going to customize the props and backdrops for each piece. What will tie them together is that there will be a prop made of a natural substance like petrified wood, driftwood or wood slabs along with an embossed leather or printed cowhide backdrop.

It is going to be fun matching them up! I also invested in some more of the wood pieces from Ireland this week and look forward to receiving them. The pieces the seller is offering just keep getting better. After the new pieces arrive, I will take a look at everything and decide whether to sell some of the older props locally.

It was a long week with appointments and other running around every day and more social activities than I am used to so I did not get to do a jewelry purge again this week. I will need to plan ahead because next weekend is the Heard Museum Indian Market which Mother and I will attend on Saturday and I have a hair appointment on Sunday.

On Monday, we visited the Apple Store at Fashion Square Mall which is only a few minutes away from home. The store is massive and in the high-rent district, I cannot imagine what the monthly rent is. Kuochun is having trouble with the backup from the estate sales showing as blurry on his phone. He prints them out for me to save me time and has had to use my phone lately to print them. We tried to ask for help but the gatekeeper turned us down. We then went to the food court and grabbed a burger from Johnny Rockets. The burger was better than the fries but I think Culver's burgers are even better. On our way out I noticed that there was a different gatekeeper so I thought we should ask our question again. There was an hour wait for a technician so we made an appointment for Wednesday.

Tuesday was the day we finally unpacked the walking pad after waiting for the garage sale to be over. I had to rearrange our mini appliances in the garage because the walking pad was not working well with the GFCI outlet. Things are not put away yet from the garage sale so for the moment we are using a heavy duty extension cord. Kuochun has taken to the walking pad right away and has used it every day this week, even if we also went to the senior center! He is loving the flexibility of being able to exercise without having to travel to the senior center and work around their fitness room hours. I have not tried it yet but next week for sure!

Wednesday Mother and I met with a new doctor who specializes in heart failure and is so fabulous. He came from Wake Forest where he was performing heart transplants. The verdict is Mother is a difficult case but it is nothing he has not seen before. He is a great addition to her healthcare team. After the appointment it was back to the Apple Store, we had to wait quite a while and the technician changed some settings on Kuochun's phone but it did not seem to help. Looks like it will need to wait until he returns home from China. Instead of the food court, we ran into DeFalco's for lunch. This Italian deli is very well-known all over the Phoenix area and people travel far and wide to eat there. It is just a few minutes from home, close to the post office and on the way to the senior center. I suggested Kuochun get the muffuletta which he loved and I got a chicken pesto sandwich which was way more delicious than I expected. I had been there for dinner a couple of times and it was fine but I will definitely go back for lunch.

The two times we had been to the mall reminded me about Sprinkles Cupcakes which is across the street. In all of the time we have been here in Scottsdale I have never gotten their cupcakes here. I have had them twice - once in Dallas when we were visiting there for the Roller Derby World Cup and again shortly after on a visit to the Sprinkles ATM in Chicago's Gold Coast which is the only Illinois location. Sprinkles Scottsdale is only a few minutes from home. I remembered the Black & White cupcake being good before even though it has been ten years. The one thing I would do differently is not purchase six at once - it did not take long for them to get stale. In the future I would just use the ATM and get one at a time.

And a last note about food - one of my all-time favorite TV shows is a Chicago original - Check, Please! on PBS. I have always enjoyed watching it but felt for the most part the recommended restaurants were not easily accessible for us - they are way in the city or in the south suburbs so it would take a long time to get there, parking would be challenging, etc. I was really excited to find that Arizona has its own version of Check, Please! and it is back after a hiatus of several years. So far I have watched two episodes and it is just as good as the Chicago version with a little added bonus - the host/chef asks the diners to give a "pro tip" before they wrap up the discussion about a restaurant. I have appreciated the fact that all of the restaurants would be easily accesssible and not more than 20 minutes away due to our central location. We even saw one of the featured restaurants as we were running errands one day. However the one closest to us is fine dining in Old Town and Kuochun is like $125 per person? I don't think so! Kuochun wants to try some of the other restaurants so it is probably a blessing in disguise to get a break from dining out while he is gone.

One last bit of news is that I posted eight new Gem Show finds to the New Native American Silver Jewelry collection. They are investment pieces but beautiful and unusual. CLICK HERE to see them.

Until next time!