The Dreaded Phoenix 7

Kuochun and I have been in Arizona just over three weeks now and the first two weeks we were on our own. It took time to get the kitchen items unpacked and as a result in the beginning we found ourselves eating out more than usual. Unfortunately for me this has resulted in a 7 pound weight gain over the past month. The same thing happened when we were here for the Gem Show in 2021. There is so much good food here and living 5 minutes away from Old Town it is all at our fingertips. Back to the drawing board next week! But first I will share a few highlights...

Kuochun just loves soul food, Southern food and Cajun food so we did a little research to see what we could find for a Friday brunch. We came across Sugar Jam The Southern Kitchen which is on the north side of town about 25 minutes away. When we arrived, the place was hopping! There was a live DJ and the music was SO LOUD, louder than I ever heard in my life. We quickly asked to be seated outside.

Above is my order - Grand Marnier marinated challah bread served with rum pecan maple syrup and vanilla butter, 2 scrambled eggs and smoked peppered bacon. It was so delicious! I loved it and would definitely go back again, just not on a DJ day. While dining outside, I spied a French cafe across the way in the middle of the design district. We took Mother there after she arrived and we all really enjoyed it, it was totally authentic! I had Quiche Lorraine which I do not think I have had since I was a kid. This version was so light and fluffy and came with an organic green salad.

Kuochun needed a mattress cover for his new bed so the very next day after stopping by Brooklyn Bedding we headed to The Herb Box. This was my first time to visit their newer North Scottsdale restaurant, their original location is in Old Town and although Mother and I only went there once, it is definitely her favorite. Delicious, clean food like this chicken arugula wrap and feather light sweet potato chips. Unfortunately we will not be able to bring Mother to this location because there were a lot of stairs but was so enjoyable with the wall of garage doors totally open. It is on our short list to bring her to the Old Town location. We also stopped by Arizona Bread Company who I have seen at farmer's markets and picked up ciabatta rolls and cranberry orange bread. Kuochun asked for a soft bread so we chose challah. My favorite were definitely the ciabatta rolls, the cranberries were very sparse in the other bread.

We have been on the lookout for a good Chinese grocery store for Kuochun, having already visited W Mart which is not far from home but was just OK. We traveled out to Chandler to see if Lee Lee Market would be more of what he was looking for. The store is huge, they had a separate bakery inside the store and I picked up a couple of savory pastries - hot dog and ham and cheese. So far I tried the hot dog and it was really good. Kuochun found what he was looking for - bamboo chopsticks and a stainless steel steaming pot.

For lunch, I realized we were not far from American Way Smokehouse, which is attached to Merchant Square Antique Mall. Mother, Melinda and I went there our last time in town. The antique mall was just OK, Mother and I did not find anything but I loved the restaurant - adorable decor and great food. They serve smoked meat platters and sandwiches along with gourmet potato chips in a myriad of flavors and the largest selection of craft sodas I have ever seen. I chose the BBQ chicken sandwich once again and this time going with Kuochun I knew I would receive no resistance to picking up some of the incredible-looking cookies which caught my eye last time I was there. Above are peanut butter, orange, chocolate chip walnut, snickerdoodle and frosted sugar. They tasted as amazing as they look! I just loved the frosted sugar and was glad I got two. Kuochun ate a cookie for breakfast every day and he is not a big dessert person, that is how good they were. The price was totally reasonable for what they were plus it was buy 5 get 1 free. Totally worth the 22 minute trip and probably good that it is not super close!

This past week we tried to get to Target as Kuochun was looking for traditional men's pajamas. The Target closest to us had road construction and was too difficult to get to so we headed for another location. We did not find what he was looking for but a sign on the back of a building which said California Fish Grill caught our eye. Kuochun is a huge seafood fan and I was afraid it was going to be a pricey sit-down restaurant but we decided to go check it out. We were so pleasantly surprised to see that it was a very cute counter-service spot! This is their second location in the Phoenix area (there is also one in Mesa which is probably a little closer for us) and they have locations in California and Las Vegas. I had the grilled shrimp skewers with seasoned olive oil, fries and fire roasted street corn. Kuochun was able to get sea bass which is one of his very favorites, along with the fries and oceanslaw which had seaweed in it. We absolutely loved it! The portions were incredible and the price reasonable. Next time I will ask for no added salt as it did not need to be as salty for me. I never order vegetables but being on Seattle Sutton has helped me to branch out a bit and I am glad I did as the corn was a great compliment to the meal. I am sure we will be back there again and again.

We grabbed a dozen donuts at The Local Donut. They were really good but not quite as knock-out delicious as I remember the first time. I generally prefer cake donuts but selected a couple of yeast varities - Ferrero Rocher which had one of the candies in the center and S'mores. Kuochun got two Creme Brulee which are his favorites. I rounded things out with old fashioned and cake donuts. We had tried BoSa donuts the day we dropped off the rental car but they were not great, mainly because they were not fresh. I would not go there again but I am sure we will go to The Local Donut once more before we leave.

I am very happy to announce that the last of the U-Boxes has been unloaded and it will be picked up first thing Monday morning. I could not recommend U-Box by U-Haul more highly. The communication was fantastic and the all-female forklift team both in Chicago and here handled the boxes with such care. The folks on the phone listened and instructions were followed to a T. So far not one thing has been damaged or broken! I definitely loved the new-style box much more than the boxes made out of plywood and wrapped in vinyl. Two lock boxes were chewed up the first go-around but the last one was perfect. Overall it was definitely a bright spot after all the negative experiences I have been having.

I had another hiccup with Dolly (second set of movers that bugged out on me at the last minute) but thank goodness the replacement movers were the best. They did so much in the allotted time - moving all of the garage items to the back patio as well as putting the two furniture pieces from the U-Box in place. There was not enough time to put the rest of the contents of the U-Box in back but I just asked them to stack everything up in the garage and I have been slowly working it all into the house. We are really crunched for space because the plan is to have the epoxy chip floor in the garage installed next week. The drywall in the laundry room which was torn out during the sewer remediation will be replaced and the interior garage walls and laundry room painted white for now. Eventually I will have cement tile floors installed in the laundry room and garage closet and probably some Elfa organization. I am sorry to have lost all of the original garage cabinets when the garage flooded but I have no plans to install more. Maybe someday down the road after the second floor is remodeled.

I finally submitted the request to the HOA to get rid of the dated two-tone pink front exterior paint color, missing the October meeting as 10 days notice is needed before the meeting. The meeting was held November 8 and prior to that my application was sent to about 26 people - HOA committee members, immediate neighbors etc. I thought I would hear something by now but no news yet. This is a simple request - I just want to paint the front approved white color and eventually have the cement tile installed as it takes 12-14 weeks to manufacture after it is ordered. The neighbors to the left and right each have different shades of green so the white palette with touches of green totally makes sense. It made all the difference in the world painting the back and I think it would make even more of an impact in front. I believe my house is the only one with this color combination. Here's hoping no one objected!

Jewelry has been put on the back burner as it has been such a busy time keeping up with estate sale work and getting the house organized. We were going to have our "moving in" sale the weekend after Thanksgiving but it turns out the pet sitter is not available so the sale dates will be December 8-11. I plan to take lots of photos and for those of you not in the Phoenix area, I will be glad to ship any small items like jewelry, clothing and accessories. Last year I inquired with the HOA about any rules regarding holding estate or moving sales as I saw nothing in the bylaws. I received confirmation that it is correct, there are no rules but we are not allowed to do business in the community so an estate sale company cannot be hired to do the sale. That really puts things in a grey area for us as although we are estate liquidators, this is our own sale with only our items, nothing on consignment.

Last weekend we were really shocked to see someone down the street having a conducted estate sale! It looks like they were having a sale before placing the home on the market. It was a three-day sale with Saturday at 50% off and Sunday at 75% off. The company did not advertise the third day on The hours were 8:00-3:30 which is early for me. I was thinking of compromising with our usual 10:00 start time and making the hours 9:00-3:00. I looked at the photos and did not see anything I was interested in buying and we were very busy as well so we did not attend. I am so glad these folks paved the way for me! I was thinking about not putting up signs but I sure will now. Kuochun took photos of the signs as well as a photo of the front of the house just in case anyone gives me a hard time. It is a different situation as we are staying while these homeowners are leaving. I have a lot of work ahead of me as I will be basically doing the setup by myself. I would hate to do all this work and get shut down. The good news is the customers seemed to be very respectful and I did not notice any commotion or noise pollution.

Hoping for some jewelry news to report next time!