05 December 2017

Pretty Gifts For Family And Friends

I decided to make up some toiletries/catchall bags again this holiday season. I happened upon some very pretty vinyl fabrics while out buying notions for Kiddo's school Egypt project that she completed a few weeks ago. Couldn't pass them up, so I have catchall bags for sale this holiday season.

They are so perfect for makeup bags, corralling electronics cords, organizing all the little lotions, lip balms, etc. in one's purse and storing childrens tiny toy pieces. There are so many uses and they make the best gifts for coworkers, family and friends.

Here are the three colors I went with and the bags come in three different sizes: Coin Purse, ($6) Medium  ($12) and Large ($14). Here is a shot that better illustrates the three sizes.

I have a good supply in stock but they are going quickly now that folks are getting more serious about getting their holiday shopping done. This season is going to fly right by, isn't it?! I can't believe it's already December 6. If you're interested in giving some kc accessories catchall toiletries bags for this holiday season, email me at kalanicut @ hotmail dot com or message me on instagram at kalanicutblog.

04 December 2017

Pinecone Garland Class

Gosh it's been a couple of weeks since I posted, but boy have a lot of things been going on. I've been working my small businesses with a lot of focus and little by little it has been paying off. I'll share more about that momentarily. Also we've had a plumbing emergency that required our septic tank to be emptied the afternoon before Thanksgiving and then we still had a main line sewer problem that couldn't be addressed until the morning after Thanksgiving. That made for a very eventful holiday weekend but thanks goodness the plumbers we talked to over the phone gave us some tips so that we could make it through Thanksgiving without too much misery!

We've also had some health issues coming into play the past month which had been time consuming to deal with but thankfully not too worrisome -- and I'm glad we got them taken care of and we're moving forward.

On Saturday I taught what I hope is my first class at Spur Line Supply Co. in Albuquerque's up-an-coming Sawmill District. It was such a fun day and I loved meeting everyone who registered for the class. This community table setting was such a perfect place to hold a class. It's right in the store retail space so you have all the fabulous energy of the shop around you, yet it's quiet enough to be able to interact as a class without a problem.

After a warm welcome (seriously how much do I love these people for registering to come attend the class and support things I love to do!), and some brief instructions everyone started creating. The great thing about these garlands is that they doesn't require a lot of concentration once you have the hang of it, so you really can chat and enjoy yourself without worry that you'll somehow wreck your garland. It was fun to see what ribbon everyone chose, and how they decided to put their garland together. Every one was a little different and unique to the artist who created it.

It was also a great class for me to teach because it didn't require a lot of constant helping or a long process of instructions that needed to be followed. So I could also enjoy getting to know everyone, helping in little ways and not feeling too stretched with everyone needing constant assistance.

I love trying to incorporate other small businesses into any activity I do where it is doable because I really do believe that "a rising tide lifts all ships." If I can improve my events by bringing in other cool businesses and products and we can help promote each other for the event, that gets me excited. That's one of the reasons I was so interested in working with Spur Line Supply Co. and bringing in Bristol Doughnut Co., the doughnut/coffee shop within Spur Line  --- who can resist an amazing doughnut and warm beverage. So I included that in the price of the ticket and it was great to work with Sara and team at Bristol -- and of course I brought a few doughnuts home for the family too.

I also got a great referral for a shop that would be a great spot for my Live Love ABQ designs from a lovely woman who joined the class as a walk-in. Never know what great serendipitous things can happen when you get together with people you don't know. This is why I love networking. There are kind. helpful people everywhere.

Spur Line is such a gorgeous environment and it was fun to see all the holiday shoppers coming into the shop on Saturday morning. I was really happy that the attendees who came to the class were all first timers at the shop and they were able to do some Christmas shopping too. I have to go back soon and do some gift hunting, because that place really does have something for everyone. I'm hoping I can come up with some other fun class ideas for Spur Line's community and community table.

13 November 2017

Come deck the halls with Live Love ABQ at Spur Line Supply Co.
 for our Pinecone Garland Workshop.

Saturday December 2, 2017
10:00 am to noon
Spur Line Supply Co.
800 20th Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Cost: 25.00 - includes instruction, materials, amazing treat & warm beverage.
Create a beautiful six-foot long garland that is perfect for hanging across a mantle, doorway or window to welcome all the holiday spirit. Mix, mingle and enjoy a delicious treat and warm beverage too. Make this December one to remember when you spend a festive morning with us at Spur Line and create a holiday decoration you can enjoy for years to come. Bring your emailed receipt as ticket. If you forget, no worries, we'll have a list.
Live Love ABQ was founded by lifestyle blogger Kalani Cropper. For more than eight years on her blog kalanicut, Kalani has shared creative inspiration for peaceful, happy, stylish living. She writes about designing a welcoming home, developing personal style and fashioning a beautiful soul.
Can't wait to spend this fun morning with you. Register now, space is limited.

03 October 2017

West Elm Metallic Honeycomb Pendant Lights For Sale

We purchased these fixtures for our kitchen and then put them in storage until we decided what to do our kitchen renovation. Since then we've realized they probably won't work with decisions we've made so far in other areas that are open to our kitchen, so we've decided to sell them and try to find something else that will work better. I'm a little sad about that because I love these but I hope they find a very happy home!

These sold out very quickly with West Elm and there are no longer available. They are still in the original boxes and have not been opened or unpacked. They come with two different cord options: hanging cord with on-cord on-off switch and we paid extra for adapters so that these can be hung as pendants from the ceiling.

Here's the store description: 

Artfully shaped. Our Metallic Honeycomb Glass Pendant is handblown by artisans in India, then cut by hand on a wheel to achieve its faceted face. Dipped in shiny silver as a final touch, it's a beautiful way to add soft light to a room.
8.5"diam. x 8"h.
Handblown, hand-cut glass with silver finish.
Plug in.
15' cord set included.
In-line on/off switch.
Made in India.
If you're interested in these and in ABQ you can pick them up. If you are in Utah I can get these to you next week. Anywhere else we can arrange shipping. $300 for the three light fixtures and we'll toss in the three pendant adapter kits for free.

25 September 2017

PinTest # 30: Zucchini Pizza Boats

I have committed to eating as little carbs, dairy and sugar as possible. It's a challenge, I don't especially like it but it's good for me and I'm going with it. This means a pretty much wholesale change in eating habits, even though I eat a lot of healthy foods already. But saying goodbye to bread, crackers and sweets is a toughy for me. So I'm collecting recipes and looking for new meal ideas. That brings me to Pin Test #30: Zucchini Pizza Boats.

via delish.com
I have been thinking about trying these for a while because I am a pizza fan and the crust is the killer. I realize I mentioned earlier that I'm limiting dairy and these obviously have cheese on them. I'm allowing a little dairy here and there and if a little cheese is going to help make saying goodbye to carbs and sugar less miserable I'm okay with that.

Now I'm not one of those people who says modified recipes taste just like the real thing. I've never said tofu tastes just like chicken, I don't like rice milk or almond milk and no they don't taste just like or better than dairy. So swapping out zucchini for delicious crusty bread dough is a bit of a stretch for me.

I followed this recipe from Delish.com and then made the following additions. In with the sauteing zucchini bits, I added a 1/2 teaspoon of minced fresh garlic, 1/8 tsp. of New Mexico green chili from a jar, 1/4 cup minced onion, a very small dash of red pepper flakes and a few shakes of Italian Seasoning. This really punched up the sauce I think and even gave it a tiny kick.

Oh! Forgot one thing. I didn't have any pepperoni in the house so I used finely diced cooked bacon and some left over  seasoned ground beef I had used for tacos earlier in the week. I definitely think pepperoni would be tasty on these and give it a lot of flavor -- but the bacon and seasoned ground beef worked great too. Mushrooms and green peppers would be a great addition too. One other note, I initially wished I had cut my zucchini up a little smaller but it cooks down very softly anyway. But if you're trying to hide it from your family, cutting it up in finely diced pieces would work. It will be hard to find when you get down below the cheese.

After we had everything assembled I added some fresh sliced garlic, freshly ground black pepper and another quick shake of Italian Seasoning on top. Then there's one other thing I did differently, I baked these at 350 for 15 minutes and they were cooked but we like our pizza a little crusty on top so I bumped up the temp to 400 for a few minutes and got the cheese a little browned and the tops a little bit crusty. A family preference thing.

To go along with these I cooked up some Trader Joe's breaded chicken breasts, which are super easy to heat in a pan with a little olive oil - and they take about the same time as it took to cook the boats so you can throw them in a pan after you put the boats in the oven. I didn't realize it at the time but together they make a Chicken Parmesan style dinner - and they taste great together. Now I bet you're wondering if this pizza replacement is going to get a thumbs up or a thumbs down from me and the family.

I am even a little bit surprised to say this, but I give Zucchini Pizza Boats a big thumbs up. I loved it. Kiddo gave it an 8 out of 10. Then man gave it a 7.5. I thought it was delicious and ate it for dinner last night was already looking forward to having it for lunch today. The one thing about these is that they are better when first cooked. Putting it in the fridge over night made the zucchini a little soggy. It was more crisp and fresh tasting last night. Today it was much softer. But still delicious and today I didn't add anything to it, just heated it up and it was as delicious.

So  big thumbs up for Zucchini Pizza Boats. Will be making these again. It may turn out that I'll still make homemade pizza for the family and make the boats for me but we'll see how it goes. I think an occasional boat dinner will work for the family too.

*A good friend recommended this Thyme-infused chickpea, vegan, gluten-free pizza crust option. I can't wait to try it out but wanted to share it with you now. h

11 September 2017

Make Time To Spend With Friends

It is so easy to get busy and find that weeks or months have gone by without checking in with your friends. I have some terrific friends here and in different parts of the country. I'm trying to do better staying in touch from a distance, thank goodness for social media which helps a lot, but can still be rather impersonal. I've been trying to shoot emails to friends more often to just say "Hi" and "How ya doin?"

Over the summer I have made it a priority to meet up with girlfriends for brunch or lunch every couple of weeks. We've had some great talks about schools, creative pursuits, home design and decor, about challenges we are facing and we've even read some personal development books that we've been sharing.

It is so nice to once a week or so be able to leave the grind of housekeeping and work at home and just get away somewhere different, to talk and think about other things and leave feeling renewed of soul. It's definitely a great when a friend can help inspire you and you can inspire them with your past experiences and dreams for the future. Plus it's giving me the chance to get to know friends' favorite cafes and eateries around our area.

While I've tried to do this as a habit over the years, this is really the first time where I've been able to maintain it regularly and it's been a joy. One of the best parts about our community here is that there are a lot of friends who have kids about the same age, are at the same school and often the same church. So we are able to do both family activities, fun kid things and parent get togethers with the families we know quite easily.

Because we live in an area where people have yards, backyard parties are easy to throw together and there is space for everyone to spread out and have fun playing or talking. That may sound weird to some people, but living in LA, most everyone lived in an apartment, so very few people had yards. We had to meet at parks or other places and it was not so easy. Not to mention we often had to pay for parking or entrance fees to many places. Things to be grateful for!

One of the things a girlfriend and I are doing is keeping a list of cool places in the city that we want to check out. Then when we decide to get together, we can choose something off the list. We've been to a cool book signing, a hip store grand opening and to some fun cafes. On the list we have added going to breakfast and to the farm shop at my favorite working farm/upscale hotel, happy hour at a favorite downtown historic hotel, a new french bakery, some local boutiques and museums we have yet to see. It's great to have a buddy to adventure to new places with and that helps me make it a priority to actually get to those places that I so often think I want to visit. This way it becomes a plan, rather than a wish that never happens. Having someone fun to go to those places with makes it even better. On our list are a few things we want to do with husbands too and families too.

Making time to spend with friends has been such a gift to us here and I think it's a great thing to do no matter where you live or what station in life you are in. It might be taking babies to the park with other mom friends or going to lunch with a bunch of empty nester friends but it's good for the soul no matter our age.

08 September 2017

Tourist In Our Own Town: Labor Day Weekend

Without realizing it, seems we've made a tradition of spending Labor Day Weekend as tourists in our own town. This year we slept in and then headed out for adventure time. We did some country and city this year and it was a perfect mix.

We started out at Wildlife West Animal Park. It's a small wild animal refuge. There are often fun events throughout the summer here and on Saturdays they have a chuck wagon dinner during the summer season. There are great birds and large beasts there. We came in the afternoon so at the end of our visit the animals were becoming more active after sleeping through the hot day. 

We really enjoyed seeing how the gray foxes dangle in the trees to sleep, watching the elk from just a couple of feet away rubbing and smacking his antlers into fencing and trees. It was very interesting to see that up close. That is one big rack!

We also saw two cougars up quite close and a black bear which we were glad to enjoy behind a fence instead of in our yard. I guess I haven't mentioned it here but we have had a lot of bear visiting our yard this summer. We had heard there had been no bear sightings in our neighborhood for a few years. Well this year there had been quite a bear problem on the east side of the city. We have seen at least three bears up close to our house, one even opening our back fence and coming very close to our back door just as my husband stepped out to see what had moved the gate. Scary. So we enjoyed watching this bear from a distance!

Our visit seem to last just the right amount of time and we were really pleased with all the animals we were able to enjoy. We had brought a nice little picnic with us which we enjoyed in a shaded shed/pavilion on the property. It was nicely cool in the shade and after being out in the sun for a couple of hours, having cold drinks, fruits, veggies and crackers and cheese were the perfect small meal to enjoy while we sat and relaxed for a while. By this point the park was just about to close, so we had the space all to ourselves which was nice.

We drove back to the city and then went to ABQ Uptown. Some of the shops were closed for the holiday but we had a nice time wandering around, made a few small purchases and then stopped in to try Frost Gelato. We were not disappointed. I tried Marbled Dark Cherry and Creme de Biscotti. The Man tried Avocado and caramel coconut something. Kiddo tried coconut and vanilla. We all tried each other's and had a peaceful time sitting outside as the sun set over the city.

We wandered a little while longer and then drove to Winrock Center, which is next door, and had dinner at Red Robin. By the time we got done with dinner it was 10 p.m. It was a fun day and we were all ready for bed by the time we headed home. It was fun to adventure around our city. We still have so many fun things to see and try. Days like this are great reminder for us to get out and learn fun things about our city and spend time in places that feel like us and that we enjoy.

07 September 2017

How To Grow Amazing, Beautiful Long Eyelashes

For years my sisters have been watching my eyelashes and giving me commentary on how to curl them, mascara them and make them a little more visible. I have very straight eyelashes and they weren't that long or full. This summer I finally took a step that got their attention when I started using Rodan + Fields Lash Boost. Now guess who both want Lash Boost for themselves!

I started using Lash Boost in mid-July and when I saw my sisters in late July they were already pretty amazed at how much my lashes had grown and that is with only using Lash Boost two to three times per week.  One tube will last a good long time, for me probably 4-5 months at the rate I am using it and the results are incredible.

My lashes have reached "as long as I want to go" with them, so I'm in a maintenance phase where I apply Lash Boost twice a week and even my husband has noticed how different my lashes look now. It's so easy to apply. The applicator looks like a brush for nail polish and you just swipe it across the tim of your top lashes at night and got to bed. While your eyes are closed your lower lashes get a dose too and you'll notice the growth pretty quickly. Check out these results.

Lash Boost is very well tested for safety and Rodan + Fields reputation is impeccable. At night when I'm taking off my makeup I sometimes think I haven't removed my mascara when I really already have. That is the power of Lash Boost, making those lashes look all thick, long and beautiful. I know so many people using Lash Boost that I have absolutely no question about how well it works. It's amazing.

As you probably know by now I am a consultant with Rodan + Fields. This is an amazing company created by the dermatologists who started ProActiv. These products aren't just skin care cleaning and moisturizing products - They are truly skin repair products . They can reverse the aging process in a way that I never thought would be possible.They will give you a complexion you thought you could never have again and make you feel like a different person.

Using these products truly gave me a new boost of life energy when I saw that I could grow amazing lashes and reverse the damage to my skin and feel better about the aging process that we simply can't avoid. The years may pass but we don't have to wear that on our faces. Feeling young on the inside goes fantastically with looking young on the outside!

I made the big decision to join this company when I saw the very real results of their products. I knew I would not be able to hold back telling everyone I knew about the availability of something so life changing. Active Hydration Serum has ended my battle with dry skin living here in the desert. I wake up with moist, dewy skin every day now.

The eye cream has repaired the skin around my eyes and they are much more open and the skin is much firmer and youthful looking. Took a few years off my looks there for sure. The Micro-dermabrasion Paste removes dead cells, softens dry patches and leaves my skin feeling ridiculously soft. My family absolutely loves the Lip Serum and it makes our lips amazingly smooth - and some people in our family traditionally have very crusty lips. The hand lotion makes my hands look younger and feel so soft.

I'm using the Redefine regimen and every day when I look in the mirror I'm amazed at how good my skin looks after a few years of just avoiding looking too closely and feeling like the passing years were winning the war. I'm back and I'm taking charge, feeling good and looking good.

Rodan + Fields products aren't miracle products. They continue to create improvement over time. So while you can grow crazy long lashes in a few weeks, you are also cultivating a lifetime of healthy skin care and results that will continue to improve over the weeks, months and years with the regimens and other products. I can't say enough good things about the products I've used. The Man really likes them too.

Lash Boost as a stand alone product has been unavailable since mid-July. That is how popular this stuff is. It's back and available for individual sale but you can also get some amazing deals when you bundle it with one of four skin care regimens, each which treat unique skin challenges. The bundle deals are such a huge savings!

My team is offering some special offers for anyone who buys Lash Boost before September 21, 2017. I'm giving away a free large toiletries bag that I make with any Lash Boost purchase. On top of that when you purchase through me you'll get special pricing and free shipping. This is a great time to grab some Lash Boost and grow the lashes you've always wanted.

Say goodbye to glue on falsies: the cost and all the maintenance. Lash Boost turns your own lashes into the lashes you've always dreamed of. Contact me today while this offer is available and we'll hook you up. You can also shop through my website: www.kcropper.myrandf.com. At check out sign up for Preferred Customer status to get great savings and free shipping. IF you have any questions let me know. I'm happy to help.

25 August 2017

Where Did That Summer Go?

I can't believe we're two weeks into the school year already! Shocking. I don't understand how this happened. It seemed like the shortest summer ever. It was full of fun, but I feel like I would've like to pack so much more into it. I realize it's been a month since my last post, which is poor on my part. Let's catch up!

It seems like it was Memorial Day just a couple of weeks ago and we were celebrating July 4th with visiting friends and so many wonderful friends from here just days ago. Since then we were able to pack in another golf camp for Kiddo and a visit to my family. Kiddo stayed for a week and had all kinds of fun camping and playing golf with my family. Lucky girl. The best part is that my sister brought her home and we had a fun weekend with her here in ABQ, even though it was WAY too short of a visit.

 We ended off the weekend before school started with a fun barbecue dinner on our back patio. Only the second or third we've had all summer. Aunty Tru made copycat Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookies which were delicious! Here's the recipe she used. For our dinner we had all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, chips, barbecue bacon dogs...oh it was so good and such a beautiful night outside. We need to have a few more of those nights before summer's official end.

It's been rainy and overcast here much of the past four weeks, which makes it feel not very summery. I feel like fall hit us towards the end of July and isn't going to let go. I can't complain about the cooler temps and less intensely hot sunshine but it's a bummer to not be swimming in the pool in the afternoons when it's overcast or raining...not to mention that everytime it rains it leaves a huge amount of water on the pool cover that has to be cleaned off before even thinking about uncovering the pool. Needless to say we haven't been in the pool the past few weeks, which is a big drag.

We've had some crazy, amazing torrential downpours and major lightning/thunder storms in the past few weeks. It's fun for a change of pace, but still I feel like summer is cheating us a bit. Autumn is undoubtedly the most completely enjoyable season of the year here in New Mexico. Along with it comes Balloon Fiesta which is such a fun time to be here in the city.

We are gearing up for school and extracurricular activities to get very busy for the next couple of months. I have always been that parent who insisted kids schedules are not overbooked, but despite my best efforts we're going to be a little bit overbooked for about 8 weeks. But by then we'll just about be into the holidays and things will quiet down again until we get into spring. Life in middle school seems to be going okay which I'm happy about. I'm staying plenty busy during the day managing my little empire, squeezing in some service opportunities and catching up with friends now that all the kids are in school again.

I think this will be a nice fall. Looking forward to it. Yesterday while I was driving home from brunch with a friend as I looked up at the mountains I thought I like my life right now. Things are good. This is not to say there aren't life's major challenges, heartbreaks and frustrations, but counting one's blessings makes if apparent that there is more good than bad in life.

How are you feeling about the last month of summer, the beginning of school and the changing of seasons?

21 July 2017

Big Likes #8: Rodan and Fields Redefine Lip Renewing Serum

It's tough trying to keep your lips soft and pretty in the desert. So my big like for this week is Rodan and Fields lip serum. It's amazing. The first time I used it I put it on The Man's and Kiddo's lips. It was the end of winter and both of them had cracked, bleeding and dry lips. The next morning their lips were soft and smooth. A little miracle.

The Man has now become religious about using it and boy do his lips look and feel nice. I love how it softens and smooths my own lips and apply it on my own lips nightly and in the mornings when I remember. I try to get it on Kiddo as often as she'll hold still to do it.

I like to use it as a base coat before lipstick and gloss. The gloss seems to stick to the serum better than lipstick but I've always been a gloss girl and never much liked lipstick so that works just fine for me when I apply them both at the same time. If you're a lipstick wearer and want to try it I would just put it on well before I'm ready to do lipstick and it should be just fine. Even without any lip color my lips look healthy and shiny and fine as they are.

Another thing I love about it is that it has no taste or flavor. Super simple. This is just one of the products I initially tried from Rodan and Fields that made me say, "I need more of this stuff!" This is why Rodan and Fields Redefine Lip Renewing Serum is a Big Like for me!

17 July 2017

10 Things To Consider Before Buying A Mountain Home

Well we've been living in a desert mountain environment for more than two years now and have been in our home for about 18 months. I've learned a few things that I thought I would share about buying a mountain home with a "wild" yard versus living in a designed, manicured neighborhood. There are a few things I've had to learn to adjust to, some things might have turned me away from choosing a mountain home and some benefits are priceless. But they are things I never thought about until I experienced them.

I'll start with the cons just to get them out of the way and so that I can end of a positive note:

1) Pest control: Oh the nature creatures sure are cute. The wild bunnies, flocks of quail, wild birds, and deer are so charming until you realize the furry creatures especially also bring fleas and other bugs along with them. We also have packrats, tons of mice, bobcats, snakes (poisonous and not), tarantulas, lots of spiders, very noisy, rather aggressive birds, coyotes that eat small pets and creatures, ants (of all varieties, sizes and biting abilities), and a lot more flying insects than I see at friends homes even just a little lower on the hill. Those include tarantula hawks which are giant relatives of hornets, hornets, wasps and bees. Pest control could be a full time job if we let it be. Don't imagine we are constantly under barrage of animals attacking us, but living with nature is living with nature. You have to be thoughtful and careful.

Last weekend we had a rattlesnake across our driveway and The Man could not get by, so he had to wait. Two weeks ago we had bear in our yard, very close to the house several times. That was a little scary, especially when one night I came across one and the next night The Man walked out of the house in the dark to a large bear on our front living room patio.

2) Protection for pets and children: All these critters also mean you have to be a lot more careful with children and household pets that go outside. Cats aren't safe around coyotes, and even a large dog can be taken down by a pack of coyotes or other predators. They can also pick up diseases from the wild creatures. Dogs can be rattlesnake trained but you can never guarantee what might happened if your pet comes across a poisonous creature in the wild. Child safety is also a big concern from all these same kinds of animals. I almost forgot to also mention dangerous plants! Cactus everywhere. I once had to pull a cactus needle out of Kiddo's shin that was embedded about 1/2" into her skin. Super gross feeling to keep pulling and pulling until it came out. She fell at the far back side of our property and had a lot way to drag herself back to the house to get help.

We have a rule that Kiddo can't go outside without telling us, so that we know to check on her every few minutes. Both kids and animals have to be trained to be watchful and they also need to be fairly closely supervised. It's also important to have first aid preparedness and plans for all these scenarios. Some extra caution is needed.

3) Mountain weather pattern dangers: The weather gets a little wilder in the foothills. This may mean more powerful winds, heavier rains, more powerful sudden storms of all kinds: electrical, thunder, snow, rain, etc. This can make driving more challenging too even when things are fine in the city. Temperatures can also be considerably colder in winter. You may be just a couple of miles away from the heart of town but a higher elevation, canyons and mountains that storm clouds will bang into make things a little more challenging and unpredictable. I was "twinkled" by some lightening two summers ago - it didn't strike loudly it just buzzed up the air around me and I was holding my cell phone and received a burn on my palm from where the phone contacted my hand. Not fun. I try not to go outside at all if we are having an electrical storm now.

4) Outdated utilities: The farther you live from "civilization" the less maintained utilities will be and the less interested companies are in investing in your neighborhood. Our neighborhood is about 30+ years old now. The lots are big and spread apart and the population is mostly over 70 years old. So you can imagine we are not the hotbed for the tech companies interested in investing in installing their latest technologies. Things you don't think about...high speed internet is everywhere now isn't it?!

The fact that home lots are big, spread far apart and that the soil is very rocky also adds to the plausible costs for utilities to consider upgrading to new systems and laying new wires that have to be buried underground. So our neighborhood has adequate but not great internet access and our options are limited. The phone lines are old, all the wiring is old. We've already had to have the internet company come and replace the main connector for our house at the junction box down the road and were without internet service for a week. It seems like every few weeks we have to restart our modem to reconnect to the system.

5) Public and emergency services availability: Once you are out of the city limits you will likely not be getting city water, garbage, sewer, or emergency services. You may be on the county system for fire and law enforcement and it's important to know how far away these facilities are located if you have an emergency at your home. We have a neighborhood association for garbage and water which we pay for and it's probably more that regular city services would be. We also have a septic tank instead of a sewer system. I have mixed emotions about that as well. Wouldn't probably be my first choice because we are fully, financially responsible for its proper function. When things go badly with a septic system it can mean replacing the entire tank and tearing up a major section of your yard to do it. $$$$$. Ouch.

6) Yardwork, soil and gardening challenges: In our neighborhood, most yards are left completely natural, in fact I think it's somewhat required. But if a homeowner wants to have a manicured space within a walled or fenced in area that is allowed in back of the house. We have a small grass area with a large patio, deck and pool deck area. We still haven't figured out how to deal with our grassy area as far are cutting it nicely because there are "architectural" rocks in the midst of it and around it. We need to work on that. My feeling is that a push mower would be the best bet. It's hardly worth buying a real lawnmower for such a tiny piece of grass plus it sounds incredibly dangerous potentially have rocks or bits of rock being shot out of the bottom of a power mower.

Trying to grow anything in this mountainy soil really is impossible unless it's something that is already growing on this mountainside. For any kind of gardening a lot of soil conditioning or container planting is necessary. However in the hot, desert climate, thing son planters have a hard time surviving. Large container or raised bed gardening seems like the best option. I have only planted a few small containers at this point. Maybe someday when we've finished up more house projects we can think about starting larger scale gardening projects.

Fantastic Pros:

7) The amazing views! Being higher up makes for amazing sunsets, city views and storm watching as they come across the valley. In our valley we enjoy an 80+ mile view in three directions. It's quite beautiful and the sunsets are stunning night after night after night. The mountains on the other side of our home are beautiful too. It's so much to take in and something we don't take for granted.

8) The privacy! We didn't really realize until we moved in that we actually have three houses that are within a few hundred feet of our house because the trees block the other houses nicely. But because the lots are bigger here we have plenty of privacy. All the bedrooms face out to big open, tree-lined spaces so we do feel there is a lot of privacy here.

9) Respectful neighbors. I think people who tend to live in neighborhoods like this are people who appreciate their privacy too so everything is very respectful for the most part. We did have some problems with a neighbor's dogs when they first moved in and were roaming into our yard without leashes and barking a lot but after neighbors complained that seemed to get significantly better. Our neighbors all wave as they drive through the neighborhood and we know we know them well enough to feel comfortable visiting but not intruded upon.

10) Distance from the city hustle and bustle. After living in one of the busiest areas of Los Angeles and surrounded by constant noise 24-hours a day, living a bit outside the noise of the city and traffic is lovely. It is so quiet up here. You can sit in bed at night at stare out the windows at the trees and stars and enjoy the silence. Some nights it is so quiet you can hear traffic from almost a mile away on the closest main road outside our neighborhood. That is such a huge change for us.

One thing that is very interesting is how voices carry across the mountains. Sometimes you can very clearly hear voices through the trees and there are no people there but the voices are coming from several homes away or a completely different direction. It is very strange and sometimes a little unsettling. The wind and the trees do interesting things to the things we hear.

There are so many things we do love about living here and I think there are, in any home one purchases, big pros and cons. Some you recognize before you move in and some you don't find out about until you've lived there for a time. I could do without the dangerous creatures, but I love our home, the yard and the views, our local church congregation and the friends we've made in the neighborhood. Our next door neighbors are the absolute best and that is something we had no idea about when we purchased the house because they were traveling from the time we first looked at the house until long after we'd closed on the house.

I choose to love the good and not worry too much about the challenges. Make the best of it all. Living in this mountain environment is a lot of fun and brings us a lot of things we needed at this point in our lives. I hope these tips will help you know if mountain living is right for you!

14 July 2017

Big Likes #7: Skylights

Growing up we had a skylight in our living room, but I never really understood how fantastic skylights were until I moved to the Southwest. Many homes here take advantage of skylights and it makes an amazing difference in the brightness of one's home and they are a big electricity saver too.

I first really noticed this when we moved into our home and our garage had a skylight in it. That means that you never need to turn the light on in the garage when you go in there during the day if the garage door is down. It's already light. I'm sort of surprised by this every time I walk into our garage because I have been so used to having to turn a light on in all the other garages I've had.

In the townhouse we lived in for a short time before we moved into our house there were skylights over the vanities in the bathrooms and it was wonderful to have that natural light when getting ready and looking in the mirrors. Another room where there are rarely windows and where you never needed to flip on the lights thanks to the skylights.

In this house we also have skylights in our family room and dining/living room and they make such a difference in the amount of light in those spaces. Albuquerque has an average of 310 days of sunshine a year, so we really get a great advantage to enjoying more natural light in our home and need less electrical lighting during daylight hours. The skylights have also really helped out our houseplants who seem so healthy and happy with the all natural light they get.

Skylights are not that expensive to install although I would suggest having a professional do it because it affects roofing and there can be problems with leaks if not installed properly. There are different versions that can be opened for additional ventilation too. Ours are opaque plastic bubbles, so they don't open but we have so many doors and windows in our house that can be opened that we really don't need that feature. But I sure do love our skylights, all the extra light they bring in just makes our home a happier place - and who does not want to save on lighting costs! Skylights are something I have learned to appreciate because of living in the southwest where they are plentiful. They are Big Like #7 this week.

11 July 2017

Visits From Friends On Cross-country Drives

Because we live along a major east-west U.S. highway corridor, occasionally friends pass through town on their way across the country. It seems every summer friends from afar are driving through Albuquerque.

Just last night good friends from California, who have been on a cross-country vacation, asked if we wanted to meet up for dinner later this week. A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of great friends from L.A. coming to town while on a cross-country roadtrip. Such fun. We first learned they would be coming last winter so it seemed a long way out and then suddenly it was time for them to come.

We met up on a Friday morning to ride the world-famous Sandia Peak Tramway to the top of 10,378 ft. high Sandia Peak. We took a short hike and enjoyed the cooler temperatures and beautiful lush green forest and meadows you don't get in the desert valley!

It was fun to see the kids run wild and enjoy each other's company, for all of us to breathe in the fresh air and for the grown up ladies to be able to chat too. The tram ride is amazing and the immensity of the natural beauty and the size of the mountain are pretty astounding.

It was a great opportunity to reconnect and I am realizing that living along I-40 is a blessing for staying connected with friends from afar. Riding the Sandia Peak Tramway is one of the best and most enjoyable activities you can do in Albuquerque for the views of the vast desert landscape we live in, to see the city from above, to get close to the mountains and get close to nature. Once at the top there is a lot to take in and it is all so beautiful.

One of the things that makes catching up with old friends who are passing through town most successful is being very flexible. These groups are usually passing through town on a pretty exhausting driving schedule and they may be delayed or arrive earlier than expected. I think it's important to consider how they are feeling when they arrive and not put a lot of expectations on them.

So we try to be helpful, non-pressuring, considerate and amenable to what they feel they are up for. Our first questions are always "Is there anything we can do for you?" and "What are you feeling up for?" That may be a quick fast food dinner, a full New Mexican food feast, a visit to an indoor activity where it is a cool, a refreshing swim, time for kids to escape the car, stretch their legs and run around in a park, or any variety of things.

When my family keeps this in mind it's okay if we need to reschedule or cancel at the last minute. We understand road trips and know that being open to what works best for our friends is the best for everyone. So we go with the flow and try to be helpful and understanding and not be so excited to see our friends that we overwhelm or further exhaust them with energy, big plans or unrealistic expectations. This has worked out really well.

I am putting together a list of ideas for just such occasions since we know our city better than visitors would. I have a list of suggested hotels and restaurants in a variety of price ranges and excursion ideas and good parks. That way when they ask we can easily have ideas at the ready to share. Sometimes friends get in touch in advance and sometimes it's very spur of the moment so having some ideas at the ready makes this easy.

This ability to have so many friends visit our city was a completely unexpected surprise but we sure are enjoying it. It's fun to share our city, catch up and maintain lifelong friendships!

07 July 2017

Business Classes & A Spiritual Book For Women

This has turned into quite a busy little summer with ongoing kid camps, lots of activities with friends, trying to grow three little businesses and taking two business courses. I think sometimes busy-ness can be a blessing to get us through certain periods of our lives and this might be one of them. I feel like the busy-ness is a bit of a blessing right now.

via Deseret Book
First thing I want to share with you is this wonderful book my sister sent me, A Quiet Heart by Patricia Holland. It was given to my sister by a friend and then my sister sent me a copy. It's a very small book in size and page number but it is filled with so much for the Christian woman's heart. I would recommend it to women of any faith. It is all about our place as women, as unique individuals, our need to filter out so many distractions and truly focus on one thing and that is submitting to the Lord's will for our lives and the promises that we will find peace, greater fulfillment and happiness there than in any other place possible.

It's message is one of gentleness, love, acceptance, humility, inner stillness and much more. Such a great read and truly inspired to help one center on the important and good things of life while letting go of the distractions of the world and the pain and suffering they cause us. Lovely read and I'm not quite done with it.

I signed up for a small business class at a local entrepreneur support organization a month or so ago. It is a six week class and we're about half done right now and the homework/preparation load is increasing. But I am learning a lot and enjoying the class.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a self-sufficiency class at our church which included a breakout group for people wanting to grow a small business. That is definitely something I want to do but dedicating one night a week to it when we are already quite busy in the evenings was a tough commitment - especially realizing it will be almost fall and we'll back in school before this class ends.

We're two weeks in, still 10 weeks to go, but it has been an amazing and enlightening experience already, even when I am so tired I am falling asleep during the conversations. After a couple of nights of little sleep this past week, it was tough for me to stay awake in our class on Wednesday. The whole concept of taking classes with people who can share expertise and individual talents and work together to help each other is pretty brilliant. There isn't a teacher for the class but instead a facilitator - who just helps foster the conversation. There is a curriculum but as a class we go through it together, taking turns reading, presenting ideas, etc.

Both classes come with some fairly significant homework and that is taking some getting used to and some juggling to be able to make it happen. If I thought it was a challenge getting homework done in high school or college, it is much more challenging being married and having a family, a house, and lots of other responsibilities. Wow. But I'm getting it done, even if it's an hour before the class.

I already know that both classes are helping me be a better business person and that will help me across the board in anything I do career-wise. I've invested quite a bit of time and money in my career this summer and I am anxious/excited to get it to pay off. In my logical mind it makes sense that it will but there is always that little voice that speaks fear, failure and falling on your face. But it's good to just shut that one off and do your best.

I hope that a year from now I can look back on this post and see a happy trail of successful growth both spiritually and career-wise. I've been reminded of the philosophy that any forward movement is a move in the right direction and whatever energy you put forward towards your goals will get you in the right direction, even if its not the direction you expected or does not bring the outcomes you expected. I've been trying to just do what I think I need to do each day and not get too crazed about life. Staying in a place of faith and inner-stillness is of massive importance to me in my life right now and it is blessing me so much that I can't even tell you.

03 July 2017

My New & Amazing Skincare Regimen: Rodan + Fields

A few weeks ago my friend Rebecca asked if she could send me a sample of Rodan + Fields to try out and write a review blog post about my experience with the new Active Hydration Serum. Since moving to the high desert of New Mexico from coastal California my skin has never quite recovered. Keeping it moisturized has been a constant battle so I was willing to try anything, but when I heard Rodan + Fields I knew the quality and was very interested. The creators of Rodan + Fields also create Proactiv which I'm sure you've heard of -- and I believe really made it possible for no teenager to have to suffer through bad acne ever again. Life changer!

image via rodan + fields
A few months ago I had to go without makeup for a medical procedure but still wanted to have a healthy, shiny face. I ended up putting moisturizer on five times that morning but in the end achieved a healthy glow I was looking for. I was hoping Active Hydration Serum would produce a similar result with less effort and that it would be more long lasting.

I went into this experiment with good hopes but totally prepared to be completely honest about the results. Rodan + Fields products are very high quality but they are not inexpensive so I needed to see real results before I would recommend a product in this price range to my readers. I can say after several weeks of use I have been more than impressed with Active Hydration Serum.

After just two days of use I could see and feel a difference in my skin. First off my skin didn't look dry. Second the texture felt different, it was so soft. Third thing I noticed is that my skin glowed. In the beginning I put it on morning and night and applied it twice each time. My skin was drinking it in. As the days and weeks have passed I have used less and less, which obviously makes the product last longer and seems to indicate my skin is getting moister and more healthy. After about four weeks of use, I am only applying it at night. In the mornings I wake up and my skin looks dewy and shiny. I love how much younger and brighter my skin looks.

I have to tell you that trying Active Hydration Serum not on had a big impact on my complexion but it also had a powerful impact on my thinking. When my skin looked better than it has in years, I had this realization that I did not have to resign myself to the aging process. If I could feel better about my skin I could feel better about so many things that come with aging.

Taking the time to give my skin more love each night by cleansing thoroughly and creating a better nightly routine for my face, inspired me to take better care of my oral hygiene as well. I started whitening my teeth again which I have not done in a while. That carried over to adding other self-care regimens to my bedtime preparations. It also built back into the end of the day some much enjoyed and appreciated me time. I started listening to inspiring talks while I did my new, more thorough routine and that started feeding my soul too. I began feeling more inspired and excited about life and my life energy.

I saw more changes I could make to feel younger and more energetic and after seeing the results on my face, I wanted more results in all areas of my life. I took my workouts up a notch and made more changes that would energize my life. Active Hydration Serum inspired a real game-changing experience for me. I can't control the passing of the years, but I sure can control how I think, feel and act as the years pass. It's funny to say that a skin care product did that for me, but it did and it was the last thing I expected - and I am so grateful!

Rebecca also included a Glow Pack sample when she sent me the Active Hydration Serum. It included a Redefine Daily Cleansing Mask, Overnight Restorative Cream and a Redefine Lip Serum. I'll share more about my experience with those products in future posts.

Because of the pleasing results I got from Active Hydration Serum I contacted my friend Rebecca again and asked her to tell me more about the Rodan + Fields skin care line.  While I was visiting my parents I got together with Rebecca and talked all things Rodan + Fields. I knew I was going to want to share my experience with the products she had sent me with friends and family.

Aging skin and dry skin are topics of conversation in my world with friends and neighbors. We're all fighting it. Especially here in New Mexico, and in places like Las Vegas, where you can't even leave a slice of bread out on the counter for a few minutes without it drying it. With our high altitude, wind and dry climate here in NM, anything that gives a person soft, dewy skin is a game changer. I knew I would be talking about how these products affected my life and I believed others would be interested. So much to my surprised I became interested in becoming a consultant.

So I signed up to represent Rodan + Fields products and it's important for me to tell you that so you understand that anything I post here is linking directly to my new personal Rodan + Fields consultant website. So in a sense, everything from here on out about Rodan + Fields is a sponsored post, sponsored by me. I'll do some giveaways in the future and keep you abreast of any sales or specials you can take advantage of, if like me you are interested in youthful, vibrant skin. You can get the basics on Rodan + Fields regimen lines here. You may also be interested in the lip serum, Lash Boost (crazy good results) -- and I've heard good things about the sunless tanner too.

If you'd told me even two months ago that I would sign up to be a consultant for any direct sales product line I would've said no way. But when I found Rodan + Fields I knew I was going to sell it just by sharing it, so it made total sense to me to actually join the organization because I knew I would be telling people about these products. Since first adding Active Hydration Serum to my facial routine, I've added the Redefine regimen, the lip serum and I'm starting the Lash Boost this week so I'll share my results with you. If you're interested in learning more about any of these products, let me know. I'm happy to share. Feeling and looking good is something I want for everyone. There is a line created for men too, because I know it's not just we women who want to have great skin.

Right now there is a promotion going on to get a bundled pack of any one of the four regimen lines along with a Lash Boost for 20% off and there are additional savings if you sign up as a preferred customer. If you're interested in R+F this is a good first step to getting to know the product line.

I want you to know that neither this blog or any of my social media accounts are going to be taken over by high pressure sales tactics (bleech!) or constant posts only about R+F. I'll post maybe once a week or so on R+F and the remainder of posts will continue to represent what I've been doing here for many years now. I have always shared the things I'm most passionate about and when a skin care product gives me a new enthusiasm for life and more beautiful skin, I would be wrong not to share it. If you're like me and tend to be a little skeptical, try the Active Hydration Serum and see what it can do for you. Or try the self=tanner, lip serum or eye cream. There are lots of options to step into the Rodan + Fields world in a way that is comfortable for you.

I would love to help you start or continue your journey to amazing looking skin and introduce you to Rodan + Fields. You can contact me at 505 569 0700 or at kcropper @ myrandf dot com.

26 June 2017

It's High Time I Bought A Ticket To Alt Summit

I have wanted to go to Alt Summit since the first year it was held. I wavered that year when I should've just jumped at the chance and then it took off and getting a ticket has felt next to impossible since then either due to timing, finances or how fast it now sells out.

image via Alt Summit
I knew tickets were going on sale last week and I had talked to my super encouraging sister about going but got home from vacation to a busy week and forgot about it. Then the morning the tickets went on sale, my sister texted me the reminder she'd received and said "You should go!" Something inside me said "You should do this" and another part of me was thinking, "You have spent a lot of money investing in yourself and your businesses the past month, you cannot afford to do this." While driving all over town running errands I quickly pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall and started texting my sister back with my waffling thoughts. Her comment was "Pray about it," ....duh....

So I did and the feeling "You should do this" did not go away. I looked at my bank account and even though there was less there than I would like there to be (due to all my personal & family investments - aka business investments) I could wrangle the cost of the ticket. I felt this feeling that this was another investment that was worth it and would pay off long term. I had heard that with so many people wanting to buy tickets the site had crashed in past years due to sheer overwhelming interest and I knew it sold out quickly, so I was half expecting that either the site would be down or it would already be sold out.

I was pleasantly wrong on both accounts. The website was easy, even on my phone. I got right on and after a few seconds of nerves before hitting "purchase ticket" I was done in just a couple of minutes and had a ticket in hand. Within minutes a text went out that it was 75% sold out and in less than an hour all the tickets were gone. I have felt nothing but happiness that I went for it...okay I have felt a little "Wow, I spent a big chunk of change on that ticket for an event happening next year" but I have no qualms that I won't get my money's worth from this event and a chance to go to back to SoCal any time is one I'll take.

It turned out perfectly that I spent last Friday morning with my friend and artist Jackie Leishman (check out her art!) and her family. They were in town driving cross-country and Kiddo and I, her mom and kids took the tram up Sandia Peak and hiked around the back side of the mountains and Jackie and I sneaked in some nice chats. I knew she had been to Alt Summit 2017 so it was great to get the lowdown from her. She gave me some good insights into how to prepared and how much preparation you really should do before you attend. Invaluable info and I'll definitely want to chat with her again in the coming months to get her valuable guidance more fully.

Buying this ticket gave me a feeling that this indeed is going to be a big year for me career-wise and personally. I know at Alt Summit I am going to meet some blogging friends I have known only online for many years now. That will be fun. It also inspired me to make some valuable investments in myself as I prepare. I'll be totally honest and say that buying some fun clothes for the event would not be awful now would it?! Even though it's still a long way out, I am looking forward to preparing for and attending Alt Summit 2018 next February in Palm Springs.

22 June 2017

A Special Request Art Piece For My Birthday

After returning home last week and feeling that sense of urgency to get the wheels of progress rolling again it suddenly seems like there is a lot going on in every direction. That is a good thing and I am really feeling energized by small steps forward that are happening and ideas that are percolating. It feels like the speed of things is picking up too, so I'm feeling excited and a little bit of "hold onto your hat!" I am very interested to see what the next few months are going to bring.

Last year for my birthday I ordered a few pieces of art for the house. One of them was an art piece similar to this one above with the Los Angeles LDS temple as the focal point. This year I wanted to add the Albuquerque Temple now that this is "our new" temple. The artist Tolman Bryant Design didn't have the Albuquerque Temple among their offerings so I sent a message through Etsy asking if they would considering making one.

Within a day or so I had a file emailed to me with the sample work in it, already created and ready to go. I was so surprised! I had been thinking of making this a birthday present to myself - I always get myself something or a few things for my birthday, so I thought this would be a fun gift. I ordered it just before my birthday and then when we got back in town it was waiting for me....along with many other packages that I had ordered.

I didn't think too smart and had a ton of packages arrive here while I was gone. Some I had anticipated would arrive before I left, and a few I hadn't anticipated ordering at all, so it was an unusual cavalcade of deliveries while we were gone which did leave The Man wondering a bit. Ha.

I had used a silver floating frame from Michaels and added a mat to it last time I framed the other temple art. This is because I couldn't find anything else like I was looking for. I could've done without the floating option but it worked with the mat to look just like I wanted it to. So I popped by Michaels again earlier this week and was pleased to find the same frames on sale buy one get one free. So I grabbed two for the price of one and had this all put together in just a few minutes. Now the two pieces are sitting next to each other on top of an antique Spanish chest of drawers in our dining room. They look good together. I should've grabbed a photo to share with you. Duh.

If you are interested in seeing more Tolman Bryan Design art it's available on Etsy in a variety of sizes and different temple versions. If there is one you want that you don't see, apparently it's as easy as asking to see if they can create something special for you to see. I love finding religious art that is out of the ordinary and has a more modern feel. That puts Tolman Bryant on my radar for sure!

 I'm looking forward to a bunch more posts in the next few days. It seems like I have so much to share with you, fun announcements and progress on things. I think this is going to be a fun month to come...lots of hard work, but some good fun. Hope all is well in your world!

20 June 2017

Summer Kick-off Trip

School ended near the last full week of May and then we had just the right amount of days to unwind and rest of before we headed off to visit family and attend sports camps. In the aftermath of our trip I will say that I really liked getting away and starting summer off with a bang right away. It was good for the soul to see family, get out of town out and be somewhere different, and start the summer fun of splash pads and picnics right off the bat.

Sometimes I find that if I don't really start summer off with intention for summer fun, suddenly it's late July or early August and we are just getting having our first barbecue, trip, big bike ride, night at the city park or baseball stadium and we've missed the majority of the summer. So jumping right into the spirit of the season the week after school got out was great.

Kiddo attended golf and basketball camps in the mornings and then in the afternoons and on the weekends we had time to spend with immediate and extended family. We met lots of cousins at a local splash pad one day and another day we took a fun evening bike ride around Midway, Utah. It is a wonderful little town that was settled by Swiss immigrants and has the look and feel of a beautiful quaint European village. After  our ride, that we had the best burgers and fries at a local food truck.

It was so good for the soul to be with our people, to see old friends and to be about different things than we generally are on regular days at home. I met up with a fun friend from California who is now an esthetician working in American Fork and had a great facial and chat. Things have changed so much since I lived in the area where I grew up that it's a challenge for me to find my way around anymore. But it is fun to adventure to new places that I often hear about from locals that I haven't been to.

I also had a chance to do a little undisturbed clothing shopping and scored on a few great deals on summer clothes. We enjoyed some great meals at my folks home and out to eat at fun old favorite eating spots and some "new to us" spots too. I think I got a bit of heat exhaustion one day and eating a lot of salads really helped with recovery. Fresh fruits and vegetables just make summer such a happy time for me.

We were sad to leave everyone, but once we were home we were also happy to be back in our own home, beds and routine. Thanks to our fun 10-day trip we came home in full summer mode. Even though we have work, home chores, classes and camps to attend to,we are still making the most of summer by taking some free time every day to relax, swim and watch a little TV or go somewhere fun. Bedtime has also gone out the window, for better or worse. It feels like it's okay so far and I think everyone in the family seems to be benefitting from taking a break from the rigorous and tiring routine of the school year.

It's been insanely hot since we got back and we feel like we're roasting a lot of the time, so that downtime really does help us keep our sanity and stay as cool as possible. Swimming has helped cool down our core body temps in the late afternoons and we stay cool the rest of the day. What a blessing it's been to have a pool, even though we kept telling our realtor we did not want a pool. But there are a lot of houses in the southwest that have a pool so it's not always so easy to find the house you want that doesn't have a pool. In the end I'm so glad we have a pool. Lesson learned. Living in the southwest and having a pool is a good thing.

Summer is in full swing now. Kiddo is in a local golf camp this week and I am working as much as I can while also making time for downtime for myself, with the family and with friends. One thing I still want to work on is getting out with friends to do things. I am not very good at initiating plans but am always so happy when friends call and invite us to do things. This summer I want to plan some mom and kids outings and a few night time family picnics. Better get on that!

30 May 2017

Saying Goodbye To May: Patio Outdoor Space Ready

May is pretty much my favorite month of the year and I am always sad to see it end. With Mother's Day, my birthday and Memorial Day weekend it's pretty much a month long party. Not complaining!
I have so many beautiful cards on my mantle along with fresh flowers and potted plants that have come my way the past couple of weeks. It just makes everything feel so festive.

I have been working hard on outdoor living spaces as I have talked about repeatedly here. I am happy to report that for the past several night we have been out on our front patio, with the solar lanterns lit playing games and having fun. Every day it seems I add something new. First it was a couple of tea lights in jars, then I broke open a big box of wicker lanterns like these on the table above.

Story about those wicker lanterns. In December 2011 (!!!!), we had just gotten engaged and I was in full-blown, excited wedding planning dream land. I found these wicker lanterns at TJMaxx and ended up driving all over the Los Angeles metro area buying them out of every store so that I had enough to use them on the long tables for our wedding. You can see my original blog post full of enthusiasm about having found them here. Well fast forward 6 1/2 years (oh my gosh....) and we never had our big wedding thanks to a little detour called Afghanistan.....and these lanterns, along with anything else I purchased for our wedding have been languishing in storage ever since.

I didn't have the heart to get rid of them, thought perhaps someday we might actually have a vow ceremony/reception of some kind that we could share with family and friends. So in boxes they have sat. Finally I brought one box out and opened it. Along with six lanterns I found a couple hundred really cute paper napkins I had purchased for a pre-wedding picnic or rehearsal dinner or something. Wow. Anyway I put three of these lanterns out on the coffee table on the front porch and they look so fun and festive and create such a lovely light in the evenings...and I feel a little sad that they are going to get used and get ruined without every having served their true purpose but whatever. I have to get over that...

I started making a small buffet table for the back deck with two towers of four cinder blocks and a pretty wood top that I built. I spent part of Friday night at Home Depot with my building plans, trying to figure out the best materials to use and pushing one of those gigantic pull carts that was so heavy I had to totally lean my entire body into it to get it to move. Then I packed everything into my little VW Golf (crazy amount of cargo space, even fit 6' wood plants and 10 cinderblocks with room to spare!).

I have been working on this table since Friday night and hoped to have it done Saturday but it's definitely a work in progress and I should have it done by Wednesday. I have the top done, just need to even out the edges on each side and then stain it and polyurethane it for outdoor use. It's a bar height and will fit our new little portable barbecue grill and leave room for serving food too. You can see the example of the table I'm building here. I'm not doing the sides, just one long 6' length. I figured we can add the sides later if we feel we need them but I think the three-sided table is more than we need and doesn't fit out space all that well. We have a fairly narrow patio but it's very long so a long table along one wall makes great sense for us. I'll share more details when I have a finished product to show you. Excited about it! Really makes my soul so happy to have a creative project.

We also got our temporary, but large and fabulous, bi-fold door/sawhorse dining table out of the shed last night. Hooray! throw a giant tablecloth over that and we have a table to eat at outside. I made a makeshift grilling table out of a 3x3 stack of cinderblocks to hold the little portable grill I picked up at Ace Hardware on Friday. I was looking for a different grill which they have on line but apparently don't carry in the stores.

While they didn't have the one I wanted, they had this little grill on sale for $12.99 and how could I beat that?! Some day we plan on having a nice big grill in the back - and are so lucky to already have a gas line from the house out to the patio -- but until we decide what we want and how we'll configure it all, this little grill will work just fine. I probably should've bought two or three and we could've had an awesome little grilling station for $36. I might still do that. That would get us through some fun entertaining and they are so small and easy to deal with. I like the idea of having three of these on a long table and cooking up all kinds of fun things that way.

I couldn't let Memorial Day Weekend pass without a barbecue so that was my big goal for the weekend. I kept the menu easy and light. Burgers with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. Here's a link to my hamburger recipe I've been refining for a few years now. I think I've found my groove with the spices in these and they always taste good. I picked up some already cut up pineapple, a big watermelon and chips today and we were in business!

We ate dinner just as the sun was setting with our cafe string lights on, wicker lanterns on the table and a delicious, simple summer feast. We had a great time and after the meal we played with Kiddo's plethora of glow-in-the-dark bracelets, necklaces and other trinkets she's been stashing in a drawer. Nights here in Albuquerque are so perfect for outdoor time. Little to no wind, no bugs, perfect temps so you don't need a sweater. It's just lovely being outside on summer nights here! I hope we'll start eating outside every night we can throughout the summer.

Now that we have everything set up, it should be a cinch to enjoy our outdoor areas as much as we can throughout the summer. Looking forward to having friends over and swimming the summer away. Speaking of which, the pool is up and running as of today --- with just one little challenge. Our heaterless pool is still a little cold. Water temps at 63 degrees. We need some hot sunny days!....or I need to finally order that solar pool heating blanket I kept looking at last year that is supposed to heat pool water up by a good 17 degrees. That would work.

I am so happy we're set for summer finally. Being able to go outside to read, have a cup of tea, relax, take a nap or eat a meal is the best and it just makes our home feel tons bigger when you add these outside rooms where one can go. Hooray for summer. Here are a few more things I am thinking about building for the backyard this summer.

Sectional seating
Dining Table
Outdoor Rugs
Two by Four Bench
Simple Concrete Planters

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