Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yard Sale

20 Sept 2014: My homemade bake sale signs.

About a week ago, Jacob and I were discussing how we could come up with enough money to actually eat inside the park when we go to Disneyland in a couple of weeks. Although I've found ways to cut corners and we are all pitching in to make this trip happen, the whole bunch of us are on very tight budgets these days. 

Jacob suggested that we have a yard sale on Saturday, since he didn't have to work that day, to raise a little extra money. I thought that was a great idea, but I warned him that he'd have to do most of the work. We only had 3 days to prepare, and my days are long and hectic now that I'm teaching an extra English class on my prep hour. By the time I get home, I'm sapped.

Around 6:00 a.m., Danielle finishes coloring in the last sign.

After he got home that night, Jacob called me three more times, first to propose the idea of having a bake sale along with the yard sale, and then to excitedly share his plans for various goodies.

He was as good as his word. Even though he and Danielle both worked over the next few days, they toiled hard to prepare a whole slew of sweet offerings to tempt our yard sale shoppers. Danielle, in particular, took on most of the huge job of baking while Jacob was at work. She also spent hours going through boxes of her old things to choose items they could contribute to the sale. Meanwhile, Jacob cleaned up the yard, borrowed long tables, and repaired the old signs my dad made for me when Mark and I first began holding yard sales, probably close to 20 years ago. 

Jacob and Dylan make repairs. These old signs have been rained on, blown over,
dropped, buried, and probably even run over a time or two!

Because we've had regular yard sales for so many years now, I don't have too many more things to put out for sale. I wasn't sure how successful we'd be. We started the sale at 7:30 that morning, and not a soul showed up for half an hour. I was beginning to worry.

Then promptly at 8:00, our neighbor Eugene came by and bought a loaf of banana bread. Our first sale! Before he left, another car stopped. By 10:00 we had made our first $60.

The bake sale table, which Jacob kept filled as items were purchased.

We discovered that most of the hard-core, early-rising yard sale shoppers weren't interested in the food. We didn't sell too many goodies until after 10:00. After that, many shoppers headed straight to the baked goods first. 

By the time we packed it in at 1:00, we'd earned $131.25. Not too shabby for 5 hours' work. Jacob made another $26 selling the remaining baked goods to his co-workers, bringing the total haul to $157.25. Plus several of his co-workers have requested more goodies, to be delivered next payday!

Jacob and Danielle await our first visitors.

We even experienced a little miracle that day. After almost a week of heavy, pouring rains from Hurricane Odile south of us, in Baja California, we had been nervously watching the weather reports. That morning the forecast called for a 50% chance of more thundershowers. I had whispered a prayer that the skies over our house would stay clear until at least 1:00 so we'd have a chance to earn the money we needed.

Around 11:00 we noticed dark clouds in the distance, rolling our way. By 11:30 there were rolls of thunder and we were feeling an occasional tiny drop of moisture, but we plugged on, hoping for the best. Around noon I looked at Jacob and said, "Oh no, here it comes." Living in the pines as we do, the sound of rain on the trees can be heard long before it reaches you.

Danielle's table was a child's delight!

The sound of raindrops moved closer and closer, and finally it was drumming heavily on the metal roof of our next-door neighbor's carport, less than 20 feet away from where we had our tables set up. And there it stopped. Jacob and I were stunned (Danielle had gone to work by this time). For more than 30 minutes the rain held off, splattering on the neighbor's driveway and missing us!

At 1:00 we decided we'd better pack up our stuff. We were just carrying the last of the boxes to the shed when, at 1:15, the rain began to pour down on our heads. We were grateful for this amazing blessing in answer to a quiet prayer!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Autumn Desserts

14 Sept 2014: Mary takes a bite of her sugar-free chocolate apple.

As we do every Sunday, our family gathered tonight for our weekly Sunday dinner. We visit, play games, prepare food, tease and laugh (unmercifully at times), and enjoy a weekly 15-minute phone call from the kids' dad in Tucson. And now, just 3 weeks from our California trip, together we watch YouTube videos of Disneyland attractions, getting ourselves highly psyched for our upcoming vacation!

Jacob and Danielle after dinner, hard at work on our dessert.

Tonight I served up some delicious Chicken Parmesan (the low-carb version, sans pasta) with buttered green beans-and-minced-onion as the side dish. I hadn't really planned on a dessert, but Jacob called me this afternoon to inform me that he and Danielle had dessert covered.

Tonight's dessert.

Autumn is definitely in the air, here in the White Mountains. The nighttime temperature drops into the 50s. The air is crisp in the morning and nippy in the evening, with just a slight tang of wood smoke. The leaves haven't begun to turn yet, but it won't be long. This is my favorite time of year.

Danielle gets photo bombed by Dylan, who is channeling his inner Gene Simmons.

Perhaps inspired by this climate, Jacob and Danielle chose the traditional fall treat of caramel apples. When I commented that I can't eat the sugary caramel, Jacob told me not to worry. He'd solved that problem by buying sugar-free chocolate for Sarah and me (Sarah has lost 17 lbs as of today!). Instead of caramel, we'd get chocolate-covered apples.

Jacob takes the biggest bite possible.

For the non-dieters, they covered the apples with caramel, then coated it with white chocolate, and finally dusted it with a sugar and cinnamon mixture. Sarah and I got apples coated with sugar-free chocolate and dusted with cinnamon and Splenda. They were yummy!

Dylan savors his caramel apple.

Dylan covets Sarah's chocolate apple.

Welcome, autumn! And thanks for dessert, Jacob and Danielle!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Six Decades!

Sept. 1, 2014: I did my very first "selfie" in honor of my 60th birthday.
Dylan was cracking up while watching me!

Well, I did it. I made it to my 60th birthday! And it turned out to be one of my most favorite days ever!

I had a fairly quiet day at home. I did some laundry and answered a slew of wonderful birthday wishes on Facebook. I prepared some goodies for the evening. It was great that my birthday landed on Labor Day so I didn't have to go to work. 

Dylan and Mary at El Rancho.

Then our family started to gather, and at 6:00 we headed over to El Rancho for a delicious Mexican dinner. I was good, I promise! I had a taco salad without the tortilla shell. Shredded beef, guacamole, sour cream, and lots of salad greens.

My dad, Myron, and step-mom Kathy.

Dinner at El Rancho has been a birthday tradition in our family for decades. We love it! (World's best house-made salsa, in my humble opinion!)

My daughter Sarah and son-in-law Chris.

We have tons of pictures since the early 1990's, wearing the El Rancho sombrero on our heads while the staff sang to us and served the birthday boy or girl a free dish of deep-fried ice cream.

My son Jacob and daughter-in-law Danielle.
Jacob and Dylan can never be serious for pictures!

It was a bit different this year, though. Instead of the staff singing to me, a guitarist came to our table and sang "Happy Birthday to You," and then he sang "Tequila Sunrise" by the Eagles to me! It was fun!

But they still brought out the sombrero and the deep-fried ice cream! They also took my picture and told me it would be on their Facebook page; however, it wasn't there yet when I checked tonight. Luckily, my motto is "Have camera, will travel," so we captured the moments on my trusty, battered little camera!

Mary and the deep-fried ice cream get photo-bombed by Dylan.

Again, but this time without Dylan.

Of course, I couldn't eat that sugary, honey-crusted ice cream nestled in a cinnamon-dusted tortilla shell and smothered in whipped cream, so I cut it into portions and passed it to those whose metabolisms could tolerate it. Sarah and I were both good and didn't even taste it.

Mary with Billie Acevedo.

Two tables over from ours, another birthday celebration was going on. A tiny, elderly lady named Billie Acevedo was dancing to the guitarist's tunes and living it up. I found out we were born on the same date, but she was celebrating her 86th birthday! She told me that she and her husband had been married for 64 years. She also told me she was once the mayor of Miami, Arizona (about 1.5 hours from here), where she served for two consecutive terms. I felt like I'd just met a celebrity!

I couldn't believe my kids found old "6" and "0" candles in my cupboard!

After the fun at El Rancho, we went back to my house to open gifts and enjoy cake and ice cream. I'd made a sugar-free chocolate chip cheesecake with sugar-free chocolate frosting, but Jacob decided we also needed a traditional birthday cake for those who like their sugar, so he picked this one up before the party.

Chocolaty, chocolaty cheesecake!

We also had homemade, sugar-free peach ice cream, which was well worth the wait! I'd never made peach ice cream before, but it turned out tasty. Although I will say, homemade strawberry is still my favorite. 

Lots of pretty, sparkly cards!

My children were amazingly generous with gifts for me, as they always are. They know how to make me feel special! Sarah and Chris gave me a new Willow Tree figurine for my collection. I love those little figures, most of which are gifts from my lovely daughter! This new one is called "Thank you." 

Jacob and Danielle gave me a beautiful sapphire-and-white-crystal necklace with matching earrings (Jacob has a tradition of giving me heart-shaped jewelry). They also gave me a pretty, butterfly-adorned heat-activated scented light that plugs into the wall, with a selection of delectable wax scents.

Finally, the kids went in together on the final gift and presented me with a gift certificate to Spa Estique, where I can have the full-body massage of my choice. I am so very excited!

Gifts from my children.

It was a wonderful day. Being with friends and family who help me celebrate my life is exactly what makes growing older well worth the ride!