Benefits of being Organized

Can you believe Al and I are in our sixth year of living in the RV full-time? I know, I can’t! I assure you, we have learned a lot during those six years of living a minimalist RV lifestyle. We’ve also learned the do’s and don’ts of downsizing and the importance of organization. Ah, to go back and be given a do over … hindsight is twenty-twenty!

Summer planning

With summer just a few short months away, Al and I are in full summer planning mode, and at the forefront of our plans is a stop in southern Colorado to visit our storage units, as in plural. Yes, two storage units … sigh! Remember that do over I’d like? Oh, to go back and whittle down all that crap stuff that we’ve hardly missed over the past years.

In our defense, at that time, Al and I weren’t committed to living in the RV full-time for much more than a year or two. Little did we know how addictive this RVing lifestyle can be. Sure, we’ve thought about buying another sticks and bricks home and have even put contracts in on houses during the past six years, but when negotiations would stall, Al and I were always flooded with a sense of relief.

The reality is, we’re not ready to return to a traditional home … just yet, anyway. We know eventually that day will come. Until then, it’s time for us to think about all that stuff we’ve been foolishly storing for the past six years. It’s time to regroup, tidy up, and organize. Where was Marie Kondo when I needed her?  But then again, would I have listened to her advice? Purging stuff is hard work!

What I’ve learned living in an RV

I’ve learned a lot about living a more minimalist lifestyle, but at the top of that list would be the realization that our living space and the items surrounding us can impact mental saguaro cactus at sunset Phoenix Arizonahealth immensely.

If our RV is cluttered or unorganized, I don’t feel my best. As a matter of fact, I feel unsettled, stressed, and less than energetic. Living in a small space requires organization.

Studies have shown that organization can have a positive impact on one’s mental health, and I can vouch for that.

I’ve also learned that I can live with fewer belongings … fewer purses, fewer shoes, fewer kitchen gadgets, fewer everything.

Do I really need six pairs of athletic shoes and eight pairs of sandals shoved in a small cabinet in the RV? Of Course, I do! Well, maybe! Okay, no I don’t! It’s all about that word need.

I haven’t even talked about clothing yet. Did you know, the average person only wears 50% of the clothes in their closet? I can’t believe Al and I have six wardrobe boxes full of clothing in storage. I’m embarrassed even typing this 🤦‍♀️ I’m sure most of those items are still in fashion (not) …. and fit!

How NOT to downsize!

When Al and I first moved in together (many, many moons ago), we lived in a small one bedroom condominium in the Chicago suburbs. Between the two of us, we barely had enough stuff to furnish that 700 square foot condo. My how times change.Thirty years, a couple of cross-country moves, and several houses later, we found ourselves downsizing from a fully furnished, every closet full, 4,600 square foot home.

It was overwhelming to say the least. Fortunately, we had a few months to sort, declutter, purge, and organize, but still, we did not get rid of nearly enough stuff. I think subconsciously, all that stuff represented a sense of success to me.

leaves floating in water

From 4,600 sq. ft., we moved into an 1,100 square foot rental. That’s when the first storage unit was rented. While living in the short-term rental, we built an 1,800 square foot home with another 1,800 square feet of unfinished basement. Can you say, “lots of storage space in that basement?” Yeah, most of that stuff in the storage unit, was once again moved and distributed throughout the new house, garage, and basement … only to be moved again two years later. Seriously, what were we thinking!

It was also during this time of multiple moves that we bought our 5th Wheel. She was purchased with the intent to travel in part-time, and was never intended for us to live in full-time. We went full-time RVing on a whim! And we did that downsize within thirty days.

Thirty (30) days to whittle down all our belongings and move into less than 300 square feet of a moving RV. Whatever were we thinking? (did I already say that 😆) Thus, two stuffed 10×10 storage units were rented. Our goal this year is to purge down to one unit. A lofty goal indeed.

junk in the trunk

This is not my stuff (thank goodness). My daughter and I went to a “Junk in the Trunk” event and fortunately walked out empty handed. And yeah, it was mostly junk!

Why organization is key

  • Once you declutter and organize your things, you’ll be more efficient in your day-to-day activities. You might even notice, you actually know where things are placed. Now where’d I put those car keys?
  • Organize your stuff, and your life will be more organized.
  • When it’s time to clean, it isn’t as difficult to tidy up because things are already organized and in their proper place.
  • Purging and decluttering is freeing. It’s like a weight or responsibility is lifted from your shoulders. Less stuff, more freedom!
  • When you work in a tidy and organized space, chances are, you’ll be more productive. Organization helps you think more clearly.
  • There’s a sense of satisfaction when you step back and look at your organized, clean, tidy and decluttered living space.
  • Having an organized home can lead to an organized mind which leads to improved mental health.
  • Keeping your home organized, tidy, and decluttered, will make any future move much easier. Trust me on this one! Can I have a do over, please?

Minimize, simplify, organize

Regardless of the size of home you live in, keeping your space organized and tidy will have a positive impact on all aspects of your life and those surrounding you. And when the time comes for you to move to a new home, the battle is half done. You’ll be ready!

Learn the benefits of organization, why keeping a tidy home is important

 

(affiliate links)

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Collapsible Storage Bins – Foldable Storage Box Containers
Simple Houseware Closet Underwear Organizer

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Visit Phoenix and Step Back in Time

Are you an adventurous traveler?  Are you looking for a scenic memorable day trip near Phoenix, Arizona?  Well, I’ve got just the day excursion for you.  Al and I first drove this 80 mile scenic loop several years ago and it still ranks as one of our top favorite day trips in Arizona.Salt River AZ

Arizona History

On the far southeast side of the greater Phoenix valley lies Arizona’s oldest highway. This former stagecoach trail which runs through the Superstition Mountains was Lost Dutchmanoriginally used by the Apache Indians, thus aptly named The Apache Trail.

The Apache Trail is officially known as State Route 88 and links the town of Apache Junction with Theodore Roosevelt Lake.

The trail was developed into more of a road in the 1930’s to support the development of dam’s along the Salt River, creating some beautiful lakes in the process.

There’s oodles of interesting sights and beautiful views along the way which necessitate lots of stopping.  Photo-op anyone?  Thus, the Apache Trail Circle Loop requires an entire day.  It’s also not for the faint of heart, which I’ll explain in a minute.

Be sure and pack a lunch, snacks, and plenty of water because you’ll be exploring some desert backcountry during this scenic day trip drive. It helps if you have a high-clearance vehicle, but we saw plenty of regular cars on the dirt portion of the road from Tortilla Flat to Roosevelt Lake. That doesn’t mean I’m saying a basic car is a good fit for the terrain. It means, I saw regular cars navigating without apparent issue.

My recommendation; be sure it didn’t rain the day before, take your time, watch for bumps, and be prepared for washboard road conditions. When in doubt, check with a Tonto National Forest Ranger for further clarification and up to date road conditions. 
Apache Trail

We’ll start our journey from the town of Apache Junction, Arizona, and head north on State Road 88, aka The Apache Trail.  Our first stop is the Superstition Mountain Museum.Superstition Mountain Museum

A picturesque museum

The Superstition Mountain Museum collects, preserves, and displays the artifacts, history, and folklore of the Superstition Mountains.  Even though we knew we had a long day in front of us, this picturesque museum is worthy of a photo-op and stroll around the historic buildings. We made a note to tour the museum another day.

Exploring a Ghost Town

Just a short drive north of the Superstition Mountain museum is our next stop; the Goldfield Ghost Town.  Goldfield was once a happening gold mining town back in the 1890’s. It’s now a popular tourist attraction which is rooted in Arizona history. It’s a fun and interesting stop. They still actually mine gold here, but that’s blocked from public view.  Guess they don’t want to share them there gold, huh!

Goldfield Ghost Town offers free parking and free walking around, but there is a fee for each attraction.  You can click on this link for more information on those attractions. We don’t usually do the tourist type of thing, so I can’t vouch for any of the paid attractions.

Superstition Mountains

The quaint little shops at the Goldfield Ghost Town offer unique trinkets specific to the area along with the typical tourist stuff … T-shirts, shot glasses, coffee mugs, postcards, etc.  The grounds are loaded with original mining equipment, and it’s obvious, these are the original buildings and have stood for a very long time.  As a matter of fact, during our visit, a museum building was closed while construction workers were busy shoring up a second floor balcony.

Goldfield Apache Junction Arizona

As I strolled around Goldfield Ghost Town, I could envision the harsh realities of life over 100 years ago. These were hardy folks living in an unforgiving and harsh environment. However did they survive living in the desert without air conditioning? And no A/C in that covered wagon either 😱

I found it funny that the Bordello was located near the church. How convenient is that? Play hard …. pray even harder. Sow your wild oats on Saturday, and pray for crop failure on Sunday!

During this particular visit to the east side of the Phoenix area, we happened to be camped just up the road from the Goldfield Ghost Town at one of our favorite campgrounds; the Lost Dutchman State Park. For those unable to secure a campsite at the Lost Dutchman State Park, Goldfield Ghost Town does have a campground.  It’s a bit rustic, but at least it’s a place to park the RV in a pinch.

A favorite state park

Lost Dutchman State ParkSpeaking of Lost Dutchman State Park, this is one of our favorite places to camp while visiting the Phoenix valley.

The hiking trails are amazing and the campsites are comfortably spaced. And the views are absolutely stunning!

For those interested in visiting the Lost Dutchman State Park but not interested in camping, there is a day use area. For a small fee, you can enjoy the trails all day. The day use area offers plenty of shaded picnic tables, restrooms, and easy access to all the trails. Seriously, this is a “must see” place during any visit to Phoenix, Arizona, especially in March when the wildflowers are blooming.

A beautiful body of water in the desert

As we continue our scenic drive north of the state park, the road starts to climb, twist, and bend. I highly recommend driving this stretch of road without an RV for the first time due to potential length and height issues.

Shortly after passing the Lost Dutchman State Park we enter the Tonto National Forest.  The scenery becomes more rugged and stunning with each new mile.  March is particularly beautiful as the road is lined on both sides with yellow blooms from the brittlebush and desert marigolds.Canyon Lake AZ

Twenty miles north of the town of Apache Junction, we round a bend and are graced with the sight of an oasis in the desert.  Canyon Lake with it’s deep blue waters surrounded by rugged cliffs and rocky terrain is a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Definitely worth a few photo-ops around here, wouldn’t you agree?  Canyon Lake itself is a great day excursion; perfect for a picnic, kayak adventure, or even a cruise aboard the Dolly Steamboat.

Canyon Lake, Phoenix, Arizona, kayaking in Phoenix

Canyon Lake, Arizona. Located on the far east side of the Phoenix valley.

Canyon Lake offers a marina for daily boat rentals; powerboat, kayak, and even SUP’s (stand up paddle board). There’s also a campground, but it is rather pricey for what you get, in my opinion anyway. The last time I checked, it was over $50 a night. With that said, the drive is also something to consider. It could be quite challenging for larger RV’s due to length and height. Considering we all travel with different types of RV equipment and have our own comfort level, I recommend checking it out first without the RV.Canyon Lake

A town with the population of 6

A few more miles up the road, past Canyon Lake, is the cute little town of Tortilla Flat – population 6.  This is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat, especially if you forgot to pack a meal, like we did.  The restaurant serves up great burgers and has a fun décor.

(to enlarge photos in a gallery, simply click on any image)

The walls are covered with dollar bills stapled all over, as well as old mining tools and historical photos. The bar stools are saddles and the ladies restroom has entertaining painted stall doors. I think this is the one and only time that my daughter allowed me to photograph her in a restroom. I had to bribe her with ice cream. The little general store serves up some of the best ice cream around and the fudge was pretty good also.

The adventure begins

The Apache Trail, Phoenix, ArizonaWith tummies full, it’s time to brace ourselves for the truly adventurous part of the drive.  Just past the town of Tortilla Flat, the pavement ends.

Most rental car companies will not want you driving this road and it’s not recommended for any vehicle over 25 feet in length….  definitely no RV’s. Although, we did notice some guys pulling their boats 😮

The gravel road is wide and in pretty good condition up to the scenic view parking lot.  The vista and scenery is worth the dusty, bumpy gravel road to get to it. For those less adventurous, this would be the perfect place to turn around and retrace your journey home. In my experience, the gravel road from the town of Tortilla Flat up to the scenic overlook is usually in good condition for any vehicle to navigate, but beyond that point, it can get dicey and very interesting.

Tortilla Flat, Arizona, Century Plants

My daughter fascinated by the Century Plant located at the scenic overlook.

Al and I are used to driving unpaved mountain backcountry roads with steep cliff drop-offs with no safety barriers or guard rails.  In other words, this next stretch of road between the scenic overlook and Apache Lake is not for the faint of heart. (Tip: if you’re interested in visiting Apache Lake, but don’t want to drive over Fish Creek Hill, access from Roosevelt Lake. The road between Roosevelt Lake and Apache Lake is much easier to navigate and without the high drop-offs.)

Fish Creek Pass, the Apache Trail, a scenic drive near Phoenix

Fish Creek Pass is the most challenging stretch of the Apache Trail and not recommended for folks with a fear of heights. It’s a one lane gravel road, intended for two-way traffic with  drop-offs and no guard rails. Check out the portion of road on the far right side of the photo… a little ledge of road with no room for error.

As we continue past the scenic overlook the road narrows and winds.  This two-way traffic road narrows down to about a one to one and a half lane wide road. There isn’t enough room in most spots for two vehicles to pass each other. Those going down hill supposedly have the right of way and it’s not uncommon for someone needing to back up to a wider spot in the road so vehicles can pass by each other.

Fish Creek Pass, aka Fish Creek Hill, is the worst part of the journey with sheer drop offs,  a very narrow road, lots of turns, and a steep elevation change. Fish Creek is the most stressful and challenging part of the drive and not for the faint of heart. Once we navigate Fish Creek Hill, one lane bridges and washboard road conditions continue to add to our adventurous day.

Apache Lake

Apache Lake

Once we reach Apache Lake, another beautiful oasis in the desert, the road becomes a little easier to traverse.  Due to the washboard condition of the road and our extra long wheel base on the F-250, it was very slow going for us. This is when my Tacoma or a Jeep would be perfect, but my Tacoma was back in Colorado during this excursion. Even a Honda CRV would’ve been a better choice for this road than the long wheel base of our Ford truck.

Two and a half hours after leaving Tortilla Flat and 22 miles of gravel road later, we finally arrived at the Theodore Roosevelt Damn and Lake. We averaged about 10 miles per hour with lots of photo-op stopping along the way.

Roosevelt Lake, Phoenix, Arizona

Roosevelt Lake

We leisurely tour the campgrounds and the boondocking opportunities along the lake shore. We are pleasantly surprised and make notes.  We will definitely keep Roosevelt Lake as a possible place to camp in the future. It’s pretty. It’s remote. It’s inexpensive, and located within the Tonto National Forest.

I’m entertained by using the term “forest” around this barren looking land. You won’t find any of the usual trees that most folks would expect in a National Forest.This is still the desert and you’ll find a forest of saguaro cactus and their cousins in lieu of any oak or aspen trees.

spring wildflowers, poppies, Superstitions Mountains, Phoenix, Arizona

Spring wildflowers

This unusual forest may look barren at first glance, but upon closer inspection, you’ll discover an amazing ecosystem with the ability to survive and flourish in some of the harshest weather and terrain.

The beautiful scenery continues

poppiesThe fascinating and majestic scenery continues from Roosevelt Lake to the active mining towns of Miami and Superior and onto the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Oh, how I wanted to stop at the Arboretum, but by this point in our journey, we were tired, photo outed, and ready to just get home. Besides, the Boyce Thompson Arboretum would require its own day.

There are so many interesting sights along this scenic loop that we wanted to stop and explore further, but we realized we couldn’t see and do it all in one day.

We took notes for future day excursions, as well as future overnight RVing spots and promised ourselves to return again and again. I always look forward to spending time in the Phoenix valley. Whether one is looking for solitude or a host of activities, this part of Arizona seems to have it all, and it rarely disappoints.

I remain in awe by Arizona’s raw beauty and fascinated by the plants and animals that survive in this harsh land. What an adventurous day we had!

discover beautiful lake in the desert surrounded by rugged terrain, road twists and turns lined with yellow flowers, ghost town with old historical buildings

(affiliate links)

Picnic Bag Backpack
Amazing Places National Parks Game
 “Love Pie” Pie Irons

Cooking Up S’more Campfire Fun
Marshmallow Roasting Sticks – Telescoping
Stainless Steel Travel Tumbler with Lids

Football, Nachos, and Friends

It’s Super Bowl Sunday … rah-rah … hooya! Okay, maybe we’re not all into football (moi), but I bet we all like hanging with friends while sharing a plate of nachos. Add in margaritas and a campfire and it just doesn’t get much better. Al and I have made some great friends over the years via this blog. Exchanging stories over a campfire while indulging in good food and tasty beverages is always a fun time.

campfire with friends

Good times, sharing a campfire with friends! Boondocking at Lake Powell.

Bloggers connect

The new year ended and started in much the same way; a campfire, food, drinks, and new friends. Seriously, I can’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year. A blog connection turns into a meetup in person … talking over a warm campfire while indulging in nachos and margaritas … yep, translates into a fun an active weekend.

Although Terri, Second Wind Leisure Perspective, and I haven’t been following each others blogs very long, our common interest in photography and RVing had us connecting in person at the first opportunity.

Terri reached out to me last fall looking for recommendations for their RV road trip at the end of December/beginning of January. The emails flowed freely back and forth, and Terri made plans and reservations which included a stop in Phoenix so we could meet. Fortunately, the RV site next to us was available for a couple of nights. After their Phoenix stop, they’d be venturing further north toward Sedona and the Grand Canyon. At least, that was their original plan.

We’re on the right (Laredo and red truck). Terri and hubby are on the left with their travel trailer. Pioneer RV Park in Phoenix, AZ.

Friends, nachos, margaritas, and a campfire

Shortly after their late afternoon arrival to our RV park in Phoenix, I made us all nachos and margaritas. After all, Terri and Hubby had had a rather long travel day driving from San Diego to the far north side of Phoenix, and we wanted them to be able to just chill and relax.

Earlier in the day, Al set up chairs and our propane fire ring for campfire enjoyment. It turned into a rather cold evening, but between the tequila flowing, the heat from the fire, and all of us bundled up, the conversation continued and plans were made.

The next day, while the guys went off doing guy stuff, I went into tour guide mode sharing some of my favorite Phoenix sights with Terri. We started off with a stop at the Scottsdale farmers market followed by a little shopping in Old Town Scottsdale. From there, it was time to hit the trail with the cameras.

Terri equally enamored with the saguaro cactus as am I.

One of my favorite places to hike in the Phoenix valley is at the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. We started our hike at the Jewel of the Creek Preserve trail which isn’t technically part of Spur Cross Ranch, but they are connected. The ecosystem here is fascinating. Anytime I find a body of water in the desert, I get excited. Yeah, I’m  easily entertained!

Jewel of the Creek Preserve, Cave Creek, AZ

Jewel of the Creek Preserve, Cave Creek, AZ

It was a joy sharing this trail with someone who appeared to be equally enamored with the landscape. Our cameras got in as much of a workout as our legs did. Their visit to Phoenix was over before we knew it, and it was time for them to continue their RV road trip and explore more of Arizona. We hope to meet again down the road sometime!

Terri’s Sunday Stills photo challenge

Every Sunday, Terri hosts a photo challenge and today’s theme is “Fire”. I can’t think of a more appropriate post to join in on her photo challenge. We had such a great time visiting over a campfire. If you’re looking for more photography engagement, be sure and check out her Sunday Stills page.

I too will be back soon for my Wandering Wednesday photo inspirations. It’s time to get some of my recent photographs posted and reconnect with you all. I’ve enjoyed my blogging break, but have missed you.

Terri was using her phone as well as her camera that day.

Recipe interest?

And how rude of me not to share my nacho or margarita recipe. What do you think? Should I share in a future post? Are you interested in my recipes?

And who are you rooting for … the Rams or the Patriots? I don’t really care which team wins considering I don’t usually watch football. I will, however, be making those nachos and margaritas for my husband and his friends watching the game in the RV park TV room. Should be a big group watching the game. On that note, I better get cooking!

(affiliate links)

Portable Propane Outdoor Campfire
Coleman Portable Camping Chair
Plastic Margarita Cups

10 Tips for Finding Inspiration

What do you do when the creative well seems to be empty? When you don’t know what to blog about or what to photograph? When the creative juices just aren’t flowing? Inspiration disappears for all of us from time to time, and it’s something I personally have struggled with for months.

Visiting the park in Anthem Arizona. Waterfalls, ponds and birds.

Since Al and I won’t be traveling much this winter (we’ll be in Phoenix, Arizona, till April), I find myself wondering what I should blog about and what might be new for me to photograph. Ever since our son moved to Phoenix in 2009, we’ve spent a substantial amount of time RVing around the Phoenix valley, and I’ve written dozens of posts in the past about our time in this Arizona city.

I suppose I could re-purpose some of my old blog posts, but that would keep me inside the RV and in front of the computer, and as much as I enjoy my computer time, the reason for living the RV lifestyle is to seek out new experiences and new sights and not sit in front of a computer screen all day.

The incentive to go out and about is easy when we’re visiting new places, but takes a little more effort and reflection on my part when I’m living a stationary life.

Reflections of life. Tips on finding creative inspiration.

Reflecting on the past can help direct you in the future

Now that I’m sitting in a familiar city that we’ve already spent a significant amount of time exploring, I find myself reflecting on the past for inspiration.

During our last year of owning a sticks and bricks home along Colorado’s Front Range, Al and I decided to pretend we were tourists. After all, Colorado Springs is a major summer destination for many. It was amazing the beautiful sights we discovered right in our own backyard (well, not literally in our backyard, but around town).

I’m grateful that we took the time to explore a little more of Colorado Springs before moving away. We still never made it to the top of Pikes Peak, but perhaps that’s an impetus for us to revisit.

So, think about your past. Think about a memorable place or time, and ask yourself where, when, and why? Memories can serve as wonderful inspiration. All I have to do is think about our five week stay along the shores of Lake Powell this past April, and a smile comes to my face. There was no lack of creative inspiration with scenery like that!

Alstrom Point

Me enjoying the scenery – overlooking Lake Powell.

Meet new people

Attending a conference, a seminar, or engaging in a local “meetup” group, forces us to mingle with new people. In the RVing world, this is an everyday event as our neighbors are forever changing. RV parks are a social mecca filled with activities, and meeting new and interesting people is always inspirational. But what if you don’t live in a setting that’s easy to meet new people?

At the end of November, I decided to attend a local WordPress meetup group. I thought it might be a good way to meet locals outside of the RVing community, as well as get a little WordPress help. You see, I’ve had difficulties commenting and liking some of my favorite blogs.

It all started about a month or so ago. I have a bunch of blogs I follow via the WordPress Reader along with receiving posts via email. I used to be able to easily comment or ‘like’ an emailed post, but no more. Grrr … without getting into the nitty-gritty of my frustrations, I was hopeful in meeting some local techies.

Although I enjoyed mingling, this meetup group is geared toward the self-hosted WP user, and therefore, of little help to me. With that said, listening to other creatives was inspirational, making my attendance worthwhile. I might go again or maybe I’ll try some other “meetup group.

waterfalls

Go for a walk and search out the beauty around you

Phoenix, Arizona, is known for its mild winters and beautiful blue skies. The other day was cold and dreary. There was a thick cloud cover and the threat of rain. It was late afternoon when I decided to don my sweatshirt and head out on a photographic outing.

My husband was perplexed and expressed concern about the poor weather conditions, but when I explained that today was the perfect day for me to shoot a waterfall, he understood …. well, not really, but he did a good job pretending he understood.

I headed off to a local park in the quaint town of Anthem, Arizona (far north Phoenix valley). It’s a beautiful park with ponds, waterfalls, a Veterans Memorial, baseball/soccer fields, a skate park, railroad, a Sunday morning farmers market, and more.

I had a fabulous time playing with my camera and searching out creative inspiration. That little outing was exactly what I needed to get the creative juices flowing, and I’m so glad I didn’t let the weather deter me.

holiday railroad. Enjoy a festive holiday train ride through a park

Study other creatives

Visit a local art gallery, museum, or library and immerse yourself in other works of art. My recent sculpture tour in Scottsdale found me appreciating the talents and vision of the various artists and asking myself, “What inspires them?

If your creative outlet is writing, are you as awed by J.K. Rowlings talent as much as I am? Sometimes I like to go to the local library and peruse cookbooks looking for recipe and photography inspiration. A library is a great way to discover works of art.

And let’s not forget about music. Listening to the words of a favorite song or dancing to an irresistible rhythm can be very inspirational. Unfortunately, the music gene doesn’t run in my family, but I’m an appreciative listener.

Reading blogs

I’d have to say, my most favorite (my favorist 😆) way to find inspiration is via blogs. Seriously, you my friends, are the best creative inspiration around. When I’m really stuck … you know, staring at a blank screen ‘stuck’, and can’t begin to figure out what to write or share, I turn to my favorite blogs.

If that doesn’t work, I go in search of new blogs. Don’t you love it when bloggers write a post linking to other inspirational bloggers? I know I do! Of course, there’s Pinterest to consider, but blogs still rule in my humble opinion.

Tips for creative inspiration

Write a bucket list

Ask yourself, “If money were no object, I would ….?” Write down a list of things you’d like to accomplish … places you’d like to visit … maybe it’s a dream job … maybe you’d like to publish a book, whatever comes to mind. Be honest with yourself. I bet, when you read that dream list that many of the things you’ve written down are attainable.

Research! Whatever the subject, see what other’s have to say about it. What do they say about that dream job, about publishing that book, or traveling to that destination you long to visit? If you don’t have the physicality or finances, perhaps writing a blog post about those bucket list items will be a start to fulfilling a dream, and your writings might inspire you, as well as others.

Spiritual Enlightenment

We all have something we believe in that helps us get through life. For some, it’s attending church services regularly while for others it’s a way of living one’s life. I have friends who tap into their spiritual beliefs by reading the bible or devotionals everyday. Another friend of mine has quotes delivered to her inbox daily, and these quotes serve as her inspiration and enlightenment. Many use meditation, prayer, or both.

I know when I tap into my spirituality, I feel a sense of renewal and hope. That renewed feeling helps me focus and work toward goals.

enjoying fall leaves

My daughter having fun with fall leaves!

Meet a friend for coffee (or a drink)

Enjoy some one on one time with a friend over a cup of coffee or a cocktail. Be the listener and really listen to what’s going on in your friend’s life. What are their motivations and goals? How do your ambitions compare or differ?

Maybe they recently read a fascinating book that would make for a great blog article or maybe that photo shared on their phone was taken at an unusual angle, giving you inspiration for your next outing with the camera.

A relaxed get together with a friend is something we should all do regularly!

Take your camera in search

Take your camera (or phone) on an outing devoted to photography. Be a tourist in your hometown. What would you share with someone visiting your town/city for the first time? Walk around your neighborhood and find unique things to photograph.

My neighbor, here in the RV park in Phoenix, is a photographer. In an effort to exercise, he walks around the park, up and down the streets, regularly photographing interesting sights … the little yard decorations, door details, interesting plants, colors, etc., and in the process, he gets in his steps.

If the weather is too cold and blustery in your neck of the woods, think about heading into the kitchen and cook/bake something new … then photograph it. Step outside of your comfort zone. Photography is about finding out who you are and focusing on the world around you.

reflecting on life, thought provoking

Listen to your thoughts

Allow yourself to slow down, look inward, and listen to your thoughts. Although my camera shutter clicked often at the park the other day, I did take time to just sit on a park bench and watch the world go by. I watched the ducks drift by on the pond. I listened to the trickle of water from the nearby waterfall. I watched the storm clouds swirl about. I watched the changing light on a mountain as the sun was beginning to set.

I thought about the photographs I had just made, and recognized my strengths and weaknesses. I was feeling creative, a feeling which I hadn’t felt in some time, and it felt good. I needed this time at the park to just be … to listen to my inner voice and listen to my thoughts.

It was at that moment I realized, I don’t have to travel to far away places to be creative … to find blog material, photographic material, inspirational material. I just need to look at things from a fresh angle and shake up my routine.

time

10 Tips on how to find creative inspiration

  1. Reflect on the past. Analyze fond memories and decide to create new ones.
  2. Meet new people – interact, learn, and find out what inspires others.
  3. Go for a walk and immerse yourself in your surroundings
  4. Study other creatives
  5. Read blogs
  6. Write a bucket list
  7. Embrace spiritual enlightenment
  8. Meet a friend for coffee or a drink
  9. Take your camera in search
  10. Listen to your thoughts

If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us – Daisaku Ikeda

How do you find blogging ideas and subjects to write about? How do you tap into your creativity or decide what to photograph? What inspires you?

How to find creative inspiration10 tips for finding blog ideas. How to find creative inspiration.

(affiliate links – holiday gift ideas)


Unshakeable: 365 Devotions for Finding Unwavering Strength
Ring Video Doorbell
Tire Pressure Monitor for vehicles and RVs

Atomic Wall Clock with Indoor/Outdoor Temperature
Hummingbird Feeder
Seasonal Garden Flags Set of 4

A Scottsdale Walking Tour

We were off to an early start. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I was on a mission. I was in desperate need of blog material and photogenic subjects. I needed some inspiration and knew Scottsdale, Arizona, was just the place to visit.

sunrise in the desert southwest

We’re off to an early start! Sunrise in the desert southwest.

I enlisted the company of my daughter and husband. Although, I’ll admit, neither were particularly eager to join me on my photographic outing. I remember there being some eye rolls and me being the subject of their amusement, but when I bribed them with mouth-watering treats found at the Scottsdale farmers market, they quickly jumped on board …. and they didn’t even complain when I told them I wanted an early start to the day …. much to my surprise, I might add.

(To enlarge photos in a gallery, simple click on any image. To return to the post, click on the x found at the top right corner)

After we were fueled with coffee and filled with sustenance purchased from local vendors at the farmers market, I consulted my little map of downtown Scottsdale. We would be going on a walking tour visiting seven of Scottsdale’s most beloved public art sculptures.

Sculptures in Historic Old Town Scottsdale

It’s impossible to visit Old Town Scottsdale and not walk by our first sculpture on the tour; The Yearlings by George-Ann Tognoni. This is a monument to wild horses and depicts three bronze yearlings galloping in full stride.

The Yearlings Scottsdale Arizona

The Yearlings sculpture

This sculpture serves as a backdrop to family photo shoots and is especially popular during the holiday season when the sleigh and Christmas tree are set up.

Another popular photo shoot spot is at the LOVE sculpture. LOVE by Robert Indiana was conceived when the United States was involved with the Vietnam War and became a symbol for peace. This famous sculpture is one of the most celebrated works within the pop art movement.

Love sculpture in Scottsdale Arizona

The Scottsdale “LOVE” sculpture sitting at a temporary site near the library.

Robert Indiana created the first version of LOVE with stacked capital letters for a personal Christmas card designed for friends in 1964. In 1965, the Museum of Modern Art selected Indiana’s LOVE design for its official Christmas card.

The original sculptural rendition of LOVE was fabricated from Cor-ten steel in 1970. It can be seen at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Dozens of other LOVE sculptures are now on display around the world.

Scottsdale LOVE sculpture

Al and me at the Scottsdale LOVE sculpture 12/17

As of this writing (12/18), the Scottsdale LOVE sculpture is located at a temporary site near the Scottsdale public library. The bridge in the area sustained severe water damage caused by a leaking fountain resulting in the closure of Drinkwater Blvd and the necessity to relocate the sculpture.

Our walk takes us into Scottsdale’s Art District

With two sculptures checked off the list, we continued our walking tour which found us venturing into Scottsdale’s Art District. The Jack Knife sculpture serves as the center of attention for the art district and sits in the middle of the road.

Jack Knife by Ed Mell is a giant bronze sculpture of a cowboy on a bucking bronco giving a nod to Scottsdale’s Western heritage and the city’s official seal.

On to the Fifth Avenue Shopping District

Who knew Scottsdale had a “Fifth Avenue” shopping district! Now for those of us that have actually shopped at the real 5th Avenue …. as in New York City’s Fifth Avenue, this Fifth Avenue is quite a bit different, but still fun. It’s kitschy, small, and is a long-time favorite with tourists boasting dozens of unique shops, award-winning restaurants, and the famous Bronze Horse Fountain.

The Bronze Horse Fountain was created by Bob Parks, who owned an art gallery in town. This piece showcases the beauty of five Arabian horses as they play in the fountain. I love how they were decorated for the holiday season with wreaths.

Bronze Horse Fountain Scottsdale Arizona

Bronze Horse Fountain

The Scottsdale Water District

We continued our trek. Not far from the Bronze Horse Fountain, we rounded a corner and walked up some stairs. We found ourselves along the Arizona Canal and noticed the bronze sculpture on the other side of a bridge.

Colorado Artist Herb Mignery is a noted western artist and sculptor. He gained early recognition for his classic and humorous western cartoons and rose to fame when he started sculpting scenes from his early Nebraska farm and ranch days.

In Passing the Legacy, a vintage 1860s horse and rider represent the original Pony Express. The lead rider reaches back to grasp the passing legacy, ready to plunge forward into a new era. It took twelve months for the artist and fabricators to refine and create the life-and-a-quarter size bronze monument, which is 20’ long.

Scottsdale Arizona Canal

As we continued our walking tour along the canal and amongst a beautiful park setting, we took great pleasure in the wonderful fall weather that Phoenix is known for.

Water is a precious commodity in a desert and controlling flood water is crucial, especially in a high density urban environment. Phoenix and her surrounding suburbs do a great job in beautifying these man-made waterways. More efforts are ongoing toward waterside recreation and beautification along these canals.

This Scottsdale section of the Arizona Canal is particularly attractive and popular with cyclists and pedestrians alike. Lighted art over and in the water are changed up regularly and the picturesque park setting serves as a great spot for festivals.

The Soleri Bridge & Plaza was designed by the late Italian architect Paolo Soleri. The bridge was designed to demonstrate the importance of solar movement.

The bridge is anchored by two 64-foot pylons and is twenty-seven feet wide on the south side narrowing to eighteen feet on the north.  Situated at a true north axis, the bridge is intended to mark solar events produced by the sun’s shadow.  The six-inch gap between both sets of pylons allows the sun to create a shaft of light as the earth moves.

Most Entertaining Sculpture

The Doors by Donald Lipski is an interesting and entertaining work of art. The structure consists of three 28 foot tall doors that lean against one another on an angle. They are made of Brazilian hardwood, mirror polished stainless steel, and thousands of hand forged steel rivets and strapping.

The Doors sculpture in Scottsdale Arizona

Approaching the “Doors” sculpture in Scottsdale, AZ

When we stepped in between the doors, we were met with a kaleidoscope effect that shines from sunlight during the day and LED lights at night. We were entertained by multiple reflections of ourselves. The experience is enhanced with sound … various sounds of bells, chimes, swooshing, and flute can be heard in and around the sculpture.

A kaleidoscope self-portrait visiting The Doors in Scottsdale Arizona

A self-portrait inside the “The Doors” – a kaleidoscope

I’d have to say, we found this sculpture rather entertaining and found ourselves lingering in and around it. I’d love to go back at night to see what it looks like all lit up from the LED lights.

End of our walking Tour of Scottsdale

Our Scottsdale walking tour visiting the most popular art sculptures in the area took us less than 2 hours full-circle and accounts for all the photo-op stopping and playing around that we did. The sculptures gave us purpose to meander down streets that we had never ventured down before. What a fun and special excuse to explore this entertaining desert southwest city!

This leisurely city walk allowed us the opportunity to see interesting sights and take note of eating establishments for future visits. There’s no shortage of fantastic eateries in Scottsdale. The biggest problem is deciding where to eat when given so many choices.

Okay … time to plan our next adventure!

Additional Scottsdale Information

For more information and downloadable maps – click here.

(affiliate links – Are you still holiday shopping? I’m almost done!)
Life Is Good Heart Tree Everyday Mug
LEGO City Pickup & Caravan
Balsam Wreath
Last year we bought our son this doorbell for Christmas – he loves it!
Ring Video Doorbell

Holiday Decorating Tips for RV’s & Small Homes

Whether you live in an RV, a small apartment, or have nook-like spaces in your home, it’s always fun and festive to add holiday decor to your surroundings regardless of the size of your living space.

Choosing a style, picking a theme and complimenting it with different textures and colors, brings the feeling of home to any space, big or small, mobile or stationary. Here are three things I keep in mind when decorating my RV …
(this post contains affiliate links)

Big ball holiday decor

My, those are big balls! Yeah, too much for small space living … wouldn’t you agree?

Less Is More

Thinking like a minimalist when decorating for the holidays can be a challenge because there are so many amazing decorations to choose from, but it’s important to remind ourselves that small spaces require self-control. By keeping the scale of the decorations small and maximizing the corners in our home, we won’t encroach on the livability of our space. Remember, we still need a fully functional home with room left for entertaining family and friends.

Instead of a full size Christmas tree, consider a much smaller tabletop tree. I love wreaths, and by hanging a wreath either on a wall, door, cupboard, or even over a window adds a touch of festive decor without taking up any space. Consider hanging garland and lights or even just the lights alone along the tops of your cabinets. By hanging decor, we won’t encroach on any living space. Taking up living space will make the home feel small, cluttered, and less inviting.

Focus On The Details

I try to be intentional with every detail. When I add decor to my RV, I want everything coordinating well together without over-cluttering the space. I’m a huge fan of scented candles and love it when friends pop over and exclaim, “It smells wonderful in here”.

It’s easy to over decorate, but implementing small touches like scented candles, holiday dish towels, a table-cloth or runner, special holiday pillows, or even a simple basket of pine cones to my everyday decor adds that festive holiday feel that I strive for. Incorporating just a few simple yet distinct things, creates an aesthetic look to holiday decorations.

Make It Personal

Above all else, personalize your decor. You can complement your style by creating unique table settings. Since I live in an RV, we entertain guests outdoors most of the time. I use holiday paper plates, napkins, and candles to decorate our outdoor table for entertaining. The use of a table runner and garland placed down the middle of the table adds additional holiday decor and is easily stored. Yeah, storage is an important consideration because once the holidays are over, we need to have a place to pack the decorations away until the next year’s holiday season.

Decorating a lot or a little for the holidays is a personal choice. I’m more of a minimalist and opt for a poinsettia or two in lieu of a Christmas tree and run some rope lighting around the exterior of our RV, and I always manage to go overboard with the scented candles and soaps.

We all have our own style and eye for decor which should be reflected in our homes. Do you have any tips or holiday decorating ideas for those of us living in small spaces?

To enlarge photos in the gallery, click on any image!

 

30 Gift Ideas under $50

Yesterday morning, I was sitting in my chair with my computer on my lap perusing Pinterest for recipe ideas when I happen to glance at the calendar hanging on the wall next to me …. the high-pitched screech that escaped my mouth had Al jumping up the steps into the RV from outside to see what the heck happened. “Do you realize Christmas is less than six weeks away?” I exclaimed. In an annoyed tone, Al responded “Yeah, what about it?”

Sure, he can be all calm about the matter. He’s not the one doing the shopping. I don’t know why the date didn’t register with me sooner. After all, the time and date are clearly visible at the bottom right side of my computer. I guess, there’s something about staring at an old-fashioned wall calendar that made the date resonate with me.

San Xavier Mission Tucson Arizona

For most of my adult life, I’ve always been one of those people who shops for Christmas early, and it wasn’t unusual for me to have my shopping complete by Thanksgiving. Yeah, how annoying! But that all changed when we moved into the RV and space became an issue. Therefore, shopping for gifts, whether it be for Christmas, a birthday, or other occasion, would need to wait until the gift giving time was near.

Fortunately, our small family has decided to keep Christmas gift giving simple this year and stay within a budget friendly range. As I was jotting down ideas and switching from my recipe search to gift idea search on the internet, I thought I’d share some of the products I was considering for my family members. Maybe you’ll find this list helpful with your own search for the perfect gift. Please note, this post contains affiliate links.

Gift ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Whether I’m RVing in our 5th wheel with my husband or embarking on one of my crazy camping adventures with my daughter, there’s some equipment that I feel are an absolute must have and a headlamp / head torch is at the top of that list. Tripping over a tree root in the dark is no fun … at least that’s what I hear 😉 and of course, a supply of flashlights are equally important. Flashlights and headlamps make great stocking stuffers or box fillers.

Another important piece of gear is an Emergency Self Powered AM/FM Solar Weather Radio. This is actually a great gift idea for anyone. You never know when a life threatening storm will head your way and you’ll want to be kept up to date. You can’t always count on a cell phone or WiFi signal working during severe weather conditions.

Another great gift idea for anyone is a Multi-tool. My husband uses his regularly, and we gave the kids each one last year for Christmas. My daughter used hers during our Zion camping trip.

On a more fun note, I’d be lost without my comfortable outdoor camping chair and blanket throw … gotta be comfy watching those sunsets during happy hour. We use and abuse our canvas chairs and end up replacing them every couple of years or so. Got a sports fan who loves tailgating? These chairs are perfect!

And let’s not forget about quenching our thirst. I’m considering one of these coolers for my daughter. Hmm, I can’t decide …
Soft-Sided Collapsible Cooler Tote Bag or the Picnic Backpack with Cooler Compartment?

Gift ideas for those that Travel by Air

My son and his wife love their cruise ship vacations which requires air travel and a little more forethought when it comes to packing. Here are some gift ideas I’ve gathered with them in mind.

***   Noise Cancelling Headphones
***   Floating Waterproof Phone Case   
***   Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag Purse 
***   Neck Pillow Airplane Travel Kit with Sleep Mask and Earplugs
***   Jewelry Travel Case & Accessory Holder Organizer
***   Cable bag – keep cables and chargers organized
***   Travel Hanging Toiletry Bag
***   Luggage Tags

And More Gift Ideas Under $50

It has been fun researching gift ideas, and although the following items may not be serious contenders for my family this year, I thought I’d list these items for possible gift ideas for next year. My memory doesn’t work like it used to. So, I’ll actually use my own post as a brain jogger.

Perhaps one of these items will be perfect for the people on your list.

***   Solar Charger – Backup Battery Phone Charger with Carabiner and Compass
***   Emergency Paracord Bracelets
***   Car Trunk Organizer – Adjustable Compartments
***   Sling Backpack with Multiple Compartments and Headphone Cord Access

***   Leather Journal for travelers, business sketching and writing
***   Camera Shoulder Neck Strap, Fabric Satin Scarf Strap 
***   Portable Speaker
***   Outdoor Emergency survival Tool Kit
***   Camping Hammock
***   Stainless Steel Tumblers – Customized With Cute Sayings

Books make great gifts!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a few books on my gift giving list idea. I love books … real books. Sure a Kindle comes in handy when storage is an issue, but there’s something about holding a real book in my hands that can’t be replaced by an electronic device, especially cookbooks. My weakness!

I recently purchased The Sprinkles Baking Book . It’ll be a joint gift for my daughter and myself. Yes, I’m one of those who buys gifts for herself, wraps them, and then thanks hubby Christmas morning for getting me exactly what I wanted. “Awe, thank you honey. However did you know?” lol

Books on cooking or travel can serve as inspiration and make for a wonderful gift. Plus, they’re budget friendly and easy to wrap.  I’ve never figured out how to wrap a book on Kindle 🤔🤣😉

When you don’t know what to get them!

When all else fails and you’re at a total loss about what kind of gift to buy, a Gourmet Food Gift Basket filled with tasty treats will usually work for just about anyone. I know it works for me!

So, there ya have it, 30 gifts under $50. I think I’m ready to tackle my holiday shopping list and I’m a lot less stressed about it now than I was yesterday. How about you? Have you started shopping for the holidays yet?

30 gift ideas under fifty dollars

Thank you for your service!

It’s Veteran’s Day … a day we honor the men and women who have served our country. I’m married to a Veteran and have a small understanding of the sacrifices military personnel make to serve our country.

Veterans Memorial in Anthem Arizona

Veterans Memorial in Anthem, Arizona

My dad served in WWII. He was wounded and the only survivor in his squad. Al served during the Vietnam era.

Unfortunately, times were very different in the 1970’s when my husband served. Military service members returning from a tour in Vietnam were not treated well. Instead of thanking them for their service, they were scorned, spit on, cussed at, and even had eggs thrown at them. It was not America’s finest hour, to say the least.

Thank goodness we’ve moved beyond those times, and we now thank those that have served in the military, current and past.

All give some, some give all. Thank you for your service!

In honor to those that have served, I share with you a very unique and interesting Veterans Memorial located in the town of Anthem, Arizona.

Veterans Memorial in Anthem, Arizona

To enlarge photos, click on any image.

(affiliate links)
 

American Pride Flag Baseball Cap

Seasonal Garden Flag Set

 US Canada Friendship Flags

Chocolate Makes Everything Better

I’m not normally a stress eater as much as a sweets nibbler during stressful times. Actually, when I am stressed, I have a tendency not to eat or I forget to eat. When my stomach reminds me that it hasn’t been fed, I have to resist not reaching for sugary sweets during those worrisome times … especially chocolate treats.

Sometimes I have great will power …. and sometimes I don’t!

chocolate hazelnut cupcakes

Chocolate makes it better …

During those times of feeling blue or overwhelmed, chocolate becomes my bestie and go to pick me up. Probably not the healthiest thing to do, but it’s so much more pleasurable on my palette than a bunch of broccoli. And chocolate seems to make all the problems of the world melt away … at least melting in my mouth.

Hmm, come to think about it, chocolate is my go to when I’m feeling happy and festive. Okay, let’s face it, chocolate is great anytime and makes everything better.

flourless hazelnut chocolate cupcakeIt doesn’t help my waistline that I enjoy baking and find the process of baking somewhat stress relieving. Thank goodness I have neighbors and friends that are willing to help rid me of the abundance of baked goods concocted in my tiny RV kitchen. After all, I only have so much storage room.

My latest fixation consists of the most decadent and yummy chocolate cake ever. Add a drizzle of Chocolate Hazelnut Liqueur, (a liqueur that I purchased in Sedona) then top it off with a dollop of whipped cream … and oh … my … gosh … let the pleasurable moaning commence as the taste buds are delightfully awakened.

Chocolate and Hazelnuts … a match made in heaven

I’ve always loved the taste of chocolate with hazelnuts, not a combination that was easily found in the United States forty years ago. Lucky for me, every Christmas my little family of five would receive a large package from relatives in Germany. The package contained gifts and food items … packaged foods my German immigrant parents dearly missed.

My dad and I would immediately zero in on the chocolate hazelnut bars. Yum! I’m sorry, but American chocolate doesn’t begin to compare to European chocolate. German, Belgium, and Swiss chocolates are heavenly …. smooth and creamy and melt in your mouth decadence.

My obsession with the hazelnut – chocolate combination hasn’t waned over the years. It still remains my favorite, and will power to resist, goes out the window.

chocolate hazelnut cupcakes

You, my dear readers, made me do it!

When I told Al I was going to write a post about our favorite cupcakes, he recommended I make a batch … just to make sure I write-up the recipe correctly. So, because of you guys, I just had to make a batch and verify everything.

And then, of course, we had to taste test. Sheer perfection (she says while moaning in epicurean delight)! Now I can confidently share this tasty, make your day, recipe with you ….

Recipe

Decadent Chocolate Frangelico Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
  • Print

8 ounces of semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
chocolate hazelnut cupcakes2 sticks butter, unsalted and softened
1 cup granulated sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup Frangelico liquor

Optional: add 1/3 cup finally chopped hazelnuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put paper-liners in a cupcake tin.

In a double boiler over low heat, add the semisweet chocolate and butter. Stir continuously until all the butter and chocolate are melted and fully incorporated. Remove from heat and set aside.

Have all your ingredients measured out and ready. In the measuring cup, add the flour and salt to the cocoa powder. Add the vanilla extract to the Frangelico. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and eggs and beat with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Continue to mix and slowly alternate adding the dry and wet mixtures. Once all ingredients are incorporated, add the melted chocolate and continue to blend until everything is fully combined. If adding nuts, fold in with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into muffin tins filling each cup at least 3/4 full.

Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes
Recipe by Ingrid at LiveLaughRV.com

double boiler

my version of a double-boiler as I melt the chocolate and butter together – A heat tolerant bowl over simmering water. Be sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl. The chocolate needs to melt slowly so it doesn’t get grainy.

Recipe Tips

  • You can make a 9 inch cake instead of cupcakes. Be sure to use a greased springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray. Bake for at least 50 minutes.
  • Feel free to leave out the flour, turning this delicious recipe into a flourless chocolate cake / cupcakes. Expect the cake to sink even more in the center.
  • Change out the alcohol. Add whatever liquor your tastes desire.
  • Decorate with frosting, whip cream, powdered sugar, or fresh berries
  • Drizzle with your favorite liqueur

Chocolate hazelnut cake

Friends, neighbors, anyone?

Heather and Dave, Nancy and RL, anyone …. interested in helping us devour these delectable treats? I don’t think our waistlines can handle eating an entire batch … even if I ration them out!

(affiliate links)
Wholesale Warranties
The Sprinkles Baking Book: 100 Secret Recipes from Candace’s Kitchen
Lindt Classic Recipe Milk Chocolate Bar, Hazelnut
Ritter Sport Bars, Milk Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts

Marketing and Politics

Do you know when you’re being sold? I’m sure images of a used car salesman come to mind as I ask this question. The moment we set foot on a car lot, we expect to be sold. But we are being marketed to and sold everyday in a way much more subtle than the typical sales scenario. Think about it … we can barely open our computers or phones without being inundated with ads. Gosh, even my simple little blog here has ads.game of life via chess

How about that cruise ship brochure depicting images of a Caribbean island with its immaculate white sand beaches? The marketing brochures never share the poverty-stricken areas that the shore excursion bus needs to drive through to get to that beach. And once we get to said beautiful beach, what we envisioned as somewhat secluded, we find ourselves sharing with hoards of other cruise ship tourists. So much for pristine!

Steamboat Lake Colorado

When most of us first start RVing, we have illusions of being camped along some beautiful lake or river in a quiet setting surrounded by nature. After all, isn’t that what we see in all the RV brochures? The brochures never share images of the typical RV park, many of which pack RV’s into sites so tight that you can reach out your window and touch your neighbor. Al and I do our best to stay clear of those sardine kind of RV parks, but sometimes it’s the only option when we have our heart set on visiting some cool city or event.

I know we all believe the ad about buying that macho 4×4 pick-up truck that can drive straight up the side of a mountain, or maybe you should buy that shiny little sports car so gorgeous models will hang all over you.

Those diet pills will guarantee a six-pack stomach in just 30 days without exercising. Add in that wrinkle cream, and you too will look 20 years younger (I want some of that).

These idyllic pictures are marketing fantasy created to sell

Politicians paint those same marketing fantasies in their ads, and I for one can’t wait for Wednesday when the inundation of political ads will come to an end …. temporarily. The pandering for votes seems endless and the promises made aren’t attainable.

Unwritten rules

In the RVing world, there’s an unspoken rule to avoid talking about religion or politics, especially at large social gatherings or when meeting new RVers for the first time. Obviously, these are two subjects which incite strong emotion and opinion. Al and I aren’t good at following unwritten rules and have never shied away from a thought-provoking conversation especially one’s that are enlightening and educational. It’s okay to agree to disagree without slinging expletives or fists.

I remember one in particular social gathering when a few RVers were gathered around a toasty campfire.

No subject was off-limits with this group, or so we thought!

My husband appeared to be having an engaging conversation with the gentleman sitting next to him when all of a sudden, the man covered his ears with both hands and mouthed, “Lalalah, I can’t hear you”. Yep, this grown man was acting like a child.

Once he removed his hands from his ears, he angrily commented “My minister warned me about people like you who would try to make me question my beliefs”. A shocked and apologetic Al responded by saying, “I’m sorry. That was never my intent. I thought we were having an educational conversation about theology”. You see, Al has lived all over the world and spent time in the Middle East and Asia. Therefore, he has been exposed to nearly all faiths and has been educated in religious theology, a subject he finds fascinating. Most historians understand the correlation between religion and war, and since Al is most definitely a history buff, he enjoys talking about the subject.

Was that man insecure about his faith? Did he lack the intellect or desire to understand other faiths? Was he so ingrained in what he had been taught, that he felt his faith was right and others wrong? Or was he merely uncomfortable talking about religion?

Political conversations

I see similar situations in today’s political climate. People’s emotions are running rampant and opinions strong. Logical and intellectual conversation is difficult. The rhetoric and mud-slinging has stooped to new levels on both sides of the fence.

I wonder, do we recognize when our emotions are being manipulated?

Can we tell when we are being sold and marketed to in an effort to inflame emotions? Is one politician better at marketing rhetoric than another? Do we only read articles that reinforce what we already believe, or are we open-minded? Are we able to see and understand both sides of a coin? When we see an advertisement, an article, a newscast, do we take it as truth or do research? After all, we all know the internet never lies and everything on Facebook is real 🙄

Are we all pawns in the political arena as we watch the constant game of power struggle, vendettas, and payback? (Term limits?) And does the media play a role in the game and stir the pot resulting in more emotional outrage?

I recently started watching a PBS series called Jamestown. It takes place in 1619, and follows the first English settlers as they establish a community in the New World. I can’t help but see a similarity in the scenarios that took place then that are taking place now.

One would think that after 400 years, American’s would’ve learned from past mistakes. Instead, I see the same things happening today that happened in the 1600’s. Power always corrupts and accusations, whether real or false, are used against people.

Someone accuses someone of being a witch, so it must be true. Guilty! Burn her at the stake. Same thing is happening today. People are being used as pawns and are being deemed guilty until proven innocent causing the loss of jobs and reputations. What about due process … fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen’s entitlement?

I wouldn’t want to be comedian these days and actually feel badly for them. They can’t say half the sh*t that was said in the 70’s and 80’s. I wonder if George Carlin could survive in today’s sensitive climate.

What a great entertainer. Here’s some fun quotes he made –  “Find the line, and cross it“. “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.” “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” “Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”

Just a little more and I think I snagged him!

I don’t have the answers

But I do understand marketing and these politicians hire some of the best marketers around. I also feel progress can’t be made until emotions are shelved and logic rules. Emotions are what incites violence. Smart people know this and know exactly how to stir up conflict. It’s important we not be sold, not believe everything we hear or read, and to embrace tolerance. Try and find humor in our current cast of characters and find solace in knowing everything is temporary. This too shall pass!

Diane Feinstein needs to retire

Some politicians won’t be around forever!

Don’t be sold

Did you vote? Is it Wednesday yet? Are those dang political ads over? Did that wrinkle cream make me look 20 years younger? 🤣🤣🤣

“While men inhabiting different parts of this vast continent cannot be expected to hold the same opinions, they can unite in a common objective and sustain common principles.” – Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the U.S.

Nameste!

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President

Thanks for listening to my little rant. I’ve never posted about politics before and I doubt I will in the future. Remember, I’m not picking sides. So, if you decide to comment, please be nice!

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