April 14, 2017

a morning stroll...

well, not exactly just a stroll.  The towns around here oftentimes have a 'letter' on them that you can see from miles away... there's "A" mountain near the ASU campus, there's a large 'Phoenix' with a huge arrow that points west toward the city, there's an "M" on Pima Butte outisde Maricopa, and there's a "CG" right outside Casa Grande, which is the town where we live now.   (not sure how they do it, but I'm guessing they paint the rocks in the shape of the letters.)

Actually, this link is to a local news story about how the M got onto M Mountain... kind of cool!

Anyway, the CG is on a mountain just south of town and it's a large city park (1000 acres) with miles of trails.  Last Sunday we got up early and decided to go for a spur-of-the-moment hike.  The main trail we saw goes up to some radio antenna towers, and there were quite a few other people out there already; it was a beautiful morning for a hike!

the view back down the trail, from about 1/3 of the way up.  Our car is down there somewhere!

The radio towers... 
a good part of this trail is paved, but that didn't really make it any easier- 
it's a pretty steep grade, and hurt my thighs to walk at an angle like that.

it was even too steep here for a straight trail the whole way up, so they had to add a couple switchbacks- there are some people down there on the trail, if you click to make it larger. 

it was a beautiful morning!  Once we got up to the radio towers, we thought we were done.  But we ran into a couple ladies who said 'oh, no...  the flag is about 3/4 of a mile that way-- it's a really pretty trail; much nicer than the trail you came up on.'  So we went on...

and we found this!  the trail goes through a grove (?) forest (?) ...not sure what you call it, if it's cactus-- of cholla cactus.  These are the famous 'jumping' cacti, so-called because the segments are really 'loosely connected' and the spines are so thick that all you have to do is brush up against them and they. are. stuck. (notice all the small loose pieces littering the ground around the main cacti plants.  It felt a bit like we had the whole place to ourselves for a while, here... there were a few other people now and then, but not too many.)

there are other plants and cacti, as well-- blooming ocotillos, saguaro, fishhook barrel cacti (the round cactus on the right with the pink hooked spines), creosote bushes, and other small cacti.  (click this photo to make it larger; the fishhook barrel cactus really is neat looking.)  It really was beautiful! (although we did have to watch where we were going; the trail isn't wide, and it goes RIGHT THROUGH all of those cacti.) 

once we saw the flag, it didn't seem to be getting any closer for quite a while, lol!  But we finally made it there.  According to the city parks website, the flag peak is the high point in the Casa Grande mountains, and is 2,350 feet above sea level.  It made for quite a view!

Tom, at the flag.  We finally made it!  

The trails did continue on from there, but we turned around to head back the way we came- it was getting warm, and we really weren't outfitted for an entire day out in the mountains. 

a photo of one of the 'jumping cholla' babies... you can see that the individual segment roots itself into the dirt, and eventually starts to grow another entire plant!  

back down the trail near the parking lot, there was a forest of a different species of cactus, the chain-fruit cholla.  It's called that for obvious reasons, lol.  The fruit hangs down from the branches like bunches of grapes.  This was a really impressive-looking specimen!  

me, standing next to another one of them, just for a size comparison.  They're not small cacti, at all!  Chollas are sometimes used as living quarters for doves or cactus wrens--  a predator would have to be pretty desperate to go in one of these after eggs or baby birds!  This one seemed to be vacant.  (Or if anyone WAS at home, they weren't making any noise at all.)

and, one last picture that proves the whole 'jumping' thing isn't just a myth... 

All I was doing was standing next to it! I got just a bit too close, and one of the loose segments was stuck to my shoe-  not just 'to' my shoe, but actually IN my shoe!  Those spines are long, and they are SHARP!  Tom had to use a couple rocks to very carefully take hold of it and pry it away from my shoe.  

(I was contemplating bringing one of them home to plant in our yard, but not quite like that, lol!  And after seeing just how dangerous they are, I think I'll leave them right where they are.)

Tom did some research after we got home, to figure out just where all we had gone on the trails.  According to the info he found, we hiked about 6 miles round trip.  (I don't remember what he said about how many hundreds of feet up in elevation... I just know that my ears popped a couple times on the way back down the trail.)

It was a really fun experience, although I did have to do some obligatory whining about how much my legs hurt... and I did have a tough time getting up for the next couple days, lol!  We did see a couple other trails we'd like to explore, too;  problem is, it's getting warmer pretty quick, so there's not really much time to do it in.  We'll see how ambitious we are this weekend! I think the odds are about 50/50, honestly... we'll see.  

If we DO go, I'll be sure to take some pictures!  (I'll also be sure to stay away from the jumping cholla cacti!!)

March 23, 2017

tap, tap, tap... is this thing on?? lol!!

so... life in the AZ desert has been on a bit of a hiatus!  Not really-  life's gone on, I just 'got out of the habit' of posting.  But I hope to change that.  Right now, I'm watching some DVR'ed television, and waiting for a giraffe to have a baby!!  (no, really... there's a giraffe in New York state that's pregnant (her name is April), and they have a live cam in her pen, waiting to stream the birth when it happens.  I've been checking in on her a few times a day for the last few weeks, now, I think??  Apparently giraffes are pregnant for a VERY long time, and I guess they don't know exactly what her due date is.  

but, while I wait for that, here's a few photos from last weekend!!  Tom gave me a trail ride for my birthday last May, and we finally got it scheduled last weekend while the weather is beautiful (and cool!)...  it was at an equestrian center on the Indian Reservation about 20 miles away from where we live.

Tom and me, in front of a herd of wild horses that live on the Reservation...
we actually got to walk right up to, and through, that group of horses.
it was so cool!!  

our guide, BRASS (I had his name wrong).  he was really interesting!  The Indians keep
an eye on the horses, and sometimes do capture some
of them to break for riding.

Tom, posing in front of Pima Overlook... a smallish hill made of lava rock.
(I guess this area was volcanic?  I never knew that!)
It was a bit disconcerting, being over all that way up in the air,
with the horses picking their way through loose rocks.
The view from there- even just partway up- was gorgeous, though! 

Our horses were pretty well-behaved, but that's the first
time I'd been on a horse since high school.  While it
was pretty neat, I'm not sure about horseback riding as a pastime...
it definitely used a lot of muscles I never used before!
(and some of them still hurt!!)

October 06, 2015

waaaay old SB layout share: wildflower hike

I have no idea what happened, but this post has been languishing for months in Draft status-- oops! That's embarrassing; I could have sworn I posted it... anyway, here it is, finally:

Way back in March, I went hiking to Picacho Peak State Park (to refresh your memory, the photos are here: Desert Spring Wildflowers) and took at least 200 photos of the scenery, hummingbirds, and wildflowers.
I had so many really beautiful photos that I remember, it was tough to whittle them down to only enough for a two-page layout, but I decided to choose just a few really nice 'long shots' and some individual flower close-ups to make my layout. Below is the entire layout:


Both pages of the 2-page spread. The left-hand page is a traditional
12x12 layout, and the right-hand page is a pocket page protector.

Right-hand page, close-up view.
I didn't do much embellishing at all on the pocket page, because I wanted the focus to be on the flower photos. Pretty subtle patterned papers, just a couple tabs / tags, and two small stamped phrases.

Upper left corner pocket
This pocket contains a layered background cut with my Silhouette cutter; it's a sunburst pattern, although you can't see to much of it here. After I cut it, I think I used it as a stencil for gold spray ink, and liked the way it looked so much afterwards that I ended up using the 'stencil' itself behind this photo.

The left-hand page, a more 'traditional' 12x12 layout
On the left-hand page, I decided to showcase three of the 'scenic landscape' shots I really like. I used the same patterned papers, did a bit of inking and stamped the title, and while it's tough to see in this photo, the papers underneath the photos have the same gold spray ink on as the pocket on the right-hand page.

a third 'companion' page
I also decided to add in the map of the park, showing the area of the park where I took my photos. It's a bit wrinkled, lol, but I did want to keep it! I simply slid it into an 8.5 x 11 page protector, added my parking pass, and a journaling tag.
Seeing these pictures again after a few months makes me want to go hiking!! But considering it's only just barely gotten down below 100F high temps during the day, I think I'll wait a bit, lol!!

September 17, 2015

cards and crafting

now that I know the recipients received their mail, I can show the other cards and craft projects I've made recently!

This card started out because I didn't like that greenish-blue 3x4 inch die-cut piece of paper.  It has die-cut letters on it saying 'the daily grind' which I knew I would NEVER be able to use... I sat there staring at it for a while, when I had the (simple but brilliant, lol) idea to cover it up with patterned paper!  From there, I added more layers of stuff that matched the colors, typed and added the 'hello' and butterfly, stamped the 'xoxo' and tiny hearts onto the Polaroid shaped piece, and glued the entire thing to a card blank. Voila! 

This greeting card also started as a 3x4 scrapbooking card (the orange card with the 'good day sunshine' text on and an open area for journaling). I found the pea and peach die cuts, stamped 'hello' onto a banner, and attached it all to the 3x4 card, popping a couple things up with foam tape. Again, I just attached it to a card blank, and voila! Another completed greeting card! 

Last time I attended the all-day crop at the SB Barn, I made the following project for sending to my parents. (I couldn't post the pictures until I knew they got it, and there was a bit of a post-office snafu, but it finally got there, so I'm safe in posting it now!)  I think I found the idea for this project on Pinterest, made by a blogger who does Tim Holtz grungy-style stamping, but mine didn't end up quite as complicated as the original. (or as grungy, lol!)

I used the SB store's die-cut machine to cut 5 medium-sized
shipping tags from cardstock, and taped the edges together on both
sides with paper tape to make one long accordion folded piece.

Next I decorated the background of each tag with Distress inks and a bit of stamping.
(in the pic above, the purple circles and the orange 'splat' shapes are stamped.)

Then, I found photographs of us, the dogs, cats, and
some of the yard, and added them to the tags along with
a bit of patterned scrapbook paper and typed captions.

the top photo is all the cats enjoying their Christmas present-
kitty treats- out on the patio on Christmas day!

a couple more photos- one of Zola acting wacky,
and one of us taken at our last anniversary brunch.

Here's the entire album, standing up.

another shot of the entire album-- I really like the fact that
you can display the photos by standing the album up, which
you can't necessarily do with a 'regular' photo album. 

This was my first foray into the world of scrapbook 'mini-albums' but it definitely won't be my last.  There are so many interesting (and intricate) ways to make albums with flipping pages, pockets, hidden flaps, pockets, etc. This one was pretty simple, compared to some that I've seen, but I think if I'm careful with my cutting and my math (no easy feat, for me- lol!) that I should have a lot of fun! (and a lot of the album designs out there have 'how-to' Youtube videos, which is very helpful, since you can rewind and replay things, lol!)