Saturday, November 28, 2009

As Christmas Nears

Our Thanksgiving celebration was really nice, it is a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by all my family and even a few friends. The rest of my family got together at my sister's but my little family core is already too large and too loud, with seven grand kids many of them under the age of five things can get chaotic fairly fast.

Thanksgiving is the day set aside from the year to reflect and to give thanks for what we have, for what we accomplished, for what we love. These days the Thanksgiving Celebration is being overshadowed by the commercialization of Christmas, but truth be told, there are many of us wanting to extend the Christmas season just a little longer. After all, Christmas does bring the best in most people, aside the never ending amounts of food, and the ever present commercials and ads, people tend to be nicer that they would normally be during the rest of the year.

Thanksgiving being a special day all on its own has come to be the kick off to the Christmas Season. Most of us will start assembling Christmas trees the very next day. Mi chica and I decided on a real tree this year so we will wait until December to get it but the Christmas decorations went up the Friday after Thanksgiving. I am already in that warm fuzzy feeling associated with Christmas.

Yes, the presents and the food is a nice and important part of the Christmas season but I prefer the part where people warm up to each other. Goodwill, compassion, and most importantly love are the least expensive and yet the most important gifts we can give each other.

I am so looking forward to the remaining days of the year. I am ready and willing to share them and enjoy them to the max, and you all are invited. Be a part of my Christmas, and allow me to be a part of yours, that will be the best gift.

How about you? Are you ready to find out about the reason for the season?

Fifteen stockings hanging this year. Next year three more will be added.

Mi chica loves to set her table. It looks different every year.

Some very cozy pillows.

Yes people, I believe in Santa!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Garage Cleaning

Garage Cleaning Phase I -- Check!

Disaster zone! And a lot of stuff was out already since the guys moved out.

Yeah, this was the biggest project I had for my vacation and Phase I was done on Tuesday. I would have advance a little more but mi chica got sick and I had to go pick her up.

In any case, we can now park all three cars and my bike inside once again, and now it's just a matter of getting rid of more stuff by process of eliminations and a little of "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe". At least the pre-cleaning allowed me to find the boxes mi chica needed to start decorating the house and make it feel Christmasy. (More on that on a future post.)

The goal is to have the garage as empty as I can possibly have it. No more using it as a storage place for stuff that will most likely sit there for ever and ever amen. For now I am happy but not satisfied with the immediate results. I think I will use my Saturday mornings to continue sorting out what's in there and trashing/giving away what needs to be trashed or what can be recycled and reused.

What a mess! Where to start? Where to start?

Here is the before.

And here is the after.

Now you know why I had no frames in my house walls. They were all out in the garage.

With this image I tell you that I am officially tired and have a backache.

So, what do you think? It does look good in there now, doesn't it? Next week I'll be starting Phase II, but until then continue having a great Thanksgiving weekend.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Thanksgiving, we set one day out of the year for this but giving thanks should actually be a daily ritual, there has to be something everyday for which we are thankful for. The air that we breathe, the world that we live in, the freedom we have, but most importantly the gift of being alive. What a concept, being alive, definitely something worthy enough to be thankful on a daily basis. Thank you dear God for giving us that precious gift.

Yet on our daily routines there has to be many other things worthy of our thanks. How about, thanks for the best wife I can have, the most loving mom, the greatest family in town, three wonderful kids that are not so young anymore, and seven precious grand kids. Thanks for my health, my food, my friends, my job, my house, my car, my bike, the things that matter and the ones that don't.

I can probably sit here and think of an infinite list of things I am thankful for, life is too short to not be thankful, and for every "bad" that we can encounter just be thankful that you didn't get a "worse".

"Thank you" is such an easy phrase but to some to hard to express. Find it, use it, mean it, embrace it, love it, who knows it may just be contagious.

So from me to all of you out there. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you will spend it with the ones you love.

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.
~Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Family Collage

This is what happens when I take vacation time off and have no money to go anywhere.

I had been wanting to put a collage of frames together and last Saturday I thought I would start. Ha! Once I started I could not stop, I already had some frames put together and had them put away not really knowing where to put them so I decided to use a wall in the hall that proved to be just the perfect size.

I used twelve pictures that mean a lot to me and that in fact tell a story. Well isn't that what pictures do? Pictures tell a story and trigger lot of memories.

The top left corner and the bottom right corner images are of my daughter Nikki. Nikki is a great makeup artist, on the top image she put on heavy makeup and then added some stars to her cheeks, while on the bottom image she turned a picture of herself into a vector image which gives the cartoony look.

The second picture has my brother in law and mi chica celebrating a birthday when they were kids. This is a wonderful picture and it shows how pretty mi chica was when she was little. Right below there is picture of Diego and I sporting our cool sun shades and looking cool as ever.

The following picture I had it made last year and gave it to mi chica as a Christmas present. The collage has all of our seven grand kids in it. It will have to be updated next year as we will have three more making it ten for 2010.

Next, my daughter Nikki drew Diego when he was one year old, it was his first Christmas and he was wearing his Christmas outfit. I don't know why my daughter doesn't draw more often, she can do it beautifully and has a lot of talent.

Bottom left, mi chica's sister in law had a and old 5 X 7 family picture and we borrowed it. I had it enlarged to an 8 X 10 framed it and gave it to mi chica, she really loved the way it came out. The tiny frame has a picture of my dad when he was young. Pretty cool picture too. And right below my dad there's another drawing. This one was done by my little sister and it has my son when he was about six years old with ET. First time he watched that movie he was afraid but like every other child he eventually fell in love with the little extra terrestrial. My son is now 31 years old so this drawing has to be at least 25 years old.

Diego is in the next picture and right above him a picture of my three kids. Last but not least a picture of my mother in law on her wedding day. My mother in law left way too soon but I am sure she is one of those shinning stars above that has blessed mi chica and I with such a wonderful family.


Monday, November 23, 2009

My Mom's Portrait

If you are getting bored with the current theme on my posts just let me know, I don't know that I'll change it but at least I'll know what's on your mind.

My family knows it all too well but some of you my readers already found out that after nine years of living in this house I had no frames and no art hanging on my walls. There is one frame in my room that has my first three grand kids and a big nice frame mi chica bought when we first moved in, but other than that I had nothing so I am pretty excited these days as I am finally hanging stuff that means something to me and that is not mass produced and store bought.

Mi chica pretty much has left it all to me and she is pretty much in tune with what I am putting up so even though this is only the beginning I think I have enough to give you guys a virtual expo of what my walls are looking like thus far.

First is my mom's portrait. This portrait is not painted but burned in a piece of leather. It was done by a Mexican artist but unfortunately I don't have her name, she happened to be a customer of a dry cleaners business where my mom worked for a while. My mom had it folded and put away in an old suitcase and had had it for many years before I pleaded and begged for her to let me have it.

When I used to live in L.A. I worked for seven years for a lighting store at the Pacific Design Center in Beverly Hills and walking through all those showrooms with state of the art furniture and stuff always gave me ideas of what I would like. A salesman at the store and dear friend of ours was an art connoisseur and avid collector and when I showed him the portrait of my mom he knew exactly where to take it for me and how to have it framed. I knew nothing so I totally agreed with his advice and expertise.

The piece of leather then was mounted into a white backing without being cut or altered in any way, shape, or form and a lucite box was custom built to house it. The box is made of a very strong acrylic material and there's a space between the piece of leather and the acrylic. I remember asking him if it would get scratched over time, he said probably but it will have to be a very long time. It has now been over 25 years since the portrait was framed and three weeks ago I cleaned the frame before I hung it on the wall and it looked as if I had just picked it up from the framer. I now know he knew what he was talking about.

The custom work was very pricey for a then 22-year old warehouse employee even considering that it was specially priced for my friend but it was totally worth it. This frame is still going to be with us for a long, long time and I don't have to fear it is going to fall appart anytime soon.


Friday, November 20, 2009

My Friday

Took Friday off as the beginning of my vacation and spent it with mi chica. The day started with an 8:00 a.m. appointment with the doctor, we got there on time and in less than a rooster sings we were out. She had another appointment with another doctor but that was at 10:00 a.m. So she took me to breakfast at Mimi's Cafe.

I had never been there but let me tell you I really dig this place, the athmosphere was great, the place is awesome, the decor kept me looking at every wall (collecting lots of ideas) and the food was affordable and best of all it was very good. I know I'll be going back soon.

We finished with just enough time to make it to her appointment. There the wait was longer but once inside it only took like five minutes. So, now we are done and we are fed so what to do, I know let's go to my favorite store Khol's, I really like this store and always find clothes I like. Today everything and I mean everything in the store was on sale, I bought two jackets I had seen before but thought were expensive at half price, how awesome is that?

Mi chica bought a bunch of other things all at great prices, and great savings. We finally got home at past 1:00 p.m. Oh but not before stopping at Wally World for a few items. There I found out I don't know how to use the self pay machines, so I will only use those when I go by myself to keep practicing.

In the afternoon we went to Manny's for dinner and karaoke but took three of the grankids and that was not a good idea. That's OK we learn as we go. lol

So, I'll be off all next week and I'm sure I'll be working around the house. Cleaning the garage is the biggest priority and I'm sure I'll be blogging about the before and after. So stay tunned.

Tomorrow is Sindi and Chir's baby shower, so that will be another nice family gathering we'll be having so stay tunned for that too.

Have a terrific weekend.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Inside the Petersen House

On Wednesday I finally decided to go and visit The Petersen House Museum in Tempe. The outside of this house is decidedly very pretty but just wait until you see the interior. The house has been semi-remodeled but mostly restored to it's original condition. Although completely furnished none of the furniture is original to the house however it is true to the time.

The house was built back in 1892 and yet only three families lived there. When the Petersens passed it was willed to a relative but it was stipulated that the house could not be sold. An ASU art professor rented the house for some 18 years up until 1967 or around that time. It wasn't until the mid 80's that the house was given to the Tempe Historic Society and the restoration begun.

Upon entering you see how grand the house is by the foyer's look. The house was built specially for Mr. Petersen's wife. She was accustomed to living in a similar house back east and that's when a well known architect was commissioned to building it.

Although three different families lived there only the Petersen's used the master bedroom in the second floor. There is a huge amount of detail such as the picture rails, the wooden floors, the wall papered borders which to this day are still the original borders and there is even a mural that sits over the chimney that at one point was painted over it. It was discovered by chance while restoring the house and little by little it was cleaned. The parlor had a similar mural but that one could not be saved as it was heavily damaged.

I hope you enjoy the following tour throught this beautiful house.

The dinning room used to be where the parlor is until this was turned into the new dinning room.

This beautiful mural was painted over but recovered during the house restoration.

This is the master bedroom that was only used by the Petersens only, no one ever occupied it after they passed.

How's this for a refrigerator. I believe this is circa 1930s.

This is an original chandelier.


Monday, November 16, 2009

My Dad's Portrait

So, as we continue redesigning the inside of our house I continue receiving wonderful presents from some of my long time bloggin' friends. You've all seen the art that Wanda sent me and that now graces my walls.

Well last week, Tara surprised me with a portrait rendition of my dad. I got home on Monday afternoon to find a note left by the mailman that I could pick up the package at the post office in Old Avondale. I immediately drove there only to find out that the mailman was still out delivering his mail and that my box would not be available until the next day.

Well, Tuesday I stay with my mom and Wednesday was Veteran's Day, that meant I had to wait until Thursday to pick up my package. So I called my daughter and she agreed to pick it up for me on Tuesday. I still had to wait until Wednesday afternoon to see it but trust me it was well worth the wait. I was thrilled to finally see the portrait and to see what great work Tara did on it.

The next step was to have it framed. The end result was absolutely awesome. This was totally different form the frames I'm used to. This is an open frame no glass, no border, only the frame and the painting.

And here is the the portrait in it's frame.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fall Exhibit

So the day finally came, the exhibition took place but it almost went on without any spectators, however besides my mom, Elena, and Maryita whom got here almost on time which is rare for my beautiful sister, and Vane, Frank, and familia I did have a huge surprise when I came back from the store.

My dear blog friend Betty of "Life is Good" and her husband Paul showed up. Betty and I met just a little over a year ago through another of my dear blogger friends ChrisJ of "Flamblogger" blog.

Betty and I smiling because we finally met.

Betty is the only blogger other than my family that lives in Arizona and not only does she live in my state but she lives in the town next to ours. I'd say she only lives about 20 minutes away and yet it took us a little over a year to finally meet. With that said, to say that I was surprised and happy to finally meet her is an understatement.

Michelle, Nichole, and Cindi also showed up but only briefly because they were in the middle of an important celebration for them. Michelle and Nikki's mother in law had a surprised 50th birthday party and they had to be there.

One of the things I always do when having an exhibition is to present the host with a frame, since this one was being hosted by me I decided to present my mom with a frame that a while back she mentioned she would love to have. She had a picture of my grandfather (my dad's father) that my dad took over 20 years ago during one of his trips back to Mexico hanging by her little breakfast nook and somehow the frame gave up and fell. She had put it away but mentioned to me that she would like to put it back on the wall.

However, she said that she would like it even better if the picture was a little bit bigger, so I took her original (which I'm now keeping) and had it enlarged to an 11 X 14 then placed it in a black frame. Because the original picture was so old most of the colors were gone, we did enhance the image through picazza but in the end I opted for the original faded look. To complement the yellowish color of the print I bought a nice light green mat that in my opinion brought the image back to life. I was pleased and happy with it but most importantly so was she.

Mom, this is for you.

She loved it!

After receiving all the phone calls with cancellations I decided to just go and get some Mexican bread so we could have cafesito con pan. Mi chica also broke down some garlic snacks topped with Mexican cheese, ummm que rico! If you don't believe me go ahead and ask Ariel.

Grandpa keep the cookies coming and I'll say I love all your frames.

Here are a few more images from the night.

Betty getting ready to take a lot of pictures.

Sisters! My princesses Marya and Vane.

Grandma, her granddaugher, and great grandkids posing happily for this shot.
OK, Emma did fall asleep but was probably still happy.

So, what to do now? I know let's karaoke. We sang (OK mostly me) for the next hour or so and then we called it a night.

We said goodbye and procceded to start cleaning. While mi chica swept I put all the frames away. Doing all this work woke up my appetite and I for some reason craved "chilaquiles". Mi chica said let's go to the store to get what we need. Ummm wow! Almost at midnight I was enjoying the best "chilaquiles" in town. And with that our night came to a close.

Awesome chilaquiles.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Proyecto Tres - The Office

So Wednesday mi chica had a day off so she started the task of cleaning the office. We had pushed lots of stuff first from the den to the living room and then to the office so her cleaning it made it so much easier for me to move things around.

The office has some special pieces in it, starting with the sewing machine that once belonged to my mother in law. The old desk came to us from a school in Los Angeles via my brother in law. It most likely served many teachers and students before coming to us. I imagine it's very old, it has already been ours for the past nine years.

To the left the old desk, and to the right the old sewing machine stand.

The empty wall in front of the desk will soon have a custom shelf designed specifically to house my DVD collection as well as my die cast car collection and hopefully a television too.

So, for now it looks kindda empty, the walls are still bare with the exception of my Harley Davidson poster hanging behind the desk but that will soon change too. I am excited about the art that has been sent to me by some of my blogger friends and I am proud to display it in my house. The paintings sent to me are by far better and more meaningful than anything I can buy at a store and that most likely was mass produced.

Mi chica may start working from home soon and I want the office to be as confortable and efficient as possible. So for now this is where we are with it. Here are a few more shots.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Tidbits

It's Thursday and I have nothing new. Everything is pretty much the same these days. Since the second set of "Ducks" got their own apartment we have been occupying ourselves with the cleaning and rearranging furniture, but that will end soon. Then eventually we will have to figure out how to replace some of our furniture as some things are in really bad shape. For now we will make do with what we have and so far we are not doing too bad.

We did clean our office last night but it still needs more items added to make it feel more comfortable. I will have a shelf built which will house all of my DVD case collection and a lot of my collectible die cast cars, when finished it will be a focal point in that little office. I also have to make sure mi chica feels good in it because pretty soon she may be working from home and it needs to be a place where she can concentrate and feel relaxed. I'll do a posting on it so you can see the progress on it.

While listening to Blondie's "The The Tide is High" and singing along I caught me saying "I'm not that kind of girl" and then said crap I need to rephrase this. Why do guys sing along to cool songs meant for women? We should have a switch or button that says "Not authorized to sing this".

Our weather has been wonderful these days, definitely been enjoying driving with the top down. While in many places back east they already have snow or ice we are still wearing t-shirts and shorts. Now, where else but in Arizona you can do this. I love my state. Now, if I only had a few dollars to spare and get my bike serviced and registered again I would be a happier fellow.

The countdown begins, next week I will only work for four days and then I'll be taking the whole Thanksgiving week of as vacation time, and since we are not going anywhere I shall enjoy my time off from work.

Saturday we will be hosting our Autumn Photo Exhibition and Sale at the house. Not too many people may show up but as always some of my family will and that always makes it for a great time.

Betty, I definitely am looking forward to finally meet you in person so I hope to see you here Saturday.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Proyecto Dos - The Living and Dining Room

After Diego and I finished with our chicken soup deliveries and came back home I started with the task of cleaning and redecorating the living room. After cleaning the den last week we had pushed a lot of stuff in there so now was the time to clean up some of the mess we left.

Yep, it was a room ready to be de-cluttered.

Step number one, start pushing stuff into the office now. Then sweep and mop and wait until the floor dries. I left the sofas in the same place they were and pushed the big (my 62" screen) TV and placed it where the entertainment center used to be. Basically these two simple steps finished the heavy moving.

Last June my daughter Nikki got her bachelors in Graphic Design and for her Portfolio Review she had three big boards displaying a lot of her work. As always at the end of the day I got to keep them and her question was, what and or where are you putting this? Well, just take a look as one of the three boards has found it's new home. Ten years without hanging any pictures in the house and now this. Heck, I need to hang pictures that have meaning to me and or the family and I think this qualified just right.

One of three boards from Nikki's portfolio.

Opposite to Nikki's work, I hung the two frames with Wanda's artwork. Yes, the Wolf and the lion, and the rose found a place of their own too. I actually think the two frames were perfect for that little corner. A touchtronic torchiere and some green stuff completed the look. Now if I could just finish painting around the motion sensor it would actually look a lot better.

This corner really came out great.

This is pretty much the final look.

Last but not least mi chica gave the dinning area the look it needed to complement the livingroom. Now we have a cozy place to enjoy our Thanksgiving in two weeks.

Here are a few more pics. Let me know what you think.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Chicken Soup... For The Stomach.

A bowl for papa bear, a bowl for mama bear, and one for the baby bear. Grrrwwwrr!

Thursday after work we got invited to my daughter's new apartment for the inauguration carne asada. Considering it was on a weekday some family members showed up for a most tasty carne asada.

My daughter Nikki fell sick with the flu or a cold and spent most of the day in bed while everybody else were outside eating and drinking a beer or two. Mi chica and I got there close to seven o'clock as I had to go visit my mom first. I had already been fed by my mama but if you know me a little bit then you'll know that I never ever say no to carne asada tacos. So... yep, I ate about three of them and they were ummmm, ummmm, good. Some of the meat had been marinated in beer and therefore was exquisitely tender.

The next day my other daughter and my sister in law were down with the flu too. Both of them profusely thanked Nikki for passing it on to them, to which Nikki said no comment and pleaded the fifth. Mi chica had picked Diego up on Friday as we promised him he could spend the night with us so at least so far he has not caught the bug... yet.

Saturday morning Michelle texts mi chica and pleads for some warm Chicken Soup, so a big pot was cooked and a couple of hours later Mr. Diego and I got drafted to go deliver soup to three different houses.

Stop number one: His house, or apartment. We got there and had Michelle come out to the patio which is right by the parking lot. The baby was vomiting when we got there but after the incident she came out and received her fresh brew of "Caldo de Pollo".

Diego gives his mom a fresh batch of "Caldo de Pollo".

We say goodbye and move on to the second house, my sister in law's. Luckily she only live about five minutes away from Michelle so that was just a little jump for us. We got there and she came out to receive her batch of soup. Now correct me if I'm wrong but I was expecting to find her in pajamas no makeup and her hair all over the place. Ummm, she cheated, I think she just said she was sick to that she could get some chicken soup. Although in all honesty I would take her soup even if she wasn't sick.

See, she lied, but nevertheless she got her fresh caldito batch.

OK, Mr. Diego was keeping track of the stops and according to him stop one his house, check. Stop two Kika's house, check. That only meant one more house. This one however is not in the neighborhood, going to Nikki's house requires some driving so we sat back and relaxed, put the sounds on the radio and enjoyed the drive. Twenty minutes later we were at Nikki's to deliver her still burning hot bowl of caldo.

Nikki had called mi chica to tell her that "Ducky" was excited about gettin' some soup. Ummm let me see mi chica said, that's not cool, the duck is going to eat chicken. lol

Last but not least, Nikki and "Ducky's" delivery.

Hey, I got a delivery too! Ducky was eating his and had a discovery: "MOM! Theres CHICKEN in this sopita!!" I was like, uhm, it IS chicken soup, dear.. :)

So... To all my sickies I hope you all get well soon. And I will be keeping Diego with us until tomorrow night so he can go home and straight to bed, maybe he'll escape the flu this time.

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