James Taylor at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

On July 23rd I had the extreme privilege of attending a James Taylor concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre just outside of Denver, Colorado.  If you’ve never been there, you should make plans to go.  There’s just something magical about listening to music outdoors, especially on a cool Colorado summer evening.

2012 Red Rocks View from the top

James Taylor just happens to be the ONLY musician that I like enough to sign up for his mailing list.  He’s so amazing!  You know, its not that he’s an outstanding vocalist or flashy instrumentalist (although he sure knows how to put a band together), but his songs come straight from the heart and he’s authentic.  Every time I’ve gone to one of his concerts, I feel like I’m sitting in the living room sharing good music with friends.  And since my husband is a musician, I really know what that feels like.  It’s pure joy!

So, several months ago when I got an email saying that he (James, not my husband) was going on tour and would be playing in Denver, I talked my husband into getting tickets for my birthday (which happens to be in July).  Our son lives in Boulder and we knew we’d be going to visit him sometime, so we planned to be there for the concert too…AND since I’m on JT’s mailing list, we were able to get tickets before they went on sale to the public, so we were in row 14!  The photo above is from near the top of the amphitheatre.  That’s a long way up!

This is the walkway that leads to the seating area.  It’s a bit of a hike, but not too bad.

2012 Red Rocks Amphitheatre

The pics below show our location in relation to the top and to the stage.  It was a perfect spot!

2012 Terry & Nancy at JT

2012 Nancy & Terry view to the stage

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take in my camera, but we did have Kevin’s pocket camera to take these pics.  He and his date, Hattie went with us too.

Despite the fact that it looked stormy that night and was a bit blustery, we didn’t have any rain (like they apparently did the following night) and the concert was only affected by wind sometimes blowing through the microphones.  Oh, and one of the roadies had to sit next to the drum set to make sure the cymbals didn’t get blown over. (you’ll see that in the video below)

James and his band performed amazingly well considering the distraction from the wind (and potential storm).  I did notice though that he’s reminding me more and more of my dad.  You see, he’s tall and thin and built like my dad and he’s bald like my dad and this time when JT was “dancing”, with his somewhat awkward moves that make him so endearing, I could totally see my dad.  I LOVED it!  So he’s not only a wonderful performer, but also a fond reminder of my dad, who passed away over 30 years ago.

Just to give you a little taste of what it was like at the concert I recorded one of my favorite songs, “Sun on the Moon” with Kevin’s little camera.  The lighting is way too hot on JT and my hand is a bit shaky, but I love the rhythm, arrangement and the harmonies in this song.   And check out the cheers when JT starts “dancing”.  Gotta love this guy for his down to earth performances. Nothing flashy or overly choreographed here.

The last pic here is the band taking their bows.  It’s hard to tell, but it really is James Taylor and his band.

2012 James Taylor Final Bows

Funny thing too, we found out later that another couple we know from Phoenix was at the same concert.  Only we didn’t find out until after we got home.  It was a spectacular night and makes me smile just thinking about it.  Wish you could have been there with us!

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

 

Did you know that the tallest sand dunes in all of North America are in Colorado?  Seems odd, huh?  I would think it would either be along the coast somewhere or maybe in the Arizona deserts, but actually you’ll find them in southern Colorado.  As you may know, one of the items on my Bucket List is to visit every National Park in the U.S.  On Friday we visited Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona (more on that soon).  Yesterday we visited Great Sand Dunes National Park!

Here’s the view from the visitor center!  Isn’t it gorgeous.  When we were there a monsoon storm was coming in from the east so the dark clouds cast shadows on the mountains and the dunes creating an ever-changing canvas of colors.

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado

Summer’s not the best time to visit the park because the temperatures on the dunes can reach the mid-100’s (F).  We were smart enough to stay away from walking on the sand, but since we were in the area, it was still nice to get a preview of the place in case we want to come back and visit again sometime.  If you have a chance to visit the NPS website, you’ll see that there is really quite a bit to do around there besides just running around on the dunes.  Looks like there’s a seasonal river, lake, waterfall, wildlife, beautiful fall and spring color, camping, hiking, etc.  I definitely think it’s worth another trip.

You can explore any part of the 30 square mile dunefield you wish; there are no designated trails in the sand. And there’s even a sand dunes-accessible wheelchair available for free loan at the Visitor Center for those who aren’t quite as mobile.

Here are a few of the photos we took during our short visit.  We saw Pronghorn and Mule Deer as well as the expected chipmunks and squirrels.  Let me know if you’ve been there and what was the most fun for you during your visit.

 

The Oink Cafe – Breakfast. Lunch. Bacon.

Hey friends,

I haven’t done a restaurant review in a while and I’m hesitant to do this one because The Oink Cafe is close to where we live and a review will just mean that more people will go there.  I’m kinda liking the place and not sure I want to share it with everyone in Phoenix.  But…I think you’ll like it and my mom taught me not to be selfish, so…here we go.

The Oink Cafe in PV

When driving down Cactus Road a few months ago, I noticed that one of the retail spaces near Paradise Valley Mall had a new sign outside.  This spot seems like a wonderful location, but has been somewhat of a revolving door in the past years, not retaining businesses for any length of time.  Hopefully, this will be the exception to that rule.

Anyway, you may remember that a few months ago I won a year’s supply of bacon so that treat has been forefront in my mind lately.  While driving by this new restaurant, the tag line made me do a double take. It reads “Breakfast. Lunch. Bacon.”   What!  A restaurant that features BACON!!! Wow! I’ve got to take my husband there!

This weekend we had the perfect opportunity to try it out.  We had family visiting from out-of-town and when we described it to them they were excited about the adventure.  So, our party of 5 headed there around 9:30 on a Saturday morning.  Phoenix restaurants can get pretty busy on weekends for breakfast, so we weren’t sure what we’d find.  We checked in at the hostess station, then moments later 2 more family members arrived, which increased our request to a party of 7.

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes

Maple Bacon Donuts

While we were waiting we noticed all these amazing looking baked goods.  We didn’t get a chance to try any, but will definitely need to do that next time.  Take a look at all the bacon options.

The staff handled our larger party graciously.  And fortunately while it was already pretty busy, there were a few tables that cleared just minutes after we arrived and we were seated promptly.

We perused the menu and ordered a nice variety from our friendly food server.  Here are a few photos to enjoy.

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One item of note:  At the time of this writing, they have 5 different flavors of bacon (applewood smoked, honey cured, sugar cured, peppered, &  jalapeno).  I enjoyed the applewood smoked bacon with breakfast and someone else at the table got an order of the jalepeno and gave me a taste.  It was delicious, especially for those who like that extra little kick of heat in their meal.

We mentioned to the server that they should have a flight of bacon that people could order to try a piece of each different kind.  She said that they have it, but upon checking the menu we couldn’t find it.  Hopefully they’ll add it to the menu or maybe to the list of “specials” so folks can check out all the different flavors.  Plus even though their logo is a pig, maybe they should consider adding turkey bacon for those who want to try to be a tad bit healthier.

Overall, everything was very tasty!  From the time we ordered till the time we got our food was a bit long, but since we were busy visiting it wasn’t too bad.  We’ll chalk that up to being relatively new to the breakfast scene and hope the timing improves.  It’s definitely a place that we’ll visit again…maybe for lunch next time.

Hey maybe they should offer an ultimate BLT with all the flavors of bacon!  I’d order it.  How about you?

What do you think ?  Does it sound promising?  Do you think you’ll try “The Oink Cafe” if you have the chance?

A Kiva Loan in Honor of Int’l Women’s Day

This past Christmas our son, Kevin gave us a gift card for Kiva.  With Kiva you can empower people around the world with a $25 loan.  I wanted to take some time to choose the person that I would grant my loan to, so I just got around to getting to the website.

When I arrived I learned that I could choose a borrower based on things like Country, Gender, or Sectors such as Education, Agriculture, Health and Housing.  My first choice was female.  I’m learning more and more about the lack of opportunity and freedom for women in many countries in the world, so this was an easy decision.

Next I started looking at various countries.  Some of the first ones that I searched for, like China and Bosnia didn’t have any borrowers listed. I’m assuming that may be because of a lack of access to the people.  Then I looked in the Middle East since I recently visited there, and found a good number of women searching for loan money.

After browsing in several sectors, my final decision was to select this woman named Maram, who lives in Jordan and is seeking a loan to help finish her university education.  How exciting to be able to help someone in their educational pursuits and hopefully future independence.  Plus when she repays the loan, I’ll be able to lend the funds to someone else.

If you’d like a free trial to try out Kiva and grant your own $25 loan, visit the website here.

And did you know that today, March 8th is International Women’s Day?   IWD is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.

Here are a few facts to consider:

  • Over 1 billion people live in extreme poverty – 75% are women and girls.
  • 76 million primary school-age children are not in school – 60% are girls.
  • There are 876 million illiterate adults in the developing world – over 65% are women.
  • Women produce half the world’s food, but own only 1% of the world’s farmland.

So in honor of the day, say thank you to a special woman who’s contributed to your life and success, then empower a woman in an underserved part of the world by granting a loan at http://www.kiva.org/women

Blogs Worth A Writer’s Time

I am such a proud mom!  We recently learned that our daughter, Amy T. Schubert (don’t you just love that smile) and her blog “Lemon and Raspberry” was mentioned in this article below that showcases just 16 favorite blogs and websites that are worth a visit by writers.

The magazine that this came from is none other than “The Writer“, which is also celebrating 125 years of publishing – WOW!  It’s in their March 2012 issue and available at your favorite magazine stand or bookstore.  We picked ours up at Barnes and Noble.

The first image is page 1 of the article.  After you click on the image, you should be able to zoom in by clicking again if it’s not large enough to read yet.

The Writer mag article

The second image below (click to enlarge) is Page 2 of the article.  In the right column, contributing editor Stephanie Dickison mentions Lemon and Raspberry as one of her top 3 websites.  Awesome!  I love this, especially since her blog doesn’t really focus on writing, but many other facets of the creative process.  Way to go Teegan!  I just LOVE having creative kids.

Lemon & Raspberry article in The Writer

Using Custom Blurb Books for Fundraising!

This week I finished two different Blurb books for a non-profit organization that I help out part time.  I love creating these books and thinking of new ways to use them to help others.

The first book that I finished this month was a  (200-page) 12″ x 12″ photo book that captured the trip that I was privileged to go on in October of 2011.  I joined a team of 7 other women and 1 man who traveled to Israel and Jordan to gather information and talk to women in the Arab World about an upcoming training program that’s being offered by the Global Training Institute for Women (GTIW aka Greater Reach Ministries) beginning in May 2012.  The 6 training sessions will take place over a 3-year period.  Their goal is to see transformed women who are rooted in their biblical identity and have a clear understanding of their spiritual gifts, resulting in courageously leading other women to the same truth.  They hope to take at least 20 Christian Arab women leaders through this program and in the future expand into Eastern Europe and the U.S. as well.

Our hope is that the photos I took on the trip will help them to spread the word about the need for training and the vision of GTIW and help raise funds to pay for the women who have limited income to attend the training.  They’ve also asked me to join them in May as the photographer/historian at the first training session in the Arab World.

If you’d like to get a sampling of the big book, you can check it out here.  The photos of the people that we met with have been omitted from the online book preview for their own security, since some Christians and Muslim Background Believers risk their lives in professing their faith in Christ.

The second book that I created is a personal Prayer Journal that contains 31 blank pages to write in and a page with scripture and a photo from the Holy Land for every 7 blank pages.  If you’d like to see a full preview of the journal, please take a look here.

All proceeds from both books help to fund the Global Training Institute for Women… So after you see it, if you decide you’d like to order a few for yourself or as a gift, please use this link and get 15% off your whole order with the discount code 15OFFBLURB (all caps).   

f you write a page each day in the journal, it will last a full month.  If you write less than a page, then the journal will cover a longer period of time. In the future we may be researching other printing options to lower the cost and increase the fund-raising dollars per book and be able to increase the page count as well.  Plus we’ll be creating new designs with different photos and possibly a planner/calendar layout too!

For more information about the ministry or if you would like to contribute directly, please visit the website to donate at GreaterReach.com, send a check to the address below or contact them at:

Global Training Institute for Women
8283 N. Hayden Road, Suite 258
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

email. Info[at]GTIW[dot]com

480.718.3062

Be sure to tell them where you heard about it!  And let me know your thoughts on what you’d like to see in future book products as well. Thanks so much!

What to do with a Year’s Supply of Bacon

What would you do with a year’s supply of bacon?

I’m so excited that I get the chance to find out, but I need your help.

Blog World Bacon WinnerLast week for my last session at the BlogWorld Expo I attended a workshop taught by Marcy Massura about how to be a Social Media Community Manager. I had no idea when I walked in the door that I would be walking out with a year’s supply of bacon!  Wow!!!

It turns out that Marcy works as the Community Manager for the one and only Oscar Mayer.  Can you say AWESOME!  AND she was able to procure a gift of 52 full value coupons each for a pound of bacon! Wow again!  I guess I don’t have to say much more…I won the raffle drawing!!!  Wahoo!  My husband was ecstatic when I told him.

Now, I need your help in discovering fun new recipes to fill the next year with amazing bacon-licious dishes.  I’ve heard of bacon ice cream, a bacon bomb, chocolate-dipped bacon, but what’s your favorite? Please share a recipe or a link to a recipe in the comments,then on Saturday, November 19thas my thank you to you, I’ll share the love and award one of the coupons for a free pound of bacon to the most delicious sounding recipe. (contest over – maybe you’ll win next time)

THANK YOU MARCY and OSCAR MAYER and THANK YOU ALL for your creative ideas.  I’m looking forward to a very tasty year.

Want more fun with bacon?  Check out the Oscar Mayer Facebook page,but don’t cheat by using one of their recipes in the contest, o.k.?