4th of July Ideas – Part 1 – Beverages

In looking for some refreshing summer beverages for the 4th of July, I was reminded of a delicious pitcher of Sangria that we had recently with some friends at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Tucson.  If you haven’t visited El Charro Cafe in Old Town Tucson, it’s a place that’s well worth your time.  This is a view of the welcoming courtyard. When the weather’s nice (as it is for over half the year in this part of Arizona) it’s the most relaxing place to enjoy dinner or even just a drink with friends.

El Charro Courtyard - Tucson AZ
El Charro Courtyard - Tucson AZ

Ryans and Hanns

We happened to be in Tucson for Terry and Bob (aka The Catfish Hunters) to play at the Tucson Folk Festival and we had a chance to enjoy a wonderful dinner here with Bob & Helen.

But I digress.  This post is supposed to be about beverages and one of the sweet parts of the evening was our Summertime Blackberry Sangria. Doesn’t it look delicious!  I can taste it now.  Imagine washing down your chips and salsa with that colorful concoction.

So to bring this full circle.  I’ve been enjoying Sangria at a variety of spots this year and thought I’d share a patriotic version and eye-catching recipe for serving a group without having to make individual drinks for everyone.

Check out this Red, White and Blue Sangria from Recipe Girl!  (and she’s having a giveaway too)

She used pineapple for her stars, but I think I’d try star fruit since it already has the shape you need.   I LOVE the red strawberries, “white” (kinda) pineapple or star fruit, and blue-berries to carry through the patriotic theme.  Just imagine your giant glass beverage dispenser filled to the brim with all these summery ingredients.  It’s a party waiting to happen.  In case you haven’t seen it before, this is what star fruit looks like and here’s some more info about it too.  Hey, think about adding star fruit to your salads on the 4th as well!

…now where are the fireworks.

Let me know your plans for the 4th.  I’d love to hear how you celebrate.

Stay tuned for parts 2 (food) and 3 (DIY crafts and decorations) for the 4th of July series in the coming days.

Better Blog Content 2.0

O.k., so its clear that you’re probably not getting much inspiration from me lately, but I do have a recommendation for you to check out someone who is a prolific blogger.  And this week, she’s running an online Blogging Workshop on “Lemon and Raspberry” called Better Blog Content 2.0.  You can find all the details here.

Full disclosure: she happens to be my daughter, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have great stuff to share and to help you in the blogging world.  In fact this might just inspire me to start posting again.  See, this post is proof that it’s working already. 🙂  I love this picture of her from some recent “outtakes” at her  home photo shoot.  Note the raspberry lemonade in the photo for her “Lemon and Raspberry” blog.  Clever huh?

But, it’s getting more and more difficult for me to choose what to blog about.  We just added a few more events to the list.  Last week I helped my dear friend, Linda on a photo shoot with her daughter-in-law and granddaughters, which was a blast!  I’ll post more on that.

Then I went with my husband and the Ryans to Tucson to hear my husband and Bob perform at the Tucson Folk Festival.  I promise, soon I’ll post about that trip, as well as an awesome Mexican restaurant that we visited there.  It’s a place that you won’t want to miss if you’re in the Tucson area and are hungry for Mexican food.  Stay tuned for all that and more to come.

Thanks for hanging in there with me during this busy time of life.

The Catfish Hunters are on the road again!

This time they’re not going as far as Bosnia, but The Catfish Hunters are scheduled to perform at the 26th Anniversary Tucson Folk Festival.  The Festival is a FREE two-day event offering over 20 hours of music, dance, and entertainment.  Spread the word!  We’d love to see you all there.

Terry and Bob will be playing at 1:30 PM on Sunday, May 1st on the Museum Stage at the Tucson Museum of Art.  If you’re looking for a fun day trip or even a weekend getaway, come on down and see them and dozens of other artists perform.  Be sure to arrive early so you can get to the stage in plenty of time to find a seat.

The center of Festival activity, including the TKMA Kitchen Store (where performer CDs and T-shirts are sold) food & craft vendors, is in El Presidio Park in old town Tucson.

Here are a few pics of the Festival last year when Terry had the privilege of accompanying his friend, Dave Argentati who was one of 10 finalists in the songwriters contest.

Playing Music with Dave Argentati in Tucson

Last Friday, Terry and I drove down to Tucson so he could join his friends, Dave Argentati and Mark Converti to play music at the Glass Onion Cafe.
They played a mix of 70’s covers, James Taylor, Jim Croce and others, as well as a good supply of Dave’s original songs.  Terry even sang lead on a couple of old favorites.  One of these days I’ll get a video tape of it.
The cafe itself is a quaint little place with about 10 tables or so.  All the seats in the house were full and there were even people standing outside to listen to the music.  The photos behind the guys are called the “Wall of Fame”.  The owners take pictures of their patrons and hang them up on the wall.
Our friends, Doug & Liz Johnson (Liz is in red on the left -Doug is sitting in front of her on the other side of the table) from Santa Clarita, CA moved to Tucson a few years ago.  Liz and I have connected on Facebook and they were so sweet to come and hear Terry and the guys play.  They also brought their son, Zach (in brown) who is in high school now.  The last time we saw him, he was about 10 years old, so he’s changed A LOT and is quite a handsome, well mannered, young man.  He was so polite to sit thru 2 hours of oldies and songs that he’d never heard before.  Thanks Zach.
In this photo you can see a glimpse of Mark, the cellist sitting behind and between the guys.  He adds such a beautiful sound to the trio.
After the concert we had a chance to hang out with Dave, Kathrin and some of their friends.  What a great group of people they are.  It was such a fun night but we didn’t leave their house until midnight!  We had a wedding to go to the next day (more on that later) so we decided to do the 2 hour drive home.  Or should I say, Terry did the 2 hour drive home while I slept most of it.  I think we’re getting too old to stay out until after 2 am.  The next night we ended up coming home early after the wedding and I slept like a rock trying to catch up after a short night before.  It was well worth it though, and we would do it again in a second!  Maybe next time we’ll stay overnight in Tucson.
If you want to see a few more pictures you can go here.

Tucson Folk Festival

Yesterday, Terry and I took a drive down to Tucson to visit our friends Dave & Kathrin Argentati. As mentioned before, Dave was one of 10 finalists in the TKMA Annual Songwriting contest and all the finalists were scheduled to perform their 2 songs each, starting around noon on Saturday.

We arrived at El Presidio Park with all it’s great old architecture (well as old as things get in Arizona) a few minutes after noon, due to the lovely Tucson construction traffic. Fortunately when we found Kathrin, we discovered that they were scheduled to perform 5th in the group, so we still had plenty of time.

We were so glad to be able to be there to hear Dave and Kathrin do their songs! He’s quite a creative songwriter and they sounded wonderful together! Some other friends and family were also there in the crowd to cheer them on.

We stayed to listen to the rest of the finalists, who were also very talented and came from places as far away as Ohio, Washington and even Alaska. So you can imagine that the competition was quite stiff. The announcement of the top 3, including the winner wouldn’t be made until nearly 4 pm, so we had a little more time to wander around before that.

Terry and I were hungry, and the amazing aromas coming from the food booths were so tempting that we decided to have “a little something” to hold us over until Kathrin’s much anticipated dinner of homemade chicken enchiladas. We decided to share a tri-tip sandwich, although I’m sure we could have each eaten a whole one. Wow, were they good! You can see the photo here. This guy literally had a grill so big that he had to pull it as a trailer. It was piled high with whole tri-tips and when he saw me taking pictures, he lowered the rack so I could get a better shot. What a great guy. And the sandwiches were excellent. We were almost tempted to buy a whole tri-tip to take home, but weren’t sure what we’d do with it for the rest of the day.

After we got our food, we sat in the shade and enjoyed lunch with our friends.

This pic is Dave with his daughter, Bethany. She is so sweet and as creative as she looks! She likes photography, cooking, doing hair and makeup and any number of other creative expressions. It was fun to get to know Bethany, her husband, Matt and the other kids.

The other two young ones are two of Dave & Kathrin’s kids, Davey and Rebecca. They are fun kids and did well hanging out with us all day.

After our lunch break Dave guided us to several different stage areas to hear various musicians. It was fun to see the wide range of ages and lifestyles that were represented. I love this little girl that was trying to sit still while her parents listened to one of the ensembles.

This guy, playing the standup bass is Bob Kimmel who was formerly a member of the Stone Poneys. For those youngsters among us, they were the band that played with Linda Ronstadt, who also started out in Tucson. If you don’t know who Linda Ronstadt is, look it up.

Anyway, we enjoyed our time there. Listening to music in the open breezy air is always so relaxing and refreshing. Then 4 pm rolled around and we made our way back to the stage for the announcement of the contest winners. They announced the top three. # 3 was an older woman from Southern California who had such a free spirit and joyous way about her, # 2 was a rugged looking guy from Alaska and # 1 was Dana Hubbard (who was unfortunately one of the acts that we missed because we were late). So even though Dave didn’t win, he did a great job and every bit of exposure and the connections that go with it are helpful for him in his love and pursuit of making music.

After a wonderful day, we decided to head out to the Argentati’s lovely home. It was so gorgeous out that we ended up congregating in their shady back yard. A few more of their friends came by too and we all ate chips & salsa and enjoyed some delicious chicken enchiladas. Dinner was topped off with a sinfully rich brownie that Bethany made. It was a chocolaty cupcake-shaped brownie filled with bite-size Milky Way Dark bars in the center. It was so rich and wonderful. I can’t believe that I didn’t take any pictures of the food. Probably because I was hungry and enjoying the company so much.

After dinner the instruments came out and the guys proceeded to jam. The young folks were good sports. Matt tried to stumble his way on bass thru the “classic” songs that Terry and Dave were doing, which he had never heard before. Poor Davey ended up being stuck with the mandolin, which he didn’t know how to play. He picked around on it a little bit, but eventually gave up. Bethany was willing to sing with the guys, but they couldn’t seem to land on a song that all parties knew and could play or sing. Anyway, I think it was an enjoyable evening for everyone else. I always feel blessed with a day filled with friends, fellowship and fun and love the gift of having amazing musicians in my life, even if I don’t play an instrument myself.

Thanks to the Argentati’s for a precious day full of fun memories. We’re hoping to make plans to get together again soon…and eventually we’ll talk them into moving to Phoenix, we hope!

Leadership Catalyst Getaway at Bo’s Cafe March 1-4, 2007

Last week our organization hosted our 2nd marriage retreat for executive couples called the Getaway at Bo’s Cafe, which is why I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’m the Events Manager so I get the privilege of coordinating all the details for these events.

These are the 3 guys who are the authors and presenters in the organization (L to R – John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, Bill Thrall). They did the majority of the teaching for the weekend. I love these guys! They’re an awesome trio, each with their own strengths and contributions to the group.

We held the event at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson and it went very well with very few glitches. Here are a few pics to give you a feel for the weekend.

When we got back to our room the first night we were greeted with lots of goodies (one of the perks of being the event coordinator…they want to keep you happy). Besides a plate of fresh fruit, chocolate dipped strawberries, chips and salsa (like the ones Linda mentioned in her blog) we also received a cool plate of chocolates including these chocolate cacti. I was going to save them for our get-together on Saturday night, then forgot to bring them over to the Hospitality Suite. On Sunday, when we were packing up to leave they were still sitting there waiting for us, so I forced myself to eat them on the run as I was packing up the last of our stuff. They were delicious! One milk chocolate, one white chocolate and the biggest one was dark chocolate. My favorite! How did they know?

On Friday night Don & Carol, and Terry & I had a chance to meet some old friends who live in Tucson for dinner. Dave Argentati used to play steel guitar, mandolin (I think) and guitar in a band with Terry many years ago. We had recently reconnected with him and met his wife Kathrin. It was so much fun to catch up on their lives and get to know them both better. We went to El Charro Cafe for mexican food. The restaurant happens to be celebrating their 85 anniversary this year. I can see why they’ve been around so long. The food was excellent! Check out Dave’s music site and if you live in the Tucson area, go check out their band some time. We’re hoping to go down and see them play when we have a chance.

Because it was the second time around for the event and we had more help with set up from the LCI team on the first day of the retreat, I actually had a bit of time to relax during the weekend.

I was able to join Linda, Michelle and Carol beside the pool. As you’ll see from their dress, it was pretty cool, especially in the shade, but the sun felt good and we enjoyed the time together on Saturday afternoon while the guys rehearsed for their performances that night and in the morning.

On Saturday night after our big dinner, most of the support team went to the Hospitality Suite to kick back and relax for a while. There was a huge balcony off the suite with a beautiful view of the city, golf course and nearby mountains (see below-enlarge to get the best view).

So all in all, it was a success on many levels, and based on the feedback we’ve recieved so far, the teaching made a huge impact on the couples that attended. Those who are familiar with the principles of grace and trust that are the core of Leadership Catalyst, know how life-changing they can be. These retreats are our way of introducing those principles to couples who may not have heard about them before, especially in relation to their marriage. It’s an amazing thing to see how God can impact a marriage, family and beyond when a husband and wife understand how His grace and protective love can work in everyday life. What a blessing! I’m so honored to have a small part of bringing this message to the world and I look forward to seeing where God will be taking it in the future.