Have you ever had your day take a completely different turn than you anticipated?  Mine certainly did, and it all started with a discovery behind the lilac vine.

My day was off to a great start.  I didn’t have any appointments or looming writing deadlines.  Couple that with a weather forecast in the 70’s, I decided to spend a few hours working in the garden.

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae) back in February.
One of the things that I needed to do was to prune back my purple lilac vines now that they were finished flowering.  They just needed a little light pruning to keep them from growing into my new lemon tree.
While I was pruning the vines, my little dog, Tobey, was trying desperately to get underneath one of the vines.  I assumed that it was a lizard, but I couldn’t call him off.
Now, Tobey, is our little rescue dog who thinks that he is big and tough, but truth be told, he’s not.  But, when I had to carry him inside because he wouldn’t leave the vine alone, I suspected that there might be something else going on.
I slowly approached the vine and heard something growl.  Concerned that there may be an injured animal, I slowly parted the leaves, and a cat ran out and jumped over the fence.
At this point, I assumed that it was a feral cat and that the problem was solved. 
But, I heard some rustling sounds and thought that I could see some movement in the dark confines of the vine’s branches.  So, I ran inside to grab a flashlight so that I could see better.  The problem was, that while we had plenty of flashlights, all their batteries were dead.
So, I decided to use the flashlight on my cell phone to see what was making the sounds at the base of the vine.
I slowly parted the leaves and saw what looked like little rats.
But, closer examination showed them to be newly born kittens.
I could hardly believe it!
They were just darling, and I tried to count how many there were.  I think that there were four, but it might have been three.
I went back inside so the mama cat could come back.  She hopped to the top of the wall and waited to be sure that there weren’t any humans or dogs nearby before climbing down and disappearing into the vines.
So what will we do?  
I talked to my sister who has worked with feral cats in the past.  It turns out they are incredibly self-sufficient.  We’ll probably wait until the kittens are weaned and then trap the mother and get her spayed and then re-release her.
As for now, I need to break the news about the furry bundles behind the vines to my husband (who sleeps during the day) and the kids once they come home after school.  
In the meantime, the dogs have been banished to the side yard for the time being, much to their dismay…

 Yesterday, I spent the morning on the family farm pruning apple trees.

It was a nice break from a very busy week of landscape consulting and I was looking forward to spending time with my mother, who resides on Double S Farms with my youngest sister and her family.

 The sun was rising up in the sky and the day promised warm temperatures in the upper 70’s with our unseasonably warm winter.

Now at this point, you may be noticing that the trees were already in flower and that we were getting to pruning them a bit late in the season.  Ideally fruit trees are pruned just before the buds begin to open.

But, even though we were pruning them late, it won’t make a huge difference and will improve the size and quality of our apple crop.

 You’ll notice that the apple trees are located behind a wire fence.  Well, there is a good reason for that…

 And their names are Sodapop and Johnny.

Soda is the daughter of our dog Missy, who passed away last year at the age of 13.

Johnny is a 3-legged doberman rescue dog who is so friendly and exuberant.

You see, the dogs love to eat the apples from the trees.  Especially Soda who does her best to reach them up high.  
You can read about Soda’s previous exploits here.

 The problem is that the seeds of apples contain small amounts of cyanide and if dogs consume too many, they can have problems.  So the fence is up, much to the dismay of Soda and Johnny.

Pruning trees is one of my favorite things to do and although as a certified arborist, I talk to my clients a lot about trees, I don’t prune their trees.  Instead I give them advice on how to prune them theirselves or refer them to a certified arborist company who does it for them.  So, my tree pruning is primarily focused on my own and my family’s.  

Armed with a pair of loppers, hand pruners and a pruning saw, I took a moment before beginning to smell the sweet fragrance of the apple blossoms.

In the midst of our pruning, my granddaughter, Lily, showed up.  She proved to be a good helper and moved the small branches into a pile.

We focused on cleaning out the interior branches, which are hard to get pick apples from.  In addition, we also pruned off some of the taller branches so that come apple-picking time, we could more easily reach them.  Once we finished, we had pruned away a quarter of the tree, which will allow it to focus its resources on growing the remaining flowers, which will turn into apples.
For info on how we have pruned fruit trees in the past, click here.

My mother took a few of the cut branches and brought them inside and put them in a vase where they will offer beauty and fragrance indoors for a few days.

Now it was time to turn our attention to the vegetable gardens.  My mother has two large, raised beds where she grows a variety of delicious vegetables.  

Lily wanted to feed the chickens some lettuce from the garden.

The resident chickens of Double S Farms, love lettuce.

Next, great-grandma needed Lily’s help to pick a cabbage from the garden.  It was huge!  I only wish that I liked cabbage.

I asked my mother how she uses it and she told me that she uses it in soups, but blends it ahead of time so no one knows that it is in there.

Lily wondered if the chickens would like cabbage and it turned out that they liked it better than the lettuce.

Before leaving the gardens, Lily had to pick a flower.  Like many little girls, she loves flowers and carries them around smelling their fragrance.

The white petunias belong to Finley, my nephew, who gets a small plot in the vegetable gardens to plant what he likes.

As we got ready to leave, I noticed a beautiful, little bouquet made up of petunias on the kitchen table.  Who knew that petunias could make such a sweet bouquet?

Visits to the family farm are always refreshing and it was great to enjoy a morning out in the sunshine gardening.

Have you ever spent time looking forward to a big event and found that it seemed to take forever until it arrived?

Well, it certainly was like that for me waiting for the birth of my daughter’s first baby.

(Warning – there is no gardening content in this post, but lots of edge of your seat drama 😉

I was counting down the weeks and later, the days until her due date of January 20th.  My husband and I really wanted to be there to support her when the baby was born (the father is deployed overseas).  The drive to Rachele’s house on the Navy base is over 7 hours away by car, so we had our bags packed and ready to go at a moments notice.

Finally, we got the call we were waiting for – the doctor was going to induce her because he had concerns regarding the baby’s low weight.  That meant that we could be there ahead of time.  So, my husband and I as well as our oldest daughter, Brittney, hit the road on Monday morning (the 19th).

We met Rachele at her new townhouse on the base and saw how she had made everything ready for the baby’s arrival.  While the rest of the family watched ‘The Office’ on Netflix, I made them all a homemade dinner in preparation for a long night ahead.

Finally it was time to leave for the hospital – Rachele’s induction was scheduled for 7:30 pm.

As we walked down the hall to Labor & Delivery, I stopped to take this photo, thinking of how changed Rachele’s life would be after she left the hospital.

It turned out that there were a lot of babies being born, so we had to wait a little while before Rachele could be induced, so we spent time in the waiting room.  Brittney showed Rachele a photo on her of what she had looked like just before going into labor.

We finally got into the labor & delivery room where we would spend the next hours helping Rachele through labor.  She told us that she wanted me with her the entire time, including delivery – I was so excited and a bit nervous!

So, Rachele settled in for the night.  They found that she was already in early labor, but she did receive some medication to speed it along a bit.
We were all allowed to spend the night with Rachele in her room.  So far, the pain was not bad and they gave her a pill to help her sleep.  We were excited for the next day (Tuesday) and the birth of her child.

The next morning, Rachele was still smiling because she still wasn’t in much pain – but her labor was moving very slowly.

On one hand, she wasn’t in a lot of pain, but Rachele was beginning to get impatient and truth be told, so were the rest of us.  We had all gotten a few hours of interupted sleep the previous night and were quite tired.

That evening, my oldest daughter and I decided to drive to a nearby hotel to get a few hours of sleep, but only after the nurse assured us that Rachele wouldn’t deliver that night.  So, we stopped by a somewhat ramshackle hotel by the beach.  I couldn’t care less that the hotel had seen better days – the room was clean and we soon dropped off to sleep.

I called my husband, who was staying with Rachele at 4:00 to get an update and they had started her on pitocin, and the labor was progressing, but not quickly, so he told us to sleep a few more hours.

At 6 am, he called and told us to hurry over since she was in hard labor and had made lots of progress.  I was so excited, it was a miracle that I managed to find our way back to the hospital.

When we arrived, Rachele was in a lot of pain, but handling it very well.  Before we knew it, she was ready to push and Rachele allowed all of us to stay to help coach her.

At this point, we started taking bets as to when the baby would be born.

I was texting family back home throughout the whole labor process including grandmas, aunts, uncles, cousins and Rachele’s siblings.  They all came in with predictions for the birth including the latest one from my daughter, Ruthie, who predicted the baby would be born at 1:34.  I said that there was no way that the baby would be born that late.

But, I was wrong…

Rachele’s epidural was working well at this point and we watched her contractions come and go and helped coach her as she pushed.  

She pushed very well and was making great progress – the labor nurse said that he was almost there.  But then, the baby was stuck and Rachele was making no further progress no matter how hard she tried.

The doctor came in and examined her and determined that the baby was face up instead of the more normal position of face down.  He discussed the option of using the vacuum, but said that even if it worked, that there would be a lot of tearing and chances are that it wouldn’t work at all.  In addition, they are limited to only three tries with the vacuum, before they are forced to do a c-section.

So, the decision was made to do a c-section.  I must admit that we were all disappointed, except for Rachele, who after 40+ hours of labor and then pushing was ready to give birth any way feasible.

So, an hour later, her dad and I found ourselves waiting outside the OR.  The plan was for my husband to be with her during the surgery since he is better in those kinds of situations than I am.   

I got special permission to wait outside the OR and then would accompany the baby to the nursery.

It was hard waiting and I could hear snatches of conversation between the doctor and nurses along with a few answers from my daughter.

After what seemed like forever, I heard the most beautiful sound of a baby’s cries coming from behind the door.

My heart melted at those sounds and I couldn’t wait until they brought him out.


This is already a long post, so I invite you to join me for ‘Part Two’ when I share baby photos along with some other ‘hiccups’ that happened along the way making my trip to CA lasting a lot longer than I had planned…

Every year, I always look forward to Christmas.  It begins in late October when I start shopping for the perfect gift for those on my list.

I am blessed to have my entire family living within 20 minutes from me (with the exception of my daughter, Rachele, who is in the Navy).  However, it didn’t use to be that way.  My family used to all live in California, therefore, we spent much of the holidays on the road. 

It’s because of this that I am so thankful that they are all nearby now and our holiday celebrations are even more special.

Here is a glimpse of how we spent our time together.

It all begins early in the week with my annual Christmas cookie baking day.  All the old and young kids in the family are invited, ranging from ages 20 on down to 3 years old.

My neice Sofie, my daughter Brittney and granddaughter Lily.

The kids look forward to it every year and so do I, although it is rather a chaotic few hours.

This year, my 4-year old, twin nephews came for the first time.  They really enjoyed cutting out the cookies.  We have a standing rule that the kids can eat one cookie and then we save the rest for eating on Christmas day.

The twins were really helpful until they ate their one cookie at which time, they lost interest and decided to play.  So their dad, my brother Scott, stepped in and helped decorate the others.

We had a large variety of sprinkles and frosting and the kids had fun coming up with creative ways to decorate their cookies.

My nephew Oliver, makes very unique Christmas cookies including his ‘zombie’ gingerbread man.

 A few days later, we opened our gifts on Christmas eve.  It never ceases to amaze me how helpful my kids are with helping me get everything ready just before it is time to open gifts 😉

We had a somewhat traditional Southwestern Christmas dinner of tamales, chips & homemade salsa with Mexican rice.

Gracie was thrilled with her Barnes & Noble gift card.

Christmas Day found us gathered at Double S Farms, where my mother, sister and her family live.

Because our extended family is so large, we draw names each year so that each person give one gift to one person.  

This year, we picked both of the twins which made it especially fun to pick out a gift for them.

They have begun to move past Thomas the Train and onto Disney Cars – so their new ‘Cars’ race track was pretty popular.

While we all give my mother gifts each year, my siblings and I get together each Christmas to give her a gift on behalf of my dad who is no longer with us.  

Over the past years we have given her an apricot tree, perfume and a homemade cookbook.  

This year, we made her an apron with the handprints from all of her grand and great-grandkids.

After the gifts have been opened, we all participate in another Christmas tradition which is a ‘treasure hunt’.

My mother leaves clues around the house and garden, which lead us on a merry hunt.  Both adults and kids get into the fun.

The hunt can lead us to clues hiding in the vegetable garden…

On to a nativity…

To leftover pumpkins…

And even the family dog has a clue tied up in her collar.

Special gifts from my mother to all of us await us at the end of the treasure hunt.

Dinner is simple, but delicious, and usually features lasagna from Costco.  For dessert, are the cookies that the kids made and decorated earlier in the week.

As evening arrives the last and perhaps the most important tradition of our Christmas celebration begins.

The kids dress up as Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.  This year, Lily got to be Mary and my nephew, Oliver was Joseph.  The twins were the shepherds.

While walking through a dark house, carrying candles, Mary and Joseph search for room to rest for the night.  Sadly, no one has room, including the inn keeper.

But, he does have room in his stable, so we all proceed to the ‘stable’ in the backyard.

There is baby Jesus with Mary, Joseph and the shepherds gathered around.

My mother then reads the Christmas story and we all sing ‘Silent Night’.

Both the adults and kids look forward to this tradition, called ‘Las Posadas’ every year.

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and are ready for a happy New Year!


This coming year will bring a new member to our family.  Our daughter, Rachele, is expecting her first child in January.  She is currently stationed at a Navy base in California.

She is being closely monitored by her doctor because her baby is underweight according to the ultrasound, but developmentally, he looks good.

In the meantime, I have my packing list ready because once I get the call that she is in labor, I will be too excited and nervous to remember everything I need to bring.  

It will take us 7 hours to get there and I hope we make before our grandson is born!

For those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I sometimes write about the goings on in my life.  And so I begin the post with fair warning- if you are looking for gardening content – there will be some, but not a lot.

Do you ever look back at your calendar for the past month and wonder where the time went?

I did just that and was pleasantly surprised to see how much went on.  I thought that I’d share with you a small snapshot of the past month in the life of ‘az plant lady’ (me)!

The most exciting event was visiting my daughter in California and being there for her ultrasound when she found out that she was having a little boy.

I am so excited and can’t wait for January to get here so that I can hold him in my arms!

Surf shop in California
While visiting my daughter, who is in the Navy and stationed in California, we stopped by the small beach town of Carpenteria, which is just south of Santa Barbara.  

We visited a couple of nurseries in Carpenteria where I discovered a new flowering perennial introduction and enjoyed a very unique experience at another nursery.

It was fun to stop and watch the surfers.  *Did you know that surfing is a really big deal in California?  My high school had a surf club and I had many friends and family who were surfers.  As for me, I’ve never set foot on a surfboard 😉

Santa Barbara Mission and rose garden.
We stopped off to visit the beautiful mission of Santa Barbara, which was founded in 1786.  I always enjoy visiting the mission, but I must confess that my attention was diverted by the adjoining rose garden that was in full bloom.

I’ll share more about my visit to another special rose garden later this week.

My husband and I both enjoy visiting this area since we spent time there when we attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, which is where we met.

The college has beautiful grounds and I recently shared some photos of our most recent visit there, which you can see here.  

Back home, homecoming at our local high school arrived early this year.  Our daughter, Ruthie had fun getting ready and had a great time!

Earlier in the month, Ruthie took part in the ice-bucket challenge for ALS on behalf of her grandpa who died from this truly horrible disease 3 years ago.

I was so proud of her.

Has your husband ever had a dream of owning a certain car or motorcycle?

Mine has wanted a Harley Davdison motorcycle for over 9 years.  He has stacks of old motorcycle magazines dating back from 2006 that he has kept hidden away in a huge Rubbermaid plastic tub.  

I am married to someone who is so giving and self-sacrificing and it was so nice to see the joy as his dream was finally realized.  

He has been walking around with a smile on his face for weeks now and he looks forward to driving to and from work on his new bike.

Surprisingly, my granddaughter, Lily, has been quite taken with her papa’s new motorcycle and asks to see “the Harley Davidson” when she visits.

It is really kind of funny since her parents aren’t into motorcycles at all.  But, she adores her papa and his new bike.

While at our local Harley Davidson dealer, my husband saw kid tattoos and picked up one for her that had a scorpion on it.

Lily likes to wear little tattoos of Minnie Mouse or other cartoon characters, but I was shocked when she wanted to wear the one her papa bought her with a scorpion on it.

If my granddaughter turns out to be a ‘biker chick’ when she gets older – it will be her papa’s fault 😉

Two weeks ago, we received record-breaking 5 1/2 of rainfall within a few hours time!!!

My husband had to delay going to work in order to sweep water off of the patio to keep our house from flooding.  When he did finally get on the road to get to work, it took 30 minutes to drive 4 miles!

The garden loved the rain and now all the weeds are beginning to come up, so I’ll mix up a batch of my homemade weed killer.  

So what will the coming month bring?

Right now, I’m busy designing landscape for four different areas on a golf course, where they are removing large areas of turf, in favor of a drought tolerant landscape.

My dining room table has been taken over by large sheets of vellum (what I draw my designs on), drafting supplies and the like.

I tend to get involved in creating designs this way and can easily spend an entire day in my own little world.

This month also brings another first for us.  My husband and I are both alumni of Arizona State University and have season tickets this year.

We are so excited and hopefully, our team will do well this year.

Next week, we will be adding a new member to our family.

Meet Polly!

We recently said “goodbye” to our 15 year-old golden retriever and decided to welcome a new dog into our lives.

Although Polly is not ready to come live with us yet, we were able to visit her and her litter mates.

It will be hard to wait a whole week to hold her again.  In the meantime, I’ll stock on doggy toys, puppy food, dig out the baby gates again and be sure to have a lot of pet/floor cleaner on hand 😉


Well, that is a snapshot of the past month and some of what will be happening soon.

Thank you for taking a little time out of your day and allowing me to share a little of my life.

I appreciate it so much!

Have you ever had a ‘substitute’ teacher?  As most of you know, a substitute teacher doesn’t do things the same way our regular teacher does.

A few years ago, I was asked to step in as a ‘substitute’ for my father-in-law’s landscape.

Meticulously pruned desert ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis)
My father-in-law had always been a meticulous gardener and took a lot of pride in his landscape.
Have you ever seen rounder shrubs?
A few years earlier, I had designed the landscape around his new home and tried to convince him to allow his plants to grow into their natural shapes.  But as you can see from the photo above, he didn’t follow my advice.
He eventually took out his backyard grass and replaced it with artificial turf and whenever flowers or leaves would fall on the grass, he would vacuum them up – I’m not kidding.
We would often joke with each other about our very different styles of gardening – especially when he would come over to my house for a visit and see my plants growing “wild and free” as he would say.  
But despite our differences, we shared the same love for plants and the garden.
Unfortunately, his gardening days were numbered and he asked me to come over and help him with the gardening tasks that he could no longer do.
My father-in-law was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in October 2010 and it progressed very rapidly.
So, I became his ‘substitute gardener’ and I was happy to be able to help out so that he could still enjoy the beauty of his garden, even if he could not care for it himself.
In early August of 2011, I lightly pruned back his gold lantana.  At this point, my father-in-law spent most of his time indoors sitting down. But, as I was pruning, I saw him slowly make his way out, with his walker, so he could watch me prune his plants.
At this point, he could no longer talk due to ALS and I’m certain that if he could have spoken, he might have asked me to make the lantana ’rounder’.
After this light pruning, the lantana would grow back to its original size before stopping during winter.  If they had not been pruned, they would have look quite overgrown for my father-in-law’s taste.
Light pruning involves removing 1/3 or less.  The timing of this light pruning is crucial – prune too late and your plants will be extra susceptible to damage from frost.  Don’t prune after early August in zone 9 (July in zone 8) gardens. Pruning in fall should not be done for this very reason. 
Another part of the garden that my father-in-law took a lot of pride in was his flowering annuals.  Every year, he would plant the same red geraniums and white-flowering bacopa in winter.  Once spring rolled around, he would plant red and white vinca. He never deviated by trying out newer colors or varieties.
I found myself taking over this job as well and when I came home and see all there was to do in my neglected garden – I didn’t mind.  It felt so good to be able to control how his garden looked because ALS had taken control of everything else.
My father-in-law died in September 2011, just 11 months after being diagnosed with ALS.  
It’s been almost 3 years since he passed away, but whenever August comes around and I find myself lightly pruning back my gold lantana – I enjoy the memory of one our last moments together in the garden as I pruned his lantana.



This is a story about new beginnings – one for a new cactus and another beginning for my second-oldest daughter, Rachele.

Believe me when I say that both stories are connected in a way.

This cactus, above, is a Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marinatus), which has been happily growing in my front garden. 

What may not be initially obvious is that 11 years ago, I started this cactus from a 2 ft. piece of one (called a ‘cutting’) given to me by a client from their large Mexican Fence Post cactus.

Well, exactly 1 year ago, I repeated the favor for our neighbors.

Look carefully at the photo above and compare it with the first one.  Can you see where we cut off a piece of the cactus?

Our neighbors had recently re-landscaped their front yard and wanted a cactus like ours.  Of course, they knew that they would have to start out with a much smaller one – but they were unprepared for how expensive it would be to buy one at the nursery.

Our cactus had been growing so well, we decided to offer them a piece (cutting) off of our Mexican Fence Post.  So, my husband, daughter and I gathered together to take a cutting from our cactus.

Here is how we did it…

We selected a good-sized length of cactus and while I held onto it, my husband took a pruning saw and started sawing it off at the bottom.

Multiple layers of newspaper and gloves are helpful to use to grab onto cacti with short thorns. For cacti with longer thorns, you can use carpet remnants.

When you cut out a piece of cactus, it will be much heavier then you are expecting – so be prepared.

My husband and daughter wheeled the cactus cutting over to our neighbor’s house using our wheelbarrow.

We then placed the cutting in a dry, shady spot for 2 weeks in order to allow the cut site to ‘callus’ over, which would protect the cacti from rotting when it is replanted.

*Exactly 3 days after helping us with the cactus cutting, my daughter, Rachele, left for the Navy and basic training.  It was a sad goodbye for us, but a new beginning for her.

After 2 weeks had passed, the new cactus was planted in its new location with a wooden stake for support.

No water was applied for the first month after planting, in order to make sure that the entire cut end had callused over.

One month after planting, the cactus was watered deeply, monthly, until November.

*Whenever I looked at the newly-planted cactus, thoughts of my daughter and how she was doing in her new Navy life always crossed my mind.

One year later, the new cutting is doing so well and has even grown two new sections.

You can see the parent cactus in the background.

Now, I may not be located as closely to my daughter as these two cacti, but like the new cactus, she is growing and doing so well in her new career with the Navy.  We are so proud of her!

You can read more about Rachele’s adventures, here.

Propagating cactus via cuttings can be done with many species of cacti.

But there are some guidelines to follow for success:

1. Propagate cactus during the warm season, when the threat of frost is over.

2. Make the cut at the joint where the segment attaches to the parent plant.  For prickly pear cacti, you can cut a segment that consists of 1 – 3 pads.

3. Place the new cutting in a dry, shady spot for 2 weeks to allow the cut site to ‘callus’, which protects the cacti from rot when it is replanted.

4. Plant your new cactus in full sun with well-drained soil.

5. Don’t water for a month after planting.  Then water deeply, monthly until fall.

5. Provide temporary shade for the first summer.  You can do this by placing a plastic patio chair over the top or using shade cloth.

Soon, you will begin to see new growth on your cactus.

I love Christmas…

Not just the day itself and celebrating our Savior’s birth, but I love all the preparations and celebrations that occur this time of year.

At this point, I can usually take a deep breath and sit back and enjoy the coming days.  Gifts are wrapped, the house is somewhat clean and desserts have been made.

If you haven’t realized this before – I love making desserts.  If there is a birthday to be celebrated, I am often asked to bring the cake.  Of course, the holidays bring a whole other slate of desserts – pumpkin bread, cinnamon sugar monkey bread, snickerdoodles, toffee bars AND Christmas sugar cookies.

Every year, I invite my nieces and nephews over to join my kids and I in making Christmas sugar cookies.

This year was extra special because my granddaughter, Lily, joined us for the first time.

Making sugar cookies is always a bit messy.  However, when you mix in a bunch of young kids, the mess is amplified.

My son Kai, and nephew Oliver, had fun choosing their favorite cookie cutters.

Lily was excited to see that there was a snowman cookie cutter.  After watching “Frosty the Snowman” for the first time this year, she is obsessed with snowmen.

Ready for the oven.

My nephew Finley and daughter Ruthie, got to work with frosting their cookies.

Lily decided to use a fork to spread the frosting with.

You really shouldn’t wear black if you are working near flour 😉

Oliver was determined to put as many sprinkles as his cookie would hold.

Finley made a gingerbread man wearing shorts.

I remember doing this when my two oldest daughters were young.  Now they are grown, but it was so nice to have my granddaughter take part in our annual tradition.

We have a rule that the kids each get to pick one cookie to eat and the rest will be saved until Christmas Day when we all gather together.

It is fun to see the kids show off their finished cookies to their parents on Christmas.

After the cookies were finished, I thought that we would try something new that I had seen on Pinterest.

These are sugar cones that have been frosted and sprinkles added to make miniature Christmas trees.

We used buttercream frosting on the cones.

Then the kids got to decide which sprinkles they wanted to ‘decorate’ their trees with.

It is so much fun to see my oldest daughter all grown up and making desserts with her daughter 🙂

Finley’s tree is finished with a mini-chocolate chip as the start on top.

Oliver had to make sure that the frosting tasted good.

I think that the kids really enjoyed making the sugar cone Christmas trees.

You could use them for decoration or eat them.  The kids decided to eat theirs.

My husband (who has a huge sweet tooth) filled the inside of his cone with frosting and then frosted the outside before eating it.

Making Christmas cookies is fun, but awfully messy.  I am glad that I used paper plates, bowls and plastic knives.

After a busy morning of making cookies, Lily decided to take a little rest next to her aunt Gracie.


The sugar cookie recipe that I use makes soft cookies and I am often asked for the recipe. 

 It starts with a sugar cookie mix (I use Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie Mix).  

4 oz. softened cream cheese
17 oz. bag sugar cookie mix
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together and bake following the directions on the sugar cookie mix package.

You’ll love these cookies!

For the frosting, I used royal icing.
This is the view today from my kitchen window.

My flowering shrubs normally reach above my wall.  But, given the fact that it has been raining non-stop for the past 20 hours, that is certainly understandable.

While I normally enjoy rainy days, I am feeling a bit blue today.

Today is my daughter, Rachele’s 22nd birthday and the first one that we are spending apart.  

It seems like just yesterday that I was driving her to her first day of preschool.

Rachele was such a petite, little girl with a little giggle and curly hair.  But she was always a tomboy through and through.

She loved to dress up as a police officer.

Now Rachele is a proud member of the Navy.

While I am missing her especially on her birthday, I am so proud of her and am thankful that she loves what she is doing.

That is all I ultimately want for all my children – to spread their wings and fly. 

Even if it takes them far from home….

“A walk down a garden path is such a delight that your feet hardly seem to touch the ground.”

*My granddaughter just turned 2 and I just had to share this photo with you taken at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve.  It was taken by my sister who is a very talented photographer.