July 29, 2015

arizona turquoise is in the shop!

Kingman Turquoise earrings
Earlier this year, I made a trip back to Kingman to buy more Turquoise beads. I have been busy making many pieces with it, and I am excited to share them with you! I'm partway through photographing and listing the completed pieces in my Etsy shop. Thanks to a good reception to the early small batch of Turquoise jewelry, my shop was almost out of it. A lot more Kingman Turquoise jewelry is still coming, including some in smaller smooth chips that have lots of blue color, more of the unique New Boulder variety, and pieces made with some large chips in the intensely-hued High Blue variety (which will be very different). This Turquoise is stabilized as most Turquoise is, but the colors are always natural, never dyed. I love that I can go select and buy these beads in person, directly from the company that mines and processes it from the Kingman deposit at Mineral Park Mine. Kingman Turquoise is known to be some of the best and most beautiful in North America. I can see why; once I discovered it, I became very enthusiastic about creating jewelry with Turquoise. Now I sort of feel like a real southwesterner, making jewelry with local Arizona Turquoise!

I have also been making and listing a few more pieces with the rare and beautiful Larimar, and a few other assorted stones. I seem to have a blue theme going in my shop.

Here are some examples of what I have recently listed. Be sure to see my whole shop for everything that is currently available, and check back for more over the next few weeks!

Kingman Turquoise earrings (New Boulder, as is top photo)
Kingman Turquoise earrings (New Boulder)
Kingman Turquoise necklace
Kingman Turquoise necklace (High Blue)
Kingman Turquoise necklace (New Boulder)

July 10, 2015

summer road trip

Colorado River near Lee's Ferry
Last week I went on a 3-day summer road trip with my parents and my boys, to enjoy more of God's creation in our state. It was mostly hot, so we didn't do a huge amount of walking around, but it felt great to get away from daily life and have an adventure together. Definitely worth it to see some beautiful new scenery! We drove up through Flagstaff, along the edge of the Navajo Reservation, by the Vermilion Cliffs, to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and then came back the same way. Before leaving, I broke out my big DSLR camera and finally cleaned the spots and lint off the sensor, and was glad I brought it along! It does a much better job with distant scenery than my phone (I happily took hundreds of photos on my phone while in the car, but all the photos here were taken with my Canon 40D).

My kids and I hadn't been to Flagstaff yet, so it was all new to us from there on. (oh, the wonderful scent of the pine trees as we climbed in elevation and neared Flagstaff!) We got a much closer look at the San Francisco Peaks, which we can see in the far distance from our back yard at home in Prescott. Then we went through the edge of the Painted Desert, which had some interesting rock layers, but seemed quite desolate. Eventually we started noticing an attractive red rock ridge running parallel to the highway, which turned into the Echo Cliffs as we went north. Very scenic. But they were to be outdone by the stunning Vermilion Cliffs, which we drove next to for many miles after crossing the Colorado River. Eventually we climbed into the pine trees again and spent the first night at Jacob Lake in the pine trees.

The next morning we drove to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. We had been told that the north rim has more vibrant color because some of the ridges are fairly close (some are side branch canyons), compared to when visiting the south rim. So we were a bit disappointed to discover that right then the air was so hazy (either from humidity of monsoon season, or smoke of California fires) it looked about the same as when we visited the south rim last year. That is, until we drove out to Point Imperial before leaving the park. At almost 9000 feet, Point Imperial is the highest spot along the Grand Canyon rim. This allows for an incredible view looking down over the beginning of the Grand Canyon! Suddenly each of us had that "wow moment" we had been waiting for. Definitely a not-to-be-missed spot while visiting the north rim. My photos don't do the experience justice at all.

On our way back, I loved seeing the Vermilion Cliffs again, in different light and from a different direction. I feel a little guilty saying this, but some of us may have liked the Vermilion Cliffs better than the Grand Canyon. We spent the second night at Marble Canyon at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs. That evening we took a short drive down to Lee's Ferry at the Colorado River, on a road surrounded on all sides by the fascinating red rocks that are the eastern end of the Vermilion Cliffs. We also experienced a powerful lightning storm there that evening (complete with a torrential downpour). The next morning before heading home, we drove down there again, that time without a storm looming.

In addition to the vast and beautiful scenery, we saw different types of lizards, different types of flowers, buffalo, a beach, a tiny fire started by lightning, and people leaving on a raft trip toward the Grand Canyon.

Here are just a few of the photos I took! Remember while reading my blog, you can click a photo to view it larger.

Echo Cliffs (or maybe here they are the Echo Peaks)

approaching Vermilion Cliffs (you'd never know the Colorado River is there!)

buffalo in meadow on road to Grand Canyon north rim

Grand Canyon, north rim (from Bright Angel Trail)

view from Point Imperial, Grand Canyon (looking south-southwest)

view from Point Imperial, Grand Canyon (looking south)

view from Point Imperial, Grand Canyon (looking southeast)

Looking across to the Vermilion Cliffs from a viewpoint along highway

Vermilion Cliffs

storm forming over the Echo Cliffs while we were at Marble Canyon

east end of Vermilion Cliffs (my younger son checking out a rock)

east end of Vermilion Cliffs (along the road down to Lee's Ferry)

Colorado River near Lee's Ferry

Colorado River near Lee's Ferry (yes, that's a beach! we were surprised!)

Colorado River near Lee's Ferry

April 30, 2015

so thankful today

blossoms, earlier this spring
It's been a while since I wrote a post here. My family is going through some big changes and stresses due to divorce (which is still in progress). I finally got things set up the way I want on one of my kids' computers and wanted to get back into posting!

Today I was inspired by another blogger to jump back into posting starting with a Thankful post. I really have a lot to be thankful for, I'm sure this list is far from complete.

What I'm thankful for right now:

- God
- My boys
- Family
- Beautiful nature all around me
- My boys' school
- Being able to continue living in the same home
- A vehicle I like to drive (it may be nearly 10 years old, but I still love it!)
- Plenty of cheerful sunshine
- Food in the house
- Caring people, helpful people (even if it's their job, I've been blessed by so many people lately who make things a better experience than they could be! Thank You to everyone who does their job cheerfully and with an attitude that makes people feel taken care of.)
- Good music
- Quail visiting my backyard 
- Being able to watch shows on the DVR when I eat lunch by myself
- Utilities, clean water (sometimes it's the basic things; I'm trying not to take them for granted)
- Cashew Clusters from Costco (sometimes it's the little things)
- The opportunity to work from home (planning to work harder at that in the future!)
- Internet to connect to the world
- Books
- Being able to take photos
- My bed when I need rest at night
- Quiet, peaceful moments
- Loving where I live

More things I've been thankful for lately:

impromptu Bible Study at the lake on the way home from school, courtesy of my older son

Willow Lake is just a few minutes from our house

Willow Lake, the highest we've seen the water (no old water lines showing!)

at sunset, looking east across the grasslands on the way to Chino Valley

a vibrant sunset seen from our house

December 15, 2014

Thanksgiving across the deserts

Over Thanksgiving break, we traveled to Borrego Springs, CA. (Some relatives live there, and others also traveled to gather there.) On our travels we saw a lot of different land, much of which none of us had seen before. We dropped down into the lower land of Arizona (part of the Sonoran Desert), crossed the Colorado River, drove past rough rocky hills and sand dunes (so many people at the dunes for off-road recreation!), through the Imperial Valley (which with it's heavily-irrigated agriculture, smelled like moldy wet dirt), and finally arrived in the Anza-Borrego Desert. On our way back home, we went by the Salton Sea and made a quick stop at the General Patton Museum. The Anza-Borrego Desert, which is a low desert east of San Diego, holds various interesting things to visit such as Palm Canyon (a true natural desert oasis), The Slot (a deep and narrow wash), and we spent the better part of one day just driving on unpaved roads to see the impressive quantity of metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda that are installed all over the desert. My favorites of course were the horses, the kids liked the dinosaurs, and there were also elephants, huge eagles, and more.

This was the longest trip (in duration and distance) we had been on since moving to Prescott, AZ. While the trip was good and I enjoyed the company of relatives, I have to say there really is no place like home. By the time we drove around Granite Mountain (which we can see from our neighborhood), it felt like we had been gone forever and I was so happy to be back home.

Arizona - I like these small mountain ranges in the lowlands

Imperial (AKA Algodones) Sand Dunes, California

assorted cactus - Anza-Borrego Desert, California

afternoon in Anza-Borrego Desert (haze is stirred-up dust in the valley)

Breceda metal horse sculptures

back home in time to see our willow turn glowing gold

November 10, 2014

books: reading to my boys

My boys still like to have me read to them in the evening, and I still enjoy it. I'm sure someday they will decide they are "too old" for that, but recent studies support reading to even these older kids (they are 11 and 13), so I'm going to make the most of it! Here is an update of the books we have enjoyed since my last post on books. (yes, it has been a while, so the list is long!)

Through Forest and Stream by Duane Yarnell: Outdoor adventures of young men at a camp in the mountains competing in a contest. Another great vintage book. Two thumbs up, and it has a fun ending!

The Island Stallion by Walter Farley: I got the kids to let me try this book from the Black Stallion series (I still have the entire series in paperback from my childhood). Told them they'd like it, with all the adventure/exploration of the island. They did. Then we read The Island Stallion's Fury, which takes place back on the island, but was more violent than I remembered and honestly we could have stopped at the first Island Stallion book.

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois: Andrew had read this in fifth grade. He said we'd like it, and we did. The journey and all the quirky things he discovered on the island were fun to read about. Since then, Steven read it in school for sixth grade this fall.

Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare: Steven read this in fourth grade. He said we'd like it, and we did. Great outdoor adventure/survival story about a boy who is left to fend for himself at the cabin he built with his dad, while his dad travels to bring the rest of their family to their new home. He is helped by a native American boy and his family. Another two thumbs up.

Dive trilogy by Gordon Korman: Got the middle book so we could complete this (we had read #1 a while back). Overall okay story (especially liked the historical connection the teens discovered for a man they had met). I have to admit by the end of the trilogy, more than one of us had nightmares about being underwater.

Everest trilogy by Gordon Korman: Definitely our favorite of the three Gordon Korman trilogies we've read. Follows a group of teens (and all their drama) through a contest to be on an Everest team, and their eventual climb on Everest. Everest is brutal, and this is a great way to experience the adventure without the risk.

Fury Stallion of Broken Wheel Ranch by Albert G. Miller: A classic horse book I hadn't read as a kid. I was glad to read it now, it was a good story about a boy, a wild horse, and a good-hearted rancher. A great read. I discovered there are sequels, I might try to hunt those down.

Cryptid Hunters and Tentacles by Roland Smith: I had picked these up at a garage sale before we moved to Arizona, but we were a bit intimidated by their length (300+ pages each). Good modern youth adventure/action/mystery books that didn't feel as long as they were, they actually read at a good pace. I plan to eventually get the other sequels, trying to decide if we want to also pursue the other series by this author that will tie into the last book.

Life Behind the Wall trilogy by Robert Elmer: Picked this up at a Christian bookstore this summer, just read it this fall (finished last week). I like that this trilogy is published in one huge paperback. Historical fiction about teens living in Berlin at different times in history; starting just before the Berlin Wall went up, and finishing with it coming down. I admit at times it was a bit depressing to read how the people were so deprived and oppressed, knowing this stuff really happened, but it was overall a good read. The teens' determination to act against the wrongs is inspiring, and it is very satisfying how the early stories all come together in the final one.