Moving Right Along

Bill and I worked Thanksgiving Day, and oh what a day of excitement it turned out to be…

We opened the pay booth at 8:00 A.M. and all was going well until about 10:00 A.M. when I took a phone call from a desperate father telling me that his son had an accident on his mountain bike out on one of our 20 miles of trails here at San Tan Mountain Regional Park.

In training we learned how to handle emergencies and the very first thing we have to do is find out exactly which trail the accident occurred on and try to pinpoint the exact location on that trail. Of course, when your child or loved one is hurt, the person you are talking to on the phone doesn’t always know all the information you need to locate them and send help. We can’t just call 911 and tell them to go find someone within the park that is over 10,000 acres in size and hope they get lucky enough to come upon the injured person. No, you have to get a phone number of a person that is at the accident scene, the name of the injured person, and if they happen to know what trail they are on, what landmarks might be within sight. Most of the trails loop around and run into other trails so it is very important to try to find an exact location so emergency staff can find them as quickly as possible…

While I was trying to get the needed information from the father, another park host was calling 911 to get them here as quickly as possible. The father told me his son hit a rock and flew over the handlebars head first. The boy was not wearing a helmet so of course he suffered head injuries, and he was unresponsive…

As I was talking to the father, letting him know 911 had been called and they were on the way, a helicopter from Maricopa County Sheriff’s office arrived. I captured this picture after the helicopter rescued the injured boy and was flying him to a transport helicopter.

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Within minutes of the Sheriff’s helicopter arriving, a second helicopter arrived and landed in a field just outside the San Tan parking lot. The Sheriff’s helicopter hovered over the second helicopter, and transferred the patient to the second helicopter that flew the patient to the hospital. If you look closely in the picture below you can see the second (yellow) helicopter just under the Sheriff’s helicopter…

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Of course the Fire and Rescue trucks arrived on the scene as well and helped keep traffic stopped while the yellow helicopter was preparing the patient and getting ready to take off.

Unbelievable how some people just can’t look from a distance and not get in the way of the emergency responders… But people were trying to get out of their cars and trying to get right up by the helicopter’s to take pictures… The pictures I took were from the enclosed area where our motorhome is parked… well out-of-the-way of any emergency responders…

Later that day we learned that while the boy had a concussion, and would be laid up for a while, he would eventually make a full recovery.

We moved right along to finish our Thanksgiving Day shift, then enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Day meal with some of our fellow park hosts, Robert and Toni, then ended our Thanksgiving Day watching the most beautiful sunset from our patio..

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and gave thanks for the many blessings in our lives…

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Now it’s time to move right along and focus on enjoying this beautiful Christmas Season… Just a few finishing touches on our tiny home and we are all set.. After all…, Mr. and Mrs. Christmas live here…

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This is Bill’s Mr. Christmas hat on his mirror

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and this is my Mrs. Christmas hat on my mirror…

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A few splashes of red in the flowerbed..

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a few more lights placed around the motorhome

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and I say we are all set to move right along with Christmas.. 🙂

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Stay Tuned!

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Tis The Season

For cooking comfort food…

Bill and I are spending Thanksgiving with one of the other Park Host couples, Robert and Toni, here at San Tan Mountain Park. We are working the pay booth on Thanksgiving, and by the time we get off, it will be too late to go to our friends, Holly and Chuck’s house as we have in years past… It is a 90 minute drive from the park to Shantel’s house to pick her up, and then at least another 90 minute drive to get to Holly and Chuck’s, and we will be working the pay booth on Friday as well.

Robert is 78 and Toni is 76, they don’t have any family here, and they will be working Thanksgiving Day as well, so we all decided we would order our Thanksgiving to go and share the meal together right here in the Nature Center. Both Bill and I will miss spending Thanksgiving with our family and friends, but we are looking forward to spending the holiday with our new friends Robert and Toni as well.

Since I won’t be cooking any of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, and I love to cook and entertain, I decided to make homemade goulash and invite one of the other park host couples, Terry and Evelyn, over for dinner last night. Of course when you live in a tiny space (our motorhome has approx. 300 square feet of livable space) you have to get creative when you plan to cook and entertain. Keep in mind I only have one large Dutch oven pot, one sauce pan and three frying pans. But I do have a crockpot and a roasting oven…

So early that morning, I diced and chopped all the ingredients and browned the meat for the goulash, and put it all in the crockpot. Then, just before it was time for our guests to arrive, I cooked the pasta in the Dutch oven keeping it separate from the sauce so everyone could add as much pasta and sauce as they wanted when they served themselves.

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I had the table set well in advance of our guests arriving complete with a battery operated candle for mood lighting…

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Of course you can’t have goulash without some multi-grain crusty bread..

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And YUMMERS!!! Dinner in our tiny space was a big hit!! 🙂

Today, still in the mood for cooking comfort foods…, I made twice baked stuffed acorn squash for our dinner tonight. I cleaned out the squash and baked it until the inside was tender enough to scoop out. Then I cooked long grain and wild rice and mixed that with a browned ground turkey, onion, garlic, and seasoning mixture I prepared, and added in the scooped out squash with some grated cheese and filled the hollowed out squash shells with the mixture and topped each with some grated Italian cheese. It’s all ready to pop in my roasting oven for dinner tonight. Bill and I will be dining alone tonight… but that’s a good thing too because we will have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow… 🙂

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I even roasted the acorn squash seeds. Nothing like freshly roasted seeds… Bill said he never had them before so I told him to “prepare to be amazed…” Ha! He tasted them and said he loves them and thinks they are better than pumpkin seeds…

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Yes, I love the holiday season… and I love to cook… and for me, “tis the season for cooking comfort foods…!!!

Wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving from our tiny home to yours…I’m grateful and thankful that all of you are part of my life.

Stay Tuned!

 

No Room For A Christmas Tree

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Christmas Season! I love everything about Christmas. I love decorating our home, all the beautiful Christmas music, cooking wonderful foods, and spending quality time with family and friends as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

This being our very first year living in our motorhome as full-time RVers, I knew I was not going to have room for anything but a tiny, tiny, Christmas Tree that wouldn’t allow me to decorate it with anything but tiny little ornaments, and that wasn’t  what I wanted to do… So I developed a plan when we first moved out of our home as I was making decisions about what I would keep and what I would sell or give away…. Everything I decided to keep had to serve multiple purposes…

I have a beautiful rustic basket that I always loved. I decided to keep that and make it my all occasion (Christmas, Easter, Halloween etc), Holiday decorating center piece. So for our first Christmas in our motorhome, I decorated my all occasion basket with beautiful greenery, candy canes, shinny ornaments, little battery operated lights that I can set to blink off and on, make fade in and out of color, or just leave on showing their solid colors…  Of course, I also included my beautiful rustic angel my dear friend, Megs, gave my a few years back… I placed the basket on a piece of shimmering gold material, and tied bows on both handles of the basket with the same shimmering material. The Christmas basket sits on the dashboard of our motorhome which is very wide and the perfect spot to display our Christmas basket in front of our living room picture window….

I think my Christmas basket turned out just beautiful… what do you think?

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Keeping with the gold shimmer material theme, I placed a piece of it on the counter in the dining room, along with one special ornament that hangs on a single ornament hanger stand. I made hearts from candy canes, filled a little dish with gold Christmas ornaments, and grouped my battery operated candles in the corner. The candles come on at about 5:00 p.m. and stay on for 6 hours.  Combined with the Christmas lights in the Christmas basket, they provide just the right amount of Christmas mood lighting…

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I also went just outside our complex and clipped a few branches of greenery from a bush growing just outside the compound fence. I added that to a bowl of oranges, candy canes and Christmas ornaments, and set that on the shelf  behind the sofa…

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Of course I needed to have something to welcome our guests when they come to our front door… and I couldn’t hang a wreath from that door so I found these adorable little gel window stickers that will welcome family and friends with a  cheerful little Merry Christmas wish…!

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And that is how I decorated for Christmas in our motorhome where there is “no room for a Christmas Tree!!!” 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

 

San Tan Graves

One of the biggest attractions at San Tan is Goldmine Mountain, which composes the majority of the north end of the Park and extends up to 2,500 feet in elevation. This mountain not only contains gold, silver, copper, iron and turquoise but a “Rich” history as well.  Heavy mining activity took place between the late 1800’s and 1980, where prospectors  were hoping to strike it big. During that time, there were 55 claims made on goldmine Mountain alone. Today the vast majority of the mining sites have been filled in, for safety concerns and only 5 active claims remain. Arizona Game and fish partnered with the Arizona State Mine inspector to fill in these potentially dangerous mines as well as to protect abandoned mines housing native wildlife. The “Bat Cave” is a mine that extends roughly 30 feet back and houses a small population of local and migratory bats as well as rattlesnakes and other creatures brave enough to venture into the dark. It has been sealed off at the front by steel bars to protect both the animals and humans who visit the area. The “Bat Cave Hike” is a popular ranger led hike which guides guests to the secret location of the cave and promotes responsible interactions with fragile species. This mountain seems to be a popular destination because along the way to the top of the mountain you can see amazing views, prolific wildlife, mines, and even the grave sites of Mansel Carter and Marion Kennedy (two miners who were associated with the Park’s mining history).

Man of the Mountain:

Many visitors come to the Park in search of the “Man of the Mountain, ” a unique and iconic legend imbedded in the local history. Mansel Carter was his name, and he was a simple man whose passion warmed the hearts of both the people and wildlife that surrounded him. His story starts in 1902 near Quaker City, Ohio and takes him all over the U.S. working odd jobs as a mechanic, a pilot, a photographer, a sheep herder, and even a logger. After being drafted into the Army during World War 2, he finally decided to settle down in Gilbert, Arizona to manage a photography business in 1941. Here he became good friends with a man named Marion Kennedy, who was a Cherokee Indian from Oklahoma who delivered ice to Mansel’s shop. They would go on weekend mining adventures together and enjoyed it so much they decided to move to the Goldmine Mountains in 1948 to look for gold. For their first year on the mountain, the two lived underneath the shelter from a palo verde tree. They never struck it rich but between what they did find and a small pension Mansel received from the Army, they made enough to get by. As time went on Marion began to lose his eyesight, but still wanted to help in the mining adventures. Marion trusted Mansel so much that he would hold the chisel while Mansel would drive it into the rocks, not being able to see what was going on. His eyesight became too poor to be wandering blindly in the desert, so Mansel created a network of ropes that would help guide Marion around their campsite. In later years Marion Kennedy’s health slowly declined and he eventually passed away in 1960 from cancer and other complications.

Even after Marion had passed, Mansel remained on the mountain and soon became a local celebrity. Travelers would visit him from far and wide to hear his stories, try his famous biscuits or buy one of his famous “Cactus Curios” wooden carvings. Visitors and animals alike were captivated by his charm and compassion. Mansel kept log books filled with the signatures of all the people who came to see the “Man of the Mountain.” The animals in the area trusted him; it was a common sight to see him with his pet quail, Maude, following him around the desert or perched on his shoulder.

In 1987 Mansel Carter passed away and was buried next to his friend, Marion Kennedy, on Goldmine Mountain. The grave sites of these extraordinary men can be seen on the Goldmine trail 1/4 mile south of the Goldmine trailhead in San Tan Mountain Regional Park.

Bill and I spent the morning with our Park Supervisor at the Goldmine Mountain entrance today. This entrance to our park does not have a pay booth, but uses an Iron Ranger payment system. In past years there was little interaction with park staff at this entrance to the park simply because there was not enough staff to go around…. However, now that the park has four Park Hosts, we rotate responsibility for going to the Goldmine entrance. We spend four hours per shift, three days a week, interacting with the visitors, making sure they know how to use the Iron Ranger (to avoid receiving a failure to pay ticket), answer any questions they may have and are there to welcome them in and help educate them on safety concerns… We bring water and a first-aid kit with us just in case anyone is in need… but mainly we are there to provide great customer service to the folks that utilize the Goldmine entrance of our park.

Naturally, this being our first time at the Goldmine entrance… Bill and I were given the opportunity to visit the graves of Mansel and Marion. I took the opportunity to capture these pictures of the gravesites while I was there.

This is the grave of Marion Kennedy.

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And this is the grave of Mansel Carter

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This is a picture of the enclosed gravesites of both men, best friends, buried side by side…

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Being the mother of a blind adult child, this story so touched my heart when I learned the lengths Mensel went to, way back then, to help his friend Marion, get around their campsite, and still help with the mining adventure… with ropes after he lost his eyesight to help him feel his way through… Now that’s what real friendship is all about in my opinion. Finding ways to help other’s, no matter what hurdles get in the way…

What I know for sure is “if there is a will… there is ALWAYS a way…,” if we just look for it, accept one another as we are…, and simply show love, and simple kindness to one another… If we would ALL do that, I know for sure, this world can and will be a much better place…

Stay Tuned!

 

A Time To Listen…

I went to visit my mother today and found her sitting alone in her wheelchair at the end of the hall near the nurses station. When I approached her, and bent down to give her a hug, she grabbed me and held onto my neck and said “oh Cindy, you got here just in time.” I asked her what I was just in time for and she said “they are going to kill all of us and we have to wait here and not move.” I asked her who was going to kill them and she said “we are all going to get killed right now and there is nothing we can do but sit here and wait.” With her dementia, this was Very real to her and she was VERY, VERY, upset. She said if she thought I was out there in the middle of all that she would have been even more scared than she already was.  I told her everything was going to be fine and told her that I was going to take her back to her room so we could visit.

When I got mom to her room she said ” you just don’t know what all is going on around here and it’s not safe for anyone to be here.” I noticed her roommates TV was on and the roommate was not in the room.  That TV is on every time I visit my mother and my mother has told me that the roommate leaves it on all day and night. As I sat there trying to calm my mother down, I heard the news broadcasting events of the attacks in Paris, and realized that my mother must have been listening to that news over the past couple days and translated that to the care center where she lives is being attacked and people are being killed there… So I asked the nurse if we could turn the TV off, which she did, and the nurse agreed that my mother might be hearing the news over and over, and with her dementia, she thinks it is all happening at the care center in real-time…

From the doorway of my mother’s room, she can see across the hall, and out the window of the resident across the hall from her. Outside that window is a storage lot for the care center. Beyond that, is a two-story apartment building, and my mother can see the upper floor balcony of that apartment building, and people that live in the apartments walking back and forth on that balcony as they come and go. I can clearly see that the building is an apartment, and the people walking on the balcony live there… However, my mother is convinced that the people on the balcony are soldiers, and they are watching the care center residents, and are ready to kill them at any moment… She even told me today that yesterday they had Jesus hanging on a big cross out there in the lot all day long. With tears in her eyes, she said “I just think that is awful, don’t you?” What could I say? There is no reasoning with my mother now. She is convinced that what she thinks she sees is real now, and any attempt to try to explain that what she thinks she sees, in reality just isn’t, just upsets her even more. So all I can do is listen to her and try to calm her as best as I can…

Today, in my attempt to calm her, I said “mom, when you get scared, or anxious, you know you can always just say your prayers and focus on that to help you calm down.” She said “I do, every morning, when I wake up, I look at the picture of Jesus on my wall and say, now listen, today has to be a good day because I can’t stand all this commotion so if you help me I’ll help you.” OMG, I can just hear my mother saying that to Jesus… and I’m sure he smiles and just listens

Stay Tuned!

Just One of Those Day’s

In addition to collecting the entry fee when Bill and I work the pay booth at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, we also always ask each customer if they would like a trail map of the park. With 10,000 acres, and just over 18,000 miles of pristine trails that allow hikers, bikers and horseback riders to explore the beauty of the lower Sonoran Desert, it is easy for someone to get lost if they are not familiar with the park. So a map is a must if you are new to the area. This also gives us an opportunity to remind and/or educate people that are going out to enjoy a day in the park about what they need to be careful of out there… which is always “yourself”.  

No, really, did you know that of the estimated 73 million people that go hiking annually, the number one cause of injury and death is when people go off the trail? Going off trail increases your chance of slipping, spraining or breaking something, and falling. Not to mention, it’s the best way to get lost. In the desert, the very climate people come to enjoy can prove to be lethal. Dehydration and heat exhaustion can BOTH lead to poor judgment, which are possibly the most common factors of desert fatalities.

A Golden Rule of any hiker/biker/rider is: Half way through your water = half way through your hike/ride.

Bill and I are learning so much about our beautiful desert. As Park Hosts, we are required to take classes that teach us how to teach other’s how to be safe when enjoying all our beautiful deserts have to offer. One of the first things we were trained on was that “The trails and mountains will always be here, you may not be! There is no animal that is specifically adapted to eat humans. We are scary, loud, noisy and big! As a general rule of Mother Nature, carnivores do not eat carnivores. (You don’t taste very good!) There are plenty of easier to catch and tastier herbivores out there for a carnivore to eat.

If you are LUCKY enough to see an animal like a bobcat or mountain lion, just as with any wildlife, do not approach it or feed it. Basic avoidance of any cat includes, not crouching or appearing smaller than they are, and not running or moving frantically. (Think of how you play with a house cat to grab their attention) Many people fear what’s going to get them in the desert. Unfortunately, by far, its people’s own behavior, poor planning, and poor judgment, that lead to the most injuries and fatalities in the desert.”

All that said is why we offer maps to every customer and use every opportunity we get to remind and/or educate them before they go out on their own in the desert…

San Tan Mountain Regional Park is the third busiest park within the Maricopa County Park System. So of course, we go through many, many park maps… so many, that we print off 100 maps everyday at the beginning of each shift. When printed properly… they look like this…on a 8×10 paper…Hold that thought… 🙂

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Saturday Bill and I worked the booth here at San Tan. It was going to be a VERY busy day, because we had Eagle Scouts coming in to work on a desert planting project to earn one of their badges. In addition, our Ranger, was hosting two Archery classes which always brings in a large crowd of people… (You can earn an archery certificate here for just the $6.00 entry fee into the park.  That would cost you at least $100.00 on the outside…) so imagine how many people that draws every month…

Now back to the maps.. Bill and I arrived at the booth about 40 minutes before our scheduled shift so Bill could walk the parking lot to make sure people that came in prior to the booth opening used the Iron Ranger to pay the $6.00 fee. If they don’t have the Iron Ranger envelope receipt or an annual pass receipt showing on their dashboard…, they get a failure to pay ticket… While Bill was walking the parking lot looking for failure to pay vehicles, I was in the pay booth getting set up to open for the day. So I naturally pulled up the printable forms and started printing off 100 park maps…

However, what I failed to notice before I hit the print button… was that I forgot to change the printer from the little receipt printer to the much larger office copier printer… NOT GOOD!! Not Good at ALL!!!

No, all of a sudden I had 100 tiny maps printing out on the receipt printer that prints out like any store receipt you’ve ever received much like this…

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OMG!!! You can just imagine the look on my face when I realized my mistake, and tried to cancel the print job, but it would not stop!! I clicked on the cancel print job over and over but it kept printing until the entire receipt roll, that had just been replaced, ran out… Now I’m trying to scoop up what seemed like miles of receipt paper, with little tiny maps printed on it, as it is now falling over the counter and onto the floor.. All I could think of was any ” I love Lucy” movie and all I could do was LAUGH!!

No one is in the booth with me so I had no one to help me figure out how to get the damn print job to stop… And now I have customers at the pay window so I had to take care of them. So I put a new roll of receipt paper in the printer thinking the print job had to have completed. I mean how many miles of receipt paper can 100 maps take up? ..

Just take my word for it…, it takes almost two rolls of receipt paper to print 100 tiny little maps… I had two trash cans and one recycle can FULL of receipt paper… Now, this park is all about conserving, conserving, conserving… So this is  NOT LOOKING GOOD for me wasting all this paper….

Finally, our neighbors, and fellow park hosts, arrived, and Evelyn was able to get the print job canceled so I could print receipts for customers as they paid their entry fee…  THANK YOU Evelyn… You were my hero of the day…! 🙂

But today is Sunday, and Bill and I went to Mass, where we prayed for Paris, and the victims of that horrible tragedy, and for peace on earth.

As I’m writing this blog post, it is raining here at San Tan, but I looked out our window and saw this beautiful rainbow that reminds me that we always have HOPE for BETTER day’s..

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Stay Tuned!

 

 

Creature Comforts

Now that Bill and I are all settled in at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, and loving every minute of our new lifestyle as full-time RVer’s… I wanted to start working on adding a few “creature” comforts to our patio area. With the beautiful winter weather we enjoy in Arizona, which is why we want to always spend our winters here, we want to take advantage of every minute we can get outside…

After all, just look at the views we have from our park host site.

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From every angle, all around our host site, we enjoy these views… And, at night, it is even more beautiful as the lights of the San Tan Valley try to compete with the beautiful desert sky… It’s magical…

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Our new neighbors, Evelyn and Terry, one of three other park host couples here at San Tan, just arrived last week. What a fun couple they are. All I can say is it is already shaping up to be a really fun-filled winter season here at San Tan!

Evelyn and Terry were barely parked, and hooked-up, before they started decorating their patio with all sorts of potted flowers, lights, etc. to make their outdoor living space more comfortable and beautiful… The RV they live in is what is called a fifth-wheel that they pull with their truck. As you can see their fifth-wheel has multiple slide-outs that expand the inside living space just like our motorhome has. And just under the front of their RV was a perfect place for a pot of flowers..

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They also have potted climbing plants and other potted plants placed all along the front side of their RV patio.. Sarah, the park supervisor, said we can have all the potted plants we want but we can’t plant anything in the ground… The park is in the process of planting trees and other desert plants within the park host sites for us to enjoy and to add shade to our sites… She also warned us that if we decide to put out plants, we take a risk of rabbits and other creatures coming by to enjoy our “creature” comforts as a free meal…

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Well, I thought Evelyn and Terry’s potted plants looked lovely. Especially at night when the rope lights they placed all around them are on…

However, I have NEVER had any luck keeping plants of any kind alive… But I still wanted some pretty flowers to perk up our patio area, but I was not going to spend a lot of money for something that if I didn’t eventually kill it, the rabbits or other critters would… So what to do…? Off to Walmart of course where I found all these pretty flowers for a grand total of $7.76.

I brought them home and was lucky enough to find a cinderblock brick behind the maintenance shed. I turned the cinderblock so the two holes were on top and placed my silk flowers in the holes… and WALA… I have a mini-flower bed…

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When I saw our neighbors Evelyn and Terry the next day, Evelyn said she noticed my pretty potted flowers and told me that she thought my flowers were so beautiful she was going to “flower-nap” them and add them to her potted flower collection…. Of course she didn’t come close enough to really investigate them, or touch them, or she would have known they were silk flowers… She laughed and laughed when I told her they were fake.. 🙂

So now our little patio area has potted flowers that not only give us “creature comfort”, but also keep the critters from having a “creature comfort” buffet out of any live plants I might have purchased…

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And for $7.76, I think they add a mini welcoming touch to our outdoor space… What do you think?

Stay Tuned!

 

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