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Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

A recent trip to Las Vegas afforded us the privilege of visiting the Red Rock Canyon.

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada

What a beautiful park this is! We went in late morning/early afternoon and the beauty here is spectacular.

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada

Have you visited here at a different time of the year? Our visit was in November.

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada

Our trip back to town also had a beautiful view. Wow! Isn’t it beautiful?

Las Vegas, NV
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The Boxcar Children – A Favorite Children’s Book

Somewhere in my early teen years I came across a book called The
Boxcar Children.

This book, written by a first grade school teacher by the name of
Gertrude Chandler Warner, was aimed at children in grades 2-6
yet I can’t remember reading it as a younger child.

I must have stumbled across it at the local library near my home.

We never had books in our house growing up. My mother, who
didn’t make it too far in grade school, never read us story books.

I fell in love with the book and the story it told of 4 orphaned children who fled what they thought was a cruel grandfather although they had never met him. They found and made a home in an abandoned boxcar and thought they were being self sufficient when it was a doctor who the oldest boy was working for who was helping to supply odds and ends for them in addition to what the older boy was able to get on his own.

The grandfather had put an ad in the paper looking for his grandchildren but the doctor remained silent until one of the young girls got sick. The doctor then notifies the grandfather of the situation and when they meet this kind man they move in with him and he, being wealthy, moves the boxcar to his backyard for them.

There are so many ways I enjoyed this book. Although not a negative word is said about the children’s decision to run away from their circumstances, I sense the stubbornness in them ~ one that I also was familiar with growing up. Yet, the way the book tells the story, it was more about the children learning and being given opportunity to work things out for themselves.

I read the series of these books to my boys while they were growing up.

Sometimes, as an “older” adult in need of sanity in this world, I’ll go back and get the 1st book and re-read it a few times.

Do you have a favorite children’s book?

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Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

These were one of the best Chicken Mole Tacos I have ever tasted.

I found the original recipe in a Better Homes & Garden Magazine and have searched the internet for it but for some reason it’s not found.  The original recipe was created by Robby Melvin but I have adapted it and you get to be the recipient of it’s deliciousness.  Yay for you!

Alright so ~ a disclaimer here ~ I don’t like very spicy sauces so you’ll need to add extra adobo sauce if you want it spicier.

One of the things that I normally do NOT have in my cupboard because I enjoy them way too much are tortillas.  In this recipe I used flour tortillas because the mole sauce is so juicy and the flour tortillas hold up much better.

Flour Tortillas

Here’s a peek at what your slow cooker will look like when the chicken is almost ready …  Uh, shoulda made more, eh?  Well, this is 4 chicken thighs for two of us.

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

It was, well, pretty close to perfection … 🙂

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

I decided to use Manchego Cheese which is a white cheese that I find at Costco but, you can use any cheese your heart desires.

Ready to see the recipe?

Here you go ~

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

2-4

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 14 ounce can unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 ounce semi sweet baking chocolate finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins (1 small box)
  • 1/4 chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp canned adobe sauce (from the chipotle chili can)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 chipotle chili, canned in adobo sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs with no skin (or remove skin once cooked)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 ounce cheese, shredded (I used Manchego)
  • Tomatoes
  • Flour tortillas

Instructions

  1. Make the mole sauce in a food blender by adding the following and blending until smooth:
  2. tomatoes, onion, almonds, chocolate, raisins, chicken stock, cumin, adobo sauce, cinnamon, chipotle chiles and garlic
  3. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper then place it in your slow cooker.
  4. Add the blender mixture over the chicken.
  5. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  6. When the chicken is ready, remove them from the slow cooker and remove the bones from the chicken.
  7. Shred the chicken into pieces and return them to the slow cooker.
  8. Discard the bones.
  9. Heat the tortillas on a skillet one at a time on medium heat.
  10. Add the chicken mixture, cheese and any other toppings you'd like to the tortillas and enjoy!
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.simplynorma.com/2018/01/12/slow-cooker-chicken-mole-tacos/

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Mountainous New Mexico 

While visiting friends in Las Cruces, New Mexico, I was surprised at how many mountains are in the area.  

Below is a picture of the Dona Ana Mountains.  

Dona Ana Mountains, New Mexico


From our friends house, we can see the Organ Mountains in the distance and the Las Cruces valley in the foreground.  

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces Valley


Quite pretty, don’t you think?

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Remodeling The Master Bathroom

When we first moved into our house 4 1/2 years ago, I knew that the master bathroom needed updating.  And for the last 3 1/2 years, we have had many contractors come to our house to give us estimates but we didn’t feel comfortable with any of them nor with their estimates.

Basically what we wanted done was to have everything taken out and and all new items put in.  Simple enough, no? The problem we kept having was that the estimates we received ran from $34K to $40K. For that, we could have bought half a house in St. Paul.

Then last year, the jacuzzi tub started leaking into the downstairs family room.  Not good. After the insurance company came out and assured us the ceiling was dry, we decided to wait until we remodeled the bathroom to have the problem fixed.

And  so our remodel project begins.

The dumpster arrived first thing Monday morning and within an hour our contractor, Tom, showed up.

Dumpster

Dumpster

Here are some “before” pictures of the bathroom ~

"Before" Bathroom Remodel

“Before” Bathroom Remodel

Originally we received estimates to have the soffit over the tub removed but were told it would cost $5k to do that. So, instead we decided to put in a rectangular tub but at an angle to match the soffit. But in comes our contractor Tom who told us previous contractors’ estimates were way off.  The large soffit could come down but the long one on the side would have to stay as it’s a beam.

"Before" Bathroom Remodel

“Before” Bathroom Remodel

"Before" Bathroom Remodel

“Before” Bathroom Remodel

"Before" Bathroom Remodel

“Before” Bathroom Remodel

And thus Day One of the bathroom remodel began which mostly consisted of gutting the room.

Gutting the Bathroom

Gutting the Bathroom

Gutting the Bathroom

Gutting the Bathroom

The closet door on the right will also be replaced.

Gutting the Bathroom

Gutting the Bathroom

Vanity, sink, faucets, lights … all gone.

Gutting the Bathroom

Gutting the Bathroom

Then we came upon two surprises.  The first was tucked away underneath the bathtub in a corner.  It was a duct that provides heat underneath the tub.  A little odd, no?  Our contractor decided to leave it there.

Heat Duct Under Tub

Heat Duct Under Tub

Next, I was called upstairs to take a look at a small thin tube that ran from underneath the tub to under the shower to … ??? We’re not quite sure, but the tube looks like one that attaches to our hot water heater in the basement. When we had the water heater replaced, those contractors didn’t know what the tube was for either so they just kept it there.

(Not the best picture … )

Gutting the Bathroom

Gutting the Bathroom

I was surprised how quickly two men were able to gut a bathroom.

Hopefully this will be a painless remodel.

Day 2 of the bathroom remodel.

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An Autumn Lake of the Isles Walk

On a crisp early October day, a friend and I took a walk around the Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It was hard not to notice all of the high-end houses in this area, but the lake is what caught my attention because being around water brings my heart peace.

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The city is close by but, outside of glancing at it, the noises can’t be heard.  So peaceful ~

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