his name was marvin

I sold my Miata yesterday. That was the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time. I bought my Miata 7 years ago. It was my graduation gift to myself for having slogged through 5 years of getting an engineering degree. I traded in my plasticky Saturn for a 1997 Mazda Miata M-edition. It was a beautiful dark green with a multi-colored fleck in the paint that just shined in the sun. It had a tan top with tan interior, leather seats. It was an awesome car for someone who was still adjusting to not being a student anymore and who actually had a steady full-time job.

The car started off with 49,000 miles from a previous owner who had also owned the car for the other 7 years of its life. Last night, when I signed the title over to the new owners, the mileage was 114,900. The car had been well loved over the 7 years that I had owned it. Sean and I drove off as a new couple in that car. It drove countless miles along back roads in both Alabama and Arizona in the constant search for the newest fun road to drive. We went on drive outs with the Rocket City Miata Club. It spent countless hours being raced around cones in autocrossing. We replaced the clutch and flywheel in that car (our first clutch that we ever replaced!). We learned a lot of our car know-how on that car.

Somewhere along the way, my Miata earned a name. I called him Marvin the Miata (Marvin the Martian was green with a tan Roman-ish top to him). It stuck pretty quickly and I always referred to him as Marvin after that.

Unfortunately, along the way, Marvin quit being a really good daily driver. When I was in Alabama and only drove 3 miles to work it wasn’t a bit deal. When I moved to Arizona and had a 40 mile commute each way, it became a bigger deal. I finally bought the Fit to become my new daily driver but I was insistent on keeping Marvin around so that I still had a sporty car to drive on occasion. Then, Sean needed the Fit for his daily driver and I got the Mini Cooper S. It’s kind of hard to justify keeping a Miata around when you’ve got another sporty car again. We haven’t autocrossed in a while due to Sean’s rather busy school schedule. Marvin just sat in our garage for the most part and for a car to just sit in a garage is a travesty to me. Cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed.

So, late last week Sean posted an ad on Craigslist for the car. We got a response pretty quickly from a family that was looking for a small 2-seater that didn’t have a lot of power but was still fun to drive. It was primarily for the husband, but their 16 year old would be able to drive it every once in a while. It’s nice because with only two seats, teenagers can’t get into too much trouble with it. Last night, we met at a bank. Money was exchanged, a bill of sale was signed and the title was signed over to the new owners. It was so simple. You’d think for something that you love as much as that car that it would be harder, but that’s not always the way it is. So now I don’t own a Miata anymore. I have finally passed him along to a new family that will hopefully love him in time as much as I did.

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mother nature steps in

I was planning to post our weekly menu last night. Tuesdays are one of my few free nights each week and weekly menu posts take a little while to write, so it was going to be perfect. That’s when Mother Nature decided I had too much free time.

Since it’s been getting hotter lately, we decided to increase our watering schedule for our plants. When Sean went outside to do that I decided it would be a great time to make sure all of our drip heads were still working on said irrigation system. Turns out that half of our front yard drip irrigation wasn’t working. This meant that Sean and I got to spend the next two hours in the muggy evening air digging up irrigation line. Apparently the builders decided that there was no issue running an irrigation line 3 inches from a young mesquite tree. Six years later, that mesquite tree has quadrupled in size and the root system has grown around the irrigation line and finally broken it.

Thankfully, my husband in his constant wisdom keeps extra irrigation line and connectors around so we were able to get the problem fixed, but not until late evening and afterwards we were mud covered and tired. I’m sure you’ll understand if it takes me an extra day or two to get that weekly menu posted.

local food

Sean and I are foodies. This should come as no surprise to any of our friends and family since usually when we’re socializing it’s in a kitchen and at least one of us is fixing food at the time. Over the past three or so years, Sean and I have taken our love of food to yet another level. We’ve started making a concerted effort to buy more local food. That’s not to say that there isn’t Italian pasta sitting in my pantry or cheese that comes from Oregon (you’ll never get me to give up Tillamook cheese). What we do buy, though, we attempt to buy locally when possible.

Queen Creek Olive Mill
We found a local olive mill that sells everything from olive oil to fancy stuffed olives and other locally produced goods. You can even buy olive oil soap from here. On cooler days, they’ve got a large lawn amidst some of of their olive trees with picnic tables to dine at. There’s a delicious restaurant on site that makes really terrific locally produced food. If you have time, they even do tours so that you can see how olive oil is produced. Yes, you really can grow olives in Arizona.

The Pork Shop
The name is rather self-explanatory on what they sell. Pork. The pigs are locally raised and butchered at the shop. They make they’re own sausages and bacon in house and the sausages range everywhere from mild Italian sausage to bratwurst through salami. We usually go here every few months and just stock up on various types of pork, including all of the bacon that’s consumed in this household. Prices are very reasonable and the staff is incredibly knowledgeable. If you’re not entirely sure how to prepare a cut of meat they will be more than glad to give you a few ideas. They also make they’re own green-chile pork which they sell in burritos. Out of this world is the only phrase I can think of for these burritos.

Ahwatukee Farmers Market
This is the true treasure of local food buying. Many local farmers and food producers gather every Sunday at the corner of 48th and Warner in Ahwatukee to sell their goods. This ranges everywhere from fresh fruits and vegetables to fresh baked bread to cheeses, flowers and locally raised meats. This is where Sean and I drop the majority of our weekly grocery budget at. Every Sunday morning we wake up and head down to the market.
We start at two of the vegetable stands and pick up everything from lettuces to fresh peaches. We even get our eggs from one of two stands here. We move on down the rows, past the tamale maker, the silversmith, on to What’s Your Grind coffee. Iced coffees (and perhaps a pound or so of coffee) in hand, we move on to Breadsmith to pick up whatever breads we need for the week. The bread is usually still warm from coming out of the oven that morning. Most of our bread is for toast in the morning, so we usually pick up a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. If we have paninis on the weekly menu, though, we’ll pick up a loaf of ciabatta. We might vary up our morning toast with sourdough or country buttertop or the rustic Italian loaf. We have about 10 varieties to choose from, so we never get tired of our options. As we keep moving, we pass by the local honey producers, Made By Bees that also make great pickles. There’s another bread baker and then the kettle corn and onwards to Siam Gardens where we can pick up more exotic Asian vegetables if we’re making a stir fry or any other Asian meals that week. This is where we make our one stop that we look forward to all week. Good friends of ours have a food truck called Truckin’ Good Food where Jeff makes crepes, panisse, frites and awesome frozen custard. We even occasionally get treated to baked goods of macarons or eclairs. The crepes, though, are the star. Savory or sweet. There’s so many choices and I’ve never been disappointed with any of the options. Each crepe is freshly made and then filled with delicious ingredients. Jeff and Erin are truly a blessing the Phoenix with those crepes. After munching down on a crepe for breakfast, we finish wandering the market, past the goat dairy, Crow’s Dairy and the Arizona Cheese Company with their fresh cheese curds. Past the couple of stands selling grass-fed beef raised just up in Wickenburg or other local areas. We’ve finally made our full round of the market and we usually have two grocery bags full of goodies to get home and stored away in anticipation of our weekly dinners.

There’s lots of other local shops that we’ve either read about or friends have told us about. One of these days, we’ll make it down to The Meat Shop. The magazine Edible Phoenix is devoted to promoting local foods in the area. Arizona Farmers Markets is dedicated to promoting farmers markets in the area.

I’m not going to say that this way of shopping is easy. It takes planning. I don’t think we’d be able to do it if we didn’t plan our meals on a weekly basis. It’s also not the cheapest option. I know that I can go down to Fry’s (also known as Kroger’s for our southern readers) and pick up a head of lettuce for $1.50 rather than spending $2.50 on a bag of spring mix at Big Happy Farms at the Farmers Market. There is some special connection, though, that Sean and I’ve gotten from talking to the farmers and hearing them speak so proudly of they’re foods. Each week, there’s recognition at each of the stands as they remember what we buy and they point out new produce that wasn’t there last week. It’s worth it to us, though for all of the reasons I’ve given above to shop locally for the foods that we eat. It also means that we make that much more of an effort to consume all of the food in our fridge instead of letting any of it go to waste.

If you’re interested in trying to eat more locally produced foods in your area, it’s as simple as starting by searching online for farmers markets in the area. It’s a good place to start and you’ll be amazed at how many other places you soon discover by talking to the other people at the farmers markets. Enjoy!

uk trip pics

At the end of May, beginning of June, Sean and I took a trip with Misty and Stephen to the United Kingdom. We spent several days in London and then proceeded to drive as much of the country as possible, getting as far north as Edinburgh, Scotland and as far south as Brighton. So, here’s a quick roundup of our trip in photos. If you want to see the entire set of photos just click here. Oh, and for another perspective of the trip, here’s Misty and Stephen’s photos.

For the first few days on our trip, other than sitting on a plane and standing in line at customs, we spent the time in London. We tried to do everything from the British Museum IMG_1736.jpg
to the Tower of London DSC_2083.jpg
to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
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It was a lot to do and we knew we wouldn’t get everything in, but we certainly gave it a good try.
I even managed to get some yoga in while I was in London. DSC_2196.jpg

Next, we started to head north, going through Wakefield to visit a school that Stephen spent a semester at in college.
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We even got to cross a Haha bridge while were there.
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Hadrian’s Wall was conquered on our way up to Edinburgh.
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Castles were conquered and views were enjoyed while we were in Edinburgh.
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We even managed to visit the Castle Aaarrgghhhhhhh…. on our way back south. DSC_2417.jpg

We managed to make it to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
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And Stephen got to pretend to be a nutcracker.
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Cool British cars were seen at the British Motoring Museum.
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And great feats of scientific and mathematic innovation were appreciated at Bletchley Park.
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We waved goodbye to Misty and Stephen at this point and continued on to Brighton to see the Royal Pavilions.
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On our way to Bath, we had a last minute change of plans and got to see Goodwood Motoring Circuit IMG_1809.jpg

and lots of very beautiful, powerful cars. DSC_2666.jpg

Bath and its architecture were breaktakingly amazing. DSC_2725.jpg

We even managed to cram in a last minute side trip to Stonehenge DSC_2785.jpg
before finally getting on an airplane and waving goodbye to the wonderful Brits.

newest member of the family

I know I haven’t posted in a while. At some point, I’ll get around to finishing the saga post of our trip to England, but in the mean time, I’ve had a chance to clean up our newest member of the family and post some pictures. Everyone, welcome Hammond, our 2007 Mini Cooper S, to the family.

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Several months ago, Sean came to the very difficult decision that his Subaru Legacy GT was not helping his back out, so he sold it. The Miata is no longer a great daily driver, so we needed to get another car to replace the Legacy. Sean took the Fit as his daily driver and suggested that perhaps we look at a Mini Cooper as the new car since he knew I had drooled over them for several years now.

After a bit of looking around (mostly done by Sean since he actually knows how to hunt a car down online), we found what we were looking for over in Oakland, CA. Good record, good mileage and it was a beautiful color combo I couldn’t resist. A few days, many trips to several banks to work out the details of the loan, and some inquiring online, my new car was loaded onto a transport truck to be delivered to our house.

This is where it gets a bit tragic. While the transport truck driver was signing the paperwork at the dealership to take possession of my car, a driver came down the road and drove up the ramp of the truck into the back of my beautiful car. Long story short, a couple of days later, my car was delivered to me broken, but we had an insurance claim open against it already and I just had to take it in and get it fixed. Two weeks later and the day before we left for England on our vacation, I finally got my car back looking brand new and beautiful again.

Thus the reason for this taking so long to post about. Hammond has already been on a camping trip with us. We went up to the Mogollan Rim for the weekend of the 4th to avoid the heat for a couple of days. He performed quite admirably on very bumpy forest roads in the depths of Arizona and it’s amazing how much camping gear you can actually fit into the back of that car.

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I’m sure before long we’ll have more fun stories to post about the adventures with the newest member of the family.