Monthly Archives: October 2011

Bicycling throughout Phoenix and Paradise Valley AZ!

You recently read “Juan’s perspective” on our bicycling adventure over the weekend and what it means to him to enjoy a simpler lifestyle and riding bicycles….well it goes the same for me. As I mentioned just the day before, you get an opportunity to enjoy the world passing by at a much slower pace.

I could ride all day long every day if I could. Of course the Arizona heat does not make it optimal bicycling weather, however, Juan and I get up before dawn in the summers to get in as much of a ride as possible. Now….it is just beautiful outside and I can ride all day…

The coolest thing we saw yesterday was something I had never seen before and was so amazed at the beauty of this sculpture. Obviously someone left a bale of hay for him to enjoy and what beauty this gorgeous steed is.

Imagine all the parts and pieces of yesterday’s history form this magnificent animal, right down to an old sewing machine that was plucked out in the midst of sewing.

Vacuum cleaner, silver pitcher, old ornamental ironwork, egg beater, tractor seat and so much more are the bones and make-up of this beauty.

So, Juan and I decided to stop and take some time to enjoy this beautiful piece of art. I see that the artist did sign his sculpture…his name is Carlos Cobos. I tried a “Google” search on his name and the horse and did find where someone from Paradise Valley purchased this piece about a year ago.

However, it is not placed in their backyard hidden from the public…he is proudly placed at the corner of McDonald and Tatum for all to enjoy!

We stopped to enjoy…. and so we mounted our steal steeds and ventured on back home. It was a beautiful day.


You never know what adventure the ride will bring….

An Urban Hobo Adventure

When we set out his morning, we stopped at the gate to decide where we wanted to ride? More to the point, it was a debate over who had the best coffee. Initially I had wanted to pick some place new. A place that might afford us a change in scenery. Ultimately we agreed on one of our usual hangouts (Einstein’s Bagels) because we love their coffee. We did however, decide to explore a new route.
A few minutes into the ride we had to pull over because I wanted to get a picture of my bike. Actually, my new kickstand. (It’s funny how excited I get over a new piece of equipment.) 

Treat #1. The first leg of our trip had us riding directly towards Camelback mountain. The “Praying Monk” was looming larger and larger as we continued on our Easterly course. We rode almost to the base of the mountain. In all my years here in Phoenix, I’ve never been this close to the Monk.
I thought the next leg of our trek was going to be  bit boring as we were riding down the sidewalk, next to the main street. Not too much excitement here. At the first stop-light, Shawn made another route suggestion and had us cut through the Chase parking lot at 44th street and Camelback (a gorgeous Mid-Century Modern  building.) We’ve ridden past here a thousand times and admired the architecture. Today, since it was Sunday,  we were rode on the actual customer sidewalk. Treat #2, a naked lady! Well, a statue of one anyway. There are several statue’s surrounding the perimeter of the bank. I’d never noticed them before. 
You see the most wonderful things from the seat of a bike!

A short time later, we reached our coffee stop. 

Over breakfast we planned out the return route. We were pretty sure where the road would take us, but had never driven/ridden this particular stretch. As we were riding along, enjoying the scenery  we pulled up short! Treat #3. We discovered the coolest statue I’ve ever seen. A life-sized horse made out of every imaginable salvaged item. The individual pieces were not very big, but together they formed the horse. There was even a fresh hay bale! We spent a considerable amount of time examining the statue from all sides. It was fascinating!

Back on the bikes and we continued on our way. Shawn’s guess was correct. We ended up at the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard. Treat#4. We stopped off at the Barry Goldwater memorial. It’s pretty cool.
Back on the bikes and heading for home. We had a very fun ride along Lincoln Drive, up and down the hills. What started out to be a routine ride for coffee, turned into a great adventure. An unexpected ART ride! By throwing the planning out the window and looking for any route but the usual, we were treated to some very cool surprises. This was by far the most fun ride we’ve taken in a long time. It just goes to show that you never know what adventure the ride will bring. 

Urban Hobos And 2 iPhones!

As Juan and I continue our adventure in our 9 hundred square foot home (aka right sizing) and becoming a one car family, we are dedicating as much time possible to riding our bikes from getting “here to there”….”Point A to point B”…”Hither and Yon”…(you get the picture)

So we set out early in the AM for some breakfast. It was great as we have been waiting so long for the weather to cool off in AZ and F-I-N-A-L-L-Y the morning was a cool 57 degrees! (For us that’s cold)

Its cathartic…..I flip my leg over the saddle and take that first push off…I am totally free. Free of the week’s stress and worry…free of things I can’t do…because there is one thing for sure…I can ride this bike! It’s so quiet early in the morning. The only thing I hear is the click of the gears advancing and the rhythm of the pedals going round and round.

Also a chance to put our new iphone 4S’s to work. Juan and I are not professional photographers by any means, however, we alwqys have our iPhones on hand what better way to stop and take a few photos. 

Dylans…across from LGO

So off we go to LGO (short for LeGrande Orange) for some hot coffee and a bite to eat. We love the architecture of the midcentury modern buildings here in central Phoenix. Through this corridor are gorgeous homes built in the 1960’s PLUS a lot of great multi-housing spaces which I showcased in an earlier blog (Bicycling In Search Of Small Space Living).

What a beautiful morning and a chance for Juan and I to enjoy a simple lifestyle and plan the rest of our day. Other errands we needed to attack on our bikes OH… and clean the house will be on the list PLUS get the bar-be-que cleaned. The great thing about the house and bar-be-que…it would only take 1 ½ hour at most.

Quick photo stop



It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Okay…okay…I know…you are barely carving the pumpkins and have all the scary decorations and bags of candy in time for the “trick or treaters”. So why in the world am I talking about ho-ho-ho and jingle all the way?

Black & White Checked Cross

 Well I wanted to show you what I’ve been doing in my tiny little house during the hot days of summer.

I’ve been fascinated with making jewelry with wire. I love seeing how one can bend and weave the silver or gold wire into beautiful wearable art.

“I could do that!” I thought to myself and started practicing on stainless steel wire. I didn’t want to start with the real silver or gold wire… really sucks if you mess up and then you’ve wasted the wire and the money.

So, I began making charms and adding Czech glass beads. I really got into making these charms and decided to create tin ornaments and attach them onto the ornaments. They are my Christmas charm ornaments! ( I know… not a super clever name)
They are hand made using tin as the cut outs (tree, dove, cross, star and ornament) I like the ones in silver with the hammer texture, however my Mom suggested I paint some…so I did.
I’ll show you the ones I’ve come up with already and show you some in detail. I am not a professional photographer so forgive me for just laying them out on my patio table. (Smiley face)

So enjoy a brief video montage and a little christmas music to get you in the ho-ho-ho mood!

I would like to know your thoughts on these and to help me… Let me know if you like the painted ones or prefer the ones that are not painted.
Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my 900 square foot home due to ornaments laying about amongst the jack-o-lanterns and fall leaves.
I’ll clean up….

This “Small Space” Living Stuff Is Catching On….Or Rather Is On!

My orange vintage patio chair

 There is a huge trend where living small is going BIG! (I know I know trying to be funny and clever with my wording) Anyway…it’s true. I continue to research on the subject of small space living and finding so many people embracing it. Not just “Middle Class America”…architects, developers, custome home builders…the list goeas on.

First off… back in the 1950’s the average size of a home was less than 1000 square feet.  Fast forward to the early 2000’s the average size grew a little over 2,300 square feet….a big climb over 50+years.
According to the American Institute of Architects, floor plans and lots continue to decrease (over the last couple of years) due to people wanting less maintenance and less worry. I am originally from Texas…everything is big there. You own a BIG house, you have BIG land, and you have BIG Texas hair! (wink wink smiley face!) You are also brought up with the idea that having and owning BIG means living well. You are successful…you are prosperous…you are someone people need to know.
It is great to see this trend of small space living and what I have termed “right-sizing” your life really catching on. However, I am a late bloomer on this subject and as my desire to learn more about living in small spaces, I have found so many people (experts at small space living) who have been doing this for quite some time. One person in particular is Sarah Susanka, FAIA. Sarah is an acclaimed architect and truly “gets” small space living. This is nothing new to her as she wrote a book called The Not So Big House back in the late 1990’s. She states “Not So Big doesn’t necessarily mean small. It means not as big as you thought you needed, but designed and built to perfectly suit the way you live”. That’s how I feel about the term “right sizing”…it’s not about downsizing or losing everything but right sizing to adjust to you and your family needs.
Sara is working on a project in Libertyville, IL called the Not So Big Showhouse being built on School Street in Libertyville, IL.  This taken from the School Street Libertyville website;
SchoolStreet Homes is defying national housing trends by bringing high-quality, architecturally designed homes to the marketplace at value driven prices. In just one year, 24 of 26 homes have been purchased by eager buyers. The Front Porch Revival homes blend almost seamlessly with the neighborhood’s existing turn-of-the-century homes — along with a historic school that will be transformed into 15 urban lofts. Each design offers a tailored floor plan with classic architectural style including American Craftsman and Bungalow. SchoolStreet Homes is connected to Libertyville’s vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown and just blocks from a commuter rail train station”.
Yes, the Showhouse Sarah created is a much larger home (2,450 sq. ft.) actually…the house I sold was smaller than this yet I moved to an even smaller space which is our current 900 sq. ft. home, however they are creating other smaller sized homes including the 15 urban lofts that will be in the historic school building. Some of the lofts will start at 710 sq. ft.  up to 3,100 sq ft (the penthouse). I would want the 700 sq ft -850 sq. ft. myself! The goal is to connect the neighborhood with the community, you must check it out.
Our friends from Resource Furniture are also involved in providing furniture in the Not So Big Showhouse. I will follow up with another blog about the furniture being used …..Stay Tuned!
Final thoughts… I like to live in 1000 sq. ft. or less… for me and Juan this is perfect. I do not think I would like to go smaller than 700 sq. ft. however, some of you might relish in the challenge. For others, you could never think of living in 900 sq. ft. However, I would ask you to take on a challenge. On a weekly basis, check mark how many times you come into a certain room and the length of time in there. You may be surprised with the results. Just a thought! (wink wink )

We’re Just Urban Hobos

Juan’s bike

 Several years ago, Juan and I got into bicycling. I found that when I’m on a bike it doesn’t feel like exercise. I can get on and go for hours.

For me….. one of the few things in life that can bring such wonderful memories of being a kid is getting on my bike. The world moves at a slower pace. It’s about you motoring the pedals and zipping through the neighborhoods listening to the surroundings, smelling the fresh air, feeling the breeze on your face….being free.

My bike

As Juan and I embark on almost a year of downsizing right-sizing our lives, we are learning to enjoy the simpler things in life. Since I recently posted mine and Juan’s perspective on becoming a one car family… what greater joy for us to embrace our bicycling and making it a part of our daily lives NOT just for exercise but a way of life.

We thought it would be fun to incorporate our bicycling into our blog to show you that living in a small space….right-sizing our lives and living a simpler lifestyle might get you thinking about what’s more important for you and your family. Not asking you to give up on the finer things in life (I have not given up on style, designer anything and my love of clothing) but to eliminate any excess you may have. Remember what I always go back to…. keep the things that are beautiful and you hold dear to you and use them. Use the nice dishes…use the silverware….use the fine furniture….enjoy your things.

I will add updates on our rides and how we incorporate bicycling into our daily lives. Today, we headed out for a ride to get some breakfast. The weather was perfect and we had an opportunity to see some frightening things along the way….


Beware all who enter!!!
Mwahh Haa Haaaaa (Must repeat in a scary voice)
I hope you will enjoy my quest for living in a small space, enjoying a simpler lifestyle and incorporating bicycling into our daily lives! In the meantime….I will enjoy my cup of coffee.


Yard Sale A Success

Well….we are tired. We got up at “O Dark Thirty” in preparation of setting up and displaying our lovely treasures. Ready with change and open to bartering.

We had another neighbor joined us who was looking to rid some extra STUFF as well. We looked over one another’s tools, books, glassware and treasures and gave each other a high five to sell it all!

It started off quiet and then we had several short bursts of people with dollar bills in hand and change jingling in their pockets. My neighbor started off with the first sale of the day and we laughed as what we thought would go first…didn’t. However, slowly but surely we did manage to have a good yard sale.

Highlight of the day…..with our goods all displayed on the freshly landscaped lawn, the sprinklers decided to start. However, we managed to assist one another and moved everything out. Of course it was a good laugh as we out-smarted the sprinklers. Alas…we were wrong as it lured us back on the lawn with a false sense of security only to go off again two hours later AND the few things we had left…got wet. We all got wet.

At that point we decided it was time to close up shop. We had a successful day and what was not sold was donated.

The best part was that we stopped to slow down for a morning and spend some quality time with each other and with friends.

Living a simpler life is awesome!!!

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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

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