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I am in Santa Fe frequently for business, but I have not had the opportunity to visit any tourist sites until yesterday. The legislative session is “full of hurry up and wait”, so during one of those “wait” times, we were able to visit a couple of beautiful historic churches within walking distance from the capitol.

Our first stop was the San Miguel Mission. Built in the 1600’s, it is the oldest church still in use in the United States. The ceilings were absolutely beautiful and you could just feel the history from the second you walk in. I don’t pretend to be a great photographer, but here are some of my favorite snap shots.

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San Miguel 8

San Miguel ceiling

 

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Our second stop was the Loretto Chapel, home of The Miraculous Staircase. As construction of the chapel was nearing completion, the nuns realized that they had no way to get to the choir loft. Then one day, an unknown man showed up on a donkey and carved them a spiral staircase out of ONE solid piece of wood with no center supports, nails or glue. (It also had no railings until much later.) Once the job was completed, he left without a trace. It is also considered a miracle that no one ever fell off of the staircase, even without railings.

The church was used as a girls school until 1968, but now serves only as a tourist attraction.

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Church 3

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Fun as it was, we had to get back to work. The House was reconvening.

I did want to share however, my favorite piece of art in the NM capitol. It’s a buffalo head made of scrap materials. It’s mostly newspaper, brooms and even the eyes are old plastic spoons. The artist is Holly Hughes.

buffalo head

Lastly, if you are ever in the area, I would definitely recommend El Meson for tapas!

 

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An Update on AZ Wines

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may remember this post about our visit to Page Springs Winery. We loved our trip there, and we really love the direction that the Arizona wine industry is headed, so this weekend we decided to venture down to Wilcox, AZ.

Willcox is the largest producer of grapes in Arizona, and they are working at becoming a designated AVA.

Neither Matt or I had ever been that far south, and it was a drive (3.5 hours), but it was definitely worth it!

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On your way into Willcox, the first winery that you will run into is Golden Rule Vineyards, a wonderful property owned by Jim an Ruth Graham. Jim has been a farmer his whole life, and not only does he do a great job with grapes, they make some wonderful pistachios as well! They are spactacular people and it was a pleasure getting to know them and taste their wines.

I especially like their take on the golden rule – “pour for others as you would pour for yourself.”

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After this stop, we took a 30 minute drive into downtown Willcox, where there are several tasting rooms within walking distance.

First, we visited Flying Leap which is owned by retired Air Force pilots, hence the name. They are making some very interesting wines, and I am curious to see how they evolve over the next few years. Their vineyards are actually in Elgin, AZ, but they have quite a few choices at their Willcox tasting room as well.

flying leap building flying leap

Next on the list was the Keeling Schaefer tasting room. The wines here are also very good. They have a bold fruit forward approach, and tend to be high in alcohol. The style is somewhat unique for Arizona wines, which are often compared to the Rhone Valley.

The Keeling Schaefer tasting room is an amazing building! I didn’t get very good pictures of it, but it is definitely worth checking out. It used to be a bank in the 1800s, and has a very interesting ceiling, original floors and the original door!

keeling shafer

Another tasting room open in downtown is Aridus, which has a state-of the-art custom crush facility in Willcox. Several of the vineyards in the area are using Aridus to make and bottle their wines. Unfortunately, they were not open yesterday, but we are excited to check them out in the future!

aridus

Our last stop of the day was Pillsbury Wine Company, owned by Sam Pillsbury. Sam was not at the vineyard yesterday, but Bonnie Lewis was. Bonnie is a very knowledgeable wine blogger for the Tucson Citizen – Pour Me Some Grapes. She is a wonderful advocate of the Arizona wine industry and we had a delightful conversation with her over a tasting. 

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There are several other vineyards and tasting rooms in Willcox which we would LOVE to visit, but we just didn’t have enough time in one day. It was a really great experience though, and we will definitely be going back. We’d love to take some people with us next time as well, so let me know if you are interested!

… and of course the day would not have been complete without a beautiful Arizona Sunset.

sunset

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The master closet is by far the biggest eye sore left in our house. After the A/C issue which flooded the closet, the ceiling has looked like this.

Closet 1 Closet

 

We’re finally having it re-drywalled this week, so stay tuned!

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It’s been a while…. About 9 months it seems.

We took a break from the house. Admittedly, we were dragging our feet. After about 2.5 years in a state of constant construction, we decided we needed a break, and we chose to just live with what we had for a while… i.e. concrete floors, no baseboards, no doors etc. It was crazy to say the least, but we just wanted some semblance of of a normal life and routine for a while.

After the busiest part of this session passed, we came to our senses and decided to just buck up. lol… Now, things are moving at a rapid pace with the goal of having a finished house in July! Just in time for Matt’s birthday! 🙂

While we’re very excited about the prospect of new floors, doors, and everything in between, we do plan to put the house on the market as soon as it’s finished, and that’s bitter sweet to say the least.

Anyway, now you’re up to date and you can expect to see lot’s of pictures of the progress.

After several visits from contractors, we were told that my idea for a front door with side lights and a transom could not be done without serious structural modifications, so we opted to replace the existing door with something that was the same size. It has not been painted yet, and the hardware isn’t on, but here’s a sneak peak!

Entry Door

Front Door

We’ve also been working on the flooring, which meant that I had to empty out the hallway closet. If you need any holiday/entertaining items, I appear to have a one-stop-shop! lol

Closet Stuff

More to come! The only downside is that the mess seems like it will continue to get worse before it gets better.

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Our 4th of July

The 4th of July has always been my favorite holiday! I like it more than Christmas, Thanksgiving and my birthday combined. The problem however, is that the weather is usually miserable this time of year.

So, when we realized that there was a pretty good chance of rain on the 4th, Matt and I decided to buy a new patio set and have a “picnic” at home.

We aren’t ready to commit to a patio collection yet, because we haven’t finished the back yard, but we thought a small set would make our outdoor space  much more useable for now,  so we headed to Target.

They are currently having a sale on patio furniture, and from what I can tell, the prices are even better in the store than they are online.

Here is the set that we chose:

We were very impressed with the quality, and it matches the Pottery Barn Hampstead Teak Collection nicely, so we plan to add more pieces when we finish the landscaping in the back yard. (More on that later.)

We also stopped by home depot and picked up this fun friend.

What is that you ask?… A bug zapper? A light? A bird feeder?

No. It’s an outdoor wireless speaker… and boy does it have good sound!

If you’re interested – the company that makes it is called Acoustic Research and the main selling point for us was that we can hook it up to our Sonos system and control everything from our ipads… Lol we could even have a war between the ipads if we disagreed on a song. 🙂

To complete our evening, we selected the 2008 Federalist Dry Creek Zinfandel and Matt made a motion using Roberts Rules of Order (of course!) to adopt it as the official 4th of July wine of the Wharton household. Umm… yes… We are MAJOR nerds. Don’t judge.

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Garden Update

Well, it’s almost July and its so hot here that it seems like everything is wilting… especially me. Luckily however, my garden seems to be doing very well, and that always makes me smile.

I think the garden cover that we installed a few weeks ago has really helped. The area that we planted inis not very shady, so the extra UV protection really perked up my seedlings.

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… and now my seedlings are not seedlings anymore. They are full grown plants! Here’s how they look now:

Cabbage:

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Turnips:

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Jalapenos:

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Snap Peas:

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Cantaloupe:

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Zucchini:

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Well, I’m back after a long hiatus… I apologize, but this session got the best of me, and I’m just glad it’s over.

Regardless, I am determined to have a productive interim. (For those of you who don’t know, I work at the Legislature and interim basically means that my busy season is over.)… and Matt and I started this year off right by cleaning out the garage on Friday.

After 2 years of constant construction and furniture projects, our garage was in a sorry/scary state… so much so that just getting to and from the car meant you could potentially lose an eye, or even a limb.

Here’s what it looked like before:

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And here’s what it looked like after a trip to the Phoenix City Landfill, Goodwill, and a “FREE – take me!” post on Craigslist.

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There’s still a bit of work to do. I need to re-epoxy and repaint the walls. We need another set of cabinets on the left side and the bar in the corner needs some wheels before we can put it on the back patio. (More on that later.)

Regardless, I can now park my car in the garage, and I don’t have to worry about anyone’s safety on their way to the the vehicle. 

So, thank you Mr.  Speaker  for giving us the day after Sine Die off!

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