There’s Something About a Red Barn!



Why is red a traditional barn color? Did you know the first barns were left unpainted, but back in the late 1700’s, farmers started to seal their barn wood with linseed oil which was orange-ish in color, and to that they would often add rust. That’s how our barn red color was born, and I guess it just stuck around through generations, although there are parts of America where white barns or yellow barns were/are more prevalent.


Apparently, the red color, besides looking really nice and popping in a landscape, also helps the sun heat the interior in the winter.


I wonder if the “hi” sign is because there have been so many who admire this particular barn as I do? 🙂


Weekend Nutshell (A Cave, An Award & A Barn)


Just this past weekend we headed out on a road trip, from Tucson to our home in northern Utah. We moved our baby girl back home so that she can participate in her last Young Women’s camp and prepare for college life. We are in transition. Come September, we will have three of our four kids in college and only our youngest left at home. I know I’m always saying this, but these stages of motherhood are so bittersweet for me. On the one hand it is a joy to watch my children blossom into these amazing young adults. On the other hand, there is a longing to bring back their childhood and I miss having them home with me.

PicMonkey Collage

Each time we make this road trip, we try to stop somewhere and play tourists a bit. This time, we stopped at Moqui Cave in Kanab, Utah. There is a small fee to enter the cave itself, but we felt it was worth it since it was our first visit. The cave features dinosaur tracks (which were carried in back in the 60’s when it wasn’t illegal to remove them, ha ha), Indian relics, a large collection of florescent minerals (they glow under UV lighting) and a gift shop where Marcus bought himself dinosaur poop!


As I have mentioned before, half of our homeschooling is through amazing online classes (streamed live) through the fabulous Liahona Preparatory Academy, which is a private LDS-based school in Utah. Well, back in early May, I received a call from Liahona, informing me that Marissa had been selected to receive the Distance Star Award. We kept this award a secret from Marissa until just last night when we presented it to her in an impromptu award and graduation ceremony (which is why she is sporting my Japanese robe and her brother’s Doctor Who fez).


This award was in recognition of Marissa’s community service, leadership and academic success. She received a beautiful trophy and a write-up in the yearbook. Our whole family of six was present for the ceremony. Liahona also gave Marissa a certificate of graduation.


I had also designed and purchased a homeschool diploma for Marissa, which I presented to her as well. She has definitely earned it and she is excited to start at her university this September. She will be studying zoology.


After waving goodbye to Zach, who had to return to his apartment for work today, David and I took an evening drive through the countryside, stopping every so often so I could photograph some of the barns. I love how many barns are in this little town. This one is a favorite and the first barn we see as we turn off the highway whenever we are headed home. More barn pics to come! ♥ This morning I dropped David off at his shuttle for the airport so he could return to the torturous Arizona heat. I do feel guilty leaving him to fend for himself while the kids and I enjoy a temperate Utah summer, but we will see him again around the 24th of July, which is a pioneer holiday here in Utah. AND we have a ton of yard and project work to accomplish here in the next two months. ♥ Thanks for reading!

Our First Bloom Night



Here in Arizona there is an amazing cactus flower called the Peniocereus greggi, also known as the Queen of the Night.




What is special about this flower is that it only blooms once a year, after sundown. All of the flowers in one area bloom at the same time and for the collection at Tohono Chul, bloom night this year was Saturday, June 18th.


And this year, we were there to experience our first bloom night.


The desert trail was lined with paper candle lanterns.


Another interesting fact about this flower is that it only has one pollinator: the Hawk moth.

It was a lovely evening walking around the desert to admire and photograph this unique flower. There were hundreds of people there so we were glad we arrived early. We stayed for two hours and then left when the crowds were becoming a bit much for us, although everyone was patient and courteous. Our tips for this event- Come early, wear good walking shoes (closed toed), watch out for cactus on the side of the trail (I brushed up against one and received a few scratches on my leg), bring your camera and know your settings, bring a flashlight (Marcus wore a headlamp) and if you’re only using a camera phone, use a flashlight to illuminate the flower when you take a picture at night.

Our First Visit to Sabino Canyon



Sabino Canyon is located in southeastern Arizona and is part of the Coronado National Forest. We braved the soaring temps here in Tucson and visited Sabino Canyon a couple weekends ago, for the first time. We only stayed for a few hours, because the heat was exhausting! But that was enough time to give us a feel for this recreation area.


We took the Sabino Canyon trail shuttle tour, which was a ride on a tram with nine stops altogether and narration on the way up (and the driver just chatting away on the way back). I wish I had thought to take outside pictures of the shuttle, but the above pic shows the back of the tram (the uncovered part- poor riders!) and a bridge we’d just gone over.


We rode all the way to stop 9, got out and did a little hiking on a nearby trail. Each stop offers different trails to hike, and one or two stops offer some natural pools for wading and swimming (we didn’t try those out, but there were plenty of families enjoying the water). Some, but not all stops offer restroom facilities and water fountains.


We ended up walking down the paved main road to stop 8 to check out the pools. Then we climbed back on the tram and rode it back to the visitor center and parking lot.


So that was our first visit to Sabino Canyon. Just a taste really, but we plan to visit again at the end of summer when it’s not so hot (and we’re back from Utah). Thanks for reading!

Books of Integrity for Teen Girls


For the past six years, my daughter has participated in the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This organization is for girls ages 12-18 and includes weekly Sunday classes, weekly activities and summer girls camps. There is also a value-based, goal setting program called, Personal Progress.


For each value, my daughter completed six value experiences, which helped her incorporate the value into her life. An example (see value #3) of a value experience for Integrity is to remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, as the highest example of Integrity and to ponder select scripture passages, including the book of Esther, to seek out other examples of Integrity.

“Integrity is the willingness and desire to live by our beliefs and standards.”

Along with the value experiences, the young woman goes on to complete a ten-hour project for each value. Integrity was the last value Marissa worked on, and as part of her ten-hour project, she created a Pinterest board featuring several books she has personally read and can recommend to other teen girls. These are books she considers to hold Integrity- they are morally clean, have strong characters, beautiful stories, and no bad language. I am only highlighting a sampling here, so be sure to check out her Pinterest board for more great choices:



Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, which is a series as you know.

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Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott


The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, which is a series as you know, and is best read in order, starting with, The Magician’s Nephew.

Newer favorites-


Cinder and Ella, by Melissa Lemon. If you’ve never heard of Melissa Lemon before than you are in for a real treat, especially if you enjoy reinvented fairy tales. Check her out! Find her blog here.

Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem fullcover

Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem, by Melissa Lemon


Blackmoore, by Julianne Donaldson. Her books are considered to be “Jane Austen approved”. Find her blog here.


Edenbrooke, by Julianne Donaldson


Journey to the Fringe, by Kelli Swofford Nielsen. This is the first in a series.


Marissa received her Young Womanhood medallion last month, as recognition for completing all of her Personal Progress requirements, following in the footsteps of her mama and her big sister. ♥  If your teenage daughter has a favorite book of Integrity, be sure to leave a comment below. We are always on the lookout for worthwhile reads.