© Kathryn Bechen 2020

Bye Bye Simply Beautiful 2019!

Updated: Feb 14


Greetings from The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, AZ my dears! We had lunch at their Mowry & Cotton Restaurant over the Christmas holidays for our one "big outing" that we usually do every Christmas and it was such elegant fun.


Like many people, at the end of every year, I like to take some quiet time to reflect back over our year and evaluate what went well, what didn't work so well, and how I/we can improve our lifestyle and make wise life choices for the next year. I use these same questions every year, as every year we grow/change so our answers change, so I thought I'd share them with you in case you'd like to do this for 2020 too.


Sure, not everything in life is picture-perfect within our control, but we can control some things, so why not make the best and most beautiful choices where we CAN is my lifestyle motto. The rest of life? I pray for grace. :)


BTW, I admittedly was dismayed by the overall ratty sweatpants and messy hair/lack of grooming scene at the beautiful Phoenician 5* Resort over Christmas when we went there for lunch. This lack of decorum is everywhere, I'm afraid, not just there. Personally, I refuse to not dress up at least a little when I go out somewhere so beautiful like this, and I like to fix my hair and put on makeup. Call me old-fashioned, but I call it self-respect, and I remember the days when it was fun to see others looking pretty at holiday time too and getting to enjoy their outfits as "art to your eyes."


How about raising our societal grooming and dressing standards again!


Looking presentable doesn't have to cost a fortune. Not at all. My clothes are not designer high-end fashion and I usually buy them on sale too since I'm a dollarwise kind of gal who monitors her budget.  My hairstyle and makeup are not expensive or elaborate, but I'm tidy and groomed.


Yes, it does take effort and time to fix yourself up a bit, and it's sometimes easier to look ratty.  For instance, I had a searing headache when I got dressed yesterday, but you know what? I put my makeup on, did my hair, dressed up, went somewhere beautiful with my sweet husband, and I felt better, if not perfect. (I could have more easily stayed in bed with a heat pack on my throbbing head, but then I would have missed the good food, my hubby's happiness at going out, the sunshine, and the beauty!)


My dollarwise red "Christmas" jacket (washes up like a dream and great for travel)

My red and black top was my splurge this year (ditto easy care in washer/hang to dry)

My favorite comfy black dressier pants (they made the fabric even better last purchase and they are wonderful for travel!)

My favorite comfy black shoes (hello walking on cobblestones feet)



My hubby Steve always asks me when he gets dressed, "Does this look okay?" Bless his heart, usually he looks great, but sometimes I kid him that he needs "Garanimals" to make it easier for him to know which items and colors go best together. :) But he tries hard and looking his best is important to him too. Ditto good grooming. (Have you seen the caterpillar eyebrows and grungy long hair on some um, mature men? Call me whatever you wish, but I shudder.  Oh, I know I'm getting the "Jesus had long hair!" retort about now!)


Well anyway, now that I'm off my (persnickety) soapbox, (sort of), :) here is my annual list of questions I ask myself every year that might also help you have a good year/life plan going forward. (Yes, there's a personal appearance section.) May I suggest buying yourself a pretty new journal and some new pens in fun colors and going down the questions one by one and writing your answers in longhand, keeping the list folded in the front of the journal for next year.


Something interesting about handwriting vs. typing: Years ago when I was tutoring/teaching Reading, Writing, Language Arts at a Sylvan Learning Center in California, a teaching supervisor of mine told me it's been proven, (she had about three different Masters Degrees in Education and Reading so she's likely right I'd guess), that when we write things down by hand our minds remember them better. Since that was told to me many years ago I have since seen various articles stating the same. To that scientific sentiment, I personally add my unscientific pretty journal m.o. and colorful pens!


Have fun!



Now on for some other goodies. Steve and I spent a nice quiet Christmas Eve at home together after cancelling our reservation to travel to beautiful Sedona, AZ for the holidays. We can go there in spring, summer, or fall. (We were there years ago and loved it.) We decided this year early December that we did not want to deal with snow and rain on the roads and were SO happy with our decision to stay home as it poured rain in the Greater Phoenix area for several days in a row but we were snug as a bug in a rug in our little cottage. Sometimes, it's good to pivot/change your mind! The roads were very dangerous in some areas of AZ due to the snow and yesterday even though it was sunny, we saw a "Don't stop on the side of the road to play in the snow!" warning sign flashing on the freeway.


On Christmas Eve, we made homemade chili and our fave cornbread and I set a pretty table. My husband requested a white tablecloth like in a nice restaurant, so I happily obliged.  We no longer desire to drink wine at our age, so we drink healthier Kevita instead as our "wine." I've made the same chili recipe since I was a bride in my 20s -- I think the recipe came from a church cookbook or college cookbook that was a wedding gift but I have modified it over time.


Simple yum!


Here it is:


Kathryn's Fave Old-Timey Crockpot Chili Recipe


1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (We eat plant-based meals only now so I either substitute another can of beans or a cup or so of small-chopped raw eggplant pieces for the beef. You could also use ground turkey.)


1/2 c. dry onion (or real onion if you like chopping)


2-3 cans kidney beans or Tri-bean blend


1 can stewed tomatoes with juice


1 can tomato soup


1 can tomato sauce 14 oz.


2 T. chili powder or more to taste


1-2 cups water


Salt and pepper to taste


Fill crockpot, stir, turn on high just until hot, stir and then turn down to low for 8 hours or more.


Enjoy!


One of the projects my hubby Steve did for us over the holidays, (he was on vaca from his work), was to put this new window film on our home's windows for privacy since we are on a street on one side and close to neighbors on the other sides as well. We had a darker color film on before but this is much better as it lets in more light. When we want total dark we can just pull the accordion shades over the film that we bought this year at Home Depot and they work dandy.


My cozy new fur chair pads make a nice (comfy!) neutral chair covering which I wanted with my white tablecloth for the holidays. Similar. They have a non-skid backing which is even better and I have tossed them in the washer and dryer, (hello spaghetti sauce!), a few times already and they look great still.


And God said, "Let there be light!"


Our cars on our carport only show through a bit which is fine.


Okay, back to the beautiful Phoenician Resort.


Now, don't let that sun and sparkly blue pool fool you -- it was COLD yesterday here in AZ! As in 50 degrees. (For here, that's cold.) But even so, there were girls in bikinis and guys with no shirts at the pool. Brrrr! No thank you! (Maybe they were from Nebraska where we used to live so it felt like summer here in Arizona to them, who knows!) :)


Set against the mountain ...


The beautiful golf course at The Phoenician. You can also eat at the restaurant on the course.


Beautiful shops with beautiful goods and 5* price tags of course.

More pretties.


Our food at Mowry & Cotton at The Phoenician was really fresh and tasty-good and our service was excellent -- 5*! (We have found servers in AZ to just be so nice overall!)



Grounds at the Phoenician.


After we left The Phoenician we took a drive through one of my favorite Arizona places: The Tonto National Forest.


I always like to take the scenic route when possible as you never know what you'll find.


In this case we saw wild horses in the Tonto. What a treat!



I find the Tonto Forest to be so peaceful and serene that I told my hubby that it's become my Arizona version of "Walden Pond." :) We visited the real Walden Pond way back in the 1980s and here's my pix of that little outing that inspired me way back when to live simply.


But, on the off-chance anyone's concerned about me chopping wood near a frozen lake in sub-zero weather now at age 61, rest assured that my version of simple living does not include a frozen pond in the woods nor chopping wood near it to save a dollar on my heating bill; it includes living in a small cute affordable home with electric heat I'm glad to pay to keep at 76 degrees, (above zero!), buying pretty clothes on sale, and not cooking over a campfire to save money but instead going to The Phoenician for lunch.

Just thought I'd clarify that. :)


Here are some other Arizona scenes we saw on our scenic drive yesterday.


A sun dog! I didn't know what this was but my weather-loving hubby told me. He took a weather class way back in college and has been in love with all things weather ever since. Every day, for nearly 40 years now, I get a weather report, rain or shine! His college buddies nicknamed their "Weather and Meteorology" class "Clouds" -- brilliant young men that they were. Well, he reminds me often he did get an "A" in the class so here we are.  :)



Snow on the mountain in AZ yesterday!


More snow on the mountain and the green valley courtesy of a week's heavy rains!



Cactus and mountain courtesy of Arizona nature.


Taken from my side of the car yesterday.


We have lived in Arizona for 18 months come January 4th, 2020. Time flies! We are still asked by others if we like living here and if we miss California after living in San Diego for so long, so here's our opinion on that:


We enjoy living in the Valley of the Sun now for many reasons, and Steve and I are both really glad we moved here. Arizona checks all our particular personal "happy lifestyle" boxes: perpetual sunshine, no snow right where we live except on the mountain tops once in awhile which you can't get to anyway nor would we try, (did we mention no snow!), friendly people who've moved here from many other places, vibrant business growth as the whole Phoenix metro area is very fast-growing, excellent medical facilities, beautiful scenery, orange trees everywhere including in front of our home, lots of fun things to do -- from hiking, (we don't!) to sports, (not really us!) to arts, (yes please!), to great restaurants, (we're there!), and Greater Phoenix is more affordable than some large metro areas in the U.S.   For us, it's a great place to live.


Two things though you do need more of in Arizona: hand lotion and eye drops for the dry desert air! And I have never sucked so many cough drops in my life!


We enjoyed our years living in CA from 1999-2018 very much and we explored much of that beautiful state, but we don't miss living there now as CA vastly changed over that time and we are now happier living in Arizona and have zero desire to ever move back to CA. (Sorry Cali friends; we love you!) Even with no beaches here in AZ, we just go to resorts and enjoy their water features instead of the beach, plus Arizona amazingly has many beautiful lakes.


Be sure now to buy yourself a pretty journal and how about using these questions to get started on your next great decade?


2020 here we all come, God willing!


Kathryn :)



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