Got any Junk in the Trunk?

Junk 4 photoThis morning I attended my second Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market held at Westworld in Scottsdale. If you’ve never been, this annual event offers an amazing collection of vintage, antique, handmade, repurposed and creative items from nearly 180 local (and a few out-of state) vendors. Started in 2011, Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market is Arizona’s mecca for finding repurposed treasures and long-lost childhood memories (hello Barbie doll carrier!). With local talent providing music and delicious treats (shout out to Mama’s Cold Brew and Waffle Love, among others) to provide energy during this powershopping experience, Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market continues to grow with more than 10,000 visitors last year prompting the founders to add another day to the event. This year I focused on finding horse-themed items for our new barn and discovering unique accessories, like the darling fabric headbands and earrings created by Vintage Rose Wraps.  Although I held myself back from buying everything that looked appealing, I loved the trips down memory lane that so many of the items brought to mind. The energy of the people – visitors, volunteers, vendors – created a fun and festive atmosphere. I’m already looking forward to next year!

Helpful tip from seasoned shoppers: Bring wagons or rolling carts to hold all your finds and ask volunteers to take your items and big purchases to the convenient pick-up area.


New SW Lifestyle Article on CaveCreekLive

Read my latest article, Southwest Living in the Desert Foothills, on the website. It highlights the Southwest lifestyle that we enjoy here in the Valley of the Sun and the people who embrace our rich Arizona culture. is filled with tons of great information and is the go-to resource for everything Cave Creek, Carefree and North Scottsdale. I’m loving reading about the history of the area and plotting my next meal at some of the authentic restaurants. Yum! And I’ve already picked out some fun events for the kids, too. Jump on over to CaveCreekLive and check it out!

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You can find Southwest Living in the Desert Foothills under the Articles section on the CaveCreekLive menu bar, under Events, People and Places.

Then & Now: On Books and Inspiration

SWHomeBNPICAs I was browsing through Barnes & Noble the other day, I walked past the Design and Architecture section and was delighted to see The New Southwest Home: Innovative Ideas for Every Room on the display rack. I thumbed through it, reminiscing about the images and the stories that accompany them and remembered the labor of love that it took to bring this book, and its prequel Outdoor Style: The Essence of Southwest Living, to fruition. With two small children and an inclination for procrastination, it was a magical time of activity, anticipation, anxiety and finally completion.

At the time of publication, I had been talking with my editor and publisher about exploring work on a new book that incorporated sustainability into home and garden design. This was at a time when green concepts were just emerging and I was really excited to see where it might lead and what kind of book we could create. Unfortunately, the partners in the publishing firm decided to sell the company, and that opportunity fizzled.

My interest in sustainable issues, however, was piqued and I was soon thereafter pursuing a Master’s in Education degree with the focus on Humane Education: sustainability, animal rights, the environment and media and society. I can still remember the day that I discovered the Institute for Humane Education! Not only did this organization provide information, resources and suggestions about how to make the world a better place, it offered an advanced education degree to study issues that I cared about so deeply. Zoe Weil, the founder of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE), inspired me with her vision about the humane education movement and her commitment to make it a reality. IHE’s education director Mary Pat Champeau was supportive and encouraging as she listened to me ramble about how relieved and excited I was to find that there were other people out there who shared my passions.

IHE BrochureMy experience with IHE was, and continues to be, life changing. The opportunities that I have had to learn and grow as a person, to provide information to others, to bring awareness to youth and to guide my children stems from my transformative experience. This basis enables me to make thoughtful and informed decisions in my personal and professional life as a mom, wife, friend, writer, educator, entrepreneur, community leader and citizen.

Although I did not plan to write about the impact that IHE and its mission has made on my life in this post, I am grateful that I had a chance to revisit my initial euphoria and review my subsequent journey that continues to provide a foundation on how I live and how I want to create a future that has a positive effect on humans, animals, society and the earth.

For more information about the Institute for Humane Education, its mission and its educational offerings for students, parents and teachers, including online classes and Master’s and Doctorate programs, visit

Amazing Arizona: Rancho de los Caballeros/Wickenburg

Rancho de los CaballerosDriving past the golf course into the Sonoran desert landscape, my daughter and I spotted the stables and let out a little “yee-haw!” We were excited to settle in to
this historic Arizona dude ranch and meet the horses that we would be riding for the next few days. We were both anticipating adventure! My daughter is 11, is an avid horse lover and mostly rides English on her Welsh Cobb pony Gabe in Scottsdale. I ride infrequently but Western is the style of riding I learned when visiting my aunt and uncle every summer in West Texas.

Located in Wickenburg, Arizona, Rancho de los Caballeros has more than 80 trail horses that carry hundreds of ranch visitors every year from mid-October to mid-May. After the last trail ride in May, the horses are trailered to Wyoming where they spend a few weeks in cool, lush pastures before heading off to their summer job – working at a dude ranch in the cooler climes of the states. In the fall, they will make their way back to Rancho de los Caballeros and enjoy a warm winter and spring in the desert. Can they be considered snowbirds?

Rancho Trail RideOn most days, there are several trail rides to choose from, including a children’s ride (ages 6-12), a family ride and a nature ride. On Sundays there is one morning ride and the horses get the afternoon off. Most rides are one and a half to two hours in duration and are led by friendly and experienced trail guides. During the peak weather season, a weekly trail ride to the lunch cookout near Vulture Peak is a highlight. Groups leave the stables for a two-hour ride through the desert washes and ridges (while others opt for the 20 minute mini-van ride) and meet at the cookout location surrounded by Saguaro cactus, desert marigolds and impressive mountain vistas. Chairs are placed in circles simulating a campfire and horses are tied up on lines reminiscent of the old cowboy movies. Picturesque for sure, but being able to experience this community gathering is something special.

Blog photosContainers of lemonade and iced tea sit alongside a bartender pouring wine and offering beer for those who desire a little boost after the morning ride. When the sound of the triangle is heard, kids and adults line up for the scrumptious buffet of salads – green, potato, macaroni – and burgers, dogs and homemade veggie patties hot off the grill. Not to miss is the cowboy beans (get two servings!). From what we could surmise, the combination of pinto and black beans, veggies and a secret sweet-like ingredient make this an award-winning side dish.

Having been around horses off and on throughout my life and being an advocate for animals, I was very impressed with the way that the ranch personnel handled the horses and how they helped visitors, even those with no horse experience, learn how to safely ride and work with their mounts. Equally impressive were the horses themselves. Safety is my number one concern and I was happy to see that these horses were comfortable around each other and with people. They were alert and friendly and seemed to take their jobs seriously. Riders of all ages and stages (inexperienced through professional) can find what they are looking for at the stables.

Rancho Pool Table SPMOther outdoor activities at the ranch include swimming in the heated pool, golf on the nearby course and tennis. The ranch also offers a full-service spa, saloon, kids club, nature hikes, trap and skeet shooting and the perfect environment to unwind and appreciate life. We enjoyed sitting poolside for lunch one day and Eco relished the opportunity to take a dip after each of her rides. The breakfast and lunch buffets offer plenty of variety and because meals are included in the stay, there is an ease and simplicity about mealtimes. For dinner, the men are asked to wear jackets or Western vests (if you don’t have one, the ranch has some available to “borrow”) and reservations are suggested for one of the three seating times nightly. Dee, the ranch wrangler, visits each table to answer questions and sign up riders for the next day.

Rancho de los Caballeros scrapbooks dating from 1947

Ranch scrapbooks dating from 1947

Rancho de los Caballeros means Ranch of the Gentlemen on Horseback and the lobby area, with its massive stone fireplace, cozy seating vignettes, card room and pool table, exudes Southwestern charm and reminds me of Camelback Inn and the old Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley – casual elegance. Tucked into an area off the lobby is a shelf of scrapbooks that holds memories of the ranch and its visitors since its founding in 1947 by three families – depicted in the ranch’s Sun C brand with three rays of sunshine – one of which still runs the ranch today (the Gant family).

Part of the Historic Hotels of America, Dude Ranchers’ Association and the Arizona Dude Ranch Association, Rancho de los Caballeros is also rated in the Top 50 Ranches and Golf Digest’s top 5 golf courses in Arizona. Cultural offerings can also be found in the nearby town of Wickenburg, such as the Desert Caballeros Western Museum and performances at the Del E. Webb Center for Performing Arts.

Spending time together in the saddle, by the pool and playing pool, at mealtimes, and in our room without the typical time constraints provided an opportunity for my daughter and I to enjoy each other’s company and get to know a little bit more about each other on a different level. When it was time to leave, we were both sad but vowed to book our next visit as soon as we looked at our calendars. See ya’ll real soon!

Visit Rancho de los Caballeros at