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THANKSGIVING IN ARIZONA

initially we were going to arizona for christmas but ivan ended up having to start a big job two weeks before christmas and didn’t want to stop working for vacation just after starting. so we decided to  go back for thanksgiving. we needed to bring our dog pearl back to az to live with my parents. we don’t have a fenced yard and she hated the rain. it really was so sad. i’d open the door to take her for a walk, she’d poke her head out and if was raining turn right back around. she wasn’t happy here and she loves my parents and their 2 acres she can run around on. we actually got her from my parents so they are a familiar place for her. we get pictures of her from them all the time and will take her back once we have a better place for her. since we had to take her with us and she was too big to fit under our seat on the plane and i did not want to put her with the cargo, we ended up driving back. wow, that drive! its a long one. we left wednesday night after i taught a class at church. we were going to leave thursday morning but we were too excited to get there and thought we’d get a few hours out of the way. we drove straight through. stopping only a few hours to sleep in the car. we landed in phoenix friday morning. dead tired with kids who slept just fine and were ready to play! the minute we pulled up to ivan parents house we handed them the kids and crashed for 3 hours. ivan went in to work and we visited with family.

 

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ivan put this giant tv in the car ontop of the cooler so a + h could play xbox while the other two could watch the tv in the car. way to much technology happening here. typically they can only watch tv or play xbox on saturday so you can imagine how happy they were.

 

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we played at our best friends house. they have the best backyard and toys! this board was a big hit with my kids. unfortunately for them this toy is not practical for seattle! henri loves that phx shirt. its actually a phoenix marathon shirt from those same friends. she is the race director for the phoenix marathon so we are always big supporters!

 

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my sister in law braided jacks hair. ha! he’s the prettiest little boy. he hasn’t had a haircut yet and i know he needs one but we really have become so attached. with everything we’ve gone through it feels very emotional to cut his hair. we are headed to hawaii in a few weeks, i figure we’ll cut it when we get back.

 

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matta’s for lunch! we’ve really missed this place. seattle just doesn’t do mexican food like az. that sunshine too! when we left seattle it was pouring all the way to the california border. the sun felt so bright!!

 

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soda shops are popping up left and right in az. of course it makes me laugh because a soda shop wouldn’t last 2 minutes in seattle. i had to give it a try and may have stopped by a few more times after that.

 

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thanksgiving morning i ran the turkey trot 10k with my sister in laws. i haven’t run much here in seattle so it was killer. every thanksgiving ivans family hosts the child crisis center. the child crisis center is a place children can go when they have nowhere else or when they are placed in cps custody. its a temporary place while they wait to go back home or are placed in a foster home. we usually host the east valley crisis center but this year we hosted phoenix too. its such a wonderful tradition. i love watching my kids serve these beautiful children. they each get assigned a child to help get their food, make them feel comfortable and be a friend to them. of course its very emotional and we all want to take the kids home. at the end santa comes and hands out stockings full of christmas gifts. this is one of the best days of the year.

 

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i ran into target on the drive home to grab a few activities for the car. if you can believe it the kids were burned out from all the movies. i had to snap a shot. the target was massive! all on one level, no elevators or escalators. it had every food you could ever imagine down to anything you could want for your home. i love super target and its probably up there with one of the things i miss most about home.

 

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all this snow!! utah, idaho and eastern washington were covered in it. we had to drive through a pretty big snow storm in utah. that was scary! we are not used to driving in snow so of course we were scared to death. we drove about 15 miles an hour for hours. it made the drive feel like forever.

 

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did you know idaho has a grimaldi’s pizza??!! it does! we were so happy. grimaldis is a favorite and we have several locations back in az but non in seattle so this was a welcomed surprise. i actually really like idaho. its clean, beautiful and feels like a small town with some big town amenities. great shopping too!

 

going back to az felt so comfortable. we picked up right where we left off. the kids didn’t want to go back to seattle, a few tears were shed. i was nervous about coming back. i didn’t know if it would feel like home or if we’d all still be longing for az. we pulled into the city and saw all the bright lights and big buildings and it felt good, it felt like home. i breathed a sigh of relief. we were back in our house in our city.

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LOCAL PIZZA -AZ.

we love pizza at our house.  we eat it all too often.  i love making pizza at home and recently shared our very favorite recipe here.  although some nights its just easier to order in.  here are a few of our favorite pizza joints.

 

grimaldi’s- is our favorite.  we love the pepperoni.  the pesto is really good too.  we get either the house salad or caprese. they don’t deliver, so pick up or dine in.

 

brooklyn v’s- this is the pizza we order in most.  closest to a ny slice that i’ve found in az.

 

sal’s gilbert pizza- garlic knots with cheese + antipasto salad + pepperoni pizza + chocolate dipped cannoli.  the italian sub is good too. it can get pretty busy. the kids like to go here for their date night and sit at the bar.

 

barros- who doesn’t like barros?!  we get a pepperoni pizza and a salad + olives. the kids and i like the cheese sticks (like a sauce-less pizza).

 

casanova brothers- we ate here a lot more before we found brooklyn v’s. the nicest owners from NYC. a great laid back place to take the kids and enjoy and easy night out.

 

lgo- all of their pizzas are great. the wings are even better.

 

slices- on mill or tempe market place. my favorite is the chicken pesto. ivan gets the bbq chicken or pepperoni.

 

anywhere you recommend? we don’t love spinato’s, the sauce is too sweet although i know a lot of people do. i grew up on red devil in phoenix. we don’t eat it often anymore. i know a lot of people in mesa like vito’s.

 

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ARIZONA CITY GUIDE

where to eat

mastro’s city hall steak house– my absolute favorite always consistent meal
-shrimp cocktail
-wedge salad
-Filet
-gorgonzola mac & cheese
-brussel sprouts
– warm butter cake, do not skip this!  Its pure heaven.  I’ve gone for this dessert only.  Trust me its worth it.

i’ve tried other salads and sides but this is my go to.  a lot of people like the lobster mashed potatoes. i’m not a fan of lobster its too chewy and tough but if you are, then go for it!

white Chocolate Grill
-tomato gin soup
-spit roasted turkey dip
-filet mignon cobb salad
-white chocolate banana cream pie, i would normally never order a slice of pie but this one has a graham cracker crust and is to die for.

houstons or hillstone (they’re pretty much the same, hillstone is usually not as busy and its close to last chance.  houston’s is closer to scottsdale mall.  If you want to walk off some of that food and get some retail therapy)
-house smoked salmon appetizer, toast with a mayo mixture and top with salmon.  i actually recreate this at home, its pretty great.
-cheeseburger with fries, the best cheeseburger you will ever have, get the spicy mayo.
-french dip aus jus, i ask for it cut lean.
-pan Seared Ahi Tuna
-center-Cut Filet
-chicken Salad, its not the one on the menu and its only at houston’s, it has chicken, egg, avocado, tomato and their house dressing.
-chicken Sandwich, it has a spicy mayo, cheese and tomato also not on the menu and only at hillstone.
-hot fudge sundae with sugared pecans

the original pancake house (not to be confuse with IHOP, barf)
this place is attached to a Motel 8 or 6 or some kind of motel.  its just west of scottsdale mall.
-2 eggs scrambled with patty sausage and either strawberry or pecan pancakes -that’s my jam
-the dutch baby is ivan’s favorite
-crepes are really good
-get the pancakes, any kind really, they’re all good!

bosa donuts – i don’t care what anyone says bosa has the best donuts.  the only donuts i like better are from doughnut plant in NYC.  go early in the morning while they’re hot.
-maple long john, you can’t go wrong
-buttermilk bar, i was hesitant when ivan told me to try these.  boy am I glad I did.

fractured prune
-sea salt + vanilla

burrito express
-i love their red salsa
-egg + potato + cheese breakfast burrito
-red chili and egg burrito

lee’s sandwiches
-egg + cheese + bacon breakfast sandwich on a croissant (ivan likes the baguette)
-french horn
-almond croissant

lolo’s chicken and waffles
another phoenix joint we’ve been going to since they were in the dumpy location south of the ballpark.  call me crazy but i actually loved that location.  something charming about a little hole in the wall that is constantly packed because its just that good (they now have several locations)
-the betty boop with a side of mac & cheese

LGO (la grande orange)
when ivan and i were first married we lived near here, before it was the crazy trendy place that it is.  man I love that neighborhood.  that area makes me feel at home.
-turkey breakfast sandwich with eggs and avocado on an english muffin
-artichoke appetizer
-cheese burger on an english muffin
-chicken wings with blue cheese (the blue cheese is so good, I could drink it)
-the pizzas are all pretty good
-i love the Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookies, for some reason the last time I went they put waaay too much salt.  Which if you know me that’s nearly impossible, but there was.  So take a look before you get one.

rito’s
-green chili burrito with green chili sauce

carolina’s
the best tortillas this side of the border.
-machaca Burrito
do yourself a favor and get a pint of machaca to go and a dozen tortillas.  if not you’ll regret it when you get home and are craving more.  while you’re at it get a buttered tortilla for the drive.

mattas 
if you grew up in mesa you know.
-i like the hot and mild salsa mixed
-cheese crisp
-chili relleno
-chilaquiles casserole- fried egg, no onions, shredded beef, red sauce
-chicken burro enchilada style with red sauce

el charro
-usually people i meet like el charro or matta’s, i like both.
-homemade buttered tortilla (request this with everything you order or you’ll be stuck with a crappy store bought one)
-i like a homemade buttered tortilla with a side of rice and beans and I make my own little burrito
-mojado quesadilla, filled with beans and cheese

tum nak thai
-pad see iw -ive tried other dishes but i always go back to this.  its just so good.  i like it with chicken and medium spicy.

tamari sushi
-tuna poke
-surprise roll
– hot and saucy roll

sakana sushi
-boston Roll
-salmon Bomber
-rainbow Roll
-tootsie Roll
-red dragon roll

yoko bowl
-i get the number 6 and number 12.  one is yakisoba and the other is chicken.  i really have no idea which number is what.  i just order both.  i order the Yakisoba will all noodles and white meat chicken.
-get the red spicy sauce they keep in a squeeze bottle up front, its really good.

rolberto’s 
-i know it seems like all ‘berto’s” are the same but i’m here to tell you they’re not!  rolberto’s has the best bean and cheese burrito’s ever.  i do mean ever!  it’s on main just west of country club in mesa.  don’t eat there just go through the drive thru and eat it in your car because its too good to wait until you get home.

betitos
-quesadilla
-3 rolled tacos + guac.

honey bears bbq
-pulled pork sandwich + side or coleslaw (to put on top of your sandwich)

the bagel man
-everything bagel + scallion cream cheese

A few more places you should check out
-jp mcgurkee’s
-grimaldi’s pizza
-chelsea’s kitchen
-republica empanada
-tee pee mexican food
-defalcos great italian food + sandwiches
-cheba hut
-burger house in globe, az for green chili burros
-el ray also in globe green chili quesadilla. their homemade chips and salsa are great

where to stay
scottsdale is where all the resorts are. some of our favorite are
montelucia
westin kierland
arizona grand– great for kids
scottsdale princess

what to do 
scottsdale mall for shopping
scottsdale quarter + kierland commons- across the street from each other and both are great for shopping.  they both also have splash pads. quarters splash pad is better but kierlands is less busy.
tpc- golfing
camelback mountain- hiking
science museum- great for kids
phoenix childrens museum- my kids love this place, its huge and has tons of stuff to do.
phoenix zoo
butterfly wonderland
tempe town lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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