Category Archives: Miscellaneous Diversions

Snapshots from Phoenix

Hi everyone.  Have I mentioned that it is really hot in Phoenix right now?  It is really hot in Phoenix right now.  And now that July has kicked in, there is now humidity thanks to the monsoon storms.  I was told this place had dry heat.  I need a refund.

Nevertheless, the heat can’t keep me in – I refuse! Last weekend (4th of July weekend which was really long for us since we got Monday off as well (which to note is not an Arizona thing but rather a result of working 4 ten-hour days)) we did a little exploring and this weekend we did a little more.  I thought I’d share our adventures with you in a few snapshots.

Last weekend’s visit to the Antique Plaza in Mesa yielded a few results – some more vinyl for JT’s record collection and a cool copper printed map of Arizona for me.  There were some other items I didn’t want to leave behind . . .



The Antique Plaza was huge!  Some of the prices were right on, some were a little high and there was actually some MCM to be found (usually with the higher price tag).  We’ll be back.

We have a field mouse hiding in our house somewhere . . . I’m trying to catch him with peanut butter and love but the next step will be JT taking over the offensive and his methods are not so sweet.


Friday night while JT was out doing a band audition I met the mouse and went to Home Depot for the traps.  The next morning found me back at the Depot for a lighting class and meet and greet with (now) local blogger Jenny Komenda from Little Green Notebook.  The actual class went a little sideways and no one else took photos so I grabbed this shot with furtive shame on my phone (that’s Jenny on the right in the green blouse).


Jenny was super sweet and ready to relax a little after finishing up the Domino Magazine photo shoot at her house.  I can’t even imagine!

And no, that isn’t me above with a half buzzed head but the heat has convinced me that less hair is the better option.   Here’s a quick in-the-salon before pic to show just how long (and kind of straggly) my hair had become.


And after!  So much better for the summer!


So today I took my new haircut out into the heat and JT and I visited Cosanti which is the residence and studios of Paolo Soleri.  JT described it as looking like the place where Luke Skywalker lives and while I don’t have a good frame of reference on  that, it was a unique place that had primitive and futuristic aspects all at the same time.


Doesn’t that kind of look like a wooden spaceship came to land in the desert?  Steampunk kids take note, this place was started in the 1950s.


Also (random alert) there was a lot of olive trees among the vegetation and the site produces, bottles and sells its own olive oil.  Wowza.


I can’t wait to go up north and stay the night at Soleri’s larger experiment, Arcosanti.

What’s been going on with you guys?  Any tips for the heat?  Thank goodness my local grocery store carries a few flavors of coconut milk ice cream or I might have melted already.  Cheers – CT

(PS – More adventures to come – a day trip to Jerome and JT finds a new man chair.  Oooooh!)

Hot Crowd

Has anyone else noticed how Jimmy Fallon always comments that there is a “hot crowd” now that he’s on the Tonight Show?  And so the crowd cheers louder because he may be saying that they’re physically attractive but really he may be commenting on their general liveliness?  Well (to transition this thing over) we’re always a hot crowd here in Phoenix now that the days are mostly in the 100 to 100 degree range.  It’s like a long-standing joke on us (until September when we then laugh at the rest of the country).

We got up early a few weekends back to see if hiking was still feasible in this heat.  The Valley had a layer of smog when we were only 20 minutes in and not very high up the mountain.


The sun started baking us and we called it a little early to head back home, drink all the water we could find and generally lay about.


The heat means I open the doors to send the dogs out and in a few short minutes I see this out the back door . . .


So we let them back in and then they generally lay about the place.  Like so (Sophie, who finally learned how to use pillows):


And so:


And so (a princess and the pea Shenanigan when I piled up the dog beds so our robot vacuum could be unleashed in the bedroom):


One benefit of the heat is a 50% discount offered to Arizona residents for visits to Taliesin West.  JT and I thought the first tour on Saturday morning (9am) might be nice and empty but it was packed instead.  So it was a little difficult to take pictures due to the throng of fellow architecture enthusiasts we were surrounded by.


The tour was interesting, the sun was hot and I enjoyed nosing around.  As this was Wright’s winter home, he left a lot of the structures open with only canvas as a covering for a few years until his wife convinced him to go with glass.

I found a handsome man on the tour …


A sculpture I liked . . .


Oh, you wanted me to turn around? (Picture fail)


A picture of a picture (heading into the dinner theatre area – what don’t you have your architecture students/servants put on a dinner theatre for you on your winter vacation?)


(Sidenote: I didn’t realize my hair was getting so long . . .)


The view towards McDowell Mountain.  You can definitely see where Wright got his inspiration!  Time to get back inside and away from the sun’s burning rays!  Cheers – CT



What a week …


This Friday finds me a little drained . . . adjusting to my new schedule is, well, an adjustment.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to love having Fridays off and we just found out today that JT is approved to work a 4-day week as well so we’ll be able to have adventures together.  Our plan for this weekend is to hit up  the Phoenix Public Market followed by Micro Dwell 2014.  I may have finagled an Ikea trip in there as well.


Image via Micro Dwell


Image via Phoenix Public Market

So I’m excited for my weekend.  What do you have going on for yours?  We’re off to a good start as the blog got a sweet mention over at third story(ies)!  Cheers – CT

Good News!

I know I’ve been a little on the gloom and doom side of things lately but I have to say this whole relocating across the country with about a month worth of notice was HARD!  It’s an amazing adventure and I’m so glad we did it but there was a lot of ups and downs on this roller coaster of relocation.  I feel like the final piece finally fell into place when I started my new job last Monday.


I was able to find a great place in a firm that specializes in education design, very similar to what I was doing in St. Louis.  It’s a small office and everyone has been very welcoming so far.  The office is set up to do four 10 hour days and then have Fridays off.  Now that we’re settled in down here in Phoenix, I’m excited for long three-day weekends so we can go on road trips to California or Las Vegas or Flagstaff or wherever the mood takes us (Mexico maybe?  Who knows.)  They say things always work out the way they’re supposed to be in the end but there were most definitely a few months there where I wasn’t so sure.  I’m happy (now) that I stuck it out and held out for a job that really suits me and takes my career a step forward.  Cheers! CT

Good Grief?

A few years ago Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo put out an interesting challenge – memorize a poem.  It struck me as such an ingenious idea and an almost lost art.  I have always loved poetry and never read it anymore.  I have two small books, one of the works of Edgar Allen Poe and another “Great Sonnets” edited by Paul Negri that I used to read and recite (to myself in my room) as an outlet to all my teenage angst.  And as I’m obviously very into furniture, I love how one of Jo’s readers said memorized poetry is like “mental furniture” and I can just picture beautiful chairs representing each memorized verse populating a gorgeous sitting room in my brain.

Imagine my surprise when Downton Abbey characters Isobel and Violet begin discussing one of my oft-read poems on the opening show of this latest season.


(Image via Vision TV)

I love when Mrs. Crawley and the Dowager Countess get all feisty on each other but this discussion about Christina Rossetti’s poem Remember was not an argument about flower arranging or who to hire for their wait staff.  They were talking about Mrs. Crawley and her grief for her lost son Matthew (um belated spoiler alert, he died).

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the passing of my father.  He was 51, I was 23.  Had I been writing this blog ten years ago, I don’t know that I could have written anything legible about this topic.  I was devastated and dropped deep into a gulf of grief.  I remembered Rossetti’s poem and I looked to it for comfort.  Not much was to be had – it was too soon.  I shared it with my mother hoping it could help her in some small way.  Today I’m sharing it with you.

Remember by Christina Rossetti (1830 – 1894)

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more, day by day,
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far that you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.


(An old-school selfie back from the days of film cameras when you were never quite sure how much if any of your face was going to be in the picture.)

My dad was quiet to those who didn’t know him and such a goof to his family and friends.  While it is so easy to be sad for the time I didn’t get with him, I instead choose to think about what an amazing time we did have.  I find that now, ten years on, I don’t have to forget to smile.  Often times my memories can make me laugh out loud.

Beautiful as bunnies

So here it is.  The dreaded “beauty” post.  Even though I am incredibly thrifty when it comes to my clothes, I never, ever want to appear as cheap.  Those two words have a world of difference between them and while I am happy to save on price, I am never willing to compromise on quality.

With makeup, I was an early adopter – interested in it at a young age and probably unrelenting in my demands to my parents.  My mom took me to Clinique when I was 13 (I think – my age-related memory is not great) and the ladies there showed me how to put on makeup so it didn’t look like I was wearing makeup and I got to go home with some powder and a little tube of lipstick.  Smart move on my mom’s part because it kept me out of all the crazy black eyeliner and other more aggressive forms of makeup-ing my teenage counterparts began later after secret buying trips at the drug store.  Past that introduction, I feel like I never “progressed” into the land of makeup or beauty.  I don’t really wear much of it but mainly because I don’t really know what I’m doing.

Moving down to Arizona and starting a new phase in my life, I decided it might be time to learn what this stuff is all about.  You know, step up my game or whatever.  I put out a request for Andrea Pomerantz Lustig’s book, How to Look Expensive, and my sister graciously gifted it to me for Christmas.


It has been a real game-changer – I have learned so much from this book!  I still don’t wear a ton of makeup – that’s just not really my style but I have learned some new tricks with what makeup I do have and also garnered many ideas for hair color and a beauty regimen.  I love that she breaks it down, step-by-step for us clueless ladies and has diagrams and instructions on specific ingredients to look for.  She also has a (super) high-end product recommendation along with affordable drug store options and sometimes a natural option sometimes as well.


One thing I had been thinking about springing for was one of those Clarisonic face buffer-things.  The book recommends them and I have heard from other bloggers I follow that they’re really great.  As I am just dipping my toe into the water, I thought I would start out with my own version of a nightly buffing – just me, my face cleanser and a wash cloth.


Above is my nightly routine.  Just by taking the time to have a nightly routine has made my skin so much happier, softer and clearer.  The Alba night cream (I got it at Target) is so moisturizing that JT even uses it on the backs of his hands which would otherwise crack and bleed in this dry desert environment we live in.  If he misses a night, his hands look red and burn-victim-ish the next day.  I highly recommend it.


One way How to Look Expensive appeals to my thrifty side is it suggests homemade options for some of the products – I scooped up these $1 travel bottles from Target and one contains grapeseed oil for my hair and the other is three parts olive oil to one part castor oil that I use to cleanse my face in the shower.  I use solid coconut oil as an eye makeup remover (which is nice because it moisturizes a little too) and this tip (found via Pinterest and self-tested!)  for a homemade shave cream is amazing.

My “Vegucation” and lifestyle transition to a vegan has impacted my beauty routine and purchases as well.  (Warning soapbox ahead.)  I went looking for images for this blog post and wound up almost in tears instead.  See Peta’s Animal Testing 101.  Or if you’re brave do a Google Image search for animal testing.  Animals suffer so much for our cosmetic industry.  They use bunnies, beagles, mice and so on to test dyes and fragrances before we put them on our skin – they’ll open up a part of their brain to apply the chemical to or put it directly on their eyeballs (it’s called vivisection and happens at vivariums all around the country.  This is sometimes where litters of puppies or kittens posted for “free to a good home” on the internet end up.)   I can understand animal testing for disease-fighting drugs that might save someone’s life but I can’t understand it for a new scented shampoo.  If something needs to be tested on an animal before I can apply it on my hair, I think I just don’t want it on my hair.


So.  What to do?  Look for the above Leaping Bunny logo on your products – it means they are cruelty-free.  I downloaded the Leaping Bunny app (it’s free) and I have become super selective about which products I buy.  Typically, yes, they cost more but to me it’s worth it.  To think of another creature really, truly suffering for something so superficial as shiny hair or extra-thick eyelashes to me is heartbreaking.

Luckily a lot of items are available at the local drug stores, grocery stores and big box chains.   Here are a few I’ve picked up and am liking so far.


I also look to My Beauty Bunny for ideas and thanks to the power of the internet, I’ve been doing a lot of research prior to purchasing.  It’s a little more time-consuming but I believe in being an educated consumer and using my shopping dollars with purpose.


If you’re still reading this, thank you for bearing with me.  I don’t want this blog to turn into rant-ville but this just kept building up inside of me and I had kind of a “be the change” moment or whatever.  Last year the EU banned the sale of cosmetics tested on animals and even China (which requires everything to be animal tested) is showing progress.  It’s time for the U.S. to get out there and be somebody already and hopefully by educating ourselves and maybe even spreading the word, we can see a positive change.  Cheers – CT

(PS – Back to regularly scheduled programming – coming up for you I have a $3 thrift find (hint – it’s marble) and its mini transformation.  Thanks again for putting up with me.)

Fashion (Turn to the left)

I am by no means, any means, a “fashionista”.  I am however, most definitely a thrifter.  I love the hunt and I can go hanger-by-hanger through miles of racks searching for that one piece of clothing that looks like it just might work for me.  (And then I try it on.  I try everything on.  Everything.)  Sometimes you have to dig . . .


So this is not a post about what is in fashion (whatever that means) but more a post about how I go about acquiring my “fashion” in a thrifty way.

1. Donate.  It seems counter-intuitive to give away clothes when you feel like you have nothing to wear but it’s good to clean out some closet space and edit out the things you’re not wearing.  I keep two bags in my closet (our new oversize walk-in closet, so the lap of luxury!) for quickly sorting items.  Bag #1 are clothing items that need to be recycled – things that are stained or torn beyond repair.  Bag #2 is a donate bag for things that don’t fit right and/or I just looked at 500 times and realized I will never wear it.  Probably because it doesn’t fit right.  And for me, that’s why the bags have to be IN the closet – I have a tendency to just drop something into the hamper that I wore and pulled at all day and/or felt uncomfortable in.  Who wants to feel self-conscious or uncomfortable in their clothes?  Not this girl.  (Then when the bag is full I give it a quick launder for good measure.) Donate it and get something you LOVE to wear.


Also, on my last trip to Saver’s, I got a 30% off coupon in exchange for my donation.  Another plus in the donation column.

2) Shop on discount days for higher savings.  In Phoenix, Goodwill has 50% off days two Saturdays a month and Saver’s has them for major holidays (like MLK Day.)  Get on the email lists of thrift stores near you and find out when the savings days are.  I received a 20% coupon to Goodwill for joining their email list.  But be prepared for the discount days to be hectic in there.  If you can’t deal with crowds, you’ll have to pay full (thrift store) price.  Not sure what thrift store are near you?  Check out The Thrift Shopper for a search by zip code directory.  You’re welcome.


(Note: I  am not crazy about how I look in this picture but it’s the only one we took and I’m trying to get over my camera phobia so here it is.)  This dress I found at the half off day at Goodwill and was only $2.  It’s the Inc. brand from Macy’s and I’m totally a blue girl so I knew I could accessorize it up.  I wore it out with JT when we went out for a belated 9-year wedding anniversary dinner a few weekends ago.

3) Know what you’re looking for.  Thrift stores can be overwhelming so go in with an idea (albeit loose) of what you are looking for.  I’ve targeted different ideas: cute layering sweater, loose hang-out-around-the-house-but-still-look-cute Tees, work-appropriate skirts or a new pair of sandals.  You get the drift.  And sometimes having multiple targets can help make your mission a success.  My favorite thing right now to buy at the thrifts is belts – they make a huge impact to an outfit for usually around $1.


Not sure how long navy blue and brass will be in style?  A $1 belt means you can be in on the trend and not be sad when it goes out again.  These are all belts I have found at the thrifts.  The black and natural one was at the Goodwill on Watson near Crestwood Mall (is it still Crestwood Mall?)  Goodwill actually gets a lot of Target items that have never been worn – this is one of those and it was more than $1 (I think I paid $4) but still way less than it would have been at Target.

4) Shop ahead.  The thrifts require digging and a little persistence.  If you have an event that evening, you’re probably not going to find what you need at the thrifts.  I’m anticipating that now that we live in Phoenix, I might want to add a few more sandals to the mix.  It doesn’t hurt to start looking in January!  I found these cute little Old Navy numbers at the Goodwill nearest our new house.  For $2 and looking brand new, I think they’ll do.  (I also tried them on to be sure.  Try everything on.  It’s a pain in the ass but it’s worth it.)


5) Get creative.  I had on my “to hunt” list a maxi dress – I’m anticipating hot weather in my future (duh it’s the desert) and so it seemed like something I might get some use out of.  On my trip to Saver’s during the 50% off MLK bonanza, I found something with potential but it wasn’t quite right . . . So I took a $4 chance and brought it home . . . 


Sorry for the weird, in-the-mirror selfies.  Fashion blogger I am not.  At any rate, I had checked it out in the store and it looked like the two small slinkies were removable so when I got it home, I pulled them off, recycled them (sorry slinkies) and accessorized the dress with my thrifted belt.  I have a feeling I will be wearing this a lot come June.

6) Check it over & try it on.  There’s a lot of sub-components to this one but here’s the gist – make sure it fits well everywhere.  Make sure there’s no stains, rips, missing buttons, etc.  Someone donated it for a reason, sometimes the reason is a stain or a weird stretched out part.  Thrift stores don’t have laundry facilities so be sure to fully launder and air out any purchases when you get home – don’t put it near the rest of your wardrobe until it’s been washed.

7) Know when to say no.   I’m still learning this one but sometimes you have to put the thrifted clothes back on the rack and call it a day.  And if you make it home with something that ends up not being the right fit, put it into the donate bag and start again with Step One.

So that’s been my life lately, digging in at the thrifts and coming home with a few gems. Do you have an all-time favorite thrifted piece of clothing? Mine was a full-length immaculate red wool coat that fit me like a glove but considering the high today could be in the low 80s, I might need to add it to the donate bag …. Happy (feisty) Friday! Cheers – CT

What is this?

Ideas for blog posts have been percolating in my head this last week, sentences forming and reshaping themselves, ideas growing new ideas.  The strangest part is what has emerged – future posts about fashion (gasp), beauty (double gasp) and health (WTF, I know).   But not to worry – today I wrote up a list of things to be done on the kitchen and guest room and we’ve been doing a few things to our outdoor living space as well.  So all is not lost.  I might even get extra crazy and do a video tour of the new house since I haven’t motivated myself to photograph the darn thing yet.

And I’m still out thrifting, I just haven’t brought home any furniture finds just yet (they’ve all been clothing related, hence the looming “fashion” post).  But I did find this guy on the curb in our new neighborhood with a “free” sign taped to his oblong forehead.


So I did the normal thing and dragged his concrete ass home.  Actually he doesn’t have an ass.  Love him or leave him?

(He’s really heavy too – solid built and has someone’s phone number written on the bottom.  867-5309.)

My Top Five

I’ve made no secret that High Fidelity is one of my all-time top-five favorite movies.  If you haven’t seen it, you should stop reading right now and go check it out.  It pretty much sums up so much of what I think of JT and his musician friends.


Begin quote:

Louis: I don’t have that record… I’ll buy it for forty.
Rob: Sold.
Louis: Now why would you sell it to me and not to him?
Barry: Because you’re not a geek, Louis.
Louis: You guys are snobs.
Dick:  No, we’re not.
Louis:  Yeah, seriously, you’re totally elitist. You feel like the unappreciated scholars, so you shit onto people who know lesser than you.
Rob, Barry, Dick:  No!
Louis: Which is everybody…
Rob, Barry, Dick:  Yeah…
Louis: That’s so sad.

Yep, my dear husband and his friends in a nutshell.  If you still haven’t seen High Fidelity, here’s my connector – the main character is always making top five lists.  Which I think is smart – it’s mostly impossible to choose just one all-time favorite.  Imagine my surprise when my WordPress Year in Review Report told me I had a Top Five blog comment contributors.  Solid gold.  So here they are (in WordPress designated order):

Number 5 on this list is not a blogger but my NYC bestie – Jessica.  We haven’t been in the same town for many a year now and I love that she reads the blog to keep up on my world.  I wish she had her own because I’m sure her escapades in New York would provide awesome blog fodder.  Not only do her comments pop up here on the site, they also make their way into month-long back-and-forth emails of support, hilarity, empathy and friendship.  Here’s Jess and me back in the day – doing what college freshman do, tee-peeing their other roommate’s bed.  Yep.

Me & J

My number 4 top commenter for 2013 is the authoress of Third Story(ies), a STL resident and frequently goes by her first initial of “K”.  Her comments are always spot on and filled with great advice – as an architect and an amazing chef, maker and creator, I always love to hear from her.


Number 3 is none other than Nick Armadillo – The only blogger from this list that I have met in person, Nick Armadillo writes Mid-Century Midwest and is also from our old neighborhood of South City in the Lou.  Nick’s comments are always spot on and I love seeing images of his house pop up on my reader because it reminds me of our first home (tear).


Number two begins our Texas portion of the top five – Stacey – who works for NPR (wow!) and writes A Goode House blog on the side.  And renovates her (Rex) Goode house, which is awe-inspiring – the great architectural bones were there and Stacey and Richie knock it out of the park with what ever space they work on.  Stacey gets my slightly of the beaten path taste in music (mostly due to a musical snob husband, but I will listen to more of the newer music while his interest in bands ended around 1985) and I appreciate her complimentary comments and great taste oh so much.


Number One – Dana – Also a Texan, Dana runs the blog for Mid2Mod, an amazing furniture store run by her daughter and son-in-law.  Like the most beautiful furniture, the stuff you dream about.  Dana’s sweet and thoughtful comments always cheer me up.  And have you seen her modernist nest?


I am one lucky girl blogger, I am.  However my top five count down wouldn’t be complete without a dark horse runner-up – and that award goes to Mister Modtomic who showed up on my Year in Blogging Report as far and away my number one referer.  He sends a lot of traffic my way and I couldn’t be more grateful.  Also – he has a full-time job, a small side industry as an MCM titan in STL and he blogs every day.  Amazing and ridiculous, equally.


I keep reading a lot of blog posts about some sea changes/growing pains/end times/call it what you will in the blogging world.  I may be the only blogger left on the planet not on Instagram but apparently that’s where all the kids are doing their blogging these days.  I’m small fries in the blogging world and I think I like it that way (have you read some of the ridiculous, mean and downright nosy comments some of the big-time bloggers get?  Insanity.)  I’m mostly doing this for me with the added benefit of having met some amazing internet people.  So while I don’t cry if a post gets no comments, any blogger in her right mind will tell you that a nice comment puts a smile on her face and a glow in her heart.  So go forth internet friends and *hug* a blogger – leave a comment and let them know you care.  Thanks to my Top Five from 2013!  You guys rock.  I hope I will meet some Phoenix bloggers in 2014.  Cheers – CT


Well everyone, it is 2014, and I’m dubbing it the Year of Ch-ch-changes.  I’m going resolution-less this year, commando, and in the immortal words of David Bowie (who likely is actually immortal) this year I’m going to “turn and embrace the strain”.  (PS – I always thought the lyric there was “turn and embrace the strange” which I kind of like better . . . .)

2014 finds the Living Analog abode relocated from St. Louis to Phoenix.  We’ve been getting out a lot and trying out everything and anything and essentially being tourists in our new town.  (We went to the Barrett-Jackson car auction last night, for which the only descriptor is insane.) This inevitably leads us to lengthy discussions on the comparable and/or contrasting elements of our former and current cities.  We’ve been making an  effort to live in the present – no one wants to hang out with the person who spends a whole evening saying “Well, in St. Louis, they did it like this . . .” and “In St. Louis, so-and-so was so much more cleaner/better/quieter/any other descriptor” and so on and so forth.  So, I thought I’d just get the bulk of comparisons out of my system with a quick run down of the things I have noticed thus far.

(Image below both my STL and PHX library cards.  Whoa Nelly.)


1) Weather.  This is a no-brainer but it’s very disjointing to have the whole national news broadcast focus on a huge snowstorm and see all your teacher friends on Facebook post about snow days when you’re wearing open-toed sandals and only need to put on a light jacket or sweater once the sun goes down.  I’m not complaining at all – the weather here is gorgeous, it’s just one of the many changes we are adjusting to (and enjoying).  The dogs lay outside and sun themselves during the day and I have caught Shenanigan flat out on his side on the warm brick pathway more than once. Below is where he sits at the back yard door and “guards” the house.  (Also – a fiddle leaf fig – one of my “Dreaming Of” items that I picked up thanks to my friend Ikea.)


2) Driving.  This one came as a surprise and I feel like we’ve already adjusted to this but in Phoenix, the driving is fast and furious.  The grid-system roads are easy to learn and navigate but the highways do crazy things and what calls itself west really runs north and east is really south . . . there are loops and all sorts of things.  Also, pretty much everyone has warned us of the consequences of drunk driving – I guess you end up in an outdoor labor camp somewhere wearing a pink suit.  That has been no problem to comply with and on New Year’s Eve just used the new “get a cab” app JT had downloaded on his phone.  But like I said, the main difference is in the driving style — everyone goes so fast, runs any color of light (the red light might as well be the green left arrow light) and really does whatever they want on the road.   Crazy.

3) Language.  Another kind of obvious one but it is still a strange thing to see billboards, signs and half of the TV channels in another language.  So many people are bilingual (and a lot of the job postings I’ve browsed have it as a high priority).  I was one class shy of a French minor in college but I am pretty positive my conversational French would point me amiss were I to try to use it.  To me, it gives Phoenix a more cosmopolitan vibe and reminds me a bit of New York where we would hear at least three other languages everyday.  I definitely want to take some conversational Spanish classes someday, until then I will just watch the Telemundo soap operas for equal parts language assimilation and utter entertainment.


(Picture above taken at South Mountain which is a five minute drive from our house.  We actually sent out New Year’s cards this year (first time!) and this is an outtake.  I got a little tripod/gripper thing for my phone and downloaded a self-timer app in an attempt to be in more pictures . . . )

4) Flora and fauna.  We were expecting a lot of cacti in the desert and that hasn’t disappointed, but there’s also a lot of other succulents, sages, laurels and plants I don’t know the names of.  In short, it’s not as desert-ish as I was expecting.  There are not nearly any little critters such as we would see in South City (bunnies and squirrels seem non-existent).  We do have one little lizard guy who lives in the shady spot where the block wall fence meets the house.  The birds are all different and make totally different noises.  We saw quail at one of the parks and they’re hilarious with their little headpieces and the noises they make when they run around.   The other big difference I have seen running around is a lot of people’s dogs.  This goes against everything in me as a volunteer for a rescue group and while there are leash ordinances and such in Phoenix, it just seems to be a cultural difference.  I don’t like it, not one bit.

5) Architecture.  Not only are there a lot of stucco-ed houses and buildings, which I was expecting, Phoenix seems to have a lot more modern and forward-thinking architecture.  I think because it is a younger city than St. Louis, it doesn’t have the hang up of clinging to historical styles.  There’s also a ton of Californians here so I think Phoenix also is on the fringes of a West Coast mentality and that also makes it more progressive.  (The architecture, not the politics.  I guess I could add politics as #6 and guns as #7 but we just won’t go there, okay?)  The weather also allows for a much broader use of materials – an easy landmark we use to locate our house from the tops of all the mountains we’ve been hiking is the University of Phoenix building.  It’s a massive glass skyscraper (in a land of two-story or less buildings – everything is zoned to be short here for the most part) wrapped in an oblong shape with what appears to be Corten steel.  There’s also a lot of awesome MCM houses which I found through the equally awesome source Modern Phoenix (  I went on half of this driving tour while we were living in the hotel and plan on going back soon and taking some proper photographs.

So that’s all I can think of right now as the big culture shock/adjustment differences we have noticed.  Time has really flown by and we have now been here 2-1/2 months – some of these things I won’t even remember as differences in another week or so!  Have a great weekend everyone – Cheers – CT