Monthly Archives: April 2016

Travel AZ ~ Queen Creek Olive Mill & Silly Mountain Trail

One of my FAVORITE destinations in the Phoenix area is Queen Creek Olive Mill, and it was on my “must-do” list for this trip. It was Wally’s sister Monica’s first time ever to Phoenix, and I knew she would love it. Also, my husband, who loves to cook, had never been, so we planned a mid-morning breakfast date with Wally’s Phoenix family. Here’s their website so you can browse their page and plan your trip!

We arrived between breakfast and lunch (breakfast 8-11) with 10 minutes to spare for breakfast orders, and hurriedly placed our orders… Sooo many mouth-watering choices! We browsed the store a bit, and then went outside to find a picnic table.

While waiting on our orders we caught up on family matters and the little ones climbed the well worn olive trees.

Ahhh… our buzzer is rocking and our food is ready! You go and pick up your order inside and “self service” your meal, so I got to practice my old waitress skills. I ordered the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and they were amazing! Fluffy pancakes with a creamy sweet tart sauce and then some pure maple syrup to top it off!

Mmmmmm… A Bloody Mary, omelet and fresh grapefruit. IMG_0014After breakfast, it was time to shop! We loaded up on several different olive oil blends and balsamic vinegars. At the check-out, we couldn’t resist the Queen Creek Olive Mill Cookbook so we would know how to use our purchases.

Having filled up on food and emptied our wallets, it was time to drive through the desert to show Monica the terrain. Cactus zoomed by, and eventually we ended up at the edge of the Superstition Mountains. We drove through Gold Canyon and the Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club. What a beautiful desert course! You can see more of this private course at their website:

Next was a stop at the Silly Mountain Park in the Tonto National Forest for a quick walk and education. They have a short trail with native plants identified with kid-friendly markers. Some were in flower, and were so colorful and pretty!

According to the park website, “Silly Mountain Park is a 2.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Apache Junction, AZ that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from January until January. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.” More information and a map at:

It had already been a busy day, and it was topped off by a wonderful evening with the family. Next up, a road trip to Las Vegas with some of the cousins!

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Categories: Travel: ARIZONA | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Travel Arizona ~ Superstition Mtns, Tortilla Flat & Pomo Pizzeria

We flew from Nashville to Phoenix in March to visit my husband’s family and find some warmth and sunshine. When we were unloading, we spotted the Southwest “Tennessee One” plane that commemorates Southwest’s 30 years flying into Tennessee.

For an excursion on the day after we arrived, we decided to drive to the mountain areas around Phoenix. First stop was the tiny mining town of Superior, and we were going to drive on to Globe to check out their antique stores. However, the road was being worked on with a blasting delay, so we had to turn around and choose a different destination. There are botanical gardens along the way, but we decided to save that for another day.

So Tortilla Flat in the middle of the Tonto National Forest in the Superstition Mountains became our alternate destination. It was a beautiful drive, and we stopped off at scenic Canyon Lake along the way. This is a great spot for cooling off in the summer or for a picnic.

Tortilla Flat was a stagecoach stop started in 1904 on the Apache Trail, and today a popular dining and tourist destination called Superstition Saloon and Restaurant. We had to wait almost an hour for our table (it was spring break), so we wandered through the gift store and ice cream shop. You can also belly up to the bar in saddles or eat outside on the patio with live music. Dollar bills wallpaper the walls, along with tons of other interesting items. The ladies restroom is a riot! I walked in to a line-up of startled women grinning from behind their partial doors that are painted with saloon girl themes (I went back and took pictures later and a nice lady took my picture). They have a limited menu with burgers and Southwest specialties. We went for the burgers and they were huge!

And that’s all that was at Tortilla Flat! We headed back towards Phoenix…

We had brought along our hiking shoes and found a trail that looked easy to take a desert walk. March is a great time to visit the desert to see things blooming, and we enjoyed our walk (be sure and take water or liquids to drink).

We got back to Wally’s cousin’s house and had time to rest and get cleaned up for dinner with family. Madeline chose Pomo Pizzeria in Gilbert and we loved it! Great pizza and Italian – highly recommend!

 Wow! ~ What a great day in Phoenix! Next up is a visit to the Queen Creek Olive Mill.

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Travel Tennessee ~ Antiquing in Shelbyville, March 2016

If you are looking for an enjoyable day trip and some quality antiques and collectibles, head to Shelbyville, Tenn. Located on their Courthouse Square is Antiques, Arts & Collectibles Mall with over 17,000 square feet of antiques, vintage, fashion, home decor, artist painted furniture, milk paint, chalk style paint and more. They also offer milk and silk painting workshops. Visit their website at

The Courthouse and Yesterday’s Treasures on the Square.

Just down the street a block off the Square is The Depot at 209 E. Depot St., featuring 18,000 square feet and two floors with quality antique furniture and accessories, primitives, collectibles, hand crafted furniture, lighting, jewelry, vintage quilts, home decor, braided rugs and more.

Further out E. Depot Street  is the Ole Grapevine Antique Shoppe, which has been in Shelbyville for decades. Connie and Eddie Murray have packed their 6,000 square foot shoppe with quality antique furniture and antique accents, primitives, mantiques, books, cookbooks, garden accents and more. They conduct appraisals and estate sales as well and do lamp repair. 931-684-1068.


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Travel Tennessee ~ Bell Buckle 2016

A favorite small town to visit in Middle Tennessee is Historic Bell Buckle. Loaded with charm, this petite railroad town lies between Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, Tenn. Visitors will find something for everyone including antiques, collectibles, boutiques, home accents, Southern souvenirs and great food! Unfortunately for my photos, it was a dreary rainy day!


Bell Buckle Cafe has been a mainstay on Railroad Square for decades, drawing folks from all over with their Southern meat and veggie plates, burgers, sandwiches, salads and desserts. They have live music every Friday and Saturday evenings and on Saturday afternoons from 1-3.

For those that have a big group or event, they also offer the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall that is a multi-use facility complete with dance floor, stage and full in-house catering that can fit 300 people.

Phillips General Store Antiques has been a Bell Buckle favorite destination for decades. The old general store retains its historic charm with many original fixtures and goods displayed, along with a huge selection of antique and vintage items for sale. You’ll always find a selection of vintage holiday collectibles from Halloween to Christmas. They also carry locally made gourmet food products, Moon Pies and RC Cola.

There are many other antique shops and boutiques along Bell Buckle’s Railroad Square, however I arrived in town around closing time, so several had already closed for the day. Here’s a sampling…

Around the right corner of Railroad Square are public restrooms and a few more shops. But the biggest draw is Bluebird Antiques & Old Fashioned Ice Cream Bar. The Phillips family serves up Purity Ice Cream with divine homemade waffle cones, malts, milkshakes, fried pies, cobblers, Daddy’s fresh fudge and a new specialty, Fried Green Tomato Cheeseburgers cooked in an iron skillet. Don’t miss taking your family for this old fashioned nostalgic experience!

Located to the left of Railroad Square across the street is a collection of more shops and the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall. Just up the street are two large antique malls that have also been there for decades. You’ll find all sorts of antiques and collectibles in the malls, so plan a whole day for your visit.

On the opposite side of the railroad tracks is a new shop, Miss Jane & Co.,  with a collection of several dealers offering vintage and home accents to boutique clothing and accessories.

So plan your day trip to Bell Buckle this spring! Check out the Bell Buckle Chamber website to find out their town events. There’s always something fun going on!

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