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Posts in category Holidays

It’s the Irish in Me


St. Patrick's Day Shamrock

Shamrock Plant

A day to wear green and eat favorite Irish meals and soda bread, St. Patrick’s Day sneaks up quickly as winter fades and spring is near. I wonder how many other countries celebrate American traditions like we do Irish traditions. Just wondering. That’s all. It is fun to try out Irish foods and learn about their traditions and proverbs.

Recently my brother was telling me about some friends of ours who have two daughters. One of the parents is African American. The other is half Caucasian and half Hispanic. The beautiful young ladies were telling my brother of additional origins of their parents’ ancestry. They were laughing about the many different origins, making it difficult to narrow down their ethnicity to just one. I don’t know if their Caucasian includes any Irish blood, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Get us Americans talking about our ancestry, and we have the stories to tell. It’s fascinating to look up our genealogy and find out about our ancestors.

This reminds me of an individual telling me one time that her family had Irish roots. She had a temper that often flared when things didn’t go her way. She laughed about using the excuse “It’s the Irish in Me” when she would get into situations because of her temper.

I haven’t been to Ireland, but I do have a part-Irish ancestry. I don’t believe that it’s the Irish in people that causes tempers to flare. The “It’s the Irish in Me” phrase is used proudly, as though speaking words in a moment of anger is an admirable thing to do.

Using the “Irish in Me” for a fun blogging thing to do, I changed up my tablescape on St. Patrick’s Day. White or cream trays are so versatile, and I enjoy using them in photos for my blogs.

Fresh flowers for St. Patrick's Day

Irish In Me Tablescape

The pitcher I used is one I picked up at a yard sale a long time ago. When not filled with flowers from the garden (like the snapdragons and pansies in the photo), it makes a perfect holder for scrap-booking scissors.

A little green, a few garden flowers, an Irish meal – all of it together made a perfectly pleasant St. Patrick’s Day.

Last Day For Civil War Battle at Calico Ghost Town

Audience views Battle

Perched above the battle lines

Calico Civil War Days

Soldiers confer over their best plans for attack

Calico Regional Park

Civil War Ladies stroll down Calico

Have you traveled out to Calico Ghost Town today? The weather, this weekend, is made for a terrific family outing to this historic region. Our family arrived there Sunday just before the first Civil War battle engagement began at 11:45 a.m.Calico Ghost Town is a San Bernardino Regional Park that sponsors several historic events throughout the year. To help with the authentic look, re-enactors dress and camp within the Main Street’s many nooks and spaces with their items for sale or just for display.

But what makes it more realistic are the skirmishes fought in the dry ravines. If you find a high perch overlooking the battlegrounds, you’ll see how the Union forces planned to way lay the Rebels. The skirmish was short-lived and of the four wounded, all four were capable of sneaking out of their captor’s grip and rejoining their own units.



After the battle, we climbed the rocky path that skirts around Main Street and headed for some refreshing ice cream. Then it was off to listen to banjo musicians as we trekked up canyon to the Little White Schoolhouse.


Stark white School house

Stark white School house


Calico makes a good effort to pave general access routes but not all trails are ADA approved for wheelchair accessibility. It’s open daily from 9a.m. to 5p.m.

The top of the canyon and across the wooden bridge gives you the best overview of this silver mining town of 1881. Nearly 127 years ago, prospectors searching for silver turned the region into a boomtown, producing over $86 million in silver, $45 million in borax, and a population of 1,200 spending their hardscrabble money in 22 saloons. With over 500 mines and glory holes, it didn’t take long until the boom went bust in 1907.


The three generations in our family had varying interests, as you can imagine, so we had to save Maggie Mine Tour for another time. We did visit The Candle Shop, The Print Shop, The Leather Shop, Glassworks, and the Sweet Shop, Lane’s General Store, and the newly opened Fine Arts and History Gallery where my granddaughter had to have her face painted.


On Display

On Display

Educational displays include the rope making tools and the Blacksmith’s barn. If you do get the itch for gold, there’s always the Gold Panning demo.

We all had a good time. Hope you did, too.

Rusty LaGrange

Calico Ghost Town Hosts Blast From the Past: Civil War

Battlefiled reenactment

Civil War soldiers march into battle

For 3 Days Only You Can See Re-enactors Fight on Battlefield

Would you like to see how the soldiers in the Civil War of 1860s had to deal with the acrid smoke, the loud cannon fire, the heat, and the bugs? Head on over to Calico Ghost Town north of Barstow off Interstate 15 at Ghost Town Road.

This annual salute, Saturday Feb. 14 through Monday Feb. 16, lets visitors feel the booming blasts of the cannons. It’s like you are there! Watch regiments march across the High Desert battlefield. Listen to President Abraham Lincoln give his address to the brave soldiers.

Go to for the events and schedules.

This is an event for the whole family — with candle making, ceramics, rope braiding, lots of great food, and shops to wander through. Take your camera and capture the sights and sounds of your children when they meet cowboys leaving the saloon, their spurs clinking on the boardwalk, riding on the silver town’s railroad. Live dramas and fun children’s craft activities are also planned to entertain.

Too many things to list here but there are detailed schedules to download in PDF format.


Calico Ladies

Wives Often Followed Their Officer Husbands



All weekend activities:

Face Painting–Hanks Hotel

Make your own candle – at

The Candle Shop

Make your own medallion – at

The Pottery Shop

Blacksmith Demonstrations – at The Smelter Building

Rope Making—Next to The Smelter Building

Civil War craft activity for kids — at Town Hall


Hope you get a chance to visit this colorful reenactment panorama.

Adults are $10.00; Youths age 6-15 are $6.00; Young Children age 5 & under are free.



Surprising Valentine’s Day Gift That Grows in the High Desert

red blossoms

Vibrant little “fish hook” barrel with big blooms


Cactus Thrive in the High Desert

Do you really want to receive a dozen roses that will only last a week? Why not ask for a cactus that blooms for you each year? Just go to your nursery and pick out the prettiest. And as for color, you’ll find a good variety.

Many of the varieties offer different shapes and heights, while others bloom in hues of white to cream to yellow, pink to red to rose. All of them are easy to water and easy to grow in typical desert temperatures.

Another feature that I enjoy is their slow growing nature. You can plant them in a 10″ pot and it will be years before you’ll need to transplant them into a half whiskey barrel or directly into your yard. Many of them can grow for decades, often dropping “babies” or allowing their arms to be cut and replanted for the new generation of cacti. I have a night blooming cereus that is over 40-years-old and has been inside all of its life.100_0756

“Christmas cactus”, known for blooming in winter with bright red or fuchsia colored pointy blooms, can be more temperamental because they are a tropical cactus. They don’t like their roots too wet or too dry. A trick for forcing their blooms is to place them in a closet for a month prior to the holidays. Once out of the dark, they want to herald in the New Year. Healthy and happy plants will blossom all year.

Rusty LaGrange

15 Ways to Create a Fun Valentine’s Day with Family and Pets

Vintage, Antiques, and Candy

Sugar Shack

Valentine’s Day, that special day of the year for celebrating love and romance, will be here soon. Stores such as Sugar Shack in Oro Grande, a community in California’s Mohave Desert, are getting prepared.

Sugar Shack is a candy store plus vintage pieces and antiques. I saw an adorable sign for grandparents on their Facebook page today that says “GRANDPARENTS’ HOME ALWAYS OPEN”. Valentine’s Day can be fun for everyone. A typical gift on February 14th may include candy gift wrapped in red or pink with hearts. However, it’s okay to get creative with your list of things to give. When you think of love, what do you think of? Your beau? Spouse? Children, grandchildren? How about a pet?

Valentine's Day pets

Dress up your pet for Valentine’s Day


Here is a fun shopping list of gifts and things to do as you prepare to make this Valentine’s Day the best ever:

  1. Wrap candy in a festive bag, and tie ribbons with a key
  2. Give a gift of flowers to plant in a garden.
  3. Enter a Valentine’s Day give-away contest (hint: Sugar Shack and a shop next door, Silver Trails, are each giving away a basket of goodies and gifts).
  4. Go to an Improv Show.
  5. Make your own candlelight dinner at home.
  6. Buy your pet a big pretty red or pink bow (or tie for the male gender pet).
  7. Wrap up purple or pink stationery to give to your young daughter who loves to write (my parents did that for me one year — I was thrilled and have never forgotten it).
  8. Purchase a fancy vintage sugar container and fill it with red hots (hint…you might find something like this in the Silver Trails basket).
  9. Take your dog for a walk and treat both of you with treats.
  10. Surprise your hubby or wifey or significant other with a basket filled with bubble bath, candle, favorite CD, chocolate, favorite magazine, almonds, and berries.
  11. Give your granddaughter a red or pink outfit for Valentine’s Day, a pink ball — and bounce the ball outside with her.
  12. Give your grandson a red cap, red ball, and red car (a toy one preferably unless you’re up to buying a car for your older grandson) — and go outside with him to play ball.
  13. Cook a special breakfast that includes the favorite foods of your spouse and children.
  14. Give your pet a new toy.
  15. Treat yourself to dessert!

If you choose some of the listed items above for your Valentine’s Day plans, I’d love to hear from you. Share your Valentine’s Day fun and creative experience in the comment section provided.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Last Blog Basket of the Season Draw at Suger Shack

As we sneak up on the last days of December, I represented High Desert Blogging com’s Basket Give-Away drawing Saturday, Dec. 20, at Sugar Shack. This shop is always festive and the owners — mother -daughter team — Debbie and Tonya, always have the coffee brewing.

Tonya and Debbie Got the Sweet Treats at Sugar Shack

Tonya and Debbie Got the Sweet Treats at Sugar Shack

One of the largest baskets of our seven-week drawing, Sugar Shack was so enthusiastic to try the basket give-away that they barely had time to get sign-ins. As people began coming in to get out of the blast of wind at Oro Grande’s new face lifted vintage shops in Old Town, they shopped and sipped and warmed up. Everyone was in such a cheery mood.




I placed all of the Basket Give-Away names in a bag and drew Joel Esparza! Congratulations!!

And the Winner Is...

And the Winner Is…

He only gave an email address so we are hoping to hear from him soon.

In the meantime, I hope shoppers remember that if you’ve stuck for a gift for a teen or a gentleman, candy is always a great selection.



Sugar Shack Antiques, Collectibles, and Candies will have modified  hours for the holidays so be sure to call (760) 646-0562 or check their Facebook page for updates.


Sugar Shack _tonya_02_12202014


Our winner, Joel, picked up his basket and enjoyed a great and very sweet collection of goodies from Sugar Shack.

Keep watching for our next basket give-away for Valentine’s Day!








 Happy Holidays!

From Angie and Rusty












Seasonal Basket Give-Aways Winner Announced

High Desert vintage shoppers had nearly seven weeks to shop and sign -up for our Basket Give-Away! As it turned out Vintage Gypsies kept a basket on their counter the  longest and receiving quite a few sign-ins.

The basket drawing was held Saturday at Vintage Gypsies with Kevin Moody (pictured with vase full of entries) helping to draw the name. Owners Becky and Kathy stood by as the name was revealed.

Kevin Draws the Winning Name!

Kevin Draws the Winning Name!

Congratulations to new High Desert resident Roxy Cantes who visits the shop quite often. “It’s regular shoppers like Roxy who we love to see come into the store and find just those items that make her house feel like home,” said Becky.

Vintage Gypsies will be open the day before Christmas, Dec. 24th, from 10-4, closing on Christmas Day. Be sure to check their Facebook page for their hours during the holidays.

We left a message for Roxy hoping she will be able to drop by the shop before Christmas to receive her basket of goodies!



Happy Holidays!

From Angie & Rusty

Fashion and Festive 12-13-14

Festive Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Man Peppermint Bark


Appropriate for this festive time of the year, Charles Dickens (Paul Jacques) visited the High Desert California Writers Club today in Apple Valley.

Charles Dickens

President Dwight Norris and “Charles Dickens” (Paul Jacques)

Lots of Christmastime fashion of red, green, sweaters, and hats filled the meeting room at Apple Valley Library as the honored special guest greeted the club members with Dickens folklore.

HDCWC blogger and writer members

Angie and Molly Jo, the bloggers!

Dickens festivals are celebrated around the country. One such event is Dickens On The Strand that is held annually in Galveston, Texas.  Another is Dickens Festival in Riverside, California. If Dickens could somehow appear at one of these to observe, he might would think nothing much has changed as everyone dresses up for the occasion in Victorian era fashion.

Dickens’ novels portrayed the life and conditions of poor society in Victorian England.  His father had financial difficulties, and Dickens had to work at the young age of twelve. What would he think now I wonder? Did you know that A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens published in 1859 is one of the most recognized historical novels? It has sold over 200 million copies.

On this history-making day of 12-13-14 colors of red and green, stylish hats, plaids, scarves and sweaters still are fashionable in this 21st century at Christmastime. It’s a festive time of the year when everyone wants to feel the warmth of love and comfort.

Happy Holidays to you, and may you feel the warmth and love during this season.

Last Few Weeks Left of Fall Harvesting Before Freeze

If you are working your Fall Garden, it’s just about time to do the last harvesting before the freeze. Temperatures in the High Desert have been swinging lower at night. Then I came across this scarecrow that couldn’t scare a fly. Her days are over. But she’s still cute.

A Softer, Gentler “Shoo-crow” in the Morning

This can't be a scarecrow, so it must be a shoo-crow

This can’t be a scarecrow, so it must be a shoo-crow

What self-serving crow would take flight in fear when facing this adorable representation. I found this on the Internet last Autumn and it reminded me of the toddler-sized dancing rag dolls where children could slip their feet into an elastic band on the doll’s feet.

Who wouldn’t want to dance across the grassy yard with a light-footed blonde, and constantly beaming, partner, who knew all your steps. Yes, I had one, though it belonged to my younger sister, I would gleefully spin across the lawn under the English walnut tree. She didn’t have the same dancing images that I did. And, although I was a bit embarrassed to be dancing with a doll while nearly teen-aged, it seemed that the doll inspired me to just go for it.

Yet, here it was, attempting to scare away ravenous birds who just wanted to dive into the garden.

Scarecrows have been around in some form since Egyptians first netted their fields to catch flocks of quail in their fields. Greeks and Romans were the earliest to use human -styled scarecrows. In the Medieval era when anything that vexed you had to be demonic or sent by some evil-worshipping villager, they were using children as bird scarers.

Even as the Pilgrims were preparing their first meal with the First Americans, who taught them survival skills, the farmers were using what they knew from decades earlier. They had time to grow European corn and potatoes and carrots to offer at the first harvest dinner. The natives offered maize, squashes, and seeds, berries, and nuts , as well as fish, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums. But, funnily enough, there is no research listing actual turkey but other fowl arrived on the platters.

Planting, tending, weeding, watering, and harvesting, while keeping the critters at bay, was a full-time job. And whether you were Native or New Englander, each harvest was the indicator of whether your village would store enough food and be strong enough for the encroaching winter.

Most crows would look twice before landing

Most crows would look twice before landing

Even in the Southwest, scarecrows were employed in the New World, too. Some tribes used young boys to tend the flocks and scare birds by throwing rocks at them. Others used woven reed and yucca to hang a variety of feathers, sticks and bones that clacked.


Creative and a bit punkish

Creative and a bit punkish

A scarecrow swaying and flapping in the breeze was, and continues to be, a deterrent for most animals, not just hungry crows. Think about your garden scarecrow. Is it a collection of tin pie plates hung from cords in the trees? Whirligigs are often spinning in the garden, then after the harvest season, can be found on porches and front yards. Do you stuff an old tattered pair of jeans and a flannel shirt? Or do you get creative and invent a new version like the young lady shoo-away scarecrow?

One of friends placed soft and rancid pumpkins around the edge of her garden to deter daytime garden invaders, but I think she had more night visitors that were attracted to the odors.

Let us know what you do in your garden when it’s time to plant your scarecrow.


A Proud Desert Town Celebrates

Fireworks with flag

In our rural desert town, we don’t always get a fireworks show. In fact this year, we grabbed an offer for a discount price on fireworks if we signed up for Thursday — July 3rd — instead. It’s not the first time we’ve been frugal and clever.

So this year, our celebration began Thursday evening with a stroll in the Park, some tasty food from vendors who were eager to have two opportunities to sell on a busy holiday, children racing with tiny flags in their hands, and a swing band with upbeat horns who knew how to “get the joint jumpin.'”

When the heat and sun gave way to the dusk and a soft summer breeze, we sat ready on our picnic blankets or dragged folding chairs to the lawn, anticipating the barrage of light and sound to come.

As the fireworks sprayed across a night sky, an undercurrent of voices drummed in some kind of song. At first, I heard a high nasal tone from a woman far off. Someone near me said, “Is that someone singing?” Then another deeper voice and then a few more in harmony, and as I listened, the lyrics cleared. And as if the fireworks shot up in prearranged percussion, the many voices grew and gathered more angelic, more spiritual, more home-grown … “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,  Sweet Land of Liberty, of thee I sing…” their voGirl with flagices growing and gathering up all the families — no matter their faiths or ethnicities — “Land Where My Fathers’ Died, Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride,” — no matter that they knew the words or not — “From Every Mountainside Let Freedom Ring!”

I cried silently.

It was natural and beautiful. I felt that my little community held the Spirit of every little way station across this huge nation of towering skyscrapers and ribbons of highway. We sang for those who fought for our freedom, strong memories that strummed our heart-strings, as we continued to raise our heads in pure pride and let freedom ring…

From her mamma’s lap, the hesitant, young patriot waved a flag upward to a brilliant starburst of pride.

Rusty LaGrange

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