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We are Back!

Nearly two years ago we stopped blogging here at I Heart Mesa.  It was not a conscious ending, but with a new baby for Marily, college classes for Kathryn, running and teaching a preschool, volunteering in our church, and the day in and day out of being wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, there just was not any time left for writing.  Two years passed quickly and we thought of I Heart Mesa often, never wanting to just abandon it, never feeling like we were finished.  We still love Mesa and our state.  So, after some very busy years, Marily and I are back at writing again.  This time we are starting fresh at a new address.  We hope you join us at iheartAZ.com for some Arizona pride, of course written from a Mesa perspective.        

Thanks for waiting, 


Marily and Kathryn


Strange Arizona

Sometimes here in Arizona we have the strange and unique.  Meet the Ectolimo.

Yes, we came across the Ghostbusters car at the Arizona Freedom Festival (or at least a recreation of it).  Apparently you can rent this one of a kind limo for your next event.  Could you imagine this Ectolimo pulling up to the next local prom?  They even have a General Lee for rent too.  I kind of want to rent a General Lee just to see if I could hop in the front seat via the window with as much finesse as the Duke brothers had.

Oh the fun I could have if my budget had a section for spending entitled, "just because it makes me laugh."     


Goodbye Duchess and Other Phoenix Zoo Activities

On June 24, 2012, Duchess, matriarch of the orangutans on exhibit at the Phoenix Zoo lost her battle to lymphosarcoma.  She was 52 years old and the oldest Bornean Orangutan on record.  She has been a part of the Phoenix Zoo family since 1962 after she was orphaned in the jungles of Borneo at a very young age.  We will miss her presence during our zoo visits.

If you are looking to visit the zoo this summer, don't forget about enjoying the zoo in the evenings.  Prowl and Play is from 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM on July 9th, July 14th and August 11th.  Admission is $6 for members, $8 for non-members.
Or enjoy Winter in July at the zoo on Saturday, July 21st from 7:00 AM - 11:00 AM.  The forecast calls for 20 tons of snow.  Activities are free to members or those with a paid general admission to the zoo.    


4th of July Fireworks and Festivities in Arizona

We hope many of you were able to enjoy some of the Arizona Festival of Freedom in downtown Mesa this weekend.  Because of some of the pictures from last year I was worried about huge lines and not being able to do much of the free activities with my kiddos, but my girls were able to enjoy everything without hardly a wait.  They froze on the water slides while we sweated it out, they held exotic birds, danced with Barney, and of course enjoyed the fireworks. I hope that you add it to your calendar next year.

(Thank you Cage World in Mesa for bringing all your beautiful birds to the festival again this year and being so kind to all those that wanted a chance to hold them.  It was one of the highlights of my girls' day.)

If you are looking for things to fill the rest of your 4th of July week, here are a few events:

- Wednesday, July 4th:  Fireworks at Living Word Bible Church located on the north west corner of Val Vista and Brown.  Show starts at 9:00 PM.

- Wednesday, July 4th:  Patriotic ceremony, kid games, live music and fireworks in Payson, Arizona at Green Valley Park.  Enjoy cooler weather and having a lake and the mountains as your backdrop for the fireworks.  Go here for all the details.

- Wednesday, July 4th:  Tempe Town Lake 4th of July Festival.  5:00 - 11:00 PM.

Wednesday, July 4th:   Chandler’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular.  4:00 – 10:30 at Tumbleweed Park.  Enjoy music, free kid’s carnival, bike parade and more.  Go here for all the details.

- Wednesday, July 4th:  Apache Junction 4th of July.  6:00 PM - 9:00 PM.  Fireworks start at 9:00 PM.  Free watermelon while it lasts, bike decorating contest, games (for a small fee), kids zone, music, and more. Details here.

- Wednesday, July 4th:  Fire in the Sky at Central Christian Church in Gilbert.  965 E. Germann Road, Gilbert.  Fireworks begin at 8:30 PM.  

- Friday, July 6th:  Astronomy Night at Mesa Community College.  From 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM enjoy this free event and star show.

- Friday, July 6th:  First Friday ArtWalk in Downtown Phoenix.  While in downtown Phoenix enjoy Adult's Night Out at the Arizona Science Center.  Adults get in free between 5:30-9:00 PM.  Also, if you are an educator and need professional development hours (like me!) then educators earn one professional development hour for each lecture attended.  

- Saturday, July 7th and Sunday, July 8th:  Heber/Overgaard Fourth of July Celebration.  Pancake breakfast, parade, arts and craft show, live music and of course fireworks.  I hear this one is a favorite event of many due to the much cooler weather and the awesome fireworks that boom through the canyon.  Go here for all the fun details.

Tip:  If you want to make your kiddos extra happy and don't want to spend much money, remember to head down to your local dollar store and pick up some glow-in-the-dark bracelets for your festivities.  And make sure to start freezing those Otter-Pops today.  

Know of any other event this week?  Please let us know!  Enjoy and have a save week of celebrating our awesome country.  


Arizona's Celebration of Freedom in Downtown Mesa: June 29th and 30th, 2012

Summer seems to be flying by! This next week is big in my family.  We have Father's Day and then mine and my four daughters' birthdays all within 4 days.  Everyone gets celebrated.  For our birthday week, we started the tradition of taking our girls to stay at a hotel.  They think hotels are fantastic.  Last year we stayed at the Hyatt Place in the Riverview complex and had a wonderful time.  We loved the pool, the putting green and how they drove us in their golf cart to get our free birthday pancakes at IHOP.  This year, with Arizona's Celebration of Freedom in downtown Mesa just the week after, we decided to go camping on our birthdays and take advantage of the downtown Mesa Marriott's buy one night get one free deal.  I love the Celebration of Freedom and it will be great to be staying right by all the action during the two days.  Besides, my girls have been begging for years to stay at what they call the "Library Hotel" since it's located right near the main library.  We plan to enjoy the festival at our leisure, participate in the family fun run, watch a performance at the Mesa Arts Center, spend some time in the pool and then at the library (too bad they took out the carousel years ago), eat lots of yummy food, relax and take in the spectacular fireworks from our awesome seats (when we booked our room they promised us a top story room facing downtown Mesa).  I don't know who is more excited, me or my girls!  Besides, we get to feel like we are getting away without spending any money on gas.
(I sadly don't have any of my own pictures from past years, but I enjoyed this photographer's blog and photographs.)

So here is a rundown of all the weekend's events:    

Friday and Saturday, June 29th and 30th: Arizona's Celebration of Freedom in Downtown Mesa from 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM nightly.

About a mile block of Main street is shut down to traffic so there are streets designated as wet zones with water slides, other streets have games and obstacle course bouncers, face painting, watermelon...all for free.  One street will even have costumed American founders and blow up replicas of famous American history sites with patriotic storytelling . Food, vendors, music to dance to, and many patriotic exhibits. 

Also held on these nights will be the High Octane Car Show and Motorcycles on Main.

Several shows will be running at the Mesa Arts Center.  Friday, Actor/singer John Schneider (remember "Dukes of Hazard"...) will be performing at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are $35/$75.  Childsplay is performing Rock the Presidents at 6:30 PM and 8:00 PM and then Barney is on stage at 6:00 PM, 7:30 PM, and 9:00 PM.  Saturday is Barney again at 6:00 PM, 7:00 PM, and 8:00 PM and Cartoon Network at 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM.  Besides John Schneider, all performances are free and no tickets are required.   

Go here for all the entertainment lined up for the weekend.  

Saturday June 30th at 7:30 AM is the Tie-One-On Family Fun Run in downtown Mesa. This fun run will help honor veterans and is held in conjunction with the Celebration of Freedom. The race starts at the corner of Main and Center. Go here to sign up.  (From what I have read, this is a free race).  Participants get a goody bag. 

Saturday, June 30th at 9:30 PM is the start of the fireworks show.  The best viewing is on the north side of Main.  The first year of the festival we drove to downtown Mesa just before the start of the fireworks and parked in the dirt lot behind the Circle K on the south west corner of Mesa Drive and University.  I don't know if parking will be different, but I thought we had an excellent view and we did not have to deal with congested traffic at all.   

If you would like to check out the deals offered by the Marriott Hotel for the weekend, go here.  They are offering a stay one night in a standard room for $119 and get the second night free or a stay one night in their standard room for $90 and receive a $25 food voucher at CafĂ© Azul Restaurant.

Of course an event of this caliber with so many free exhibits could not take place without the goodness of many volunteers. If you would like to lend a helping hand, please go here to sign up.

(Also what I love about this festival is that you can celebrate the 4th early and leave the next week open for several other celebrations going on around the state.)

Hope to see you there.  


Utah Summer Fruit from the AZ Fruit Lady

We already have an update for our food section of our Summer Guide.  We just received this e-mail from the fruit lady.  No, we are NOT the fruit lady.  We just like to pass on her fruit information because we know many of you have asked in the past.  
(Utah Cherry Tree)
Utah Fruit for the Summer of 2012

"I will have cherries. This year they didn’t freeze! Utah had a mild winter, so everything will be on schedule. I am sending out this email early, so you can plan vacations around the fruit, if you would like. 

CHERRIES:  I will have sweet Bing cherries on Tuesday, July 3rd, the day before Independence Day.  A 20 pound box is $28.00 

APRICOTS:  I will have tree ripened apricots on Tuesday, July 10th. If they need a few more days on the trees, it will be Friday, July 13th. I CAN ORDER CHERRIES FOR THIS DATE AS WELL.  A 24 pound box is $26.00.  Prices reflect a 1.00 increase, because of the cost of fuel. 

I will have peaches, tomatoes, blackberries, and raspberries, beginning the end of August.  I will keep you posted!  Nectarines, plums, and pears will follow.  Next I will have apples and tomatoes, the end of October.  Details will come before ordering.  Please check your calendar, to ensure you will be in town, or make arrangements with someone to pick them up for you. 

Cherries and apricots must be pre-ordered.  I only bring in what you order.  

To order please email at: azfruitlady@yahoo.com or call 480 844-9953. Be sure to include your name and phone number. All fruit is sold at the fruit stand, on the corner of Val Vista and Brown Road, in Mesa.

I will be collecting clothes again this year.  Last fruit season, the clothes were distributed, and so appreciated.  If you are cleaning your closets this summer, any donated shoes or clothing (any size) would be graciously accepted.  Please bring them to the fruit stand when you pick up your fruit, or drop them by our doorstep any time. You bless the lives of so many with your donations. Helen Keller "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."  

Thank You! 
Barbie and Bobby Van Cott"

So there you have it.  I can attest that this fruit is amazing and with every order I think a box will be too much but then it's gone before I know it.  (Also, for those wondering if this is certified organic, it is not.  It is delicious though.)  


A Summer with Heart: Your Guide to Summer Foods in the East Valley

This year we will be posting our updated “A Summer with Heart: A guide to loving and living in AZ when the temperatures rise” as individual posts instead of an e-book. We want to make this more interactive this summer and hope that if you have an idea you want added, or you want to link to a post you have personally done on a particular venue or event, just leave us a comment or send an e-mail to iheartmesa@gmail.com. I will then update each section as needed and make a notation at the top of each post as to when the last update was. We know that this summer guide can be an even greater asset to our community with your input.

Read our Water Guide here.

Updated: 6-5-12

Free Summer Meal Program at Mesa Public Schools: Anyone 18 years of age or younger can eat breakfast and lunch for FREE. Adults can eat breakfast for $1.25 and lunch for $3.00 There are numerous locations participating from elementary schools, junior highs, high schools, even several parks will offer sack lunches. Most sites offer meals through the end of June, and a select few run through the beginning of August. So check out their website for a location near you. Last year for my oldest twins’ 5th birthday they wanted to eat lunch with all their cousins at school. Their favorite was the chocolate milk in a carton.

This is a state and federal program and therefore is offered at numerous locations throughout the state.  See here for all locations.  

Kids Eat Free Restaurants: There are many restaurants around town that offer free meals for kids (with a paying adult). Waldo’s BBQ (one of our favorites) at 4500 E. Main St. in Mesa offers 1 free kids meal with each paying adult Mondays through Thursdays. Check out these two sites for more options here and here.

Or several restaurants have special daily deals. Thank you to the Facebook friends that offered suggestions for this section (Please call ahead to double check the location nearest you and to verify the promotion is still running.)

Monday nights if you ride your bike to ZoYo Frozen Yogurt it's 25% after 5:00 PM.  

Tuesday is Taco Tuesday at many places around town:  $1 tacos at Filibertos, 3 Tacos for $1.09 at Del Taco, Cafe Rio Tacos are $1.50, Rubio's fish tacos are $1.50 after 3:00 PM, and Two Hippies Beach House does 85 cent chef's choice tacos.

Wednesday get a kid's Wacky Pack for $1.99 at Sonic. Or wear your pajamas to ZoYo Frozen Yogurt and get half off your frozen yogurt after 5:00 PM.  Waldo's BBQ has plenty of daily deals including all you can eat ribs on Wednesdays.    

Serrano's offers half off appetizers before 6:00 PM Monday through Friday.  Some suggest a meal of just appetizers.  

Sonic also has their famous happy hour everyday from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM with half off drinks and slushes and 50 cent corndogs.  After 8:00 PM through the summer get half off shakes.  

Little Caesar's has $1 breadsticks on Monday and Tuesday and if you use your debit or credit card, you will get a coupon for a free breadsticks on your next visit. 

Or Taco Bell offers 3 free tacos with a large drink purchase the day after the Diamondbacks score over 6 runs in a game.  Circle K usually has a deal if there were 9 strike outs.  

And because fresh is always best, check out these places to get homegrown food:

The Freeman Corn Patch is now open! Located at 945 N. Center (southeast corner of Brown and Center). Open Monday – Saturday from 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM until July 4th. Enjoy fresh corn, watermelon and other homegrown produce.

Every Thursday is SuperFarm at Superstition Farm.  Enjoy a farmers market right on a working dairy farm!  From 4:30 PM - 7:30 PM enjoy the chance to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy.  Also enjoy dinner from their SuperTruck food truck or reduced rates on hayrides, petting zoo, horse rides and more.  Read about my personal visit to Superstition Farm here.

I have also LOVED getting boxes of fruit from the fruit lady.  This summer you can enjoy Utah cherries and apricots.  Email her at azfruitlady@yahoo.com to ask questions or to place an order.  To get all the details, read our post here.

Maybe you want locally grown fresh produce delivered right to your doorstep?  Read our online review of the Backyard Farmer here and see how you can simplify your summer with a yummy and fresh delivery.

One of my personal favorites of places to shop for inexpensive produce is the Superstition Ranch Market located at 4755 E Main St, Mesa, AZ.  I've been going here for probably over 20 years.  Open 7:30 AM - 7:00 PM Monday through Saturday and 8:00 AM - 5:30 PM on Sundays.  The summer is when I stock up on inexpensive fruits from here to freeze for smoothies.  Just be wary, produce from here can spoil quickly, so don't overbuy.   

You can also read our East Valley Farmer's Market guide here.

Please let us know if you have anymore deals or info to add to this list.  Enjoy!


National Doughnut day, Mountain High Games and Free Fishing

As I work on events going on all summer, I thought I would quickly posts the events that I have found for this weekend:

June 1st is National Doughnut Day. Receive one free doughnut of any variety from Mesa’s Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. According to the e-mail from Krispy Kreme that I received, National Doughnut Day was established to commemorate the tasty treat the Salvation Army “doughnut lassies” would give soldiers during World War I. Information also found here.

The Mountain High Games in Payson are this weekend, June 1st – June 3rd. If you want to participate in any of the trail runs, cook-offs, demolition derbies, pine cone toss, atv races, etc. you can still sign up to participate the day of the race onsite. If you just want to watch, it’s all free excepting the ATV rodeo and the demolition truck derby on Friday and Saturday night. For all the details, go here.

June 2nd - Free Fishing Day at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood from 8:00 AM - Noon in recognition of National Fishing and Boating week. You must check in at park office, but this is free fishing – no license is required for this event. Fishing poles and bait will be available. Try to catch a catfish in the stocked lagoon. Event sponsored by: AZ Game & Fish, Prescott National Forest, and Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Information from here.


A Summer with Heart: An East Valley Water Guide

This year we will be posting our updated “A Summer with Heart: A guide to loving and living in AZ when the temperatures rise” as individual posts instead of an e-book. We want to make this more interactive this summer and hope that if you have an idea you want added, or you want to link to a post you have personally done on a particular venue or event, just leave us a comment or send an e-mail to iheartmesa@gmail.com. I will then update each section as needed and make a notation at the top of each post as to when the last update was. We know that this summer guide can be an even greater asset to our community with your input.

For our Food guide go here.

Last updated: 5-29-12 


There is an online deal (maybe a limited time only) for a Sunsplash season pass for $64.99. Regular admission is $26.99, so it won’t take long to make a season pass worth it. This would be great for teenagers to give them something fun to do this summer. Golfland also offers FREE birthday parties for up to eight people. See website here for details. 

Salt River/Saguaro Lake 
Mesa residents get to enjoy that the Salt river and Saguaro lake just minutes away. If you would like to enjoy some time at these bodies of water, make sure you stop by a gas station on your way out to the river to buy a Tonto Pass. The cost is $6 for the day. The Tonto Pass replaces the pay stations at the parks on the Salt River. The Chevron on Ellsworth and Brown sells them. Or you may purchase passes online here

How do you get to the Salt River? Go north on Power or Ellsworth. When you get about 5 miles out of town, you’ll start seeing faded brown signs with names like Coons Bluff or Phon De Sutton etc. Turn onto the paved road, park in the parking lot and enjoy some time on the Salt River. It’s really just minutes away. The river isn’t just for tubing down.

Read about other Arizona lake visits: 

Fish Hatcheries
Arizona is home to 6 fish hatcheries. They are fun to explore, learn and feed the fish (only at the Page, Canyon Creek and Tonto Creek hatcheries). My personal favorite is the Canyon Creek hatchery down the Young Road. Feed the fish and then take some time to play in the nearby Canyon creek. TIP: take quarters for the fish feed. Read about our personal visit here,

Pools and Splash Pads 
Pay $4 for adults and $2 for kids for the aquatic centers and $2.50 for adults, $1.25 for kids at the pools (Fremont and Taylor.) You can also get punch cards or season passes to reduce the price per visit. Most pools include splash pad, slides, diving boards and zero entry pools. Monday nights from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM is ½ price family night at the aquatic centers Tip: all Mesa pools have special event days throughout the summer. Make sure to call your local pool or go pick up a calendar of scheduled special events. 

FlowRider is a place to get your surf on without leaving the city. Located at the Rhodes Aquatic Complex: 1860 S. Longmore in Mesa (Baseline and Longmore). Rhodes pool is complete with a zero depth (beach like) entry pool, diving boards, normal pool (8 lane lines), splash pad and of course, the FlowRider. Those over 42” can try their skills at boogie boarding and those over 52” can try surfing. Tips: don’t wear jewelry and make sure your clothing will stay in place to account for the very fast moving water. Also, make sure to have your liability waiver signed and ready to go (especially for minors leaving their parents at home.) Read our detailed post here.  

Admission of $1 for kids and $2.25 for adults with amazing facilities: waterslides, lazy rivers, and more.  Check out dates and times for free swim or $1 family swim at the various Chandler pools on page 18 of this brochure

Located on Southern between San Marcos and Ironwood Dr. Daily Fees are $1 for those 17 and under and $2 for adults. Slides, play area, lazy river and more.  

Indoor double spiral slide and wave pool.  Admission is $5 for age 2-12 and $7 for those 13+.

Enjoy free baby splash classes at Hubbard Family Swim School for babies ages 4 weeks to 5 months. You can get your child used to the water early on and enjoy the benefits that water has on your baby’s development.  Hubbard is located in the Riverview shopping center. Call to check on availabilities: 602-971-4044.  

Splash Pads (Free Admission) 
TIP: We like to bring disposable plastic cups to splash pads to dump and throw water with.

Fountain Hills has a splash pad at Fountain Hill Park, 12925 N. Saguaro Blvd. It is open 9:00 AM til sunset. We love this one because the kiddos can watch the fountain erupt every hour from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM.  

Tempe Beach Splash playground located at Tempe Beach Park at Rio Salado and Mill Avenue. Open every day from 10:00 AM-7:00 PM. Lots of fun, but very busy. 

These other three in Tempe are smaller splash pads that are open daily from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM: 
Jaycee park (5th St and Hardy), Esquer park (101 and Apache) and Hudson park (Apache between Rural and McClintock.) 

Chandler has three spray parks open from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily-  
Chuparosa park Spray pad at 2400 S. Dobson Rd., between Queen Creek & Germann. 
Desert Breeze park Spray animals at 660 N. Desert Breeze Blvd. between Rural Rd. & McClintock Dr. and Ray Rd. & Chandler Blvd. 
Espee park Spray pad at 450 E. Knox, between Arizona Ave. & McQueen Road. The splash park is right next to the playground, so kids can go back and forth between the two. 

Gilbert Water Tower Park: In downtown Gilbert there is a splash pad by the water tower at 45 W. Page Avenue. You could even go on Saturday and check out the farmers market 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM, bring the kids and let them play in the water after you shop. 

Shopping Centers That Have Splash Pads

Riverview shopping center at Dobson and the 202 has a fountain to play in right in front of the Cinemark theater. We’ve gone on a Friday afternoon and no one was there. Great for water without worrying about other people.  We've gotten yogurt from Yodipity and then chips and salsa to go from Matta's and enjoyed watching the kids play. 

Tempe marketplace also has fountains in the District, on the north side of the marketplace. 

Or, check out the children's water play area at San Tan mall at Williamsfield Rd and the San Tan Freeway. Located near Dillards and open during mall hours. Covered splash pad and soft play area. We like to visit the next door Dairy Queen after a fun playtime. 

Enjoy your water time and make sure to ALWAYS keep your eyes on those kiddos.  


Things to Do This Weekend

Here are a few events if you are looking for something to do:

On Friday night it's Motorcycles on Main again.  Head to downtown Mesa to check out the bikes, browse some shops, and have something to eat.

Of course there is the monthly First Friday Art Walk in downtown Phoenix.  Take shuttles around to tour art galleries, for free.  There are multiple routes for you to choose depending on your style.

At Kiwanis Park in Tempe you can see their free monthly Movie in the Park.  This Friday night's feature is  "Happy Feet 2."  Movie will start at dusk, or about 7pm.

For some vintage shopping, head to Westworld in Scottsdale on Saturday for the Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market.  You can get more details of this event and see some preview photos on their Facebook page.

And for Saturday, here are a few Cinco de Mayo Events:

NOTE: The event posted for Cinco de Mayo in Mesa is NOT accurate.  The information was from a previous year.  Sorry for the confusion!

Check out the Chandler Cinco de Mayo Festival and Chihuahua Races.

For other ideas, here are a couple of articles from AZ Central that you might want to check out:

Top Cheap Taco Parlors
Big List of Cinco de Mayo Events
18 Restaurants to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Have fun!