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La Quinta, California: Many of our friends have now returned to the desert for the winter, or are here for vacation. With our vaccines + boosters, masking-up everywhere we go anywhere - and never going anywhere - and getting tested, we are now entertaining friends on our patio, or making tee times together.

Dave's college roommate and his wife (Red and Marcia) are here for the winter, and Kathy and Woody are here for a long stretch in their RV, so we had a fun dinner for Lunar New Year. I cooked chicken potstickers, fried noodles, Taiwan pickle, stir-fried broccoli and red pepper with cashews in an orange sauce, and Three Cup Chicken. Almond Cookies from the new Mooncakes and Milk Bread: Sweet and Savory Recipes Inspired by Chinese Bakeries by Kristina Cho of Eat Cho Food for dessert.

After a two year hiatus, my Baby Brother Steve, and his wife, Kris, returned to the desert for his annual birthday week visit with us. They left a foot of Colorado snow for a week of 80+ temps in La Quinta. Lisa and Lenny brought the kids out and we had fun family birthday weekend together. Everyone was in the pool and we spoiled Steve as much as he would let us. He hates any attention, so we made sure to embarrass him as much as possible.

On Monday we went to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert - where the animals are all from different deserts around the world. The zoo has set-up a time-slotted ticketing system to avoid over-crowding - so it was a very pleasant afternoon. Over the past few years, the facility has completed a huge make-over. They have added two Black Rhinos to the zoo and a huge open enclosure for the pair.

According to a volunteer, the rhinos are too young to mate (2-3 years old), so will be kept apart until they would normally have the urge to merge. This will (hopefully) prevent them from bonding as pals instead of mates.

Mating is no problem with the giraffes at the Living Desert. Many babies! One of the most popular activities at the zoo is to feed the giraffes. Steve lined us all up and paid an absolute fortune for a few leaves of romaine lettuce.

We have been able to spot a Cheetah nearly time we have visited the Living Desert, but today we found three!

Another new area features Australian animals. Wallabies are roaming around the exhibit, just minding their own business while completely ignoring visitors. The trees are filled with colorful Budgerigar.

We were even able to spot a few local desert citizens: Peninsular Mountain Sheep.

We were happy to see two babies - hopefully there are more.

We have a few more activities planned, so stay tuned. Until my next update, I remain your hostessing correspondent.

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