Sea Life Up Close & Personal!

Sea Life Up Close & Personal!  Sea life is fascinating . . .

and especially fun when you see it up close and personal – like at the beautiful Scripps’ Birch Aquarium in La Jolla California. Sea Life Up Close & Personal!

Located on a hillside overlooking the pacific Ocean, the aquarium offers a delightful experience of watching sea life – brilliant fish, sea grasses, jellyfish -in their world of water.Sea Life Up Close & Personal!

 Sea Life Up Close & Personal!Colorful and amazing fish and other animals swim past the viewing glass. Sea Life Up Close & Personal!Sea Life Up Close & Personal! Some are strange looking – almost pre-historic, some are cute and cartoon-like.

A large 70,000-gallon kelp forest tank is filled with magnificent marine animals. Watching the swaying of the kelp with the fish swimming past is mesmerizing and will captivate you as you watch from a specially designed viewing gallery. Sea Life Up Close & Personal!

Sea Life Up Close & Personal!

Sea Life Up Close & Personal!

 

The Sea Horses are always fascinating to me and this aquarium has Sea Dragons – a relative of Sea Horses.  Sea Life Up Close & Personal!

 

 

Sea Dragons are equally fascinating and appear almost surreal!

 

Sea Life Up Close & Personal!An outside habitat offers ‘touching and feeling’ of tide pool animals such as starfish, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers and anemones. 

During  feeding time the pools come alive as colorful crabs emerge from their crevices to eat. Other inter-active exhibits and displays provide information and  ’hands on’ learning experiences such as feeling and touching shark’s teeth.Sea Life Up Close & Personal!Sea Life Up Close & Personal!During  feeding time the pools come alive as colorful crabs emerge from their crevices to eat. Other inter-active exhibits and displays provide information and  ’hands on’ learning experiences such as feeling and touching shark’s teeth.

 

 More photographs of Sea Life

Sea Life Up Close & Personal!Sea Life Up Close & Personal!Sea Life Up Close & Personal!

 

Craving a Cookie or TWO?

Craving a Cookie or TWO? Chocolate Chip CookiesHow about TWO chewy,

gooey chocolate chip cookies?

 

This is great! - A recipe for just TWO chocolate chip cookies.

It is usually a grey rainy day that triggers  my craving for  chocolate chip cookies (see Rainy Day Comfort Food). At times, I’ve ventured out to find a cookie to satisfy my craving, but it is more in the baking than the actual eating of it that is most satisfying to me, especially on a rainy day!

To be able to bake just TWO cookies instead of an entire batch is worth a try. I’ve done the freezer thing with the balls of cookie dough ready for a fresh baked cookie or two. Those don’t seem to last very long…that raw cookie dough, even frozen, constantly beckons me. (why bother heating the oven?!)

Shared by theKitchn, “this recipe for just TWO chewy, gooey chocolate chip cookies is totally brilliant” http://thekitc.hn/Q7BoVS

Spring is actually bursting out all over here in the southwest (the sun is shining, birds are singing, Palo Verde trees are blooming into bright yellow clouds of color, and the air is sweet with fragrance) – the days are heavenly  . . . with NO RAIN in the forecast. This is normal for us and probably a good thing or I’d be baking a lot of cookies - which is why this recipe for just TWO chocolate chip cookies is so great!

oh . . . . I love a rainy day,    I love a rainy day,   I love a rainy day. . .

I love to hear the thunder,

watch the lightening when it lights up the sky. . .

Oh, I love a rainy day,  I love . . . to bake cookies. . . . on a rainy day. . .

  You know it makes me feel good. . . .

I just might have to use a sunny-day excuse . . . why wait for a rainy day to make chewy, gooey chocolate chip cookies?!

 

Glass Sculptures in the Desert

Glass Sculptures in the GardenColorful Glass Creations Light Up the Desert 

These dramatic, whimsical and graceful  blown glass  sculptures appear to ‘grow’ amid the flora at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Glass Scupltures in the Garden Chihuly in the Garden is a stunning exhibition by world renowned artist, Dale Chihuly.  His “ambitious architectural installations ” are found in historic cities, museums and gardens around the world. Chihuly is “credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of glass medium from craft to fine art.” 

Glass in the GardenGlass Sculptures in the Garden

These vibrant and flamboyant sculptures are carefully and artfully placed among the stately,  sometimes stark and mostly muted desert plants.

Chihuly During the  Day

Extraordinary shapes and colors delight visitors during the daylight hours.

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Chihuly At Night

After the sun sets, these amazing works of art become colorful bursts of light and swirling shapes in the quiet dark of the Desert Botanical Garden.Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Glass Sculptures in the Garden

Muppet Mania

Muppets Movie May Create Mania

The Muppets are already the most wanted for party themes and foods.

With The Muppets Most Wanted Movie in theaters this Friday (3/21/14), Muppet Mania could dominate the party scene.

Muppet Mania

From easy-to-make fruit and vegetable platters to more intricately decorated cakes (see “How to make a Cookie Monster Cake“), the Muppets are colorful and cute and easily become clever food creations.

Elmo takes the cake for the most popular . . .

Muppet Mania

but Cookie Monster, Muppet Mania

 Kermit,Muppet Mania

and all their friends are plentiful among party platters and foods.

Everyone has a favorite Muppet – Which one is yours?

Image Credits:  ownzee.com; party city; raw food revolution; party ideas by a pro; great food fun places

Irish for a Day – St Patrick’s Day!

Irish for a Day - St Patricks Day!How Irish are You?

In celebration of St Patrick’s Day,

we can All be Irish for a Day!

Any reason is reason enough for a special celebration and helping the Irish celebrate St Patrick’s Day is a fun one:  wearing of the green, wishing the ‘luck o’ the Irish’ with shamrocks and gold coins, eating great food and drinking green drinks! It has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and lots of green!

 Who IS Saint Patrick?  and  What is this Day all about?

Irish for a Day - St Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick depicted with shamrock in detail of stained glass window in St. Benin’s Church, Kilbennan, County Galway, Ireland

We can enjoy celebrating St Patrick’s Day just for the fun of it – without knowing what – or who – the celebration is all about but I like to have a little background.

St Patrick is the most commonly recognized patron saint and national apostle of Ireland (c. AD 385-461). He is credited with bringing christianity to Ireland.

Why March 17?  It is the date of Saint Patrick’s death, so the ‘Feast of Saint Patrick’  or the “day of the Festival of Patrick”  is celebrated every year on March 17 to honor him.

Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century.

Great FOOD and Green DRINKS!

The ‘Feast of Saint Patrick’ has it’s share of great food along with the revelry, festivities and a lot of green. 

Irish for a Day - St Patrick's Day!The classic St Patrick’s Day meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage is more American than Irish. It seems Irish Americans in the 19th century created a simple, hearty one-pot dish using spiced salty ‘corned beef’ to flavor plain cabbage as a tasty and cheaper alternative to cured pork and potatoes.

Today, other delicious Irish foods such as as Haddock soup, braised beef, and Shepherd’s pie are found on menus along with Corned Beef and Cabbage.

I am excited to finally find a recipe for making my own ‘corned’ beef. I will have to wait until next year as it takes at least 17 days to ‘cure’ the beef.  I like lots of potatoes and carrots with the cabbage and beef…more veggies, less meat.

Complete the meal with a dark rye bread  (I am not fond of the classic Irish Soda Bread) and a beer - it doesn’t have to be green - any dark stout will do!

Top off your meal with an Irish Whiskey or Baileys and cream.

St Patrick’s Day – What a deliciously fun day to celebrate!Irish for a Day - St Patrick's Day!

May the Irish hills caress you;
may her lakes and rivers bless you;
may the luck of the Irish enfold you;
may the blessings of Saint Patrick, behold you.

Go muirní cnoic na hÉireann thú.
Go mbeannaí a lochanna agus a haibhneacha thú.
Go dtimpeallaí an ádh Eireannach thú.
Go bhféacha tú beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Phádraig.

 

Image credits:

Pierson Library; Wikepedia; Celebrating St Patrick’s Day

 

 

 

 

 

Truly Edible Food Art

Truly Edible Food Art!

We had fun with our  ’truly-creative’ little girls making – AND EATING – these cute pancakes !

Edible Food Art

Bananas, Apple slices, Blueberries, & Pomegranate Seeds top pancakes making cute animal faces.

Add a little maple syrup and eat up!

Edible Food Art  Edible Food Art

 

 

 

 

 

They aren’t fancy but they were definitely edible and delicious!!

 

Truly Edible Food Art

Truly Edible Food Art

Great Food and Fun Times!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original ChopShop Co

The Original ChopShop CoOriginal ChopShop Co is a delightful ‘off-campus’ eatery near Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ.   Sandwiched between a couple of other little eateries, the Tempe ChopShop takes residence in a cute little bungalow on University Avenue across from the campus. The Original ChopShop Co 

 

Offering a pleasant and peaceful (almost cozy) atmosphere,  this delightful restaurant feels like an escape, a place to relax and enjoy fresh -and delicious! – food anytime of the day.

The Original ChopShop CoDine al’ fresco at tables under the trees or umbrella’s for shade from the warm desert sun.  The Original ChopShop CoSit by the fireplace among the casual collection of cushioned sofas while sipping one of the healthy pressed juices, popular gourmet coffee or teas, or the refreshing lemonades.  The Original ChopShop CoCheer on a fun game of life-sized chess or stay inside and enjoy the bright cheery dining area.

During the week during the school year, the Original ChopShop Co is a busy place with students taking advantage of the proximity to campus and enjoying the healthy choices and relaxing atmosphere.

We were there for an early lunch on a Saturday (few students). With a promise of spring in the air, the late winter sun was warm enough to enjoy sitting outside. The Original ChopShop Co

We chose to share a veggie sandwich with hummus spread on the house bread (low carb whole wheat) and a small side salad of quinoa and asparagus.  It was a wise decision – the portions are generous! The Original ChopShop Co

 Believing that it IS possible to eat fresh, healthy, delicious – and affordable – food in today’s ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle, the ChopShop has a menu that invites you back for more!  

The Original ChopShop Co Starting with breakfast items (yogurt-granola parfaits, eggs with veggies, meat, hash in bowls, wraps or sandwiches) and going into lunch and light dinner meals with salads (in a bowl or wrapped) and sandwiches (also available wrapped or on low carb whole wheat bread), and protein plates and shakes, the menu fills out with small sides, and an extensive beverage selection. The Original ChopShop Co

According to  Original ChopShop Co, the chef selects “the freshest seasonal ingredients for our innovative chop salads, reinterpreted sandwiches, and grilled protein plates.” and pairs “inventive cuisine with familiar dishes unexpectedly twisted into new combinations. ”

Try it – you’ll like it!! (Our granddaughter craves the PB&J!) And you will definitely want to go back to sample more of the menu! 

Lucky us – Original ChopShop has another location, (Old Town Scottsdale)  and plans for a third in Chandler!

 

 

Image Credits:

Great Food Fun Places

Fireplace – Rachael H

Chess Game: Bruce M

 

 

Castles and Cactus

Crowning a cactus-covered knoll in east-central Phoenix,  the Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens are an intriguing sight from the freeways and surrounding area of of Phoenix.

Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens

Curious to newcomers as well as generations of valley residents, this 3-tiered structure resembling – and lovingly nicknamed, ‘The Wedding Cake’ – is one of the most prominent landmarks of the city. Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens The castle is often lit during the night by countless incandescent light bulbs distributed along the roofs and fences.

The dream of  Italian immigrant and San Francisco businessman, Alessio Carraro, this historic structure was originally built to be a hotel and center stage of “Carraro Heights”,  a first-class residential development.Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens

Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens Carraro purchased 277 aces of rugged desert land east of Phoenix in 1928 hoping to develop a prestigious resort. He saw great potential in the property, which offered beautiful mountain views and fronted the main route from the city to what was once the popular Papago Saguaro National Monument.

Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensWhen he was unable to negotiate the purchase of additional land for the housing development he wanted to create, Carraro sold his beloved ‘castle’ in 1932 to Della Tovrea, wife of cattle baron EA Tovrea.  Della made it their private residence and lived there until her death in 1969.

Acquired by the city of Phoenix, Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Garden is part of the Phoenix parks system and is designated as one of the Phoenix Points of Pride. The deterioration of grounds and building made it unsuitable for use as a city park. After extensive restoration of the building and revitalization of the gardens,  the park opened in 2012 to the public.Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens

Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensOver 5000 individual cacti representing over 100 different varieties are maintained by volunteers of the Tovrea Carraro Society, a local non-profit organization formed to help protect the historical integrity of Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens.  Working in partnership with the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board, the volunteers also provide guided tours of the grounds, first floor, and basement and will share the fascinating history and stories surrounding the property. 

Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens

Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens

Interior Photos

Castles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus GardensCastles and Cactus - Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Gardens

The restoration of the castle and surrounding cactus garden has been named Centennial Legacy Project by the Arizona Centennial Commission in honor of the state’s 100th Anniversary and Tovrea’s historic place in Arizona lore.

Tovrea Castle was listed on City Historic Property Registry in 1990 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The castle is located at 5041 E. Van Buren St.,nestled between the city’s Papago Park to the east and Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park  to the west.

For Tours visit: Tovrea Castle Tours

 

Tuesday Tidbits: Famous Fiction Writers and their Cocktails

  Literary Drinks:

A Fun Look at 10 Famous Fiction Writers and their Cocktails

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

From theKitchn, here is a brief look at some great American writers and their signature drinks

  “the boozy concoctions they drank and wrote about”

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Readers, what’s your cocktail of choice?

 

For Recipes: Click on each author or go to the Kitchn Post 

Read More: For more on great writers and their cocktails, check out Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide, which NPR profiled in this 2006 Morning Edition broadcast.

 

 

Oscar Night: Fun & Festive Menus & Recipes

It’s Oscar Time!

And Epicurious.com has done it again with cleverly created menus for Oscar Night celebrations featuring recipes inspired by food themes and food ‘moments’ in each of this year’s Best Picture nominees:

13 Sophisticated Ways to Dress up PopcornSpicy clams and “piccata of the gods” for American Hustle

A pizza-night menu is drawn from Theodore and Samantha’s carnival date in Her  

Outer space-themed dishes such as potato ‘meteors’ and star-shaped Linzer cookies to celebrate the celestial setting of Gravity.

Fruitcake and tea for Philomena whose enthusiasm for and love of food is evident through out the movie.

An over-the-top menu that includes sushi, steak, lobster, and Champagne reflect the lifestyle in The Wolf of Wall Street. With so many extravagant dishes, You may want to scale back this extensive menu or risk ‘incuring the wrath of your CFO and father for spending $26,000 on dinner”.

To see all nine movie-themed menus, read more.

 Plan your Oscar night around your favorite movie or the menu you can’t resist. Or pick one or more recipes from each and create your own one-of-a-kind Oscars feast.

Oscar Night: Fun & Festive Menus

Make more Oscar Night magic at home with:

 

Easy Appetizers

Oscar Night: Fun & Festive Menus

12 Sweet and Savory Puff Pastry Recipes

Theater-Style Snacks                                                                                                    Popcorn with a Twist

Oscar Night: Fun & Festive Menus

Microwave Popcorn Tase Test

 

13 Sophisticated Ways to Dress up Popcorn

13 Sophisticated Ways to Dress up Popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adapted from Epicurious.com: Best Oscar Party Recipes

Image Credits: Epicurious.com