The Wonderful World of Pi(e)

Circumference? Diameter?  Who cares–

We’re talking’ about pie here!

Forget all that Math stuff – THIS is my idea of Pi(e)!! 

Wonderful World of Pi(e) Thanks to  The Dish by for this wonderful and delightful view of today’s Pi Day and


The Wonderful World of Pi(e) March 14th is National Pi Day. For those of you who can’t remember that junior high math lesson, here’s a refresher.  It has to do with circles, and lines, and distances and lengths. For our purposes, all you need to know is Pi (?) = 3.14 aka March 14.   So in celebration of all things nerdy and delicious, we’re celebrating this circular holiday with a few delectable circles of our own, and diving into the wonderful world of PIE!The Wonderful World of Pi(e)

Let’s start with the foundation. THE CRUST. First you have your flaky varieties, some are sweet, some are salty, some are made with butter. Others use shortening, some rely on cold COLD water, while still more call for distilled vinegar as the secret ingredient to achieve that perfect, tender, flaky base. Then there are the butter-crumb crusts. Smashed cookie or graham bits, mixed with sugar and melted butter that are then pressed into a perfect pie crust shape. THEN you add ooey, gooey, sweet or creamy fillings; perhaps you want to get wild and crazy and fill these shells with a savory mixture and call it…dinner. However you roll (get it, dough…rolling…), it’s clear that pies, in all their many forms, are awesome. Here are a few of our favorites:

Fruit Pie – Fruit is one of the most classic pie fillings and the possibilities are limitless. Wonderful World of Pi(e)Some people love berry pies, while others prefer pitted varieties like peach. Every fall, stores and counter tops are overrun with a plethora of apple pies with various and sundry toppings. Then there’s that crazy faction that recommends combining different kinds of fruit for a truly spectacular taste experience. No matter what fruit you’re using, a sugary filling of tender fruit and juices makes for a darn good slice. We’ll take ours a la mode! Custard Pie – Who knew combining sugar, cream and eggs and baking it in a shell could produce so much deliciousness. Well friends, that’s exactly what a custard pie is. Add a plethora of other ingredients like chocolate, vanilla, pumpkin, caramel or liquors and end up with a delicate slip of flavor that melts in your mouth (and probably your hand, too). The Wonderful World of Pi(e)Savory Pies – The savory pie is a popular European dish and is served as an actual meal, rather than for dessert. Most combinations include a mixture of meat (beef or lamb) and vegetables, like potatoes and onions. A more Americanized example of a savory pie is the chicken pot pie. This traditionally southern meal has the outside appearance of a pie, and the inside flavor of Thanksgiving dinner. 

Of course, you could combine all three and end up with something like this.

Mini pies – It seems like these days you can find anything and everything in mini form. Pies are no exception. We happen to love mini pies. They’re bite-sized and portable with all our favorite pie flavors still intact. We like to pretend that their small stature makes them a relatively healthy snack. Please don’t ruin it for us.

Pie on a stick – Everything tastes better on a stick. Enough said.

Pie in a cake – For our grand finale, we give you the turducken of desserts, the pie cake:


The Wonderful World of Pi(e)Yes, someone somewhere decided that since pie is delicious, and cake is delicious, putting one inside the other and baking them together would be even more delicious. We’ve never been lucky (aka brave) enough to try a slice, but this mythical dessert is definitely on our foodie bucket list.

Okay…this one is a bit weird. Otherwise, it’s all good fun and yummy prospects!!

Fun Football Food

Ready for the Big Game?

… here is some Fun FOOTBALL Food for any game time!

How fun is this?? A simple ‘football’ shaped meatloaf cleverly decorated with cheese is perfect for any  game day but especially Super Bowl!

Not a meat eater?  This great idea and simple presentation can even be adapted to yummy veggie-based loafs and burgers.

Fun Football Food



Get the Meatloaf recipe here

Get a non-meat loft recipe here

Sleep under the Northern Lights!

More beauty from the North – Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights

Sleep Under the Northern LightsYou can view the Northern Lights from the comfort of a bed in a rented Glass Igloo at Kakslauttanen, Finland.

The Northern Lights are one of the most magnificent natural phenomena and are visible in the night sky between late August and late April.Sleep Under the Northern Lights

An Arctic Resort in the wilderness of Lapland Finland, Kakslauttanen is a family hotel offers unique accommodations such as the Glass Igloos, as well as Snow Igloos, Log Cabins, Gold Diggers Cabin, a Traditional House and even Santa’s Home!

Sleep Under the Northern Lights

In addition to viewing the Northern Lights at Kakslauttanen, a variety of other experiences include winter and summer activities such as reindeer safaris, husky safaris, ice fishing, gold panning, mountain biking and skiing and snow boarding.

Located about 250 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, Kakslauttanen is easy to reach. It is only a 30 minute bus ride from the nearest airport at Ivalo, Finland  and not far from northern Norway or Murmansk, Russia.



Images from Kakslauttanen


Happy New Year from Russia

Russians welcome the New Year by saying

“S Novim Godom!”

Happy New Year from Russia

Happy New Year from Russia

 Most Russians consider the New Year as their main holiday of the year 

and celebrate it in a BIG way!

My friend, Lyudmila K., from Moscow, enjoys observing her country’s traditional New Years celebration of late dinners, family fun, and gift giving, with other family members and friends from Russia even after being here in the United States about 15 years.

Family and friends gather for late night dinners, sparkling wine, and fireworks at midnight. Games are played, gifts are exchanged, and toasts are made. Festivities also include decorated fir trees, and visits and gifts from Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost -the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus) who is sometimes accompanied by his granddaughter, Snegurochka (The Snow Girl or Snow Maiden).

Preparations begin early in the day on December 31 for their late night feasts of traditional foods such as Russian salads, herring ,cheese and breads, pickles and marinades. Happy New Year from Russia

Russian salads are significantly different from their European counterparts – many of them are made from the boiled vegetables and mayonnaise. The favorite salad of Russians and the main dish on New Year’s table is, of course, Olivier. This salad is made with boiled beef or chicken, with boiled potatoes, carrots, onions, pickles, boiled egg, green peas and mayonnaise. Sometimes sausage or ham are used in place of meat.

Just before midnight, a speech is given by the President of the Russian Federation in which he briefly sums up the results of the year and congratulates the the country with the holiday. Precisely at midnight, all TV channels broadcast the Kremlin chimes heralding the beginning of the New Year at midnight.  Then come the fireworks and the traditional drink of Champagne at Midnight.


This ornate giant Christmas ball is part of the Holiday Season decorations in central  Moscow.



Read more about New Years and Christmas Traditions in Russia

Image Credits:;;

Chihuly in Denver

Glass Sculptures grace the Denver Botanical Gardens.

A lovely display of exquisite glass sculptures by world renowned artist Dale Chihuly are dramatic and yet peaceful in Denver exhibition.

Vibrant colors, whimsical shapes — some flamboyant, some subtle — entertain, amuse, and impress visitors. The exhibition just closed, but the effect lingers in the minds, memories and photos of those fortunate enough to experience it.

It is fun to see some different sculptures in the Denver Botanical Gardens that were not in Desert Botanical Gardens exhibit in Phoenix. It is equally fun seeing familiar shapes from the Phoenix gardens in the Denver setting.


Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver


Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in DenverChihuly in DenverChihuly in Denver

Chihuly in DenverChihuly in DenverChihuly in Denver
Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver
Chihuly in Denver



Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in DenverChihuly in Denver

Chihuly in DenverChihuly in DenverChihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver


Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver






Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver























Image Credits: Darian J, Devon J, Bradley P, Tyler P

Stockholm, Sweden – Cruising Scandinavia


Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

 Stockholm, Sweden – Water Tour

After the tours over the previous few days, we were tired of seeing museums and churches;  so in Stockholm, Sweden, we enjoyed a leisurely boat cruise through the harbor area and the adjacent lake —  Stockholm, Sweden - Cruising Scandinavia

 — which involved trips through the locks Stockholm, Sweden - Cruising Scandinavia – my first time doing something like that.  Stockholm, Sweden - Cruising Scandinavia
Beautiful waterfront views surrounded the area.
We passed by the Parliament and where the Nobel Prizes are awarded – both right on the water!
Stockholm, Sweden - Cruising Scandinavia
Guest Author: Vicki L

Tour de Fat – So Much FUN!

Tour de Fat is SO MUCH FUN!

And it is almost time for the ‘Tour de Tempe’!

Tour de Fat – a “celebration of all things bicycle”  – has been traveling the country since May and is closing in on it finale for the year.  If you haven’t experienced it yet, there is still time – especially if you are in the west! Coming this month – September – to San Francisco & San Diego, California with the Grand Finale on October 4 in Tempe Arizona.Tour de Fat - So much FUN!

This celebration was created by the New Belgium Brewing Company to “increase awareness and encourage participation in cycling as a sustainable form of transportation and has “grown into a national rite of passage for cycling advocates”


Each event opens with a “costumed” bike parade through the host city. Tour de Fat - So Much FUN!

 Everyone is encouraged to “embrace their inner-cyclist” and ride the streets in a rolling carnival of creativity.  ALL participants -bikes and bikers alike- can be seen dressed and decorated “in costume”.

Tour de Fat - So Much FUN!

Tour de Fat - So Much FUN!

Tour de Fat - So Much FUN!

Tour de Fat – Tempe has become a fun Family Event for us. Our little ones have become more capable of riding in the parade on their own and look forward to the activities in the special children’s Bike Rodeo area.  They also enjoy some of the other entertainment on and off stage:  music, dancing, jugglers, tricksters , etc.

Tour de Fat - So Much FUN!Tour de Fat - So Much FUN!Tour de Fat - So Much FUN!

Tour de Fat - So Much FUN!









All this FUN is brought to us by:
Tour de Fat - So much FUN!


Let’s Eat Cake! . . . Epic Failure?

 Let’s Eat Cake!

The challenge: Bake one cake a month. Take photos during the process or at least of the finished product. Tell us about the experience and share the photos. Then EAT the CAKE!

In a totally RANDOM drawing done on behalf of each participant by Mr. Tommy, the first round of recipes have been picked and handed out.

First up:

Let's Eat Cake. . .or Not

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting

Are you ready to eat cake? Let’s get started!

 Ok – here ya go!!!  I was laughing so hard during this!  My helper was complaining that she couldn’t take pictures because I was making her laugh, too.  It was hilarious!

I bought two sets of new cake pans to start this adventure!  I have two “old” pans – don’t even know if they’re nine inch or eight inch.  I needed three rounds for this cake (each split in half so I’d end up w/6 layers), and I wanted to make sure they were all the same size, etc.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotThe cake batter was easy to make and I thought it turned out good – fluffy and good consistency.  The cakes took a little longer to bake than the recipe said, and ended up with “crispy” edges – kinda like when there’s too much butter in a chocolate chip cookie and it spreads and gets crispy (?) – so I didn’t adjust for altitude, and I think that I should’ve added more flour (live and learn)!  When the cakes were cooled and I cut them in half, it seemed like the “tops” were bigger than the bottoms, but I wasn’t comfortable trimming around the edges – the cake seemed too “crumbly”.

The frosting recipe was a sour cream chocolate icing – you mix it up and let it get thicker in the fridge as it cools (recipe called for 30 minutes).  Well, I let it set all afternoon and finally decided it was probably as thick as it was going to get.

So. . . I put the first layer on the cake stand, topped it with the icing, smoothed it to the edge, put the second  layer on, topped it with icing, smoothed it to the edge, then the third, etc., etc.  By the time I got to the fifth layer, things were obviously off-kilter and leaning towards one side.  I tried to smoosh everything back to the other side without making too much of a mess – there was a little movement in the right direction, but obviously not enough. Let's Eat Cake . . . or Not I went ahead and put the final layers on and noticed how uneven the layers were (as in, the edges of the layers were radically not even).  I thought I was being careful when placing the cake layers on each time, but I think the spreading of the icing created movement that made everything crooked.  The picture on the recipe doesn’t have the sides of the cake frosted, but I had lots of extra frosting, and thought that maybe I could hide some of the unevenness if I threw some frosting on the side (obviously not!).

Let's Eat Cake! . . . or NotThen there was more movement and I hollered that we needed to cut a piece quick!  and get it on a plate. We grabbed a dessert plate and cut a slice and rushed to get a picture of the inside of the cake on the stand.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotThen while we were taking a picture of the slice on the plate, the whole cake just started cracking and sliding so I grabbed a cookie sheet for it to fall on – it was hysterical at this point – a slow (but kinda quick as it gathered momentum) mudslide.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or Not

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotLet's Eat Cake . . . or Not

Wow.  I think the frosting was too “slick” – maybe more powdered sugar?  But I didn’t want to mess with it too much when I was making it – the picture looked like it was very glossy and not too thick with powdered sugar.  Now I know!

None of us were big fans of the taste of the cake, either.  I’ll get the “boys” opinions tonight.  – It had a tang or sourness that’s a little unpleasant.  Which is surprising to me, because I love tangy/sour things – I love buttermilk and sour cream.  But, not so much in this recipe!  What a way to start the cake challenge!  Geesh!

OMG!  It was fun though, and I enjoyed the experience, and the girls and I got a good laugh!  🙂

It’s OK if you start with the epic failure – we can only get better from here!  By the way, neither of the “boys” liked the taste of the cake either – both cut a large-ish slice and neither finished.  It looks like it should be good – it’s just not.  🙁  


Cake Image:  Stephen Lewis


Happy 4th of July!

Go FOURTH and Celebrate!!

Happy 4th of July


Fireworks over Tempe Town Lake

Happy 4th of July


Happy 4th of July





Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice – a traditional time for celebrating

For those in the the Northern Hemisphere, today, (Saturday, June 21) marks the Summer Solstice — the  first official day of summer — when the sun appears highest in the sky, reaching its northernmost point.

Summer Solstice

 Longest Day – Shortest Shadow

This day is also recognized and celebrated as the longest day of year  – the longest hours of daylight for the Northern Hemisphere.

 In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces (complementing the winter solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces.) According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of  summer solstice – also known as the longest day.

Summer Solstice The Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere is a traditional time for celebrating Nature’s bountifulness. Fruits are swelling with growth and flowers are blooming.  Twilight  lingers late  into the summer evening. If you can, get in touch with Gaia’s nurture by spending some outdoor time and breathing in her beauty.  If you have a celebration planned with friends, more’s the better!  What does the Solstice chart say about this summer quarter? — read more at Mind Body Spirit Astrology.)

In some parts of the United States, events that focus on the theme of the summer solstice are held:  local festivals featuring art or music; environmental awareness activities that focus on using natural sunlight as a source of energy; and family gatherings (especially pool parties and cookouts)

In the north, it is the time of the midnight sun – when the sun never dips below the horizon. Midsummer festivals with bonfires and feasts celebrate the summer and the fertility of the Earth.

In Poland, thousands of lanterns are launched Summer Solstice  for a Magical Midsummer celebration.





Summer Solstice



In southern England, thousands flock to Stonehenge, a 5,000-year-old site on the Salisbury Plain  to celebrate the the June solstice. Some people believe that Stonehenge was built to help ancient people know when the solstice arrived.. Interestingly, the sun rises at a particular point on the horizon as viewed from the centre of the stone circle on day of the June solstice.


At the ancient megalithic observatory  of Kokino, the sun rises from a rocky crest filled with astronomical stone markers.  This 3,800-year-old observatory  in the northwestern town of Kumanovov 70 km (43 miles) north of Skopje, Macedonia, is ranked the 4th oldest observatory in the world according to NASA

Summer Solstice

 How do you celebrate?