Let the NEW YEAR begin!
Twenty Sixteen – has a sweet ring to it
Let’s enjoy it to the fullest!
Images: Legoland- (redtri.com) and SanDiego (sandiego.org)
Images: Legoland- (redtri.com) and SanDiego (sandiego.org)
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.
Image Credits: Darian J, Devon J, Bradley P, Tyler P
We were so fortunate to be able to take our Baltic cruise, spend time together and see things we had only read about in history books or seen on the travel channel.
Here are a couple of pictures we purchased . . .
A picture of Stockholm at Sunset
and the magnificent Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg.
We wish you all the vacation of your dreams
Guest Author: Vicki L
I saw Dragon Fruit for the first time last year. Even at the $9.99 price per pound, which seemed outrageous to me, I was intrigued.
When I saw this fruit again – in abundance – in the markets in San Francisco’s China Town (and for a much lower -more reasonable price) I decided I needed to give it a try.
This exotic fruit MIGHT be worth the price, right?! I chose a small specimen -partly to save money, but also because- I might not like it and it might not be worth the price.
It is easy to work with – peeling, scooping or dicing; and a very pretty pink to add to a salad or over yogurt etc.
Other than the bright pretty pink color, I am not impressed! The flavor is mild and nothing to sing about. The texture is something akin to a dense kiwi. In my opinion, unless it proves to have super nutritious powers, it isn’t worth adding to anything – especially at the going rate. Perhaps if the price comes down –a lot! it might be fun. . .
It is also known as Pitaya or Pitaha. It is the fruit of several cactus species. There are three varieties: a red-skinned with pink flesh; red-skinned with white flesh and yellow-skin with white flesh.
This one gets a thumbs up!
It’s pretty tasty, and went together easily.
This is one of the best red velvet cake flavors I’ve ever tasted, and I really like the hint of lemon in the white layer.
The batter for both the red velvet layers and the white layer were both good (!) so I hoped, anyway, that the baked cake would be just as good and it was.
I don’t think any frosting needs to have 2 1/2 sticks of butter and 2 1/2 packages of cream cheese, but this is the caliber of cake recipes we’re doing, so I’ll let that slide. (!)
I really like the fresh fruit with the cake – pops all of the flavors.
Epicurious.com Recipe: Glorious Red White and Blue Cake
Watermelon: Big wide wedges of red juicy slices at summertime picnics or as a refreshing treat on a hot afternoon – juice dripping down our arms and staining our faces from ear to ear. These are the images – or memories – most of us have of eating watermelon.
With little people in my life, I have learned to cut smaller pieces of watermelon – easier for them to handle but here is a really practical way to slice and serve watermelon – easy to eat, still juicy but confined. It is almost like every slice is the delicious ‘heart’ of the melon. Great for everyone!
Instead of slicing the melon into wide wedges that inevitably get juice all over your face and chin, cut the fruit (or any other melon) in half, then slice it in a grid. That will give you evenly sized slices that each have a bit of rind at the bottom to act as a convenient handle
Top image: VisualPhotos.com
Adapted from News & Views Photo: Courtesy Dave Hax
Something Fun – Something Different – Something for the Ages is what Voodoo Doughnuts of Portland wants to be. They seem to be all that and more.
Voodoo Doughnut Magic creates unique flavors like Bacon Maple Bars (bacon strips topping traditional maple bars and glazed donuts frosted and topped with cereal … cereal? — intriguing)
and they still qualify as a delicious donut! Traditional flavors such as: plain cake, chocolate sprinkles, and plain glazed (raised and cake) are also offered.
How long would you wait in line for these choices?
We had heard of Voodoo Doughnuts. But when we got to Portland, we were amazed to see a seemingly never-ending line out the door and winding around the block at the downtown store….just for doughnuts! Are they really worth that wait? Having a short time to visit Portland, we decided we would for-go the Voodoo Doughnut experience and not spend precious time in line. But then . . .
We discovered a second location: Voodoo Doughnuts, Too is just a few miles out of downtown and on our way to the airport! So we stopped there and walked right in – no wait!
Remember that, if you want instant gratification to your Voodoo Doughnut craving!
There is an interesting connection between Voodoo Doughnuts and Rogue Beer (see: Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch: Limited Edition Beers based on Donut flavors or is it the other way around? Our first experience with Rogue Beer was when a bubblegum pink bottle caught our eye: Maple Bacon Beer – we had to give it a try. It was surprisingly very tasty!
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.
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.
The 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. 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!).
Then 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.
Then 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.
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
Arriving in Portland mid-day, we drove downtown – for Fun – just to be downtown and get some lunch before heading to the suburbs.
We wandered around the Pearl District, enjoying a beautiful Oregon day of sunshine and fresh air (the locals were flocking downtown, in joyous celebration). There are lots of choices for lunch but what to choose?
Then we saw the Rogue Beer banners and discovered we were in “the heart of Portland’s Historic Brewing District in the Pearl” at the Rogue Ales Distillery and Public House.
Featuring outside seating – a requirement for our meal with this perfect weather – a menu with several intriguing options for lunch, and Rogue Beers — we took a seat!
First a beer: Morimoto’s Soba Ale –a buckwheat based. TASTING NOTES: The delicate flavor of our roasted Soba (buckwheat) brings a nutty finish to this light and refreshing ale. A perfect accompaniment to lighter cuisine.
Then lunch: Salmon Melt – one with cheddar and fries, one with swiss and chips. Omigosh! SO DELISH! And a lighter cuisine — perfectly paired with Morimoto’s Soba Ale.
Rogue Ales Distillery and Public House occupies the former home of a long-time Portland institution — Portland Brewing and Bogart’s.
Natural pools provide clean, safe, non-chemical swimming within a self-sustaining ecosystem. delighting the senses and providing health benefits to the body.
These pools rely entirely on the plants and animals to condition the water. This is so effective that this pool has been tested and shown to be of drinking water quality. Also, through the continual natural “cleaning process” the pool water never needs changing, saving water. It’s chemical free so it is healthy for people and wildlife alike. It’s truly wild Swimming at home. Would you get one?
“Swimming in natural water is a delight to our senses. Your skin and hair feels soft and your eyes don’t sting. It seems as if, every cell in your body is telling you – this is the way swimming should be.” -David Pagan Butler
Here are some free plans to build your own: Mother Earth News
From: The Mind Unleashed