Happy New Year – 2016!

Let the NEW YEAR begin!Happy New Year - 2016!

Twenty Sixteen – has a sweet ring to itHappy New Year - 2016!

 Let’s enjoy it to the fullest!

 

Images: Legoland- (redtri.com) and SanDiego (sandiego.org)

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.

ENJOY!

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

Scandinavia Baltic Cruise Conclusion

Scandinavia -Baltic Cruise

Conclusion

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 . . .

Scandinavia-Baltic Cruise Concluded

  A picture of Stockholm at Sunset

and the magnificent Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg.

Scandinavia-Baltic Cruise Conclusion

We wish you all the vacation of your dreams

Guest Author: Vicki L

Dragon Fruit

 

Bright pink “Dragon Fruit” is an intriguing produce that has started showing up in local grocery stores.Dragon Fruit

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.Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit

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.

Dragon Fruit

It is easy to work with – peeling, scooping or dicing; and a very pretty pink to add to a salad or over yogurt etc.

Dragon Fruit

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. . .

 

 

 

But here is some interesting information on this strange -looking exotic “Dragon” fruit:

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.

Dragon Fruit Dragon Fruit

 

 

Glorified Red Velvet Cake

Let’s Eat Cake!

Glorious Red, White, and Blue Cake

Cake of the Week!Cake of the Week!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.

I shared this cake with two different neighborhood families.  (First time getting to do that!)

 

Epicurious.com Recipe:  Glorious Red White and Blue Cake

 

 

Tuesday Tidbits – Watermelon Slicing

Watermelon Slicing the right way?

Is there a wrong way?

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.

Tuesday Tidbit - Watermelon slicing

 

How to slice and serve the easy way:

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!

Tuesday Tidbits: Watermelon Slicing

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

Watch this video if you need specific instructions!

 

Anyway you slice it, Watermelon is delicious and refreshing

 

 

Top image: VisualPhotos.com

Adapted from News & Views  Photo: Courtesy Dave Hax

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

Voodoo Magic and Doughnuts come together!

Voodoo Doughnut Magic 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

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)

Voodoo Doughnut MagicVoodoo Doughnut Magicand they still qualify as a delicious donut! Traditional flavors such as:  plain cake, chocolate sprinkles, and plain glazed (raised and cake) are also offered.

 

 Craziness is what I call it!

How long would you wait in line for these choices?

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

 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!

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

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!

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

Voodoo Doughnut — The Magic is in the Hole!!!

 

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.  🙁  

Recipe: Epicurious.com

Cake Image:  Stephen Lewis

 

Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch

Great Food, Fun Places, and Fun Times in Portland

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.Rogue Beer. . .and Lunch

Featuring outside seating – a requirement for our meal with this perfect weather – Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch  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. Rogue Beer . . . and LunchTASTING 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 Beer . . . and Lunch

Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rogue Ales Distillery and Public House occupies the former home of a long-time Portland institution  — Portland Brewing and Bogart’s.

Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch

Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch

 

Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch

 

Natural Pools

Natural Pools: A Beautiful Self-Sustaining Swimming

Pool Ecosystem for Your Yard

Natural Pools

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