Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Fiesta Bowl Parade

It's hard to believe that I am a Phoenix native yet have never seen the Fiesta Bowl Parade in person. This year, I found a good viewing spot in my neighborhood, which is often on the route for parades.

Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation's float
Cute dancing salsas accompany the chips.
Ballet Folklorico Alegria's colorful costumes.
Tempe High School's float.
Texas Christian University's band.
Chevys from various years rolled through the parade.
Mini horses.
Corona del Sol Steel Band performed from a tropical-themed float.
U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin was the grand marshal of the parade.
The Winslow community float makes me want to visit soon.
USS Arizona
Arizona Twirling Athletes had adorable costumes and impressive baton-twirling skills.
The town of Williams also participated, with a Western-themed float.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cheri's Desert Harvest

As I have written about before, I've been making an effort to shop more from Arizona-based companies. I started by shopping for produce at my neighborhood farmers market, and now I've added local companies' websites to my list.

Recently I ordered a gift set from Cheri's Desert Harvest, a Tucson company. For $19.95, I got four 5-ounce jars of honey: pickly pear cactus, mesquite, desert blossom, and orange blossom. From what I gather on their website, it comes in a decorative gift box.

Because of the holiday, my shipment was delayed on the Christmas gift, so to make up for it, the shipment was sent by next-day air instead of standard FedEx shipping. They also included extra candy in the box.  A nice touch that shows they value my business.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Las Noches de las Luminarias 2012 at Desert Botanical Garden

I’ve written about my love for the annual Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden, and I loved it this year just as much. While I recently visited the garden and have seen the Philip Haas sculptures, it was nice to stroll along the walkways adorned romantically with luminarias, enjoying the sounds of music and merriment emanating through the area.

 My favorite performer this year is Porangui, a Brazilian musician who played various instruments and whose energy and enthusiasm lifted the audience’s spirits. It was fun to watch and participate in the music making. The crowd even learned from Portuguese words and shared a few laughs.

As I have said before, the event makes for an entertaining, festive night.

Monday, December 17, 2012

My first taste of True Food Kitchen

In the spirit of being healthy, I followed my Sunday morning yoga class, free at the Biltmore Fashion Park, with brunch at True Food Kitchen.

 I'm a fan.

The vegetable scramble ($10) was delicious, and nutritious to boot. I paired it with honey lemonade ($4), refreshing and not too sweet. After countless downward dogs, my body thanked me.

I also ordered a Quinoa Johnny Cake ($9) to go. Tasty, and filling.

The Johnny cakes are served with Greek yogurt and maple syrup.
I'm excited to try the lunch and dinner options while treating my body to a savory and healthful meal.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A rainy trip to Louisville, KY

Louisville is a beautiful city.

Soon, the clouds took over. But as a Phoenician who doesn't see much of it, I didn't mind.

Driving back from Indiana.
We visited Louisville's Slugger Field, home of the Louisville Bats, for a behind-the-scenes tour. Any baseball lover would enjoy a game at this field.

I would love to do more exploring of downtown Louisville on the next visit.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Shopping local at Central Avenue Farmers Market

In a quest to buy as many of my Christmas gifts from local Arizona companies this year, I shopped at the Central Avenue Farmers Market this weekend.

I was specifically looking for Absolutely Delightful Honey, which I tasted at the Desert Botanical Garden’s Chile and Chocolate Festival, but I didn’t spot them there. I was only able to find large, $30 jars of honey made in Florence by the Health Foodie. While the mesquite sample tasted great, I was looking for smaller jars.

Among my finds were spices from AZ Saltz (623-556-7488) and handmade dinosaur-shaped puzzles for kids from Decorative Woods (602-264-2885). Decorative Woods’ owner said proceeds from the sales of toys would go to Operation Smile. I also bought some barbecue sauce from Reatta Foods in Scottsdale.

Lastly, I tried out some coffee from the Shine truck, which does just as its name suggests. Not a bad Saturday morning!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kayaking and camping at Saguaro Lake

My return to Saguaro Lake's campsites was just as memorable as the first trip. Instead of canoes we rented inflatable kayaks from Arizona Hiking Shack near Thomas Road and 32nd Street in Phoenix. We inflated the two kayaks on the parking lot using the pump we were provided with. In a few minutes the kayaks were ready to go; one would carry most of the camping gear in two large watertight bags ($5 each to rent) and one person, while the other held a pump, two people and smaller items.

The possibility of the kayak beginning to deflate during our 2 mile journey from the marina to the campsite spurred knots in my stomach. But there was no turning back.

It's initially difficult to get two rowers on the same rhythm. But you flow much more efficiently once you achieve that rhythm. The views remained as impressive as our first visit. On an overcast day, the lake wasn't as populated with wake boarders and fishermen, though of the few we encountered some wondered what we were up to by kayaking so far.

 We stopped in a cove along the way to rest and snack.

Much to our surprise and excitement, the campsites were nearly empty. We only saw one being occupied by a family, but when the sun set we were the lone campers, with the exception of a couple who docked their boat and slept there.
Empty campsites at Saguaro Lake.
Our campsite had views of Four Peaks and the lake.
Sunset at Saguaro Lake.
Spider near our fire.
 After dinner the skies quickly darkened and we still had a bunch of food to put away. We weren't fast enough. Soon we heard something rustling in the bushes. Skunks. Our first instinct was to rattle our car keys and make noise to startle them away. It worked for a short time. But they would come back. Our next visitor was a raccoon. I spotted it first, and it just stared back, seemingly not afraid. It, too, ran away when we created noise. When it returned shortly thereafter, my friend threw a stick and hit it in the head. Not sure that was smart, but it worked. We heard the animals return around 3 a.m. My concern was that our tent would be sprayed by a skunk, but we made it out unscathed. What a night.

Our reward? The stunning view of sunrise that morning, reflecting off the lake, coloring the water and skies with oranges and gold.

We had to pack light. Here's a list of what we took:

  • Paper towels.
  • Eating utensils.
  • Small propane stove.
  • Water pack and water jug.
  • Wet wipes.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • 2-person tent and a 1-person tent.
  • Knife.
  • Clothes: 2 hoodies, sweatpants, hiking shoes, boots, gloves, warm hat, extra socks, water shoes.
  • Camping heater and 2 bottles of propane.
  • Food: Canned pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, hot-dog buns, turkey dogs, bananas, Wheat Thins, chips, apples, canned beans. Our friend brought steaks, instant mashed potatoes and a burrito.
  • Small hand towel.
  • Camera.
  • Watertight box to hold keys, wallets and phones.
  • Lighter.
  • Plastic bag to hold trash. (There is no trash service.)
  • Hammock.