Monday, August 31, 2009

The Daring Bakers' July Challenge - Dobos Torta

The deadline for posting my August Daring Bakers' challenge results, August 27, passed me by; and I didn't get it done! I hate that, because it's the FIRST one I've missed. But with all of the busy-ness that was going on this month, I just couldn't complete it. I have promised myself, though, that I'll do the September challenge.

August's Daring Bakers' recipe was presented by Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella and Angela of Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar. They chose the famous Dobos Torta, a Hungarian speciality.

Just so you can see one that was exquisitely completed, I'll refer you to Daring Baker Audex's site. It seems he always sets the standard that many of us shoot for. I know that I wouldn't have even come close to the perfection of his 32-layer torta! Isn't it beautiful?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Isotopes Game

Tonight a fairly large group from our church congregation went to the Isotopes baseball game. They were playing the Memphis Redbirds. We usually try to go once or twice a season, and I always have fun. Although my interest in the game is short-lived, I still enjoy being outside in the warmth of a summer evening, visiting with our friends and taking pictures. Tonight we didn't stay for the entire game. Dan is preaching tomorrow morning, standing in for our preacher, John, who is out of town. So he wanted to get home at a decent time and be rested for tomorrow. When we left it wasn't looking too good for the 'Topes. The score was 3 to 7. I just saw that the final score was Isotopes 9, Memphis 11. So sad!

Isotopes Park with the Sandias in the background

Orbit is the mascot for the 'Topes

You can see we were waaaaaay up in the second tier of the bleachers. It was a little hard climbing up there with my bad knee, but I made it, thanks to a sturdy handrail.

The Wave!

This is the real reason I come to the game . . . Dippin' Dots!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mother/Daughter Escape - Day Three

On Saturday morning we loaded up the car and checked out of the Inn, after having a little something to eat at the Starbuck's next door to the casino. Yes, people were already (or still) dropping coins into those slot machines!

We went back to Carlsbad a different way than we had come, going south on I-70 and then east, to Cloudcroft, on I-82. As we neared Alamogordo, we started seeing pistachio orchards and farm stores. One of those stores stood out! (That's Mom standing beside the giant pistachio.)

McGinn's Country Store was on the Pistachio Tree Ranch. They had all sorts of wonderful goodies, made with pistachios, pecans and other nuts, and samples of most of them out on the front counter. Mom and I each took a sample of the pistachio brittle, and almost immediately found our mouths "on fire." We re-checked the label on the container. It said, "Pistachio Brittle." Right next to it was the container that read, "Hot Chili Pistachio Brittle," but we knew we hadn't taken from that one. We told the clerk, and she was sure we were wrong. To prove her point, she popped a piece in her mouth, too, and quickly agreed that the container had been mistakenly filled with the chili brittle. Her face was a little red, but I don't think it was from embarrassment! I bought some cherry cider to help cool my mouth, sampled the REAL pistachio brittle (delicious!), and bought some to take home for Dan.

After leaving the country store, we were soon climbing up the I-82 road to Cloudcroft. There were some beautiful mountain vistas and one amazing canyon. I tried to take pictures, but I failed to get the perspective and the depth of that canyon.

When we reached Cloudcroft, it was a little early for lunch, so we drove up the 16-mile, winding forested road to the Sunspot Observatory. I had read that this road had several wonderful places to see down on the valley floor, even as far as White Sands. But what we found was just ONE place where we could see the vista. But it was a nice one. Here's a shot from that spot. If you look closely, on the horizon and to the left, you can see White Sands. But it's way off in the distance.

This purple thistle was growing alongside the guardrail at the parking area.

Cloudcroft is a fun little tourist town with quaint shops, many of them featuring New Mexican art, along the Burro Street Boardwalk. Its elevation is 8,665 feet. The Sunspot Observatory, at the end of that 16-mile road that we drove, is 9500 feet above sea level.

Cloudcroft was the last place we visited. From there we headed to Artesia, and then on to Mom's house, in Carlsbad. The next morning, Sunday, after worshipping with Mom at the Sunset congregation, I drove home to Albuquerque. I arrived home that evening, with a bunch of new miles on our Ford Escape, and a bunch of good memories from our mother/daughter escape!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mother/Daughter Escape - Day Two

Friday morning we woke to another blue sky and moderate temperature. Here's what the view looked like out of the lobby windows of the Inn.

We had breakfast at McDonald’s in Ruidoso and then headed over to the Hubbard Museum of the American West. What a terrific museum this is! It is owned and operated by the city of Ruidoso Downs, and is affiliated with the Smithsonian.

Perhaps the most spectacular exhibit of the museum is located outside, on the beautifully landscaped strip of land that runs alongside the highway. This artistic creation is called “Free Spirits at Noisy Water.” It is a string of eight larger-than-life horses, bounding down a hillside. Each horse weighs between three- and five thousand pounds, and five of them have only one hoof touching the ground, making this as much an engineering marvel as it is an artistic one. My pictures don’t begin to show the scope of this piece of art, created by Sculptor Dave McGary.

Inside the museum, the highlight of the exhibits is a collection of carriages, wagons and horse drawn vehicles that spans hundreds of years. Some of the interesting ones were a horse-drawn hearse, a horse-drawn pumper (fire engine), the chuck wagon and the doctor’s carriage.

In the museum's gift shop I found the cutest little pony-purse, that I just had to buy for Sweetpea. I hope she loves it.

After viewing the museum, we went back into Ruidoso for lunch, then drove to the little, historic town of Lincoln. Most of the original buildings in Lincoln are built in the Territorial Style of adobe architecture of the American Southwest, and six of them are open to the public. We only went into two of them, as we were both running out of steam by this time. In the first museum we watched a video on Billy the Kid. It was in Lincoln, at the courthouse (still standing and open to the public) where Billy the Kid shot his way out of custody and escaped. Sheriff Pat Garret, also from Lincoln, chased him down and finally killed him, in Fort Sumner. We also went into the old Tunstall Store, which contains displays of the original 19th-century merchandise in the original shelving and cases.

Back at the Inn that evening, we didn’t want much to eat for dinner. We asked, at the dining room, if there was anywhere to get a light meal, like a sandwich or soup. We were directed to the Lounge (read “Bar”). We were two very funny fish out of water at the Lounge. I think we were the only people in there ordering anything non-liquid! The lounge had easy chairs and sofas, and only little tables suitable for drinks and mixed nuts. Although we did each order a hamburger, we had to balance everything on our laps. We kept giggling at how out of place we felt, and we couldn’t wait to finish eating and escape that dark, smoky, moody Lounge!

After dinner, we spent the evening in our room on one of Mom’s favorite pastimes -- solving a very difficult crossword puzzle. It took both of our brains and a little bit of Internet research, but we finally completed every block in that puzzle.

This was our second (and last) night at the Inn, but tomorrow I will report on our Saturday trip back to Carlsbad.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mother/Daughter Escape - Day One

It had been a long time since I'd gone down to Carlsbad, to see my mom. It was past time for a nice, mother/daughter get-away.

At 12:30, on Wednesday, I left work, hopped in the car, which I had packed early that morning, and drove to Carlsbad to Mom's house. She knew I was coming, and she knew I was going to whisk her away for a couple days, but she didn't know our destination. I spent Wednesday night at her house, and on Thursday morning we started our mini-adventure. Our first stop was the Hondo Iris Gardens. Sadly the irises had already finished blooming, but the garden was still lovely -- very green and peaceful -- and a nice place to stretch our legs and breathe in the fresh mountain air of the little village of Hondo.

Also at the Iris Garden is an art gallery, with jewelry and other artsy items on display and for sale. It was there that we met Alice Warder Seely, who makes her home in Hondo and is a writer, painter, sculptor, and jewelry designer. She shows her art in galleries in Santa Fe, Scottsdale, New York, Michigan, and Florida. We admired some of her pewter jewelry and, in fact, Mom purchased one piece to give as a gift. I was tempted to get a bracelet, myself, but resisted.

Above the gallery is an old (over one hundred years) shepherd's cabin, preserved pretty much as it was originally.

The Iris Garden was worth the stop, but we both thought we'd like to come again, earlier in the season, while the irises are still in bloom.

From Hondo we drove to Ruidoso. It was there, during our pizza lunch, that Mom, still not knowing our destination, said to me, "Since we're so near, you really should drive up to the Inn of the Mountain Gods, just to see it. It's really beautiful." (The Inn of the Mountain Gods is a resort, operated by the Mescalero Indians of New Mexico. Mom had seen it, from the outside, once before.) I agreed, and after lunch I drove up the winding, forested mountain road that leads to the inn. Mom was right. Both the building and the setting were beautiful. The building sits on the edge of a blue lake, with forested mountains rising up on the opposite shore, and a golf course bordering the lake.

I pulled up to the front entrance, and Mom said, "We probably shouldn't stop right here. I think this is for the guests to unload their luggage." That's when I broke the news to her . . . this was where we were staying for our two-night get-away! She was really surprised. For the remainder of the day we stayed at the Inn. We were able to get into our room at about 2:00 p.m.

Besides the fancy restaurant, they also have a very nice buffet style dining room, which is where we ate our dinner. I went outside at sunset to try to get some evening pictures. I was a little disappointed because there wasn't a lot of color in the sky, but it was still dramatic, with the mountains silhouetted against the darkening sky.

So ended Day One of our little get-away. Watch tomorrow for pictures and a description of Day Two.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Round Robin Photo Challenge: Birds

When the theme of BIRDS was announced for this week's photo challenge, my first thought was, "What a great excuse to go to the zoo!" But since the weather here has been so hot lately, I wasn't sure I could stay out in the sunshine for very long. Finally, on Friday (8/14), we woke up to a cloudy day. When I left work, around noon, it was still cool and pleasant, so I headed over to the zoo.

However, I hadn't been there long before those clouds let loose with one shower after another. I didn't mind getting wet (after all, I'm from Juneau), but keeping my camera dry was a big concern. At one point I sat under a little shelter by the duck pond. The ducks didn't seem to mind the rain at all.

Even though this isn't a bird picture, I had to include it. This orangutan seems to have been smarter than I was. At least he was much more prepared for the weather, with his bright red rain poncho. Quite stylish, for an orang', don't you think?

There were times when the rain stopped, and the sun even peeked out now and then. I had hoped to go to the lorikeet feeding and get some spectacular pictures, but when I got to their area it was pouring down rain again, and feeding time was still almost an hour away. I looked for some nearby shelter, but didn't find any, so ended up abandoning that idea and scurrying off to a dryer place.

Here are a few more bird pictures I took between showers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What's in Dan's Pocket?

I've told you about our friend, Jerry, before. He's "the candy man" to most of the kids at church. Dan doesn't bring candy to church, but some of the children have discovered that he has something almost as good in his pocket . . . an iPhone! With games! The little fellow in this picture is one of Dan's loyal fans. He loves the race car program and is usually at Dan's side as soon as the final "Amen" has been spoken.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keeping the Gold!

There's an old adage: "Make new friends, keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold." Yesterday evening one of our "gold" friends showed up for an over-night visit. We've known Dave for 35 years or more. During our years in Juneau, Dave and his wife, Karen, were among our closest friends. When we left Juneau this last time, we moved south; Dave and Karen, shortly afterward, moved farther north.

Dave is on what he says is a 12,000 mile motorcycle trip, having already crossed Canada and come down the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was great fun being with him again. Tim joined us last evening, and we went to dinner at the Genghis Grill. It was midnight before we all reluctantly called it a day.

Safe journeys, Dave!