Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We were hopping up every minute or two, tonight, answering the door to trick-or-treaters like these. I hope your evening with the ghosties and goblins was as fun as ours was.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Recent Activities

* We enjoyed a dinner at the home of Dennis and Betty Ann last Sunday afternoon. Betty Ann prepared mole (pronounced molay). This was my first time to eat mole, a dark red/brown Mexican sauce, incorporating red chili and chocolate, served over meat (often turkey). I had been reluctant to order it at a restaurant, because I’m not fond of hot, spicy foods. But Betty Ann’s mole was mild, and I really enjoyed it. Dennis and Betty Ann’s house sits at the edge of a large natural arroyo, Bear Canyon Arroyo. Their backyard, where we dined, is immaculately groomed and has a stunning view of the Sandias. Here’s a shot I took, during dinner, with my cell phone.

* Congratulations are in order! Dan starts a new job on Monday. He will be working with the same people, in the same office and sitting at the same desk, but working for a different contractor and taking on new duties. He’s excited about it. And, as an update to his recent health issues, he's feeling better and better each day. He continues on the blood-thinner medication and is being monitored on a regular basis by his doctor.

* This evening we met up with a group of friends (eleven of us) at Sandiago’s, a restaurant in the building that houses the lower dock for the Sandia tram. We were there to celebrate our friend Alicia’s birthday. The women sat at one end of the long table, and the men at the other end, which allowed "girl talk" and "guy talk" to flow in a steady stream. Here's a picture of Alicia with her birthday cake:

Even though this building is at the base of the tram, it is up in the foothills of the mountain, overlooking Albuquerque. At sunset it's really a beautiful vista, with all the twinkling city lights spread across the valley.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Daring Bakers' October Challenge - Doughnuts!

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious. (Recipes HERE)

What a perfect treat for October! I made yeast (raised) donuts, and they turned out delicious. The outside fried up with a thin crisp crust, and the inside was airy and tender. Although many people fry doughnuts in a light oil, I remember my dad, the baker, telling me about the science of frying doughnuts. A hard fat (shortening, lard, etc.) works better for those attributes I just mentioned - crispness outside and lightness inside. He must have been right, because I used lard and these were outstanding.

I started out cutting them out with a doughnut cutter that I found among my collection of cookie cutters. It was a plastic one, and I've had it for years and years. That's probably why it cracked and broke after cutting only two doughnuts. From the rest of the dough I simply cut little pillow-shapes, using a pizza cutter. They fried up just fine, for the most part, although I had a couple of uncooperative pillows that refused to turn over to fry on the second side.

I sugar-coated some, glazed some with a white vanilla glaze (with sprinkles) and glazed a few with a caramel flavored glaze.

When I was finished frying the them, I took some across the street to our good neighbors. Coming back into the house, after breathing the outside air, I was struck with the wonderful smell of hot yeasty doughnuts. When I was a child, and we lived upstairs over my Dad's bakery, I woke to that delicious aroma every morning. What great memories!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Skype . . . Yipes!

It had been a long, long time since we’d arranged a Skype call with Chris, Kelsey and the kids. A friend of mine, Celia, who co-teaches the two-and-three-year-old Bible class with me, is always bragging about her amazing Skype visits with her two one-year-old grandbabies; she visits with each of them, through this technology, two or three times a week. Based on her enthusiastic reviews, I’ve been pushing for more Skype calls with our grandkids. On Saturday Kelsey called to arrange for such an audio/visual experience for 6:00 (our time) that evening.

On the dot of 6:00, both Dan and I were seated in front of his monitor, eagerly anticipating the call. At 6:01 Dan couldn't wait any longer and decided to place the call from our end; but there was no answer. Then we received a message, “Small crisis. Wait just a minute.” So we did.

A couple minutes later the call came through. It was so fun to see Chris, Clara, Kelsey and Robert, sitting there on the couch (a little reminiscent of the opening scene of a Simpsons episode) ready to talk with us.

The crisis, we learned, happened just as they were ready to place the call. Clara had suddenly gotten sick and thrown up! But she looked pretty perky as we started our conversation. She told us about what she was learning in school; we talked about Christmas wishes; she showed us her souvenirs, brought home by her Daddy, from Rome. And then she ducked down, off camera, to throw up in the bowl she had brought with her.

Robert, with some coaxing, gave us a wave, then was done with the whole thing. He wanted down where he could crawl around. But wait . . . that wasn’t really what he wanted! He wanted to be held. But no . . . he wanted down. Poor Kelsey! We hardly saw her on camera, as she was trying her best to mollify Robert. She tried a bottle, which worked for awhile, and then said, “I think I’d better go get him ready for bed.” Off camera, and from clear upstairs, we could hear him screaming as if he were being tortured. (I later learned from Kelsey that, unbeknownst to anyone at that time, Robert was getting sick, too, and began running a fever later that evening.)

Talking over the crying, Chris began telling Dan about his recent travels, while Clara (now wrapped in a blanket and growing more peaked by the minute) and I sat staring at each other on the screen. Occasionally I’d form a heart with my fingers; she’d smile and “heart” me back. I'd wink; she'd wink. I'd waggle my fingers, with my thumbs stuck in my ears; she'd do the same. I’d make funny faces; she'd make funny faces. All the while the men continued talking about the wonders of Rome . . . until Clara captured center stage by grabbing for her sick-bowl and filling it once again. And on that discordant note we ended our Skype visit.

On Sunday morning I beat Celia to the punch in bragging that I’d had a Skype call with MY marvelous grandkids, too. (I didn't see any reason to provide any further details.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New "Wheels"

Yesterday we said good-bye to our Ford Escape. Here it is, sitting on the car dealer's lot, in my mind's eye looking rather sad and hoping for a good new home.

We drove home in our new VW Tiguan, which is VW's small SUV. It's really a crazy name - sort of a combination of "tiger" and "iguana," but despite that, we like the vehicle. It's our first adventure in leasing, instead of owning, a car.

Though, in the pictures, the colors of the two cars look similar, they really are different. Our Escape was an orange color, actually called "blazing copper." The new one is red, with the official name of "cherry."

Here's hoping for many rewarding photoshoots-to-come with this car!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What to Do on a Day Off?

I treated myself to a day off from work today. Taking an occasional day of leave for no particular reason always feels like skipping school, and I love it!

I thought I might like to go on a photo shoot, but couldn't seem to pick a place to go. So this morning, bright and early, I headed out the door with no destination in mind. Of course it is still Balloon Fiesta week, so the first thing that captured my attention were the balloons lifting off. It was a perfect morning for it. I hope you don't mind a few more balloon pictures, if I promise some other subjects later on in this post.

These were some of the early risers, silhouetted against the eastern sky.

I started the day off with a breakfast at McDonald's. When I came back out to the car I saw this balloon, Sunny Boy, descending. His bright face was looking right at me, but by the time I got my camera out, the wind had turned him sideways. I could tell it was going to come down near the Cottonwood Mall, which was nearby, so I played "chase crew" and went to watch it land - along with about two dozen others who had the same idea. As you can see in the last picture of this series, another balloon was looking for a place to set down, but I decided to let someone else have the fun of chasing it down.

Before I left, Sunny Boy's pilot came over to talk to all of us who were there watching. He handed out trading cards (that's a Balloon Fiesta tradition) and talked with us a bit. He is from Colorado Springs, but used to live in Albuquerque. He does not own the balloon, but gets to pilot it occasionally for the owner, a lady from Akron, Ohio. Here he is, standing in front of the collapsed balloon.

So, I had had my McBreakfast and helped the balloons take off and land, and then I headed to a park I'd heard about but never visited before, the Rio Grande Nature Center Park. Once I got there I decided it was more of a park for people with good knees (i.e. not me). There are lots of trails, including a bridge that takes you to the trail that goes for miles along the Rio Grande. There is a nature center that sits at the edge of a pond that is populated with ducks, geese and turtles. Here are a couple pictures of the turtles.

From the park I headed to the Botanical Gardens, one of my favorite Albuquerque hang-outs. I had heard that the butterfly pavilion was open a little later than normal, to accommodate visitors for the Balloon Fiesta . . . and me :-) A lot of my pictures came out slightly blurry, since I was shooting with my telephoto lens without a tripod. But I got a few that are pretty.

After the butterflies, I wandered around a bit, taking in the model train and other sights.

By this time it was almost noon. YES, I'd done all of this in just five hours (I left home at 6:45 a.m.). I decided to call it a day, as I was getting warm and thirsty, which brings me to the perfect end of my adventures . . . a stop at Sonic for a cherry limeade!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cool Time Lapse Video of Last Year's Balloon Fiesta

I thought this (click here) was a fun You Tube video. It gives you a real feel for what the balloon fiesta is all about.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cookies for Clara

Baked, decorated, and ready to box up and send.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

2010 International Balloon Fiesta


I went to the opening day of the Balloon Fiesta this morning, which meant getting up around 4:30 in the morning. I went by myself, because Dan's not yet feeling up to tromping across acres and acres of turf. Actually, he had planned to give it a try before we learned that Chris, Kelsey and the grandkids weren't going to be here. It had been a long-planned-for vacation for them (and treat for us), but both Clara and Robert came down with a bad bug and weren't able to travel. So sad! But there's always next year.

Last night we had a big thunder storm move through, and I feared that the weather would still be bad this morning, and that the balloons would be grounded. But today dawned clear. There was a little breeze before sunrise, which kept the Dawn Patrol from going up, but by the time the sun peeked over the Sandias, the wind had died and all of the balloons took to the air for a successful mass ascension.