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Martha’s Vineyard Local Ingredients

Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Travel | 2 comments

Martha's vineyard

I mostly know Martha’s Vineyard through podcasts. Of course, I’ve heard it mentioned on the news as a place where presidents and hoity-toity people go to vacation.

But the year-round residents are a close-knit community – one that, I learned from This American Life’s annual poultry slam episode, is sometimes plagued by roving bands of wild turkeys.

Martha's vineyard

The most recent podcast to bring Martha’s Vineyard to my attention was The Moth. One of the storytellers is a farmer and chef-owner of a restaurant on the island with food sourced from the area and his neighbors. The menu changes daily and may include ingredients like the mussels his friend grows just off the nearby shore or shiitake mushrooms from a family farm down the street.

Martha's vineyard

The restaurant is called Beach Plum, and they also have an inn and rental cottages. It sounds like a really lovely place to be.

Photos by Gabriela Herman via Beach Plum Inn.

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Yuma Favorites: Part 2

Posted by on May 21, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments


It’s only a 3-hour drive from Phoenix to Yuma, but we still got a little punchy.


After one of the signs saying how many miles we had left, I told Phillip, “Yuma sweetie.”

At some point, we ended up singing “Yuma be right, I may be crazy, but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for…”

I think we each found our lunatic.

Candlewood Suites Yuma

Finally, we got in to our room at the Candlewood Suites Yuma. Even though we were a couple of tired lunatics, we couldn’t resist rifling through the kitchen to see what was in there. They had us supplied with pots and pans for the stove, popcorn for the microwave, and then Phillip made a discovery…

“Ooh! A toaster! I really want something to toast now.”

Yuma Candlewood hotel

Even on trips like this when I plan to pick up food at local markets, I still end up traveling with a pretty serious stash of snacks. But I didn’t have anything particularly toasterable. (Chia-pomegranate Clif bars seemed like a bad idea.)

So while I explored Yuma the next day, I would also be on a quest for local produce – and something for Phillip to toast.

Yuma Garden Company produce

Hay Yu(ma)!

A world record holder for sunny days and the Winter Lettuce Capital of the World, Yuma also happens to be located at the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers.

Yuma river

Because of the climate and access to water, agriculture has been important in the area for centuries. Long before Arizona was a U.S. territory, tribes along the Colorado River used the flooding cycle for farming.

Yuma Lettuce

Like Phoenix, Yuma has a growing season that’s kind of the reverse of most of the U.S., running from fall to spring. The hot summers mean agricultural workers pack up and move operations to Salinas, California (the summer lettuce capital) – also Yuma Jazz Company’s concerts move indoors, snowbirds fly home, businesses catering to visitors shut down or scale back sometime in the spring.
Yuma Garden Company

Yuma Garden Company

The Yuma Garden Company is full of dried herbs and teas in apothecary jars. Outside is a plant-filled patio with vegetables and citrus from the owners’ farm and tables for sitting and sipping tea. In April, there were also heaping baskets of tomatoes and peppers everywhere.

Yuma garden co

Their rustic boho space felt warm and established, even though they’d only been open 3 weeks when I visited.

I picked up grapefruit and a bunch of purple carrots.


Martha’s Gardens Date Farm

Just east of town is Martha’s Gardens, a date farm with a store/cafe and better date shakes than we had in Dateland itself. They informed me they could even add espresso shots. Sold. It was like a delicious, datey affogato.

They offer farm tours, but there’s a fee, a minimum of 10 people, and the schedule IRL may not match what’s online. We thought we were there past tour season, but, apparently, that’s not the case. And the sign-up book had spaces through at least June. (I peeked.) So…I guess…call ahead and keep your fingers crossed.


Field to Feast Farm Tours

The Visitors Bureau offers seasonal, hands-on agricultural experiences where you learn to harvest your own vegetables, tour a farm, and then enjoy a fresh-from-the-field lunch.

North End Eats

Speaking of lunch, here are a few options for food around the downtown area.

Lutes Casino

At one point in the Lutes Casino building’s 115-year history, it was an actual casino owned by R.H. Lutes. Currently, it’s an amiably-divey hamburger joint that claims to be “where the elite meet.” They serve salsa in syrup pitchers and have some weird food mashups. Want a hot dog on a cheeseburger? Or wrapped in a tortilla and fried?


My reply is no, but both are on the menu.

Lutes taco dog Yuma

The special of the day was an Angus burger so good it made me think this might be where the elite meet after all.

They probably just don’t order the taco dog.


Das Bratwurst Haus

Das Bratwurst Haus is a German restaurant, apparently catering to the winter visitors. True to his German roots, Der Husband had to go check it out. And then required apfelkuchen, which is like a lovely hybrid between apple pie and cake.


North end coffeehouse yuma

North End Coffeehouse

Situated in half of the historic Gandolfo theater, North End Coffeehouse has their own roasting company, in-house baker, and is a welcoming spot to spend time.


Not only did they have some good, well-crafted coffee to remedy the weak brew from the hotel that morning, they had one bagel left.

I got it to-go, so Phillip could test out the toaster.



Our second morning in Yuma started with an herb bagel from North End Coffeehouse and sweet grapefruit from Yuma Garden Company. I also remembered reading a tip somewhere about doubling up on hotel coffee packets, so that helped to rectify the weak coffee situation.

Once we were fueled up and checked out, I wanted to show Phillip some of the historical sites I’d scoped out the day before.

Yuma-st Remember This

The Quechan Reservation

The Fort Yuma/Quechan Reservation straddles the Colorado River, extending into both California and Arizona – probably because the Quechan tribe was there before these state boundaries, before the need to transliterate their name as Quechan or Kwatsan or Kwtsaan, before the Spanish referred to them as the Yuma.


To learn about Quechan history and culture, check out the interpretive trails in Sunrise Point Park and the cultural center inside Quechan Casino.

I’d seen a sign for crafts (yes, please!) the day before, so Phillip and I went in search of the museum gift shop whose museum had to close due to structural damage.

We never did find it and, honestly, that was partly due to getting in an argument over directions. Real life isn’t all late-night Billy Joel and apfelkuchen.

Yuma Quechan Reservation

I now have a better idea how to find the museum gift shop:

  1. Go when it’s actually open (weekdays 8am-5pm).
  2. Follow the signs north of Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge.
  3. Don’t get in a fight with your significant other.
  4. Look for a modular building next to the museum.

The Quechan Senior Center Gift Shop (472 Quechan Drive, Winterhaven) also has handcrafted items.


Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge

When automobiles were still a new thing and Colorado River steamboats a recent memory, a highway across the U.S. was a pretty big deal. The single lane steel bridge over the Yuma Crossing made a crucial connection, which earned it the impressive name “Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge.”

Also, bends in the river/the state line mean that you can go north over the bridge and end up in California without even realizing it.

yuma city hall

A few other notes on historical sites in the area…

  • The St. Thomas Mission on Indian Hill has Saturday and Sunday Masses, or you can call (760) 572-0283 to arrange a visit at another time.


Yuma train

Yuma county courthouse

  • The Art Deco-ness of the Masonic Lodge catty-corner from the Courthouse caught my eye.

Art Deco Masonic lodge yuma

See Yuma Later

We took a different route home through the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. Its visitor center is really close to Martha’s Garden but not open on Saturdays. The Refuge itself, however, is always open. There are no gates and only one designated trail (in Palm Canyon, which we visited a few years ago).

Yuma Kofa

We didn’t have time to hike this time, but we are already thinking about when we can return to the area. Maybe we’ll go back during next year’s ArtBeat or once Candlewood finishes the renovations they have scheduled for this year. (We’ll also have to get in town early enough for the evening reception – apparently, they do a whole dinner on Mondays and Thursdays. I need to investigate.)

Yuma Kofa

For this trip, we did stop along the road in Kofa long enough to listen to the quiet, look for desert blooms, and watch the evening light transform the Refuge’s jagged mountain ranges.

Yuma Kofa

Big thank yous to…

  • IHG/Candlewood Suites Yuma for hosting our stay, especially to General Manager Gel Lemmon and Director of Marketing John Lizarraga, who are both fabulous people who took time to fill me in on the area.
  • Ann Walker of the Yuma Visitors Bureau for providing a ton of great resources.
  • Brian Golding, Sr., EDA Director of the Quechan Indian Tribe for providing information on Quechan cultural sights.
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Up or Down?

Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Travel | 6 comments

arrow up dc

“Will you be up here over the holidays?”
“No, I probably won’t be down for awhile.”

My cousin and I used to have conversations like this when she lived in Tucson. I say “up” when someone is going north, as if we’re all on a giant wall map. Other people say “up” when they’re headed to higher elevation.

arrow down plane

Tucson is south of Phoenix, but it’s at a higher elevation. If you were headed to Phoenix from Tucson, would you say you’re going up to Phoenix or down to Phoenix?


I don’t think one is more correct than the other, but the language geek in me is curious what everyone else says.

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Happenings List: May 2016

Posted by on May 12, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

This is our monthly curated roundup of maker/artist/explorer events!

Angle brackets (>>) point to related info on our site.

Yuma Jazz


>>Check out our post on free movie events around the state!

Latino Cultural Festival

May 14, 10AM-8PM at Altadena Main Library, Phoenix.
Book readings and signings, art market, live music, Latin American food and beverages.

Elstree 1976 presented by Phoenix Comicon

May 19, 7:30pm at FilmBar, Phoenix.
Documentary about the bit-part actors and extras who were in scenes filmed in suburban London in 1976.

Yuma Jazz Company: Lutes Summer Jazz Series

Starting May 27, 7pm at Lutes Casino, Yuma.

>>We saw YJC perform when we were in Yuma.

Sewing Classes with Oxford Dogma


Phoenix Comicon

Jun 2 – 5 at Phoenix Convention Center.
Convention for fans of pop culture.

>>Check out our guide for newbies!


June 13, 6pm at Gangplank Chandler.
Meet other artists and crafters and learn something new or bring your own project to work on!

Hilton Indoor Fine Art Festival

Jul 16, 10a-6p at Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort.
Juried fine arts festival with artisan displays from around the region and live strolling acoustic violin, jazz and bluegrass performances.



Maker Costume Expo

May 21-22 at the Anaheim Convention Center

>>Where to eat in and around the Convention Center.

#BlogHer16: Experts Among Us

Aug 4 – 6 at JW Marriott LA Live, Los Angeles.
BlogHer annual conference.

sculpture by Ken Newman


V for Vegetables art exhibit

Now – May 15 at Denver Botanic Gardens, York Street, Gates Garden Court Gallery.
Explore the historical and contemporary graphic traditions surrounding the victory gardening movement and celebrate the virtue of growing food in your own backyard.
>>Denver Botanic Gardens.

Animalia exhibition

June 10 – August 21 at  Loveland Museum/Gallery, Loveland.
Art with animals as the subject, which explores their complex relationship with humans.

  • Strings in the Gallery: June 10, 6 – 8 pm. Performance by the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra.
  • Thought to Finish: Natural Artist Demo: July 8, 5:30 pm
    Natural artist Laney will produce a wildlife painting in front of viewers from beginning to end.
  • “The Rat Race” sculpture (and photo) above by Ken Newman will be included in the exhibit.

+New York

NYCxDESIGN: Brooklyn

May 7 – 17 at Industry City, Brooklyn.

  • May 15, 5pm: Visual Magnetics X The Sill – Exhibition by Instagrammer @PlantsOnPink and materials innovation company Visual Magnetics. RSVP mandatory


Mexican Folk Embroidery, 4-Week Course

Starting May 25 at WildCraft West Portland Studio.



Devils Backbone Oyster Roast

May 14, 12pm at Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows, Roseland.
Fresh oysters from Rappahannock Oyster Co., special beer and live music at Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows.

Events at Monticello



Festival de la paella

May 28-29 at Finca Sala Vivé, Ezequiel Montes.

Rosarito Art Fest

May 28-29 at Hotel Festival Plaza, Rosarito.
Family-friendly festival featuring fine art, live music, crafts and food. Free admission.



Star Wars Celebration

July 15 – 17 at London Excel Centre, London.
Star Wars fan convention.
>>Things we saw at last year’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim.

WORDfest on Beckenham Green

July 16, 12pm at Beckenham Green, Bromley.
Free community festival of all things book-related – crafts, workshops, bands, groups, poets!


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Yuma Favorites: Part 1

Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Yuma farm view from hotel

Since we arrived after dark, our first glimpse of the view out our window at Candlewood Suites Yuma was the sunrise lighting up puffy clouds and vibrant green farm fields. It was downright gorgeous.


Phillip needed to be at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma base at 0700, I got the coffeemaker going, and we got ready to head out.

Candlewood Suites Yuma

On Base

Phillip, who is nearing the end of his seminary master’s program, had arranged to shadow a military chaplain in Yuma for a day. I’d meet back up with him, the chaplains, and a couple of their wives for lunch and a quick tour of the base.


The rest of the day, my mission would be to learn about this desert city in the southwesternmost corner of Arizona.

MCAS Yuma is typically closed to civilians, but they do hold an open house event once a year. It alternates between an air show and something called the Patriot Festival that features local bands, an obstacle course, singing competitions, and bouncy castles.





I found a couple pottery shops in the Brinley Avenue Historic District on the North End of town.

Tomkins Pottery Yuma

I visited Tomkins Pottery, which was filled with fabulous work by artist-owners Neely and George Tomkins. Their dog Joe helps them run the shop, and they also work out of the studio in back. A green honey/sugar bowl followed us home, but, really, I’d love one of everything there.


Across the street is Colorado River Pottery, the shop and studio of Jan Bentley.


Yuma Art Center

The Yuma Art Center has galleries to exhibit local art and is also an event space.

Historic Yuma Theatre

The Theatre next door has been a performance venue since 1912. It currently features plays, concerts, film screenings, workshops, and choir concerts – with two Art Deco mermaid murals always in the audience.


Artist Co-op

On the other side of the Theatre is the United Building, home of the North End Artist Co-op.



We met artists Larry Yanez, who was installing his art in one of the big storefront windows, and Judy Phillips, who graciously stopped what she was doing to answer questions and give us a full tour of the space, all the way back to the metal trash cans used for making raku pottery.

Arts Yuma


The co-op itself has 13 members, who are all local artists (many of them art educators) but they offer classes open to anyone. On Saturdays, members without their own studio space can come and work, share information and materials, and use the kilns and other tools.

Arts Yuma



The Yuma Jazz Company quintet performs regularly around Yuma:


Yuma Suite-y

I was super relieved when Phillip called to say one of the chaplains would give him a ride back to the hotel, because I was already there – kicked back in the recliner with a glass of wine – and not ready to move.

Yuma hotel



The deal with Candlewood Suites is they’re an extended stay hotel designed for the type of do-it-yourselfers who probably clean up before housekeeping comes and would rather make breakfast exactly the way they want it than take their chances at a buffet.

Candlewood Suites Yuma

So Candlewood offers weekly housekeeping, a free laundromat, and full kitchens stocked with cooking/serving essentials. They have a bunch of stuff you can borrow if you’re looking for something beyond what’s in your room – crockpots, blenders, board games, wine glasses, movies, and barbecue tools for the grills on the patio. You can even purchase food onsite in the “Candlewood Cupboard.” It’s always open and operates on a self-pay/honor system.


Anyway, all that to say, we definitely could’ve just holed up in our room for the evening. But we had heard great things about a restaurant called Julieanna’s, so I pried myself out of the recliner, and we went to check it out.

It was worth it.



The locals we talked to raved about Julieanna’s Patio Cafe. It has a romantic yet relaxed atmosphere and a tropical motif. There are cozy booths inside and an expansive patio outside with mosaic tabletops, a macaw perch area, and a peacock strolling around.


The menu includes a selection of seafood entrees and appetizers, tasty-looking salads, as well as sandwiches and burgers. I ordered salmon served with sautéed spinach and heirloom tomatoes. good. Phillip opted for a classic French dip, which I can confirm was also delicious.


The servers were friendly, helpful, and accommodating without being overbearing.



By the time we arrived, the macaws had already gone home for the day, and the Yuma Jazz Company was getting ready for their set on the patio. The peacock would randomly chime in while they played – so funny!

We enjoyed the quintet’s performance. They played several of their own compositions and gave a little background about what inspired each one, which made you feel more acquainted with new songs. It was all great except for a few too many reminders about the tip jar. After about the fifth one, I was rooting for more peacock cries.



Earlier in the day, I had made a wrong turn and ended up at a place called Catherine’s Cupcakery. So a chocolate strawberry cupcake was waiting for us in our room. Maybe it wasn’t really a wrong turn.

Back in the hotel lobby, we flipped through a couple of the fat binders of DVD selections and chose Little Miss Sunshine. (Why have I not seen that before?! So good.)


Settling in with our movie and cupcake was a great way to wind down from of our first day exploring Yuma.


Part 2 is coming up in 2 weeks! In our next installment, we look for a museum gift shop without a museum, accidentally go to California, visit a date farm, and drive home through the Kofa wilderness. And, yes, there will be more Yuma puns! Yuma-ght as well get used to them!

Our stay was courtesy of IHG/Candlewood Suites Yuma. Opinions are my own and so are the puns. Pretty sure they don’t endorse those.

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