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Solstice Cookies and Solar Cooking

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

Solstice cookies

The forecast high in Phoenix for the longest day of the year was 120F (49C).

So it seemed like a great day to try baking outside.

Burton Barr Library

On the way home from the summer solstice celebration at Burton Barr Library last Tuesday, we picked up chocolate chip cookie dough. I chose that for my solar cooking experiment, because there’s no raw egg in it, and if it doesn’t cook all the way, you end up with doughy cookies – not a bad thing, in my opinion!

I scooped spoonfuls of cookie dough into a reflective aluminum roasting pan, covered the top with plastic wrap, sealed the sides with packing tape to trap the heat, and added a meat thermometer, so I could see how hot it actually got next to the cookies.

Solar baked cookies

I had intended to get an earlier start, but at 3:45pm, it was still 120 degrees out. So I decided to give it a go and set the pan in direct sun on our concrete patio.

The temperature inside the pan got as high as 160. The cookies began to look like they were melting, with the oil separating from the dough.

Baking cookies outside

Four hours later, the sun was low enough in the sky that the whole patio was in the shade. The dough had flattened out into cookie shapes that were somewhat solid but still pretty soft.

Solar baking

So we scooped vanilla frozen yogurt on top (à la pizookie), and it was delicious!

Apparently, a proper solar oven will bake faster, even if it’s not as hot out. But I would try my improvised “oven” again on a day when I could get an earlier start and give it a little more time in the sun.

Phoenix

– More info –

  • The package actually said not to eat the cookie dough raw. That didn’t stop me. But I thought you should know.
  • Many of the solar ovens I saw online have glass on top. If you decide to use plastic wrap like I did (because I didn’t have any glass panes just sitting around), try to get good cling wrap. I used the Target brand, and it was really annoying trying to get it tight across the top. (In the end, it was a wrinkly mess.)

Articles to check out…

Cookie dough

 




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Ramada – part 2

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Travel | 3 comments

papago-park-picnic-table

It was really interesting last week to find out your words for what I’d call a ramada.

Ramada At Usury Pass

It comfirmed my suspicion that it’s a word used primarily in the southwestern U.S., where our proximity to Mexico shows up in bits of Spanish peppered through our language.

Fountain hills ramada

Around here, it’s not unusual to hear words like mesa (a flat-topped mountain, literally “table,” and the name of a city) or arroyo (a dry stream bed), call a cottage a casita (which you can see in a few of the listings in my Airbnb post), or say garbanzos instead of chick peas.

And we tend to call the type of cover that goes over a picnic table a ramada. It comes from the Spanish rama (“branch”). Ramada is the adjective form, so it would roughly translate to “branched” or “covered in branches.”

Ramada in tucson

Here are some of your words…

“We say pergola over here in Australia, but I love ramada as well!”
Linda (Circle of Daydreams)

 

“I didn’t know the word Ramada, but this now makes me wonder if that’s where the name of the hotel chain comes from? I would have called that a shelter or a pavilion.”
Mel (Stirrup Queens)

 

“I think here we’d call that a pergola or even a ‘wooden marquee’ – I’ve never heard of ramada in this context! I knew I’d heard that somewhere though and recall now that there’s a chain of hotels here called Ramada: probably the only use of the word I’ve heard! I see others are mentioning the hotel too…. I see the dictionary says it means an arbour or porch, from Spanish: I wonder if it’s very regional usage in the US then…”
Different Shores

 

Casa grande ruins

I wasn’t able to find the story behind the name of the hotel chain. I imagine it comes from the sense of a ramada as a shelter, but it does seem odd to name your hotels after a structure with no walls!

Mission garden tucson ramada




Where the photos were taken:

1. Papago Park, Phoenix
2. Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa
3. Fountain Park, Fountain Hills
4. + 6. Mission Garden, Tucson
5. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Coolidge


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Heroes Rescue Phoenix Comicon from Real Peril

Posted by on Jun 17, 2017 in Travel | 2 comments

“Wands, sonic screwdrivers, plushies, masks, fairy wings, empty holsters, signs attached to costumes, fur suits, cardboard made costumes and non-weapon props, dishware associated with costumes, empty quivers, hats and helmets, Power Ranger Morphers, and umbrellas, by example, are allowed.”

– from the updated Phoenix Comicon prop policy

Fairy wings and dishware were not in dispute on the first day of Phoenix Comicon 2017.

By day 2, however, a lot had changed.

Phxcc

The Punisher vs. The Power Ranger

The event started out like past cons. The doors of the Phoenix Convention Center opened the morning of Thursday, May 25, and attendees began filing in.

Among them was a man of about thirty with black clothing concealing body armor, a large bag that no one looked inside, and a full event pass.

Later we would learn that his name was Mathew Enrique Navarro Sterling, but he was under the delusion that he was actually The Punisher, a Marvel Comics character focused on vigilante justice. A reminder on his phone said “kill JDF.”

Carrying four loaded guns, a knife, pepper spray, and throwing stars, he went up to the second floor of the convention center.

Phxcc

Then, in perhaps the modern equivalent of Bond-villain-esque monologuing, Mathew started sending Facebook messages about his plans to an acquaintance.

His alleged targets on site included police officers and actor Jason David Frank, who is known for playing the Green Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and would be at the Con all four days for photo ops, autograph signings, and a Friday panel.

Rayko via http://rayko.com

Cops and Cosplayers

On the receiving end of the messages was Rayko Takahashi (professionally known simply as “Rayko”), a singer, composer, personal trainer, and avid cosplayer in Los Angeles. She’s also the first hero of this story.

The two had only met once, in 2014. Over the next year, they exchanged friendly messages about his fitness goals. Then, one night after a concert, Rayko got off stage to find her phone full of messages from Mathew. His tone had changed, and he was threatening to harm another cosplayer. Rayko stopped communicating with him, gave the woman a heads up, and contacted a friend who is a police officer.

Even though nothing happened then, when Rayko received violence-threatening Facebook messages from Mathew on May 25 of this year, she took them seriously, again contacting Sgt. Scott Nichols of the Hawthorne Police Department in California.

He figured out that Mathew was likely to be at Phoenix Comicon and called the Phoenix Police Department.

phxcc phoenix convention center

Action

Eleven minutes after the call came in from Hawthorne PD, Phoenix Police had located, subdued, and arrested Mathew without anyone being injured.

He plead “not guilty” at his preliminary hearing and is currently awaiting trial for attempted murder and other charges. His bond is set at $1,000,000.

PHXCC prop ban signs

The Aftermath

The incident made headlines internationally, and Jason David Frank has been using his platform to encourage comic cons everywhere to increase their security procedures.

So. Suspect detained. The citizens of Phoenix are safe again, and Day 2 the Con could resume as usual, right? Wrong.

Phxcc

In response to the incident, Phoenix Comicon, the convention center, and police department announced that the next day, and for the remainder of the Con, entrance points would be limited, bags would be checked, people would be metal detector wanded, and replica/prop weapons would not be allowed in – including “Weapons from fictional sources (Light sabers, plasma weapons, laser, phasers etc.)” – and could only be sold if exhibitors immediately wrapped them up afterward.

phxcc

With fewer entrances and additional security screening, lines wrapped around the building the next morning. Unexpected waiting outside during the heat of the day the Friday of Phoenix Comicon seemed familiar from last year’s registration issue, but this time all con-goers were affected.

Later in the day, more security personnel were brought in and the lines moved more quickly the rest of the Con.

phxcc prop ban

#propban

Because it’s Comicon, and people wear all sorts of costumes with all sort of props, the ban required some amusing clarifications, like the quote at the beginning of this post.

“Ghostbuster proton packs are allowed however the Neutrino wand will need to be disconnected or permanently attached to the pack.”

Attendee and vendor reactions to the prop ban were very mixed. Some saw it as an important security measure, while others felt it was an unnecessary damper on their Con experience. A lightsaber vendor packed up and left.

Some cosplayers came up with creative alternatives, replacing props with funny signs or balloons.

phxcc deadpool with balloon props

One comment thread in response to Phoenix Comicon’s Facebook announcement in particular seemed to exemplify the points of view*:

stomping a bee that already stung you does absolutely nothing to prevent other bees from stinging you. just like this fake weapons ban won’t do anything AT ALL to keep another lunatic from waltzing in like the Punisher.” –Trey Lee Williamson

“I don’t understand how very few commenters on this seem to realize how severe this whole thing is and giving up a stupid cosplay prop for safety measures is not the end of the world.–Salvatore Roulston

“I live in Washington and am appalled and prop ban just lost you thousands of revenue for next years con. Punish hundreds who have worked hours on their cosplays because of one Lunatic.. thanks for your concern for our safety but no thanks for tickets next year. 😡” –Ashley Marie

“I’m a cosplayer from Washington and this is still honestly one of the best shows I’ve attended. I thank them for their quick response in light of the event that took place. Was it inconvenient, yes, but the show could just as easily been cancelled. Instead they came up with this solution. I’m appreciative that no one was hurt and that the con went on for the rest of the weekend. Count your blessings folks.” –Muni Moore

Indeed. Whether you agree with the response or not, our quick-thinking heroes gave us more blessings to count.

phxcc


*Comment spelling and punctuation have not been corrected but some were shortened.

Photo of Rayko via rayko.com.

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May 2017 Photo: Ramada

Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in Travel | 10 comments

There was sliver of the moon over the ramada at Mission Garden in Tucson.

Pergola at Mission Garden, Tucson

The spiny “branches” across the top of the roof come from the ocotillo plant. You can see what they look like growing in the desert in the photo below.

Ocotillo

 

Runner up:

I loved colors and shading in this handpainted parasol at Phoenix Comicon!

Unikornis Art parasol at phxcc

Side note: I wasn’t sure how widely the word “ramada” was used outside the Southwestern U.S. for describing the type of covering supported by posts you see over picnic tables etc., like a roof without walls. In the U.K., I thought they might call this a “shelter.” My Twitter poll on the topic only received a few votes – all in favor of ramada – but my friend Kelli did mention that she thinks of a ramada as made of brick and of this as a “pergola”.

Ramada in tucson

Perhaps the thing itself is just more common here in the Southwest, where you need shade more than protection from rain or snow and desert trees may be too sparse to provide it.

Anyway, if you use a word besides ramada, the language geek in me would love to know!




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Chalk Robots

Posted by on Jun 5, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 9 comments

There was a chalk drawing of a robot on the ground. No explanation. Just an arrow.

La Ru robot

So, of course, we followed it – and the next one and the next one – down the steps behind Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Pike Place Market

We tried to guess where they were leading. A street art project? A robot maker? Nowhere? The den of our new robot overlords?

One lead us to turn the corner, and then, “Is that it? Is it a baby store?!!”

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

Nope. A larger robot drawing pointed inside a store with a chalkboard sign that answered my question: “{Ugly Baby & La Ru} Handmade local art for grown-ups and practically nothing for actual babies.”

Ugly Baby and La Ru chalk art

It was a gift shop owned by two artists – Rosalie Gale (of Ugly baby) and Lauren Rudeck (a.k.a. “La Ru”), who was there in the store that day.

Artist La Ru

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

She creates illustrations of animals and robots, and seemed delighted to hear her chalk drawings had lead us in. The store was full of craft kits, cards, and mini works of art, and I wanted to buy everything.

Ugly Baby and La Ru, waterproof art

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

The entire store wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, but I did take home a really great sloth coffee mug.

Coffee sloth!




 

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Year Four in Nine Videos

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Today marks the fourth anniversary of Travelcraft Journal! (And the 350th post!) I thought we could take a look back on the past year in 4 places, 4 projects, and 9 videos.
Pasadena City Hall

1. Southern California/Pasadena

First, let’s road trip to Pasadena in one minute. Of course, we’ll stop for date shakes on the way. Once we get there, we can visit the Norton Simon Museum and the jungle garden at the Huntington.

Video: Phoenix to Pasadena in one minute

Project: In honor of sea breezes and Santa Ana winds, make a mobile or wind chime!

Seven Magic Mountains Las Vegas

2. Las Vegas

Next up: Las Vegas. There are lots of awesome things to do off The Strip, including the ArtBar and Downtown Container Park with its giant, music-blaring, fire-shooting praying mantis. If you want to go to The Strip, I can tell you how to get around and how not to get around, as well as why there are so many weddings there.

     
 

Videos:

 
Project: Make a scrapbook with playing cards.

Mount Lemmon trail

3. Tucson

Tucson is the home of Mt. Lemmon, Mission San Xavier del Bac, the annual Agave Heritage Festival, and the world premiere of the Riders of the Purple Sage Opera.
 

 
Videos: Driving to the top of Mt. Lemmon

Project: Try roasting your own agave or make a recipe that uses agave syrup, like a Bloody Mary with Grilled Pipián Mole Shrimp Skewers.
 
Tempe light rail station art - hands

4. Phoenix

Back in Phoenix, ride the light rail to check out the Phoenix Art Museum, a pizza festival, a lunch hour opera, symphony performance, or Phoenix Comicon.


 
Videos:

Project: Make a costume out of duct tape.

Check out our Airbnb recommendations post for places to stay in Pasadena, Tucson, and Las Vegas!

Salem

Bonus: Salem

Okay, no videos with this one, but, if you haven’t yet, check out Jessica Tennant’s posts on Salem, Massachusetts – part 1 and part 2.




Salem photo by Jessica Tennant.

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Happenings: Summer 2017 #tcjhappenings

Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Happenings List | 0 comments

The Happenings List

Our curated list of upcoming festivals, workshops, shows, and other goings-on for makers and explorers – June through August 2017 (and beyond)! If you go to something from one of our Happenings Lists, please tell us all about it!

Read on for events in Italy, Germany, the UK, and the U.S.: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Asterisked (**) items link to related posts on Travelcraft Journal.

sedona-2

+Arizona

Phoenix Art Museum

 

Full Moon Hike at Red Rock State Park

Jun 9, 6:15pm + Jul 8, 6:30pm + Aug 7, 6pm
Red Rock State Park, Sedona
2-mile interpretive hike led by a knowledgeable naturalist. Watch the sunset from an overlook and hike back by moonlight. Arrive at least 30 minutes early with water and a flashlight. $5 fee + park admission ($7/adult). Reserve your spot at least one day in advance by calling Red Rock State Park at (928) 282-6907.

**A rainy day trip to Sedona.

Urban Forestry: Workshop + Discussion

Jun 10, 1pm
Tempe Public Library, Tempe

Tempe Urban Forestry Master Plan co-author Bonnie Richardson talks about the benefits, care, and planning of trees. 18 yrs+

The Tucson 23: A Mexican Food Festival

Jun 17, 6pm
JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort + Spa, Tucson
Celebrate the “Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food in America” with Food demos, live music, and menu samplings from local wineries, breweries, and Mexican restaurants. Tickets $49.

**Feburary photo + Tucson Mexican food.

2017 Grand Canyon Star Party

Jun 17-24, 8pm
South Rim: Grand Canyon Visitor Center
North Rim: Grand Canyon Lodge
Nightly astronomy programs, slide shows, constellation tours, and telescope viewing. Free.

Melodramas and Megastars: The Theatre in Territorial Arizona, 1879-1912

Jun 24, 7pm
Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, Flagstaff

Readers theatre presentation on the development of Atlantic Coast theatrical culture in the Arizona Territory with humorous anecdotes and excerpts from the plays.

Butterfly Walk

Jun 24 + Jul 22 + Aug 26
8:30am
Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior
Leisurely guided tour through the Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden, Demonstration Garden and Children’s Garden collections to see, photograph and learn about butterfly species. Included with admission.

Summer Entertaining Cooking Class

Jun 24, 6pm + Jun 25, 11am
Chef Chamberlin’s Office, Phoenix

Step-by-step tips for creating a seasonal three-course dinner (and wine pairings!) with St. Francis Mixologist Titus Fauntleroy, Phoenix Public Market Café Pastry Chef Sarah Chisholm, and Chef Aaron Chamberlin. Tickets $100.

The Magic Flute Opera + Gelato Film Fest

Jun 25, 1pm
Arizona Opera Atrium, Phoenix
Screening of The Magic Flute with gelato and wine available for purchase. Free.
**Lunch with Arizona Opera.

Agave Nectar, Nopalitos and a Taste of Desert Edibles

July 23, 8am
Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior
Guided tour along Curandero Trail with desert plant enthusiast Jim Shepherd with a tasting of desert edible samples including prickly pear jelly, nopalitos, mesquite flour, and agave nectar. Trail is not wheelchair accessible. Included with admission.
**Video of desert edibles cooking demo at Mission Garden, Tucson.

Star Party at Homolovi State Park

August 19, 30 minutes after sunset
Homolovi State Park Visitor Center Museum and Observatory, Winslow
Stargazing at Homolovi’s Visitor Center Museum and Observatory. Included with park admission.

HOCO Fest 2017

Aug 30 – Sep 3
Hotel Congress plaza

5-day music festival with over 40 national and regional acts. Ages 16+. Tickets $15-20.
Downtown LA

+California

Sculpture Is: 2017 “In the Garden”

Jun 1 – Oct 31
Sierra Azul Nursery and Gardens, Watsonville

Eleventh annual Pajaro Valley Arts (PVA) sculpture exhibition in the two-acre Sierra Azul Nursery demonstration gardens.

**Trailer or Tipi camping about 20 minutes from Watsonville (#2).

Show + Tell

Jun 3, 10am
Santa Cruz Museum of Art + History

Local artisans give talks and demonstrations about their creative process and how their products are made.

dineLA Restaurant Week

Jul 14-28
Los Angeles
Fixed-price menu at restaurants throughout Los Angeles.

60th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival

September 15 – 17
Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey

The longest-running jazz festival in the world, celebrating the legacy of jazz with performances and educational programs. Tickets: Full weekend $145-410, Single day $45-164. Daily parking $15-40

pond with water lilies

+Colorado

Color: Works by Teresa Booth Brown

Now – Aug 6
Denver Botanic Gardens, York Street – Gates Garden Court Gallery
Exhibition of collage works by artist Teresa Booth Brown. Free.

 

Calder Monumental

Now – Sep 24
Denver Botanic Gardens

Large metal sculptures by artist Alexander Calder placed throughout the gardens. Included with admission.
**Denver Botanic Gardens.

 

Loveland Museum Summer Exhibit Programming

  • June 9, 6pm: Artist Demonstration and Discussion. Sally Elliott shares her painting process and inspiration.
  • Jul 14, 6pm: Strings in the Gallery. Concert in the Main Gallery by the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra.
  • Jul 20, 1pm: Painting Workshop with Sally Elliott. Learn experimental techniques in watercolor and gouache. Pre-registration required. Fee $50 non-members.

Denver Botanic Gardens 2017 Summer Concert Series

June – August
Denver Botanic Gardens, York Street – UMB Bank Amphitheater
Concerts in the round with garden admission included. Bring your own food or pre-order a picnic supper from Offshoots Café ($38 for two people). As of writing this, tickets are still available for the following shows:

  • Jun 13, 6:30pm. Punch Brothers. Tickets $69
  • Jul 28, 6:30pm. The Mavericks. Tickets $65
  • Aug 3, 6:30pm. Dwight Yoakam. Tickets $82-182
  • Aug 7, 6:30pm. Randy Newman. Tickets $74
  • Aug 27, 6:30pm. Lucero with special guest Paper Bird. Tickets $62

 

Foote Lagoon Summer Concerts

Jun 22 – Jul 27, Thursday evenings
Foote Lagoon Amphitheater, Loveland

Weekly outdoor concert series.

Cherry Pie Celebration 2017

July 8, 5pm
Peters Park and 5th Street, Loveland

Cherry pie contest, vendor booths, activities for kids, and live music by Dixie Leadfoot (Rockabilly/Country/Swing) and Joe O’Bryan Band (Blues/Rock). Pie by the slice, ice cream, and drinks available for purchase. Free admission.

Pastels on 5th

Sep 9, 10am
Downtown Loveland

Sidewalk chalk art festival and fundraiser for Alternatives to Violence. Free.

BlogHer '16

+Florida

#BlogHer17

June 22-24
Hilton Bonnet Creek, Orlando

Annual conference for online content creators. Blogger/influencer passes $399.

Indianapolis

+Indiana

Concerts on the Canal

Now – July 27, Thursday evenings
Indianapolis Downtown Canal
Outdoor concert series on the Historical Society’s Kruse Family Stardust Terrace. Food and beverages available for purchase or bring your own. On Thursdays during concert season, the History Center is and open until 8pm.

**Fountain Square in Downtown Indiana.

Make Way for Ducklings by illustrator Robert McCloskey

+Massachusetts

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Exhibitions

  • Now – Jun 4. Club Americano: New York-based and Mexico City-born artist Pablo Helguera explores the historic formation and contemporary definitions of American identity in an intimate one-room exhibition and shared space.
  • Now – Jun 18. Make Way for Ducklings: The art of author and illustrator Robert McCloskey, in honor of the 75th anniversary of his book Make Way for Ducklings.
  • Now – Jul 9. Botticelli and the Search for the Divine.
  • Now – Jul 9. Matisse in the Studio.
  • Now – Feb 25, 2018. The Andes Inverted: Immersive installation by Daniela Rivera with materials, images, and sounds gathered from Chile’s Chuquicamata copper mine.

 

Boston Pops

Symphony Hall, Boston

  • May 31 + Jun 1. John Williams’ Film Night: Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williiams and Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart conduct a concert of movie music. Tickets $36 – $122.
  • June 2 + 3. Cirque de la Symphonie: live orchestral music plays while aerial flyers, acrobats, dancers, and jugglers perform. Tickets $29 – $93.

**Star Wars music at Phoenix Symphony Hall.

 

+Michigan

Detroit Home Movies

Now – Jul 29
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit

Year-long project to exhibit home movies made around 1967 that depict everyday life in Detroit’s diverse communities.

 

+New York

Flower Essence Workshop

Jun 11, 12:30pm + Jun 18, 12:30pm
Sang Lee Farms, Peconic, NY

Gather flowering plants from the farm and learn how to create your own flower essence. $85
**How to press flowers on the go.

+North Carolina

ASAP’s 2017 Farm Tour

June 24 – 25
Western North Carolina

Tours, demonstrations, and hands-on activities at working farms in the mountains to allow you to connect with the community’s food producers and learn about the region’s agricultural heritage.

Liberty bell Philadelphia

+Pennsylvania

ARTLab

First and third Saturdays, 1-4pm
Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh
Interactive projects inspired by current exhibitions for visitors of all ages. Included with museum admission.

Indigo Dip-in

Jun 15, 5pm
Cultureworks Greater Philadelphia

Bring fabric or yarn you’d like to dye. Create patterns using Shibori resist techniques with clamps, rubber bands, and string. Donations accepted.

Festival O17

Sep 14-25
Philadelphia
25 performances of new and classic operas at multiple venues across Philadelphia.

  • Sep 16-24. We Shall Not Be Moved: World Premiere chamber opera with classical, R&B and jazz singing, spoken word, contemporary movement, and video projection. Tickets $50-100.
  • Sep 23, 7pm. Opera on the Mall: Screening of an opera broadcast at Independence National Historical Park. Free.

**Arizona Opera’s world premiere Riders of the Purple Sage.

 

Monticello

+Virginia

Water/Ways + H2O Today

May 27 – Jul 9
Virginia Living Museum, Newport News
Part of the thinkWater project, these Smithsonian traveling exhibitions explore scientific and cultural perspectives on water with educational activities and digital story-collection initiatives.

Monticello

  • Now – Oct 27, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. Harvest Tasting Tour: One-hour tour of Thomas Jefferson’s vegetable garden with a tasting of seasonal produce from the garden. Monticello Day Pass required + $15 ticket.
  • Jul 4, 9am. Annual Independence Day Celebration: Naturalization Ceremony followed by a Jeffersonian Open House with patriotic music and free walk-through tours of Monticello (first-come, first-served reservations). Free admission.
  • Jul 1 + Sep 30, 9:15am. Get to Know Your Trails: Monticello Trail Ranger-lead walk along a woodland path to learn about the trail’s history. Tickets $18.
  • Jul 8, 9:30am. Winemaking Workshop: Two-hour participatory workshop on how to make your own wine from harvest to bottling. Tickets $24.
  • Jul 22, 9am. Plein Air Painting: Paint outdoors on the Mountaintop then share your work with other participants. (Beginning instruction by Pat Brodowski at 8:30am.) Bring your own paints and supplies. Tickets $24.
  • Sep 9. 2017 Heritage Harvest Festival: Celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s agricultural and epicurean legacy.

**Monticello.

Virginia Craft Brewers Fest

Aug 19
IX Art Park, Charlottesville
Celebration of Virginia’s craft beer industry. Over 100 participating breweries serving tastings.

SAM - Seattle Art Museum

+Washington

Seattle Art Museum

**A short visit to Seattle.

 

Craft Party 2017

Jul 16, 12pm
Ugly Baby and La Ru shop, Western Avenue (at Pike Place Market), Seattle

Craft projects and sidewalk chalk take over the block! Join in and do a community embroidery project, wood string art, watercolor cards, and a wall of coloring. There will also be a giveaways, a photobooth, and gift bags with Ugly Baby and La Ru.
Get tickets on Eventbrite by June 14. Tickets $12.

**Chalk robots.

 

A photo posted by Christoph Jakob (@el_kalam) on

INTERNATIONAL

+Germany

Brückenfestival

Aug 12-13
Nuremberg
Outdoor festival with a curated lineup of indie bands. Free.
**Make a mini-lamp garland.

 

+Italy

Venice Biennale

Now – Nov 26
Giardini and Arsenale, Venice
“Viva Arte Viva” – International exhibition of visual art, theater, architecture, music, dance, and film. Full regular tickets €25.

  • Jun 23 – Jul 1. International Festival of Contemporary Dance.
  • Jul 25 – Aug 12. International Theatre Festival.
  • Aug 30 – Sep 9. Venice International Film Festival.
  • Sep 29 – Oct 8. International Festival of Contemporary Music.

 

Real alcazar de sevilla

+Spain

Noches en los Jardines del Real Alcázar

Jul 15 – Sep 9, 10:30pm
Real Alcázar, Sevilla
Nightly (Monday – Saturday) concerts in the gardens of a historic palace, including flamenco, classical, and world music. Doors open at 9pm, so you can explore the gardens before the concert. Beverages available for purchase. Ages 8+. Tickets €6.

Ashdown Park http://www.ashdownpark.com/national-garden-scheme-open-day-0

+UK

Tracey Emin and William Blake In Focus

Now – Sep 3
Tate Liverpool
Exhibition exploring surprising links between the work of Tracey Emin (b. 1963) and William Blake (1757–1827). It will be the first time Emin’s My Bed has been displayed in the north of England. Free.

The Big Barbican Adventure

Now – Dec 31
Barbican Centre, London

Clue solving, drawing and games for families along the Barbican do-it-yourself adventure trail. Pick up a free trail kit for The Big Barbican Adventure from the Barbican Centre Information Desk on Level G. Allow at least one hour to complete the trail. Ages 6+. Free.

Ashdown Park events

East Sussex

Outdoor cinema at Ashdown Park

East Sussex
Tickets £13.

 




While I’ve done my best to be accurate, sometimes things change or weren’t listed correctly in the first place. Also, I choose events that seem fun, unique, and like something you’d be interested in, but your mileage may vary. I may not endorse everything connected with a particular event, organization, venue, etc. So consider this your starting point, double check the details, and then venture forth!

Make Way for Ducklings illustration by Robert McCloskey via Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

UK garden photo via Ashdown Park.

Spain Real Alcázar photo via Noches en los jardines del Real Alcázar.

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Light Rail Phoenix: A Beginner’s Guide

Posted by on May 27, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Mesa light rail station with train

People have asked me how to take the Valley Metro light rail in the Phoenix area, so I made a video guide.

However, if you prefer tips in written form, read on!
Phx light rail station Big map

1. Find where to go.

There’s just one line with 2 directions, Eastbound and Westbound. You can ride anywhere on the line all day for $4.

Westbound train route:

  • begins in downtown Mesa (Mesa Dr./Main St.)
  • ASU Tempe campus
  • Sky Harbor Airport
  • Downtown Phoenix (Phoenix Convention Center, Talking Stick Resort Arena, Chase Field)
  • Central Ave. (turns north)
  • Roosevelt Row/arts district
  • ends at 19th Ave. and Dunlap (near Metrocenter)

Eastbound trains start at 19th Avenue and Dunlap, retracing basically the same route, heading south and then east and ending at Mesa Drive and Main Street.

Phx light rail station At night

Schedule

To find where to get on and off the train and get schedule information, pick up a Transit Book, check the Valley Metro website, download the Ridekick app, or try Google Maps. If you don’t want to bother with the schedule, you can just show up. Trains run about every 10-20 minutes until around 1am.
Mesa park and ride with grid bike

Park-and-Ride

If there’s not a stop near you, you can drive to one of the 11 Park-and-Ride lots, where there’s free parking for people riding the light rail or bus. You just find a spot, lock your car, and head to the station platform.

Phx light rail station On Jefferson

2. Get your ticket.

You can easily get a pass from a fare vending machine at your stop before you leave.

Follow the prompts on screen to select an all-day pass and activate it immediately. Then pay with cash, credit or debit.

Your pass and receipt print from two different places. Make sure to pick them both up!

Tempe light rail station

On the Station Platform

While you’re waiting, check the signs to make sure in the right spot for the train going in your direction.

Stations have…

  • fare vending machines
  • scrolling LED signs that say when to expect the next train
  • seating
  • some shade
  • route maps (simplified to highlight the stops – not to scale)
  • drinking fountains
  • artwork inspired by the local area

Mesa light rail station art - serpentine

Stations don’t have…

  • restrooms
  • food or anything for purchase (except rail passes)

You can bring your own beverage with a lid on it.

On board Phx light rail station

3. Get on board.

Trains stop at every station. You don’t have to flag them down. If one looks like it’s not stopping, Don’t panic! It’s probably just pulling up farther.

When the train pulls up to the station, it will come to a complete stop, the doors automatically open, and you can step into any car. Find a seat or or a place to stand and hold on to the railing. If you are standing, try to move back away from the doors, so people can easily get on and off.

Phx light rail station Art

There’s usually not anyone checking tickets as you get on. It’s kind of on the honor system. Occasionally, though, transit officers in black and white uniforms will come through and check tickets after the train is in motion. Not having one can get you fined up to $500.

Watch and listen for your stop. You can find a route map above some of the doors. And before each stop, a recording will say “approaching station” then the station name and whether you’ll exit the train on the left or right side. The information is also on scrolling LED signs in the middle of the ceiling of each car. Once you arrive, wait for the train to stop and doors to open, and you’re there!
Tempe light rail station art - hands

– More light rail info –

  • Fare details.
  • Make sure you are waiting for the train going the direction you want to go. Most of the platforms are in the middle of the street and trains going both directions share them. However, around downtown Phoenix the line splits. So if you’re at the Phoenix Convention Center for example, the station for westbound trains is at Washington and eastbound trains stop a block south of there at Jefferson.
  • If you’re only going one way (to the airport, for example), you can purchase a 1-ride ticket. Once you purchase it, take your ticket and receipt. You have a two-hour window after purchasing to make your trip in one direction.
  • You may notice that there’s a “buy online” option on the Valley Metro website. This is NOT for last-minute purchases! Since electronic tickets are not accepted, you can order tickets online, and then they’ll be shipped to you via snail mail.
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Navigating Fabulous Las Vegas

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Las Vegas sign

Apparently, it was a big controversy when some Las Vegas casinos started charging for parking.

As long as The Strip had been there, there had been acres and acres on which to park your ride free of charge.

Las Vegas Flamingo

Then MGM decided to charge at all of their properties. Some casinos followed suit, others didn’t, but free parking in Vegas is no longer a given – even for hotel guests.

Las Vegas Strip

Free Parking

  • You can currently still park for free at Tropicana.
  • Parking at Flamingo and Caesar’s Palace is free for the first hour.
  • There is a small lot where you can park at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign for a short amount of time to get a photo of the sign. Enter from southbound Las Vegas Blvd.
  • Many nearby hotels have shuttles that will take you to The Strip, and you can skip parking altogether.

Las Vegas - Mandalay Bay

Transportation on The Strip

Once you’re there, there are several transportation options. Everything is so oversized that it’s farther to walk from one place to another than it may appear.

Bus: $8 for 24 hours (unlimited rides).

  • The Deuce bus route goes the entire length of the Strip up to the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas. It runs 24 hours a day and stops at most hotels.
  • The Strip and Downtown Express (SDX) makes fewer stops and goes farther into Downtown Las Vegas. It runs 9am to midnight.

Monorail: $12 for 24 hours. Runs from MGM Grand to SLS Las Vegas. 7am to at least midnight.

Aria Tram: Free. Runs from the Monte Carlo to Bellagio. 8am to 4am.
Las Vegas sign

– More Vegas Parking and Transit Info –

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30+ Ways to Travel Without Leaving Town

Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Sometimes you need to stay close to home. Maybe family or work responsibilities are keeping you grounded. Maybe it’s health or money issues.

There are still ways to see new things, experience other cultures, feel transported.

Norton Simon cafe

Recently, National Geographic featured a “travel photographer” who finds and composes interesting shots within Google Street View.

Navigating through the Street View of an area does give you a better sense of a place. So we’ll start there.

world-map-2

1. Use Google Street View to explore an area you’d like to visit or re-visit somewhere you’ve gone in the past.

Flamenco

2. Go to a local cultural center, performance, or festival.

3. Be a tourist in your own town.

  • See the cheesy stuff you’d normally skip and take photos.
  • Pick out postcards.
  • Visit the tourist information office or visitor bureau and find out what visitors are seeing or doing that you might’ve overlooked.

fremont-postcards-front

4. Watch some foreign films.

5. Try out any travel apps you’re interested in. See how well they work while you’re still at home.

papago-park-lake

6. Have you visited all the parks in your area?

travelexpo-dtphx

7. Take a different route home.

  • Skip the freeway.
  • Walk or ride your bike.
  • Try public transit or take a different line.
  • If you’re in Phoenix, have you ridden the light rail yet? End to end?

8. Get lost in a library.

cartel-mocha-art

9. Try a new restaurant, coffee shop, or bar.

10. Watch movies about travel.

  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty comes to mind.
  • So does Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong, which I reviewed last year and is now on Netflix.
  • Phillip reminded me of The Motorcycle Diaries. So good. Definitely feels like you’ve been on a long journey through South America by the end.

Backyard

11. Set up a tent in your backyard or inside the house.

12. Sign up to host an international student.

p-drive

13. Go to another part of town and explore a neighborhood that’s usually not on your radar.

14. Get out photos and relive memories. Put them in albums or scrapbooks if you haven’t already.

Norton Simon museum

15. Visit a museum. Find out when they have voluntary admission days or other special events.

Pressed wildflowers.

16. Read a book set in a place you’d like to visit or that takes you on a journey. A few ideas:

  • Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.
  • In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.
  • Riders of the Purple Sage, the Zane Grey novel that we recently saw an opera based on, really puts you inside the canyons and valleys of its setting.
  • Phillip loved Mitchner’s Iberia and said it made him feel like he’s been to Spain.

Mesa community garden

17. Ask friends for their favorite spots around town (to do, see, eat etc.) and try out their recommendations.

18. Wander around an international market. Buy something you’ve never seen before.

Patio

19. Bring a little of the places you love to visit into your regular life. Splurge on extra soft towels or have coffee on your patio.

20. Buy music from a place you’d like to travel. (Or borrow it – Phillip has found some great stuff at our local library.)

21. Make a friend from another country.

  • Volunteer with an international students’ group.
  • Adopt a refugee family.

star-over-desert

22. Explore the stars at a local planetarium or with a regular telescope.

23. Have you seen all the public art on display where you live?

Bag at sunset

24. Test out your travel gear. Make sure everything works, is comfortable to wear, etc. My dad used to fill his pack with encyclopedias and walk around the block to get ready for future backpacking trips.

25. Take photos of places or things you see every day. Use it as an opportunity to really look at what’s around you and maybe see it in a new light.

26. Watch travel shows or documentaries.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

27. Book a staycation at nearby hotel or resort. They probably offer discounted rates in the off-season.

28. Switch things up in your house.

  • Have dinner outside or spread out a blanket and “picnic” on the living room floor.
  • Build a fort.
  • Rearrange the furniture.

Riverside, CA

29. Go for a drive and see where you end up.

Tacos from Tacos Atoyac in Phoenix

30. Eat food from another culture. Go to a restaurant or try making it yourself with the help of a friend, cookbook, or a food blog….

31. Find the nearest places to camp.

Setting up camp at Lakeside

32. Learn another language. There are apps, podcasts, and resources at many libraries to help you with this.

  • MindSnacks has several free language learning apps. Their Learn Chinese app was great when I was attempting to do that, and the games were really fun.
  • There are lots of language learning podcasts if you just search on iTunes. I’ve been working on italiano on and off with Learn Italian from Italianpod101.com.

33. Plan your next trip or in-town adventure.

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Vacancy

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 6 comments

Historic hotel in Peoria AZPhillip read an article an old hotel that had been sitting abandoned for years with plans to tear it down when the city decided instead to preserve it.

Historic hotel in Peoria AZ

He wanted to go find the Edwards Hotel on his day off, so we drove to the Peoria address in the article. It wasn’t hard to find.

Edwards hotel

Even from outside the chain link fence, it was interesting to guess what had been there originally and what had been added later.

IMG_9564

Then we took a stroll around Old Town Peoria, where there’s currently not much going on, but they have a revitalization program in the works.

 

Peoria

image

Peoria

State bird quilt

In the meantime, they have ornate, agriculturally-themed bus stops, a handful of historic buildings (including a church that was turning 100 the week we were there),  and a nice little community center with paintings and quilts on display. It was all a cozy contrast to the hollowed-out hotel.

image

Peoria

Peoria

 

Peoria Quilt




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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The Opening Of The Fire Pit

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

After our morning hike at Tumamoc Hill, we returned to the Mission Garden that evening for demonstrations on agave rope making and roasting, tequila tastings, a display of products made from agave fibers, plant sale, and The Opening of the Fire Pit.

Agave products

Tequila

The day before, probably about the time Phillip and I were driving from Phoenix to Tucson, a group had gathered at the Mission Garden. Jesús García, an Education Specialist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, was demonstrating how to build a fire in a traditional roasting pit and fill it with agaves. They would be covered with metal from the side of an old washing machine and then layers of dirt to keep the heat inside the earth oven.

Jesus Garcia

Other than the repurposed washing machine, the pit would be similar to the ones we had seen evidence of on our hike that morning, the charcoal gray rocks contrasting with the reddish desert clay only hinting at what was under our feet.

Agave plants

We don’t know exactly how the ancient roasting pits worked. Current tribes in the area have not continued this tradition. However, Jesús García pointed out that just a few miles south of the border, “the tradition is still alive.” He talked to his family in Mexico about the process, taking notes and drawing extensive diagrams about every step. Adapting those techniques to the Tucson area has taken some trial and error. Apparently. Last year’s cooking time wasn’t quite enough.

So this year, they would give the agave a full 24 hours to cook underground before literally digging in and opening up the fire pit.

Agave

That must be the magic number. It was soft and slightly sweet. Each variety had a different flavor. One tasted like sweet potatoes.
Roasted agave

So what if you don’t happen to have access to a 5-foot by 6-foot roasting pit?

Carolyn Niethammer shared how she roasts quartered agave heads in her home oven – just roast at 350 for 17 hours (!)

Carolyn cooking demo

Once they’ve been roasted, you can add them into other dishes. With an electric skillet, she demonstrated how to saute up some agave along with nopales (prickly pear pads), peppers, and tepary beans, a drought-tolerant heritage bean that has recently come back into use. It was delicious!

Agave and tepary beans

She followed up by passing around some “Aztec delights,” bite-sized treats she made from amaranth, chia, agave syrup, and chocolate.

Dessert at Mission Garden

It was a sweet finish to our Mission Garden visit.

 

 


Next Agave Heritage Festival events in Downtown Tucson:

  • May 6 + 7, 10am + 1pm: Fibers, Tequila and Fun at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Agave Garden Tours at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Rare + Collectible Agave Sale at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6, 6pm: Agave Fest tequila party at Hotel Congress. $35
  • May 7, 11am: Agave Heritage Brunch at Carriage House. Proceeds from this brunch help benefit Mission Garden. $55



We were guests of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market + Kitchen.

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Maynards Market + Kitchen Garden

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Maynards historic

Cities + Railroads

The history of many western U.S. cities is tied to the railroads. Their stories run parallel, like two lengths of track. Sometimes railroad stops were built for cities and sometimes cities were built for railroad stops.

Tucson is an example of the former. By the time its depot was built in 1909, Tucson was the Southwest’s big city.

Good Roads map

The Arizona Good Roads book described it this way in 1913:

“Tucson is the metropolis of Arizona and New Mexico, and has a population according to the United States Census of 1910 of over 2000 more than any other city in either state. […] The modern Tucson is a growing city of some 22,000 inhabitants. Her rapid growth in the last few years may be attributed to her advantageous position as a distributing point for Southern Arizona and northern Mexico, and to the rich mining, agricultural and grazing country surrounding the city…”

Trains kept bringing passengers, and Tucson kept growing, buildings sprouting up throughout the downtown.

Maynards and hotel congress

By 1919, what you’d see as you exited the depot was Hotel Congress, one of the earliest Arizona hotels that’s still in operation. You can still stay there (we did!) and hear the train from your room.

As time passed, people continued arriving in Tucson but more came by car. The trains carried fewer passengers and more freight. Since freight doesn’t need a train station, part of the building was converted into restaurant space.

Maynards Patio

Market + Kitchen

In 2008, the owners of Hotel Congress opened Maynards Market + Kitchen inside the station building.

Maynards Market

Maynards Agave

The Market part of that equation is open all day with lots of patio seating and a take-out counter for items like coffee, sandwiches, and baked goods. They also sell wine and local gourmet food products. (If you’re from the Phoenix area, think Liberty Market or La Grande Orange, and you’re on the right track.)

Maynards Market wine

Next to it is the Kitchen, a sit-down restaurant open only for dinner, happy hour, and Sunday brunch. It is unfussy and elegant with salvaged train and rail parts repurposed seamlessly into the decor as subtle nods to the building’s history.

Maynards door

Brunch goes until 2pm, which is nice, especially since Hotel Congress is popping until the wee hours of the morning. Non-morning-person-ness aside, it gave us time to check out of the hotel and catch a film screening (The Arizona International Film Festival happened to be going on that weeekend, as well.)

Maynards

From our table, we could see the window-level garden planted just outside and watch little white butterflies dance around the flowers.

I ordered the braised greens/lump crab/crème fraîche omelet – and enjoyed every bite. To really taste the flavors of the garden, I also had the (very, very lightly) dressed greens. Oh, and a delicious coffee from neighboring Caffe Luce Coffee Roasting Co.

Maynards Kitchen

Phillip ordered a macchiato (which he liked), baked eggs (which were good but not what he expected) and bacon (which was crazy crispy).

Maynards Coffee

The signature baked egg dish from sister restaurant Cup Cafe comes in a small cast iron skillet. Perhaps because the menu said “broiled,” Phillip thought they’d be more like fried eggs, but they are cooked solid all the way through. The eggs, spinach, mushrooms, and leeks are buried under a layer of cream, wine, and gruyère. He was surprised by it but liked it and said the flavors blended well.

Maynards Baked Eggs

As for the bacon, I don’t know if they always cook it to that level of crispness, but Phillip regretted not specifying how he liked it and ended up just crumbling it on top of his eggs.

Maynards Salad

Both of our dishes came with downright addictive breakfast potatoes, fruit, housemade English muffins, and this incredible orange-rhubarb jam.

Maynards Garden

Garden + Grove

The garden out the window is where Maynards Kitchen sources herbs, seasonal vegetables, edible flowers, and citrus. It’s hard to get more locally grown than that!

Maynards garden

Maynards Garden

Chef Brian Smith was kind enough to take us out to the garden and point out the citrus trees, cornstalks, three varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and colorful, diamond-shaped plantings of lettuces, kale, violas, nasturtiums, pansies, parsley, chives, basil, peppers, and probably other herbs and greens I’m forgetting.

Chef Brian

The garden is new, planted in an unused plot of ground earlier this year. And they are still experimenting, finding what works best where they are, incorporating what’s in season into their dishes in new ways. (Orange blossom dressing, anyone?)

image

Like Tucson, the garden is flourishing, and whether you get there by road or by rail, Maynards Market + Kitchen is worth a stop.

Maynards


Next Agave Heritage Festival events in Downtown Tucson:

  • May 4, 6pm: Tucson City of Gastronomy Seminar at Maynards Market & Kitchen Drawing Room. $15
  • May 4, 7pm: Mezcal and Chocolate Pairing Seminar at Maynards Market & Kitchen Drawing Room. $15
  • May 4, 7pm: Mezcrawl at participating bars in Downtown Tucson. $25-40



We were guests of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market + Kitchen.

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Century Plant Blooms, Tequila Making and Pulque Therapy

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

I used to believe that a century plant bloomed once every hundred years.

Agave

Turns out it’s a rare event but not that rare.

A century plant/agave will bloom once in its (10-30 year) lifetime, using all the energy it has saved up in the form of sugars to shoot up a single, brilliant flowering stalk.

And then it dies.

image

Which is the depressing part. (It should probably be called the decade plant.)

So let’s focus on a happier part of that story: sugar.

If you happen to harvest an agave plant after it has had years to store up sugar but before it spends it all to go out in a blaze of glory, then all that sweetness can be yours.

agave

The edible part of the agave plant is well guarded by layers of pointed, spiny leaves in every direction.

Cut those off (carefully!) and you get to the head of the plant. (In Spanish, it’s called la piña, because it looks like a pineapple.) And that is where the sugar is hidden.

Agave

A few hours (or maybe days) in an oven or roasting pit, and it will be ready to eat or mash up for syrup or liquor.

roasted agave

I may be oversimplifying a bit, but this gives you the basic idea.

Now let’s talk tequila. It’s only tequila if it is made from the blue agave plant and comes from certain regions in Mexico (the same way sparkling wine can only be called “champagne” if it’s from a specific part of France).

Tequila

The roasted, mashed up agave liquid gets fermented and distilled to become silver (in Spanish, blanco, “white”) tequila. You can drink it that way or change the flavor by allowing it to age in barrels. If it has been aged (“rested”) two months to a year, it’s known as reposado. If it’s been aged longer than a year, it’s añejo. I’m not a tequila expert, but silver tequila is said to have a brighter flavor, while reposados and añejos are said to be more mellow.

Tequila is just one type of mezcal, an umbrella term for any distilled alcoholic beverage made from any species of agave. There are regional variations throughout Mexico, including bacanora, sotol, and others only available locally.

Century plant blooms

Pulque is a drink made from agave that’s not distilled, so it’s not a mezcal. It is fermented, however, and alcoholic enough to cause early Spanish missionaries to accuse local populations of being constantly drunk on it. But, really, people probably would’ve been drinking a lot less if they didn’t have Spanish colonizers all up in their business.

Anyway, Mezcal PhD has a really useful article and chart of agave beverages.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, along with the fact that it doesn’t take agave a century to bloom and that tequila is made from agave that hasn’t bloomed, I have another thing for you to think about.

Desert

Agave typically grows in higher elevation deserts that get more rainfall than Tucson. However, as I mentioned yesterday, agave was one of the crops grown there centuries ago. (You’ll notice agaves showing up around 0:36 on my Mount Lemmon video, after we’ve gained some elevation and left the saguaros behind.)

The riddle: How could this have been this possible?

Feel free to share your theories, and I’ll fill you in on what I learned in a post later this week!


 

The Agave Heritage Festival goes through May 7 in Downtown Tucson!

Next events:

  • May 3, 12pm: Lecture on Mezcal Origins + Future by Ana Valenzuela in Haury Auditorium at University of Arizona. Free.
  • May 3, 3pm: Agave Heritage Festival Week Proclamation from Tucson Mayor Rothschild in Hotel Congress lobby. Free.

image

– More Agave Info –

If you want to go down a historical rabbit hole about pulque and cochineal in colonial Mexico, this should get you started…




 

We were guests of Hotel Congress, one of the presenters of the festival.

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Agave Heritage Week

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 3 comments

Can you name all the U.S. cities that have the UNESCO “City of Gastronomy” designation?

image
There’s actually only one: Tucson, Arizona.

It received the designation, in part, because of its agricultural tradition that goes back thousands of years.

Mission Garden, Tucson

One of the early plants cultivated in the region for food, medicine, and fiber was agave, the spiked succulent best known today for tequila.

agave

The annual Agave Heritage Festival in Tucson celebrates both ancient and contemporary uses of the plant and its importance to the region.

We got to participate in the first weekend of this year’s festival, which runs through May 7th.

image

We took a tour of ancient agave farming and roasting sites on Tumamoc Hill, learned about cooking with agave (both in traditional fire pits and with modern appliances), tasted different agave-based beverages, including tequila and bacanora, and saw how agave fiber can be twisted into rope and crafted into all kinds of things.

Agave products

We’ll be celebrating here all this week with daily posts about Tucson and agave, so come back and visit!


PS We were guests of Hotel Congress, one of the presenters of the festival.




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6 Travel Tips for Non-Morning People

Posted by on Apr 27, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

north-beach-capuccino

I’m not particularly good at mornings. And, as much as I like the idea of jumping out of bed and tackling the day, I don’t magically transform into an early bird when I travel.

Here are a few things I’ve found helpful.

image

1. Get organized for the next day.

Anything you can do the night before is one less thing you’re stumbling around trying to do in the morning.

Either shower at night or at least get your shower stuff set up. You’re not at home where everything is in a place you’re used to, so make it easier on your sleepy self. Unpack your razor and unwrap the soap. Make sure there’s a towel within reach.

Lo and Sons bag at tucson hotel

I also get out everything I’m planning to wear the next day, down to my skivvies. Finding out you need to iron a top or don’t have a crucial part of your outfit is a bigger issue when you’re traveling. I’d rather not have that type of surprise in the morning.

Getting your purse/bag/daypack stuff together, as well, will help make sure things don’t get forgotten in a last-minute groggy scramble.

Coffee

2. But first, coffee.

If you require morning caffeination, make sure you plan for that too. Figure out the coffeemaker in your room or pick out your tea or find a nearby coffee shop. Or if you’re particular enough to feel it’s worth the hassle, bring your own.

I like to set up the coffeepot the night before (sometimes doubling up on the coffee packets), so all I have to do when I get up is turn it on. Even if coffee comes with breakfast and even if the hotel does not have good coffee, I like having a hot cuppa right away while I get ready.

Hotel Indigo Anaheim

3. Plan for breakfast.

Stay somewhere that serves breakfast, find a spot nearby (check the hours ahead of time), or bring your own.

Easy BYOB(reakfast) ideas:

  • If there’s a fridge, you can pick up yogurt, local fruit, etc.
  • We like those individual oatmeal cups that you just add hot water to.
  • Trail mix or granola bars work pretty much anywhere. No kitchen required.

sf-san-remo

4. Time or sleep?

For me, a little extra time to ease into the day is even more beneficial than a little extra sleep. Even when it’s hard getting up, an earlier wake up time is better for me than having a rushed, hectic morning.

Maybe this is the case for you or maybe not. It’s worth paying attention to what works for you, even before your trip.

Hotel

5. Set multiple alarms.

Traveling often throws off your sleep cycle and routines, which can make it even more difficult to get up.

If you really need to be somewhere at a certain time – catch a flight, make a meeting or tour time – don’t count on just one thing to wake you up. Some ideas:

  • Set more than one alarm on your phone, but don’t rely only on your phone.
  • Request a wake up call (or two).
  • Don’t use black-out curtains. Allow natural light in.
  • If you’re traveling with someone else, ask them to wake you up (or knock on your door or call you) if they haven’t seen you by a certain time.

Downtown LA

6. Give yourself permission to sleep in.

If you have flexibility in your schedule, don’t make every morning an early one. Plan for some more relaxed days that allow a later start.

Of course, this requires some compromise if you happen to be traveling with a morning person. In that case, come up with a plan so that they’re not just going crazy in the room (and driving you crazy in the process).

Omni charlottesville
Things a morning person can do while you’re sleeping (i.e. take all that annoying AM energy elsewhere!):

  • Go for a run, swim, or work out.
  • Take a walk and get familiar with the area.
  • Bring you breakfast.
  • Visit a sight (or go do something) you’re not interested in.
  • Start on an activity you can join when ready. (Head to the beach, begin working their way through a large museum, etc.)

As much as you can, honor your natural rhythms instead of constantly fighting them. Resting better will help you make the most out of your trip.

co-ridgway-bnb-2




In case you’re curious, here’s where I took all the photos:

1. Tasting Tour in San Francisco
2 + 5. Hotel Indigo Anaheim
3. Residence Inn, Tucson (bag)
4. Candlewood Suites Yuma
6. San Remo Hotel in San Francisco
7. Hilton in San Jose
8. Downtown L.A.
9. Omni Charlottesville
10. Airbnb in Ridgway, Colorado

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Southwest Maker Fest 2017

Posted by on Apr 24, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

SWMF envelope journal

I did an envelope journal workshop again this year at Southwest Maker Fest.

SWMF 2017

Once again, the attendees were super creative, coming up with their own clever modifications to the project, including one multifunctional journal that doubled as a wallet and a paper airplane!

SWMF envelope journal

This year, my assigned room was in a different area within the i.d.e.a. Museum that seemed less hectic.

SWMF envelope journal

Also, I had help! Several friends showed up and pitched in with explaining the project to latecomers and helping answer questions, etc. A big thank you to Anne, Katie, Trish (who also brought extra art supplies), and the ever-patient Phillip!

SWMF 2017

It was a lot of fun, and it always gets me thinking about how to make it better the next year!




P.S. You can make this too!

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Phoenix Geekiness + Cosplay Panels #PHXCC

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

[UPDATED Phoenix Comicon event and panel info: scroll down and watch for asterisks (*).]

image

Have you already started planning your schedule for Phoenix Comicon? It’s coming to the Phoenix Convention Center May 25-28 and ticket prices increase May 1.

We thought we’d share our panel picks early this year, along with a heads up on some geeky goings-on across the Valley of the Sun to tide you over.

Superhero art

Geek Events (April/May)

Caped Crusaders + Everyday Heroes

Now – May 28
i.d.e.a. Museum, Mesa
Hero-themed works by more than 15 national and international artists (like the print above that we spotted in artist Jason Ratliff’s homebase of Indianapolis). Included with museum admission.

Spoiler Alert! Book Club: Handmaid’s Tale

Apr 22, 1pm
Tempe Public Library Lower Level

Discussion of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian sci-fi classic The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). Ages 16+. Free.

Create It: Drop-in Sewing Nights

Apr 26 + May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
5pm
Tempe Public Library Lower Level

Bring your sewing project and machine or use theirs. Ages 14+. Free.

Free Comic Book Day on Main Street

May 6, 10am
Gotham City Comics and Coffee and Downtown Mesa
Businesses throughout Downtown Mesa will have over 500 comic books to give away. There will also be live music, a cosplay contest, a scavenger hunt, and the chance to meet national and local comic book artists. Maps of participating businesses will be available at Gotham City Comics and Coffee. Free.

Drawn to Comics Free Comic Book Day Festival

May 6, 9am
Drawn to Comics + American Legion Hall, Glendale
With booths and appearances by comic book artists and booths from groups like Arizona Autobots and Comicare.

  • Festival at American Legion Hall 9am-2pm.
  • In-store event 9am-8pm.

City Lights Movie Nights

May 12, 6:30pm
Patriots Park at CityScape, Phoenix
Outdoor screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Viewers are invited to bring their picnic blankets, chairs, and lightsabers!

Cactus Brick LEGO

Phoenix Comicon: Contests + Events

UPDATE: The Con on Adams will be replaced by Con on Third Street.

*Con on Third Street: fan car show, barbecue + beer tent, puppy adoption, and other activities.
Thursday – Sunday May 25-28, 2017 10:00 am to evening-ish (time TBD)
Outside on Third Street

Con on Adams: food trucks, beer garden, photobooth, and entertainment outdoors on Adams Street. No Phoenix Comicon admission required.
Schedule TBA
West 106ABC

Lego Build Off: LEGO competition.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
West 102ABC

Masquerade Costume Contest: cosplay contest and lightsaber dueling performance. Registration is currently open.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 8:00 pm to 11:30 pm
West 301BCD

*All-Ages Cosplay Fashion Show
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm
West 106ABC
star-wars-cosplay

Maker Panel Picks

Beginner-friendly panels on making costumes, props, etc. grouped by topic, so you can browse by what interests you.

Phxff cosplay

Intro to Cosplay

Body-Positive Cosplay: tips for making costume designs work for your body type, loving your body in cosplay, and dealing with haters.
Thursday May 25, 2017 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 225AB

*Armor for the Post-Apocalyptic World: make armor out of found objects.
Thursday May 25, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 224AB

Prop-Making for Beginners: safety, tools, and strategies for materials including basic paper mache, thermoplastics, resin casting etc.
Thursday May 25, 2017 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 228AB

Cosplay 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Cosplay
Thursday May 25, 2017 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
North 224AB

Budget Cosplay
Friday May 26, 2017 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 228AB

*Making Large Prize Winning Costumes with Paper Maché
Friday May 26, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 231A

Costuming From Concept to Custom: the steps to make your cosplay idea a reality.
Friday May 26, 2017 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 224AB

*Cosplay 101: From Closet to Convention Floor! : tips for DIY costumes from items you already own.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
North 232ABC

Costume Wing-Making 101: Design and Construction Basics
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 225AB

Steampunk on a Budget
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 224AB

 

fan-fest-prop

Foam and Plastics

Foam Costuming: The Bare Bones
Friday May 26, 2017 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 224AB

*Molding + Casting for Costume Parts 1: Making a Mold: how to create a basic mold from silicone
Friday May 26, 2017 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 228AB

The Art of EVA Foamcraft: Making Weapons + Props
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 231A

Intro to Foam Armor
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 228AB

Video Game Cosplay: Movement, Weaponry and Makeup
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 228AB

Cosplay PHXCC

The Art of Mold Making + Casting Props: steps to creating custom molds for prop making.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 225AB

Molding + Casting for Costume Parts 2: Casting: how to cast plastic in a silicone mold.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 228AB

Don’t have it? Make it! Custom Toys! learn how to customize off-the-shelf toys.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 231A

Making Costumes out of EVA Foam: how to make a pattern and build a complete EVA foam costume.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 225AB

Phxff cosplay

Painting, Illustration, and Make-Up

Maskmaking 101 For All Ages: how to take a basic mask with materials provided. Limited to 100 attendees.
Thursday May 25, 2017 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
West 101ABC Event Area

Dirt-Cheap Makeup: safe, budget makeup options.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 225AB

Getting Into Comics: where to start with comicbooks.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 127B

Special Effects Makeup: Comic Book Girl: create a classic comic book look.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 131B

Acrylic Academy for Props and Costumes: learn how to modify acrylic paints for cosplay projects.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 224AB

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

Sewing

Cosplay for All Sizes: how to alter patterns and clothing to fit your unique shape and be confident in your costumes.
Friday May 26, 2017 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 225AB

Sewing 101: The Basics: needles, material, patterns, manual and machine sewing.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 225AB

*[time change] Sewing: Pattern Markings: how to read patterns.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
North 225AB

Sewing: There’s a Foot for That: sewing machine feet and how to use them.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 225AB

Phxff steampunk cosplay

3D + LED

Cosplay LEDs for the Absolute Beginner: how to modify existing LED products and assemble simple LED circuits to light up your costume.
Thursday May 25, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 228AB

3D for Cosplay: 3D printing and design of costumes, accessories, and props.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 228AB

3D Printing Props and Costumes
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
North 228AB

fan-fest-makers-1

Exhibitors

When you visit the exhibit hall, check out these artists and makers!

PHXCC




Thank you to Phoenix Comicon for providing media passes for the upcoming Con!

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Nests

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in Travel | 10 comments

BTA nest

I love it when I’m walking and spot a nest in a tree.

catalina-nest

It feels like a small discovery, like finding an Easter egg (no pun intended) or a secret door.

Yuma

From the time I was a little kid, my dad taught me how to look for signs of what’s going on in the natural world, pointing out the high waterline above a dry riverbed, animal tracks in the dirt, cottonwood trees where there’s water, and all kinds of habitats – burrows and holes and nests.

Arboretum nest

At the Arboretum recently, we saw a man was pointing out a nest in a tree for his grandson.

“You guys should check this one out, too.” I showed them a large nest right in the middle of a cholla cactus that would’ve been hidden from their viewpoint.

I can’t think of a safer place for a home – or a trickier place to build it.

Cholla nest BTA

 




 

 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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