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Make a Mt. Lemmon Day Trip

Posted by on Apr 7, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Mount Lemmon wildlowers

You start in the Tucson heat surrounded by saguaros. An hour (or so) and a few thousand feet in elevation later, you can be sitting among spruce trees in air cool enough to not melt the chocolate chips of the oversized cookie in front of you.

Summerhaven tables

Welcome to Mount Lemmon, a 9000-foot peak in the Santa Catalina Mountain Range.

Mount Lemmon view

Drive the Sky Island Scenic Byway (also called the Mt. Lemmon Highway, the Catalina Highway, and – officially – the General Hitchcock Highway) through beautiful landscape and six (6!) different climate zones.

Mt. Lemmon

Mt Lemmon

Then you can hike or picnic or ride the year-round ski lift. (Yes, it gets cold and snowy enough in the winter for skiing up there!)

Mt Lemmon trail

When Phillip and I and my parents went, we stopped at a picnic area (Box Elder, I think-?) before driving to the parking lot at end of the road and taking a little hike from there.

Mt. Lemmon

Along the way is the town of Summerhaven, a one-and-a half mile high city that caters to visitors seeking shelter from sweltering Tucson summers.

Cookie Cabin

It’s also home to the giant cookies of Cookie Cabin. Four of us split one sampler cookie. There was literally a line out the door but plenty of nice outdoor seating.

Mount Lemmon cookie

I taught my dad how to use the Hyperlapse app, so we could take timelapse videos of the drive up. You can see the dramatic changes of scenery compressed into two minutes.

Mount lemmon

– More Mt. Lemmon info –

  • Be prepared to pack out your own trash.
  • Ski lift – The “sky ride” to the summit lasts about half an hour. Off-season (summer) adult tickets are $12/ride. Winter lift tickets are $45/day. Details at
  • Keep the high altitude in mind when you’re planning hiking or other activities.
  • We were there in mid-August, right at the end of the summer wildflower season.


Scenic Drive:

Mt. Lemmon - Ski Valley


  • Many places you can park on Mount Lemmon require a pass, including the visitor center, picnic areas, etc.
  • You can purchase a Coronado Recreation Pass on the mountain at the Palisades Visitor Center or buy one before you go.
  • Passes are available at several locations, including the Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 300 W. Congress near Downtown Tucson.
  • Day passes are $5 per vehicle. ($10 for a weekly pass.)
  • Instead of worrying about which specific places require it, consider just getting a day pass in town before you make the drive. It’s only 5 bucks and helps to support the forest.

Mount Lemmon

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Apple Desserts for Fall

Posted by on Sep 19, 2016 in Craft | 6 comments

Apple trees

It’s apple season here! And I wanted to share a few of the delicious-looking desserts I’ve been seeing recently.

First, if you’re planning to go to an orchard, check out these apple-picking tips from Bon Appetit. I wish I had read an article like that before Phillip and I went to pick apples at Apple Annie’s in Willcox! We had a fun time, but would’ve been helpful to know a few tricks.

Apple picking

Speaking of which, did you know you could core an apple with a metal melon baller?

1. Baked Apples (via a Beautiful Mess): Whole apples covered with puff pastry and stuffed with pecans – yum!

Baked apples via A Beautiful Mess

2. Caramel Apple Bar (via Craftberry Bush): A fun idea for a fall get-together, slice up apples for people to dip in their favorite toppings!

Caramel apple bar


3. Apple Pie Bites (via The Blond Cook): A quick recipe for crescent roll-wrapped apple slices that taste like little pies. I’d try these with my DIY Holiday Spice mix.

Apple pie bites via the blond cook

4. Peanut Butter and Apple Oatmeal Cookies (photo and recipe by Creative Culinary): Okay, peanut butter + apple + oatmeal cookie…how could I argue with that combination?!

Peanut Butter and Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Do you have a favorite apple dessert?

Photos via respective sites.

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Where to Stop for Date Shakes on California Road Trips

Posted by on Aug 18, 2016 in Travel | 2 comments

Palm yuma
We don’t order date shakes at home in Phoenix. We could. There are a couple places that serve them, since date palms grow here.

But we only look for them on road trips through a certain western Arizona/eastern California corridor.
Hadley date farm cabazon california


If you’re headed from Phoenix to Los Angeles on the 10, there’s the Hadley Fruit Orchards store in Cabazon near the dinosaurs.


The decades-old farm store recently moved to a shiny new building. They still have a little cafe, and it’s still a great place to stop for snacks – all kinds of specialty trail mix and dried fruit and veggies, much of it from the local area and/or their own blends.

Hadley date farm cabazon california

Shakes come in a reusable souvenir cup. Last time, we got there near the end of the day and they said they were out of regular date shakes but had banana date shakes. So they must mix them in advance-? Anyway, you could mostly just taste the banana, and it wasn’t the same.

Marthas garden date farm, yuma


If you’re on I-8 headed for San Diego, I’d recommend skipping the well-publicized Dateland and opting for Martha’s Gardens in Yuma instead. Coming from Phoenix, it’s about another hour down the freeway but worth it. The shake we got at the Dateland Travel Center tasted overly, artificially sweet with dates in clumps. The Martha’s Garden shakes were blended well and sweet without being sickeningly so.

Date shakes in Yuma

The Martha’s Garden store is smack in the middle of a working date farm, down a dirt driveway surrounded by rows of palm trees. While Martha’s store shelves are mostly stocked with bulk dates, they do sell some other local products like honey and salsa.

Marthas garden date farm, yuma

From the counter at the back, you can order sandwiches, date shakes, coffee, or a shot of espresso in your date shake. Behind it is a room of tables and chairs – and a couple outlets if you need to recharge.

Marthas garden date farm, yuma

Have you ever tried date shakes? Do you have food/drinks you only get on road trips?

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This Ain’t Your Mama’s Macayo’s

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

I wonder what Mexican food was like in 1946. Not so much the food in Mexico, but in the few little mom-and-pop spots in the US, where it was still a novelty. It must have seemed so exotic back then, in the year that the first Macayo’s Mexican Grill & Cantina opened in Phoenix.


While most of Macayo’s restaurants continue to serve their traditional brand of Arizona-style Mexican food, the Scottsdale location is mixing things up with chef-inspired menu items and a renovated restaurant (including a dog-friendly patio!). Their grand re-opening was this week, and they raised over $2000 for charity.

My friend Kelli and I got to be part of a preview event for their new menu one fine Taco Tuesday.


How Macayo’s Scottsdale spiced up their menu…


  • Jicama Shrimp Tacos – Instead of dicing up the crunchy vegetable and putting it inside the taco, the jicama is actually thinly sliced to create the taco shell. I have to admit, the first few bites were a little weird. But, once my taste buds got over the initial shock of the slightly sweet, juicy outer layer where there’s usually a blander, drier corn or flour tortilla, I enjoyed it. It complements the fresh fruit salsa and fried shrimp inside really well, and I’d order these again.
  • Fried Avocado – How do you even fry an avocado without it all falling apart? I don’t know. I just know it puts a nice crispy outside around that lovely avocado mushiness. Macayo’s adds queso fresco, salsa, and chipotle crema, all layered on top of individual tortilla chips.
  • Homemade Churros – By the time there was a break in the conversation where I could say, “Kelli, you have to eat a churro!” they had cooled off and she was less impressed than I was. My advice: Order the churros, then pounce when they arrive. Dip one in the accompanying Mexican Chocolate the moment they’re under mouth-burning temperature. They’re good a few minutes later, but, when they’re still warm, they’re transcendent.

Also delicious: Bosio’s Shrimp, Queso Fundido, Rolled Tacos.



  • Specialty Margaritas – I was intrigued by the Watermelon Jalapeño but chickened out, thinking it might be crazy spicy. One of our tablemates gave it a try and said it had just the right amount of kick to it. I ordered the (very pink) Prickly Pear, which turned out to be more regular pear than cactus fruit. It was good, just not really out of the ordinary. They all are served in tapered glasses (which my brother/barware expert Ian and I determined were some kind of hybrid that should be called “margatini glasses”) rather than the typical bowl-like stemware.
  • Macayo Mule – Kelli ordered Macayo’s answer to a Moscow Mule, made with tequila instead of vodka. It still comes in a copper cup, particularly appropriate here in the Copper State.
  • Happy Hour – Specials go from 3:30-6:30pm on weekdays. On the weekends, it’s happy hour all day long, amigos!


The new menu (which also includes some old favorites) is available now at the Scottsdale Shea Macayo’s.

Thank you to Macayo’s Mexican Grill & Cantina for allowing us to be part of their media preview night and to RSVP & Associates for the invitation.

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Summer of the Waffle

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but somehow I ended up speculating on what would be the next food trend to follow fancified cupcakes and ostentatious donuts.


“Maybe waffles. Do you think waffles could be gourmet? Like will there be food trucks selling artisan waffles?”

Yes and yes, as it turns out.

There are now waffle trucks. And, here in Phoenix, there’s a waffle trailer that serves traditional Belgian liege waffles with the recipe, technique, and even sugar imported from Belgium.


The trailer is the latest venture of Chocolade van Brugge, the chocolate shop I was introduced to during the Chocolate Tour of Scottsdale. So there are all kinds of tempting topping options, including, of course, really good chocolate.


They’ve declared this The Summer of the Waffle and threw a party to kick it off, parking the trailer in Scottsdale’s Eldorado Park on a lovely May evening. Peixoto Coffee Roasters was there with big jars of iced coffee and cascara (coffee cherry tea) and their pour-over coffee setup. Hoot and Holler had organized the event and set the tables with beautiful flower arrangements.


We tried a mini waffle topped with Nutella, strawberries, and whipped cream. Yep, that’s as awesome as it sounds. Our other mini waffle came with delicious dark chocolate, caramel, and more sea salt than I personally would’ve prefered – but I’m sure they’d lighten that up on request. I’d definitely order it again. 


Peixoto did a decaf pour over for me, since it was late in the day. Ridiculously good. Did not taste like decaf. Phillip got an iced coffee, which he enjoyed (even though it kept him up). I like their iced coffee too. It’s my pre-CraftHack beverage of choice.


We got to meet and chat with the owners of both shops. Both are passionate about their craft and their ingredients. Both have come from other continents, bringing along their heritage and sharing a part of it with the Phoenix community. 


Besides the waffle truck that’s a trailer, you can find Chocolade van Brugge waffles at their main location in Old Town Scottsdale, and they frequently do pop up shops in Downtown Chandler at Peixoto.

Thank you to Peixoto, Chocolade Van Brugge, and Hoot and Holler for allowing us to be your guests at this event!

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