September 29 2017

Five Favorites Friday – Hot Air Balloons

Only one more week until the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta begins! I’m hoping that we will have some gorgeous weather for the fiesta. We’ve had a bunch of rain the past few days so my fingers are crossed that the skies are clearing and will be perfect for the balloon launches. It’s always so wonderful to be able to see hundreds of colorful balloons launch during the fiesta. It’s hard to believe that this event started in 1972 with just 13 hot air balloons and now it’s the largest event in the world with almost 600 balloons! We are fortunate to live very close to the balloon fiesta park so all we have to do most mornings is look out our windows to see them. Sometimes we will head to the small park near our house to get some even better views. Because we live so close to the action, we haven’t gone to the balloon fiesta park in quite a while. Still, it’s definitely a mind-blowing experience to be on the field with the balloons as they launch; so I highly recommend it. If you’re not an early riser, you can always go to the park in the evening and watch the balloon glow.

I love all the balloons, but for my Friday favorites post, I decided to focus on the special shape balloons. They tend to be the most popular and it’s easy to see why. They are such fun and every year there are new ones. Hopefully, I will be able to capture some great pictures of them this year to share with you.

Here are my five favorite special shape balloons:


Scorch the Dragon


Smokey Bear

Pepsi Supercan (oh, you know I had to include this one!)

If you’d like to know more about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, click here

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September 24 2017

Happy 6th Birthday Max!

I can’t believe my sweet boy is six years old today! It seems like only yesterday that we brought him home to live with us. He loves to ham it up for the camera. I even got a smile out of him this time! Look at those pearly whites! Well, he’s got lots of reasons to smile. He gets tons of treats during photo shoots.

“More treats please!”

It never fails, he has to stick his tongue out at me just once. Just a little tiny bit…  haha!

But he had lots of fun and he got to pop as many of the balloons as he wanted to! He mostly wants to chew on the pieces of balloons he pops though, haha! To see a video of Max popping/chewing a balloon, check out his Facebook page: Maxwell Smart the Jack Russell Terrier

Happy Birthday, Maxwell!

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September 23 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Movie Review

Where do I begin? This movie is a sequel to 2014’s Kingsman: Secret Service and you most definitely need to have seen the first move to understand this one. The first movie was a tongue-in-cheek spy film with dark wit and crazy stylized action. An homage and satire to the James Bond films, if you will. Yes, it was a bit over the top but still a fun movie if you didn’t take it too seriously; so I was expecting more of the same with the sequel. In fact, I was expecting it to be even better with the added star power of Channing Tatum and Pedro Pascal as well as the return of Colin Firth’s character. This sequel starts out with a strong opening scene involving a car chase and lots of fancy driving through the streets of London. Unfortunately, after that, it devolves into a convoluted mess. When the majority of the Kingsman agents are annihilated, the remaining agents must team up with their American counterparts, the Statesmen. The world is being held hostage by a new threat: a deadly toxin that has been laced in every recreational drug available. This would have been a great opportunity to show some combined teamwork as both sides of the pond came together. While Pedro Pascal’s Agent Whiskey’s whip-work (say that three times fast) was lots of fun to watch, I kept hoping that Agent Tequila (Channing Tatum) would have a bigger role. What a waste. Ultimately, the scenes felt forced and contrived. In fact, this movie was so disappointing, it taints my feelings for the first one so much so that I’d like to forget both exist.

P.S. Elton John’s cameo is this movie is terrifying and grotesque. Stick to the musical stage, Sir!

My score: D

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September 22 2017

Five Favorites Friday – Autumn

Today is the first day of autumn. We are actually in the midst of our Indian summer here in Albuquerque in which the days are sunny, warm, and wonderfully pleasant. Mornings are crisp and cool. I know soon enough that these gentle days will make way for blustery, cold ones; so I am enjoying them while I can. I used to find autumn to be rather bittersweet. I would delight in the vibrant colors of the trees as their leaves started to turn; but I would also know that winter was on its way and I have never been a cold weather person. But these days I find that the changing of the season is something I look forward to. The transition is not always smooth (I’ll miss wearing sandals and being coat-free) but there are plenty of fun things to anticipate in the fall. Here are five favorites I look forward to every year.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – You can be sure that I will be posting pictures in the coming weeks of some fabulous hot air balloons. Already I have seen some balloons on my early morning walks. And the traffic is definitely getting more heavy in town as visitors and balloonists from all over the world arrive.

Fall Decorations – The stores have started to fill up with Halloween decorations and I am amazed at the selection of items available these days. I used to do a lot of Halloween shopping when we did our annual Halloween gaming night. Now that my husband’s gaming campaign begins in January, I no longer hunt for the perfect Halloween snacks or frightening decorations. I rather miss those days, but on the other hand, I do not miss the huge amount of work it took to pull off that event! Now I focus on the lovely fall decorations and it is to my delight that sunflowers are a prominent part of many of them. You know how I love sunflowers!

TV Favorites Return – I still remember the days when September meant a new season of television shows. Now it seems that a TV season can start at any point during the year.  Even so, a good number of television programs are starting to return right now. In particular, I’m eagerly awaiting the new seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory, and This is Us.

Cold Weather Comfort Food – There are some dishes that I just don’t make in the summer time because they just seem like cold weather meals – in particular, my beef stew. As soon as the first really chilly day hits, that’s the meal I want! And for some reason, I feel that making a pecan pie or pumpkin pie in the summer is weird. Those are for Thanksgiving.  And speaking of that holiday…

Thanksgiving – What’s not to love about a day to focus on blessings, gratitude, and food? Hah! I’ve always loved Thanksgiving because of the many good memories I have of time spent with family, playing games, watching movies, and just enjoying the day.

I’ve already gotten in the autumn spirit by decorating my office a bit. Who says that lights should only be for Christmas? I love the warm glow of these lights and they make me happy.  Happy autumn everyone!


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September 17 2017

79th Annual New Mexico State Fair

Carnival rides, art, animals, entertainment, agriculture, exhibits, shopping, concerts, food, and more.  The NM State Fair in Albuquerque signals the beginning of the autumn season for me even if the weather is still quite warm right now. Even so, the mornings have begun to feel crisp and cool which is a delight after a long, hot summer. While I can’t say that we go to the fair without fail every year, we do go most of the time. There have been some years when we’ve focused on the carnival rides and games but, mostly, we just enjoy seeing the exhibits and eating fair food. As an animal lover, I particularly love to see the horses, cows, goats, sheep, and other livestock. It is a family tradition to head to the mini donut stand as soon as we arrive at the fair. These tiny donuts are melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious. See my Five Friday Favorites post for a picture of them. After that, it’s up in the air as to what culinary delights we may decide to eat.  We try to watch as many of the shows as we can fit in during our visit, along with viewing the many art exhibits and animals! While they do not allow people to take photos of the artwork, I do have plenty of pictures to share; so without further ado, here we go!


I was enthralled by the fluffy cow parade. Wish I could have touched one.

This rooster had it going on, I’m telling you. He was very proud of himself. And so many baby goats…I want need one. Not sure about that killer rabbit though!

I can’t believe they had some of the rarely seen jackalopes!

Food – just a sampling!

Special Shows (we managed to see three this time) – Duck Racing, Seal Lions, and Ma’Ceo Circo 

Carnival – Look at those pretty skies!

Some random shots


I hope this gives you some idea of what the fair is like here in Albuquerque. There are new shows each year so while some things stay the same (yay for mini donuts), you also get a different experience each time.
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September 15 2017

Five Favorites Friday – NM State Fair 2017

My family and I spent most of the day at the state fair so this post for Five Favorites Friday will be a little shorter than normal. I did take a fair (pun intended) amount of photos today and I will share lots of them with you over the weekend! For now, here are five things I loved about my visit to the fair today!

1) Mini Donuts

The first thing we always do as soon as we get to the fair is buy some mini donuts. It just wouldn’t be right if we didn’t. These are a must and they are delicious! This year they offered them in a bucket.  Oh yeah!


2)  Police on Horses

Love these guys! Keeping the fairgrounds safe.


3) Baby Goats

These sweet babies must have been born today because their mamma was still in labor with another baby. Oh gosh, my heart just burst watching them. And now I want a baby goat.


4) Ma’Ceo Circo by Cavallo

This was a fabulous show with some gorgeous horses. I can watch these kind of acrobatics all day!


5) Sunflowers

I love all the different competitions at the fair whether it’s a perfect zucchini, a Lego masterpiece, or a stunning painting. My favorite building to wander around in is the one with all the different flowers and the gorgeous arrangements. Naturally, I was drawn to the sunflowers.

More pictures of the fair to come so stay tuned!


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September 14 2017

Galumphing and Bricolage

The past few weeks I have been taking an online creative writing course. It has been fun and challenging. More importantly, it has motivated me to write more and given me the confidence that I have stories worth telling. One of the exercises that I found most enjoyable was in learning how to “galumph” and “bricolage”. In the context of writing, they are a great way to get the creative juices flowing. To galumph is to take random words, places, people, and phrases and create a story out of them. This idea goes well with bricolage, a French term which means to succeed by using only what’s on hand. Simply put, it’s making lemonade out of lemons or it’s being like MacGyver and creating something out of arbitrary items you have available to you. Limits can create intensity. I certainly found this to be true for me when given the assignment to write about the most boring and mundane object I could think of. I was actually surprised by how quickly the words flowed and my visceral reaction. It came to me that whatever you write, it comes from the very depths of who you are. Every character you create will have some part of you and your experiences in them. Writing is a very personal and vulnerable creative expression like any other art form; even more so in my humble opinion.

So you may wonder what mundane object I wrote about.

A piece of gravel.

I share my assignment with you today. A simple paragraph about a “simple” object.

People tread on me daily and never notice me. I’m just a tiny piece of grayish-brown gravel. I dream of someone picking me up and thinking I have value, deciding to take me home. Gently placing me in a red-velvet lined glass case with dozens of other treasured stones. I would nestle among agate, quartz, onyx, malachite, and turquoise. I would be part of a collection that is admired. Look at this little piece of stone! What a unique shape it has! Have you ever seen anything so special? No one would step on me anymore. Then one day, I get stuck in the crevices of a shoe’s sole as someone walks on me. They stop… Peering at me, they pry me loose from their shoe. Without a second glance, they toss me to the side of the path and I land on the grass, alone, my hopes dashed.


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September 10 2017

Rio Grande Zoo – Australia Outback Tour

It’s no secret that I love the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque so I always love to share the latest pictures I’ve taken. Recently, the zoo has begun offering behind the scenes tours of different animal exhibits and it has been a blast for us. Our first tour was with the rhinos and giraffes. We got to feed a baby giraffe and use a big scrub brush to scratch the rhinos! On our second tour, we got to feed the hippos as well as an adorable Muntjac deer. We always learn so much from the zookeepers. Seeing how much goes into keeping the animals safe, healthy, and happy is fascinating. It is especially interesting to be able to see the indoor housing which you don’t view as a normal visitor. There are feeding schedules, enrichment toys, special treats, management systems, and more. The zookeepers also share personal stories, often funny, about the animals. Our latest tour was for the Australia exhibits and it did not disappoint. It’s interesting to me how the zookeepers are generally a bit nervous when they first greet us to start the tour. But then they start talking about the animals they care for and something magical happens. You can just see the passion and love they have for the animals and what they do shine through. It isn’t long before you feel a connection to them and a certain envy that this is what they get to do every day.

The first exhibit we got to see this time around was for the Tasmanian devils. There are only a handful of zoos in the US to have Tasmanian devils so we are very fortunate. These guys are so vocal and have many different sounds to express what they are feeling. Females give birth to about 50 pea-sized babies and the strongest of the babies to make it to her pouch are the ones that survive. Since mama has four teats, up to four can survive but it’s usually two or three. Devils will not attack humans, only defend themselves if you try to mess with them. The most interesting thing I learned was that when devils fight each other, they will rip out some fur. When it grows back, it grows in white. So female devils are more attracted to males that have a lot of white fur. It shows they’ve proven themselves! This female devil put on quite a show for us.

Now my favorite marsupial is the wombat because they look like buff teddy bears. They also have a surprisingly high-pitched scream when you pick them up.  Haha.  Interestingly, their pouches are actually backwards so the pouch opens towards the female’s rear rather than her face. This allows her to dig without scooping dirt into her baby’s home! It also provides extra protection to the baby while the wombat is walking since she is so low to the ground. The other neat thing about wombats is that they have some super strong cartilage on their rumps which makes them more resistant to bites and scratches. If they are being chased, wombats will dive into their burrows and block the entrance with their butts. They can also use their powerful backs to crush the skulls of intruders against the roofs of their burrows. Wow!

So if you ever get the chance to “thump” a wombat’s butt, go for it. It’s amazing. And just look at the smile on the zookeeper’s face. He loves that wombat!

We also got to see and touch an armadillo. This is a three-banded armadillo. The fur on his underside is there so he can feel bugs while walking along and get his dinner.

Another fun part of our tour was getting to feed the lorikeets. They were very excited to see us and enjoyed getting some nectar. They also share their home with a kookaburra.


What an incredible opportunity to be able to take these tours. I highly recommend them especially since the ticket price all goes to funding enrichment for the animals. I love the Rio Grande Zoo!


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September 8 2017

Five Favorites Friday – TV & Movie Cars

It occurred to me recently that awesome characters in TV shows and movies are not always human. Sometimes the cars steal the show. I have a tendency to anthropomorphize vehicles I have owned. Hey, they may just be motorized hunks of metal but they get us where we need to go and we spend a lot of time in them. It seems only natural to talk to my car. That’s not weird, right? I mean, even Shania Twain met a guy who kissed his car goodnight. Haha. Not that I would do that. *cough* Anyway, there have been some really cool looking cars on TV and in movies. When I decided to write about my five favorites, it was fun to drive down memory lane and remember all the wonderful cars that have been in film. There were so many great contenders vying for my top five like the Batmobile, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the General Lee, and Christine. Okay, so Christine was never really in contention. Yikes!

So here are my five favorites counting down from 5 to 1 (my favorite favorite):

5) Starsky & Hutch’s Ford Gran Torino

Paul Glaser (Starsky) jokingly called this car a “striped tomato” and the nickname stuck. I guess he thought the car looked garish and would deliberately drive it into curbs and garbage dumpsters. Aww. I loved that Gran Torino. It had flash and style. Admittedly, it was not the best car for trying to hide out in!


4) Smokey & the Bandit’s Pontiac Trans Am

Boy did I have a thing for Pontiacs back in the day – especially the Trans Am. That was one bad ass car. Oh, how I wanted a Trans Am. Wait, I still do. Wish they still made them like this – it could be my mid-life crisis car! *wink*


3) Knight Rider’s KITT (Pontiac Trans Am)

Okay, another Trans Am but this one talked to you and was practically indestructible. So no one would think you were crazy for talking to your car!


2) Back to the Future’s Time Travel Car (DeLorean)

I think the reason for this choice is pretty obvious. Who wouldn’t want to travel back in time or into the future? This was also the first car that I ever saw in which the doors opened up instead of out. Neato. Still, a bit impractical when trying to park in close quarters.

And now cue the drum roll for my favorite car of all time…


1) The Spy Who Loved Me’s Lotus Esprit

Of course, my absolute favorite would be a James Bond car. While the most obvious choice would be that Aston Martin, I loved this Lotus because it was all gadgety (is that a word?) and could go under water. It was armored and had cannons. Yeah, I need that. This car is one of the reasons that The Spy Who Loved Me is my favorite Bond movie.

So I’m dying to know, what’s your favorite car and, more importantly, do you talk to the car you have?

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September 6 2017

Adulting – It’s a Good Thing!

You may have noticed people bandying about the word “adulting” lately, using it as a verb. According to, the term means to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups. I’ve seen lots of memes pop up with this term and my favorite is: I’m done adulting today. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my blanket fort… coloring. That would explain why adult coloring books have become such a big trend. Haha. I just realized that I used the term “memes” as well. In case you don’t know what those are (I’m talking to you my darling husband), a meme is a cultural symbol or social idea that has gone viral. The majority of modern memes are captioned photos that are intended to be funny, often as a way to publicly ridicule human behavior. Do you get it now, Star-Lord? Sigh…

Anyway, it’s kind of a silly thing but I got to thinking about being all grown up today. I’ve been an adult a pretty long time now and while it’s nice to be in charge of your own life, there are days it would be great to have someone take care of things for me. As a child, it was good to be sheltered from most of the bad news happening in the world. I was blissfully unaware of global problems and natural disasters for the most part. My biggest concern back then was what was for dinner! Alas, those days are long gone and while I’ve gotten used to “adulting”, there are moments when I want to make a blanket fort and hide a while! The past couple of weeks in particular have made me feel this way, most especially because of the damage and destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey. And now Hurricane Irma is a new threat. It’s heart-wrenching. On top of that, the skies in Albuquerque have been covered in a fairly thick haze of smoke from wildfires raging in western states such as California and Montana. While I have no control over the weather (if I did, there would never be wind beyond a nice breeze – have I ever mentioned I hate wind?), I do have control over my website (I think!) and so I try to counteract the bad news out there with some levity, nostalgia, and happier thoughts. And don’t forget those Five Favorites Friday posts. I really enjoy sharing those with you.

Anyway, I hope that everyone had a good Labor Day. My family and I enjoyed a relaxing day playing board games, barbecuing, and catching up on episodes of The Strain. Of course, the day off has meant a more hectic work week with lots to do in less time. The smoky haze has also been giving me a throbbing headache that just won’t quit. Still, the skies seemed to be clearing a little today and as I was heading into work, I noticed the stunning glory of the Crepe Myrtle tree on the church grounds. It’s like that old saying about stopping to smell the roses. Today, I stopped to admire this tree and just enjoy its beauty.

When I got home from work, I was delighted to find a package in my mailbox. This is really not a rare occurrence considering my love of online shopping! However, today was the day I received this beauty:

Oh yes, I have not purchased one of these in many years but the time is right and I plan to use this baby! I’ve decided to try writing some short stories to get my feet wet and, more importantly, to get published!

And, finally, since I know there are many cat lovers out there, I’m sharing a picture of a beautiful kitty that I see almost daily on my walks. She is a very friendly cat and really enjoys lounging on this wall:

And if you’re a dog lover like me, here’s a picture of Maxwell living the good life:

May this week find you stopping to appreciate the good things you have and knowing that you’re adulting the heck out of life!



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