October 12 2017


I still get excited when I see a hot air balloon. After all these years, the sight of a mass balloon ascension still thrills me. The sound of a hot air balloon passing by makes me smile. It just never gets old. And I know I’m not alone because I see people stopping by the sides of roads, on hilltops, wherever they are, just to get a picture of the balloons and gaze at their beauty. There is certain camaraderie among the city inhabitants during balloon fiesta time. For a while, we all have a bond of this love for balloons. Even when there are dozens of us gathered brimming with energy and excitement at the sight of the balloons, there is often a companionable silence that is comforting, even spiritual.

While it has been a busy week for me, I have snapped some pictures to share with you today.

This picture was taken from my spare bedroom window. What a great way to start the day!


Two of the new special shape balloons! I love that armadillo!


This is so New Mexico, don’t you think? Fiery!


I’ve noticed a new trend of balloons with a narrow shape. I think I prefer the fatter ones though.


Love it when they fly right over me and you can hear that burner going. Amazing.


More pictures to come this weekend!


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October 6 2017

Five Favorites Friday – Halloween Candy

It’s October already! This time of year goes by way too fast, don’t you think?

I’ve decided to focus on Halloween all month for my Friday favorites posts. I’m kicking things off with some nostalgia for the bygone days of my youth when I would go trick-or-treating and get lots of candy. Was it me, or did it take forever to get dark on Halloween? It was uncool to be trick-or-treating if it was still light out. And do you remember those costumes back then with plastic masks that you could barely breathe in and that nasty little rubber strap that would never stay on? Ah yes, those were the days.

I remember being fond of the neighbors who passed out candy bars. Those were the prized candy items. If you were giving out popcorn balls, Smarties, Sugar Daddys, or those tiny Dum Dums lollipops, you were not my favorite house. And just what were those weird, orange peanut-shaped candies? Blech! Of course, you may disagree with me on these. Maybe you loved Smarties? I always felt they tasted a bit like chalk, not that I know what chalk tastes like. I just think that Sweetarts are way better. But then along came Sprees…

Anyway, here are my top five favorites for vintage Halloween candy.

Charms Blow Pops

Now this is a lollipop. Decent size, great flavors, and there was gum in the middle! Which reminds me of the Tootsie Roll pops. Those were gross. Chocolate in the middle of a fruit flavored lollipop?  No, thank you!


Pixy Sticks

I shudder to think of eating these now. Basically a packet of flavored sugar. The trick was to open them wide enough so that you could spill the entire contents in your mouth at once. Yikes! But I sure loved them as a kid. They were a cheap candy so you got a lot of them in your trick-or-treat bag. By the way, I knew some kids that used pillowcases to collect their candy. Meanwhile, I had a rather small plastic orange pumpkin that required me to go home every now and then to unload! The trials and tribulations of a trick-or-treater. Sigh…



Yup, Snickers were the best candy bar to have in my Halloween haul. Milky Way was my second favorite. I wasn’t too fond of 3 Muskeeters but they would do when the other two ran out. Haha. These days I much prefer Almond Joy but I won’t say no to a Snickers! I do have to wonder what the deal is with these “fun size” candy bars now. What’s fun about less candy? Give me the full size, please!



These strawberry licorice sticks were the only kind of licorice I would eat. If it was an off brand or had a different texture – nope. And do not give me black licorice. Eww! I’m not picky, really.



I have to say that I still love these. If you like sour candy, they will rock your world. These hard candies have a wonderful sour and fizzy center.

So what’s your favorite candy that you remember from your trick-or-treating days?

If you want to see a funny skit about Halloween, check out this fun video from a Jerry Seinfeld stand-up routine: Halloween




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October 4 2017

Albuquerque Old Town

It’s always fun to make a visit to Old Town in Albuquerque but it’s especially nice this time of year when the days are ever so pleasant – mild temperatures and those pristine blue skies. Founded in 1706 by Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdez, Albuquerque’s Old Town covers an area of about ten blocks. You get that Southwestern feel with the flat-roof adobe buildings and plentiful local artwork. The plaza is the central point and depending on the day, you can see a variety of entertainment in the giant gazebo – sometimes even a wedding!

There are lots of trees and porches offering shade as you wander among the many shops, art galleries, and restaurants. One section of the plaza even has vendors sitting on the sidewalk offering their handmade items for sale as you pass by. There are plenty of benches should you need to rest for a spell. It is definitely much more crowded in the summer time during tourist season which is why I recommend waiting until autumn if you plan a visit. Or you can come for the lighting of the Christmas tree on December 1st and do a holiday stroll.

On the north side of the plaza is the San Felipe de Neri Church, a historic Catholic church that was built in 1793. It is the oldest building in the city! And the church continues to offer liturgical, pastoral, and educational services to parishioners and visitors.

Everywhere you look there is interesting artwork, so take your time and absorb the atmosphere.

Should you get hungry, I recommend the Church Street Cafe. A deceptively humble restaurant that is actually much larger than you would think when you see its outside entrance. The food is reasonably priced and so delicious – a true taste of New Mexican cuisine. And if you don’t like it spicy, there are other options as well.

There are several tours you can take whether it’s a historic tour, a ghost tour, and even a Breaking Bad RV tour! If you are feeling adventurous, you can visit the Rattlesnake Museum.

There are actually several museums nearby Old Town. There’s the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History (stay tuned for a post on that!) The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science (see my post on that museum here), the Turquoise Museum, as well as the Explora Science Center.

Don’t forget to get a souvenir before you leave Old Town! Everyone needs a scorpion key chain, right?

By the way, while there are free two-hour parking spots on the streets of Old Town and small paid parking lots, I recommend paying for parking in the giant lot near the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History. It’s conveniently located so once you park there, you can walk to all the museums, shops, and restaurants. If you want to get the feel of Albuquerque, you definitely need to visit Old Town!



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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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