Monthly Archives: July 2011

My Homemade Water Balloon Launcher!

our first time testing out our water balloon launcher

Trying to come up with new ideas that are fun and inexpensive is challenging sometimes for me.  So in an effort to try to re-use some items around my house I came up with an idea for a homemade balloon launcher.  Not only do I get to use up some items I would discard but it also helps battle the sweltering heat of August and not to mention is a lot of  fun.  We called up a few friends to test our invention and they gladly volunteered to go with us.  We filled a cooler with water balloons and headed to our local park.  We had a couple of ‘games’ we played when launching this.

Sean, launching his balloon straight up and trying to catch it

1.  We launched it straight up in air and the launcher had to try to catch their own balloon.

the boys trying to catch the balloons

2.  We had our kids stand far away and we would launch the balloons and kids would try to catch them.

Sean, trying out his skills

3.  We had an adult stand about 50 feet away and the kids would try to hit him with water balloons.

Our balloon launcher had a range up to about 300 feet!!  You could launch straight up in the air or go for distance.  It was so much fun, I can’t wait to take it to a picnic!   Here is what I used to make this.

home made water balloon launcher

1.  6 feet of flexible rubber elastic pipe.  Cut the 6ft. piece into 2-three foot pieces. (home depot)

2.  12 x 12 inch piece of durable fabric.  I used part of an old tent.  You could something like that or a pair of old jeans, old gym bag or any other durable strong fabric.

3.  A handle to launch the balloon.  I used an old knife holder.  Again, anything that is durable and strong will work.  Sew it onto the 12×12 inch piece of fabric.  This creates your handle to launch the balloon.

4.  2 12-inch pieces of an old garden hose.  I would recommend buying PVC pipe instead.  Ours worked fine but it was a little harder for the kids to hold.  It would be easier for them if they had a solid handle to use.

Send us a message if you have any questions on how to do this.  I think you can get a pretty good idea from my photos.  Have fun in the sun!



Downtown Farmer’s Market

downtown farmer's market

downtown farmer's market

Farmer’s markets are one of the oldest markets around where you can buy directly from a farmer or grower on a weekly basis.  These special places can be found all over the world from South America to Asia.  They have increased popularity here in the United States and they have especially caught on here in New Mexico.  With the current trend of buying local and organic produce I cannot think of a better way to buy produce, meats, local cheese, flowers, and native plants.  Farmer’s markets have become a ritual to most shoppers who frequent them every Saturday morning.  I visited my local downtown growers market on Saturday and found a plethora of different local items ranging from produce to herbal soaps and grass-fed beef to decadent chocolates.  There are also booths with local native plants for landscaping, breakfast burritos, pastries and art vendors.  Please click here for a list of local farmer’s markets in the Albuquerque area.  Do you have a favorite farmer’s market you frequent?


Summer is for Smoothies

I’ve gone on a blender bender.  Seems to me that it’s a darn good way to use those fruits and veggies that are on the verge of going bad.  Basically, I’ve got frozen blueberries, flax, and honey on hand to add to every smoothie.  From there, I add in whatever is available:  bananas, apples, strawberries, kale, beets, flavored home-brewed teas (like hibiscus from NM Tea Company), soy milk, Greek yogurt, etc.  (If it’s an all fruit smoothie you don’t even need to sweeten with honey.)  Smoothies are perfect for the morning:  they’re portable, light, and fresh.

Beets were the surprise winner for me.  Last night I tried a mixture of blueberries, kale, beets, orange juice, water, ice, flax, and honey.  It was a beautiful deep berry color (watch out for those stains!) and tasted amazing.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the fresh (peeled) beets had a more mellow taste than roasted or otherwise cooked beets.  Beware that kale (I remove the stems) will add a touch of earthy flavor to your smoothie but it’s mostly overpowered by any fruits I toss in.

I have been using all raw veggies and fruits to keep things light and fresh (and easy).  After adding blueberries or orange juice, I don’t need to add sugar.  (I do like a touch of honey though.)  And I love that I can get a serving of vegetables -especially a dark leafy green like kale – incorporated into my breakfast!

Try it out for yourself next time you’ve got some extra fruits or veggies on hand.  What are your favorite smoothie combinations?  Check out this website for plenty of recipe inspiration.


Route 66 Summerfest

what to do . . . what to do . . .

No plans for Saturday yet?  Make your way to Route 66 (Central Ave.) this Saturday, July 23, 2011 from 2pm to 10:30pm for the Route 66 Summerfest.  Central Ave. will close to traffic from Girard all the way to Washington for the New Mexico Jazz Festival on 2 stages, the Arts and Artisans’ Market, the best of local restaurants and street food artisans, a dance party at Desert Fish (Hob Nob), the Show and Shine Car Show (including a neon-lit car parade), Route 66 Cork & Tap, and a Kid Zone.  There will be a TON of entertainment and activities all along Central.

Sadly, this year’s Summerfest doesn’t appear to include the midnight 5k.  I’m bummed about that, but there are plenty of other activities to participate in.  You can still get your “wellness” in by riding your bike to the event and taking advantage of the valet* (or rent a comfy cruiser), trying your hand at the rock climbing wall, and working your walking muscles traveling roughly 3/4 of a mile up and down Central. 

Perhaps the best benefit is stepping out and enjoying all the cool, crazy things the Nob Hill community has to offer.  Some of my favorites are Zinc Wine Bar and BistroTwo Fools Tavern, Ecco Gelato, Masks y Mas, The A Store, Dawg Gone GoodTres Boutique, and The Herb Store.  Get a henna tattoo for $10.  See some magic.  Last year there were also hula hoopers and fire jugglers.

The Kid Zone will have yoga, folk dancing, craft projects, a jump rope team performance (how cute!), and even a play.  (Check the website for a schedule of events.)

Whatever you do, have a wonderful weekend!

*Immanuel Presbyterian Church and Two Wheel Drive Bicycle Shop are organizing a bike valet.  Check out the Nob Hill Mainstreet Program Facebook page for details.


Sunrise Springs Inn and Retreat

My husband and I discovered this great little retreat in Santa Fe that is eco-friendly, beautiful and affordable.  We ran into this place on our way to wine festival one year and now spend a few nights here and there during the summer time.  This fabulous place is called the Sunrise Springs Inn and Retreat and let me tell you, it is just that!  It is located on 70 acres and is about a 1/2 mile away from Las Golondrinas.  The grounds are gorgeous with its  beautiful koi ponds,  native landscaping, private hot tubs, a few saunas, meditation rooms and an art gallery.   It is the perfect tranquil retreat.

 What makes this place especially appealing to me is that is an eco-friendly retreat.  The restaurant on site is called the Blue Heron Restaurant and uses organic and locally grown ingredients.  It also serves organic and biodynamic wines and offers organic coffee in the rooms.  This place even has their own garden where the produce is used at the restaurant and their unusable items are composted back into the garden.  The complimentary breakfast also includes greek organic yogurt, fruits, and quality breads and pastries.

Sunrise Springs, Santa Fe, Las Golondrinas, eco-friendly resort

the grounds at Sunrise Springs.

There is a  jr. olympic size pool, a nice fitness room and you can even schedule a message for the ultimate relaxation.   There are two types of rooms, and  we have stayed in both.  Room one, is a garden view room which overlooks the grounds and has a balcony so you can sit outside if you wish.  It is spacious with a spacious bathroom, saltillo tile, and comfortable beds.   The second is a ‘casita’.  These are great and very private.  They have a  beautiful gas fireplace, a yoga room and a private courtyard and entrance.  That is my favorite!  The rooms are about 89.00 a night and the casitas are about 120.00.  I think that is a steal considering it is Santa Fe.  I hope you have a chance to visit this place.  It is a nice little getaway that is close to home.


Swim Lessons

the class practicing their kicks

Trying to keep my son busy over the summer time without getting bored can be challenging at times.  Between playing soccer, geo-caching, hiking, and camping I just didn’t think we would really have time for anything else, but I have managed to squeeze in swim lessons in the evenings.  This has proven to be my best summer idea yet!

swimming to his instructor

My son just turned 6 and I figured it was about time for him to swim on his own.  He has been ‘swimming’ for a couple of years now, but I never felt like I could leave him in the pool alone.  My goal this summer was to ‘waterproof’ him and I have done this by enrolling him in swim lessons at Valley Pool.  I enrolled him for 6 weeks of class and by the end of the second week he could float on his back and stomach, blow bubbles out his nose, and jump in without holding onto the side.  By the end of the 4th week, he could swim an entire lap of the pool, jump into the 10 ft. dive tank and swim out, and swim with his face in the water.  I’m excited to see how he progresses over the next two weeks.

getting ready to race

I feel like this has been a great experience for him and even more importantly – a great life skill he has learned.  He will be ready to vacation with us when we snorkel and next summer we want to put him on a swim team.  The city of ABQ offers many swim lessons around the city for $25 per lesson.  Each lesson is a two-week block for about 40 minutes a day Monday-Thursday.  Click here for more info.

I am very pleased with the results!


Organic Heirloom Mesclun

Using iceberg lettuce for your salads can get a little boring. This summer I tried mesclun. It’s tastier, more nutritious, easier to harvest as-needed, and just looks a whole lot prettier on your plate! I planted seeds around the end of March and was able to begin harvesting by late April.

We’ve been experiementing with a drip watering system and I credit the regular watering for the success of the mesclun. It’s still going strong three months after we planted it. (This is surprising considering the hot temperatures we’ve had in Albuquerque.) For harvesting, I just clear cut one or two inces from the base of the plant.

Aside from salads, mesclun is perfect in wraps or chopped and used to top off your tacos and enchiladas.

Bon appétit!


My Love Affair With Recycled Art

the flowers my husband bought for me

The cliché you always hear is ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’  I don’t know who coined this phrase, but I would guess that the person who said this had no idea how unconventionally true this statement has become.  With the current trend of being ‘green’ and recycling just about everything, creative people everywhere are making beautiful art pieces.

I just love recycled art, it is one of those things that tugs at my heart.  When I look at recycled art I am always impressed at how creative people can be and especially my husband, who, to my knowledge had no artistic ability what so ever.  This is how I discovered his artsy side…

I was complaining to my husband one day that he never buys me flowers and in fact, in the 11 years that we have been married he had only bought me flowers twice.  His response to my complaint was, ‘It’s a waste of money because they just die anyways.’  I scrunched my nose and eyes at him and after thinking about it, I had to agree that he was right.  One day, he surprised me with my Nambe vase filled with recycled tin flowers that he bought in Seattle that someone had made.  This was the first recycled are piece I had ever seen — much less owned.

This started a love affair and now recycled art can be seen in my home and around my yard.  Here are a few of the things my husband has made for me.  Do you have recycled art in your home?  Did you  make it yourself?  Send us some pics of your recycled art.


a spider

a butterfly

Salida Colorado and the 15th Annual Brewers Rendezvous

salida colorado brewers rendezvous

the entry to the brewers rendezvous

The month of July is really a busy time for us.  We have wine festival, soccer, swim lessons and birthdays to attend.  One event we never miss is the Brewers Rendezvous in Salida Colorado.  We look forward to this partly because it is an inexpensive trip, we camp and travel time in our vehicle takes only about 5 hours.  Most importantly, we get a break from the CRAZY heat in Albuquerque and all while enjoying thirst quenching local Colorado breweries.  Who wouldn’t enjoy that on a hot summer day?

arkansas river, Salida

watching the rafters in the Arkansas River

The Brewers Rendezvous takes place in a park in downtown Salida that is right on the Arkansas River.  Many festival go-ers bring their chairs, picnic blankets, silly hats, and costumes.  When  it gets to hot we dip our feet in the crisp water while watching kayakers and rafters paddle by.  The weather is perfect with a high of only 80 degrees which makes for a great summer festival that is shaded by the abundance of trees in the park.  This year we met some friends there.  Some of us camped and some of us stayed in hotels but whatever comfort level we chose was made for a fun and fantastic trip.

the whole gang meeting at the festival

If you have a few hours and want a cool place to visit, go to Salida.  It is a cute, quaint little town where the people are friendly, the outdoor activities are abundant and it is fun for the entire family.  We plan on taking our son up there in the next few weeks.  They have a zip line that my husband is dying to try along with rafting and kayaking excursions.  The mountain biking and hiking is also excellent.  If you get tired of the outdoors the aquatic center is a perfect break.



Beating the heat with a kids’ car wash

Family fun, kid carwash

photo courtesy of Family Fun Magazine

testing it out before we add the final touches

My son loves to run through the sprinklers while we water our grass in the summer, so I thought it would be fun for him to enjoy some water play  in a new fun way.   I couldn’t really find what I was looking for at Target or Toys ‘R Us, so we decided to make our own sprinkler.  It isn’t really a sprinkler per say, but a “car wash for kids.”

helping build the car wash

I actually found this in our Family Fun magazine and went ahead and made it in about 40 minutes.  The cost was about $20.00 and it was easy to make.  My son also helped us build it which was another plus.  It can store very easily in our garage at the end of the season as it stores flat into three pieces. The best part about this is that is will last for years to come!  It isn’t the junk

drilling holes for the sprinkler

like you find at big stores that only lasts one season.  So head over to your local hardware store and build this together as a family.  I can’t wait to have some of my son’s friends over to test this out!  Click here if you would like the directions for making this.  Enjoy the heat of July!