Monthly Archives: August 2011

Bernalillo Wine Festival & Fiesta de los Ninos: A Children’s Celebration

"Wine Spirits" by Ricardo Chávez Mèndez

Labor day is fast approaching and as you all know I start and end my summer with wine festival.  This particular event is the Bernalillo Wine Festival.  If you haven’t guessed by now, it takes place in Bernalillo NM.  It is about a twenty minute drive north of Albuquerque and the rail runner makes it very convenient to get there.  From there, it is a short walk to the park where the festivities take place.  I love the idea of getting together with my friends while we catch up and have a great time at the festival.  We often get there early and leave before the lines start to get long.  I love sampling new wines and have quite a few of my old favorites.  Some of my favorites at wines festival are sampling different eats, visiting with local artists, and enjoying the overall feel of the festival.  The festival is open from Saturday to Monday starting at noon.  If family fun is more your style for Labor Day weekend The Festival de los Ninos is taking place in Santa Fe (at El Rancho de las Golondrinas).  Fiesta de los Ninos: A Children’s Celebration on Saturday and Sunday, September 3 and 4.  The festival is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Children under the age of 13 are admitted for free when accompanied by an adult.   Have a fun and safe Labor Day weekend!



Want to help a good cause?

Interested in helping out your local community while getting outside and getting fit?  I have the solution for you that is perfect for the entire family.  Bring your wagons, running shoes, and your jogging strollers!   Alice King Community School is sponsering its first annual 5K and 10K walk/run.  It will be held on Saturday, September 10th at 8 a.m.  The run takes place around Albuquerque Academy.  If you have a student who attends Alice King their entry fee is FREE!  You can download the flyer from me by  clicking here or sign up the day of the race.  I hope to see you there!


Solar Fiesta!

This weekend the New Mexico Solar Energy Association is hosting the annual Solar Fiesta at the Albuquerque Academy.  Going on it’s twelfth year, the Solar Fiesta is a 2-day (Saturday and Sunday) renewable energy fair featuring exhibits and workshops.  Indoor and outdoor demonstrations and workshops will cover solar ovens, solar cars, wind energy, rainwater catchment, sustainable building materials like bamboo, permaculture, sustainable vegetable gardening, beekeeping, and more.

Bring the Little Ones!  The Girl Scouts of NM Trail Council will have plenty of activities for children including riding a bicycle that produces energy, munching on solar baked cookies, racing solar remote controlled model cars, and a scavenger hunt.

Solar Fiesta!
8/26 and 8/27, 10am to 5pm
at Albuquerque Academy
Exhibit grounds are free with a $5 per car parking fee
Workshops: weekend pass is $25 or daily pass is $15
Click here for maps and more information.

If you can’t make it to the Solar Fiesta, just start by hanging your clothes to dry outside on a line :)


Mt. Taylor and the Continental Divide Trail

campsite near San Mateo Springs

My husband is an avid camper and backpacker.  He went out for a weekend to get away and explore a place he has never visited.  He ended up near Mt. Taylor.  Mt. Taylor is located northwest of Grants New Mexico and is one of the nations most endangered mountain ranges.  There he discovered huge mountain ranges that peak at over 11,000 feet.  The particular campsite that he found did not have a formal name but was near the San Mateo Springs.   So, he set up camp and his new hammock and enjoyed the cool 79 degree weather.  Gosh, I was wishing I was with him when the temperatures in Albuquerque were at 96 degrees!

 The first day they spent exploring and hiking near their campsite and taking in the fresh air that always smells so sweet to me in the mountains.  The campsite was hilly which makes it easy to hike and navigate.  The area was green and overcast most of the day which made hiking even more enjoyable.  The second day they ventured to the Continental Divide Trail.

Continental Divide Trailhead

This trail is over 770 miles long in the state of New Mexico alone and continues into Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.  This trail is very universal as you can hike or bike it.  I hope you have a chance to stop by and see this area of New Mexico.  Mt. Taylor is a beautiful place!


flowers that were found on the hike

Small -ish Carrots and Ego-Boosting Bush Beans

Cute little carrot (planted in late March). Carrots are great because they can be harvested on an as-needed basis.

Carrots and bush beans are two new crops that we tried this summer.  The carrots are delicious, but sort of puny.  Part of the problem may have been the soil, but I think they were a little too shaded by the larger broccoli plants.  I got the seeds from Urban Store and they were supposed to be multi-color – alas I ended up with all orange.  At least this way I’m sure to get all the carotene I need!  This was not an overly plentiful crop, but we did get some carrots out the deal.  T tells me he will tell our future kids to “go pluck a carrot out of the ground” if they whine for a snack.  I think this is reason enough to grow carrots.  Try it with your kids and let me know how that goes.

Carrots in June (planted in late March)

Bush beans (seeds also purchased from Urban Store) are somewhat unruly but easy enough to grow and these babies produce!  If you feel like a loser gardener because your stupid tomato plants won’t flower or your onion bulbs looked the same after 3 months in the ground, try some bush beans.  They’ll make you feel like a champ. 

2 bush bean plants (planted in July). I used tomato cages to keep them contained.

They are good enough fresh, but if you’re not a vegetable lover you’ll probably prefer them sauteed in butter and bacon grease or gently steamed, slathered with butter and topped with bacon bits.  I’m not too picky so I’ll take them fresh or with butter and bacon.  Either way.

Robust Bush Beans

The beans are very easy to harvest and replant too.  Simply let a few pods overripen and the beans get darker and harder.  The two plants pictured above were planted from beans taken from the first set of bush beans that I planted in March.

Got any mid-summer crops you’d care to brag about?  Tell us about ’em!

P.S.  My lazy tomato plants – ahem, started from seed – are finally producing not-quite-ripe tomatoes.  However, if last year is any indication, we’ll still have enough canned marinara and canned tomatoes to carry us through the year.


The Rio Puerco


My father-in-law has a particular fondness of the desert.  He loves the colors of the landscape and has done a wonderful job of helping us appreciate the harsh landscape of the southwest.  We get on back country roads and always end up at the same place.   The land has a breathtaking quiet voice to it and I think that is what he loves about it. One particular place my father-in-law, A, and my son like to frequent is the Rio Puerco.  I have no idea how he found this place but my son gets so excited when the word is mentioned…. I will tell you why in just a moment.   The drive is about 40 minutes from Albuquerque.  We take I-40 West and exit 140 (where the Route 66 Casino is).   Instead of going to the Casino you head north.  You follow the dirt road about 12-15 miles and you end up at what seems like the middle of no where.    (If you want more detailed directions email us.)  We get out and hike around and explore the landscape.  We have found rattlesnakes, shark tooth fossils, and neat canyons and caves.    That is right, I said shark tooth fossils!  If you find them you can’t keep them, you have to  leave them there.  The law states so….. That is what is so special to my son when we go.  The hunt for finding the shark teeth!

shark teeth


dehydrating fruits and herbs

I went to my local Costco last fall and found a food dehydrator.  It was reasonably priced for under 40.00 and I thought that I would give it a try.  I was tired of buying dehydrated snacks for hiking/camping/biking and I wanted more of a variety that suits our families palette.

bananas, kiwi and strawberries

The results have been great and the snacks are healthy and serve many purposes.  I dehydrate fruits for camping like bananas, mangos, kiwi, strawberries, peaches and apples.  I don’t have to worry about keeping them in a cooler and these are a great way to stop and have a healthy snack.  What is the most unconventional thing I have dehydrated?  Salsa…..  I really wanted some for breakfast on a backpacking trip and this was the only way I could think of bringing it.  I put the salsa on the fruit roll-up tray and let it dry for about 4 hours.  The result was flakey dehydrated chips.  I threw it in with my dehydrated eggs and it was EXCELLLENT in my breakfast burrito!  I have also dehydrated herbs, jerky, and veggies.  These have all turned out delicious and I especially love cooking with my own dried herbs.  My dehydrator is made by NESCO  and I love it.  It has different temperature controls and is easy to operate and clean.  I can’t wait to start making some fruit roll-ups for my son’s lunch!

City of ABQ public library events

The city of Albuquerque has a great library system that we enjoy on a regular basis.  They do a particularly great job in the summer while the kids are on summer vacation.  They have events throughout the month and the one my son was most excited about was the event that included the Star Wars Storm Troopers.

Dressed to see Star Wars characters and after our water balloon fight

We attended this event at the Taylor Ranch Library and it was a hit! We arrived about an hour early to check out books.  The staff had water balloons waiting out in the covered patio area  along with jump ropes and hula hoops to keep the little ones entertained.  It was so much fun and Logan was able to meet some of these characters and take pictures with them.  He just loved it!  Please click here for more information on the events that our library will be hosting.  This is a great way to support our local libraries and get out of the house.  The cost for these events are free!


Time to dust off the ol’ cleats and shinguards

Every year I rally the troops and get everyone organized for a reunion of sorts:  The Annual St. Pius X High School Women’s Alumni Soccer Game.  The alumni return to Ben Rios soccer field and do our best against the much younger and newly selected women’s varsity soccer team.

Such team-togetherness!

There are good years and bad years for the alumni.  For example, last year we wised up and had the alumni soccer dinner after the game instead of the night before (funny thing, more and more of us are over 21 each year).

Photo Courtesy of Pat Durkin

Of course, our egos are lifted if we play well and actually win, but it greatly depends on many variables like who shows up to play for the alumni (darn those young alumni that have to return to their college lives each fall!) and, for example, how stacked the varsity team is with potential all-Americans.  Anyway, it’s a great way to see some of the folks I hung out with in high school and to see how the soccer program is developing.  Plus, it is encouraging to see how many of us have stayed in shape and can still hold our own on the soccer field (all these) years later!

Emerald green grass, free Gatorade, and shiny new soccer balls - oh the simpler days high school soccer . . . Photo courtesy of Pat Durkin

Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 10:00 am  (for some reason the men will play at 4pm this year – maybe the heat will give the high schoolers a chance?!)
Ben Rios Field, St. Pius X High School

Go Sartans!


An $18 Bar of Soap?

You know those days when you just want to spoil yourself a little?  What do you do on those days?  New running shoes?  Manicure?  Massage?  Soap?  I chose soap.  An $18 bar of soap.  The package was pretty.

So classy!

Have you been to the Model Pharmacy?  The sign out front reads “Classic European Fragrances.  We have no common scents.”  I love it.  In addition to perfume, malts and phosphates, they carry fine Claus Porto soap which sells for $18 per bar.  It’s milled 7 times which prevents cracking and makes the bar last longer (it’s very dense).  By “longer” I mean that I’ve used the same bar for about 6 months now.  Yes, I use my bar everyday.  Also, it leaves behind less icky (as opposed to awesome) soap scum than your average bar of soap.  Did I mention it smells amazing?  that the lather is luxurious?  that the bar is huge? huge!

My husband uses the package of 15 or 20 bars from Costco.  Each one is individually wrapped.  The whole thing is like $15 or $20.  He’s gone through multiple bars and mine is still going strong.

Last but not least, the packaging is a work of art.  (By the way, you can also get Claus Porto at Duran’s Central Pharmacy.)  What do you think?  Could you commit to the same bar of soap for 6 months?