Monthly Archives: September 2011

It’s balloon fiesta time!

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love that the weather is getting cooler, the garden harvesting begins and the smell of roasting green chile is everywhere.  Not to mention, there are a lot of activities in the city during fall.  There are the Corrales Harvest Festival, Balloon Fiesta, art festivals, corn mazes and haunted houses to visit.  Our next upcoming event is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  If you have never been before or if you haven’t been in ten years you should consider going.  It has a fun family friendly atmosphere and is one of our nation’s top festivals to go to.  This festival has something for everyone in the family!  

Balloonists on the approach for the key grab - an event where balloonists attempt to grab keys placed at the top of poles located around a large grass field. The prizes are, of course, cars and trucks!

The Mass Ascension takes place on October 1 at about 7:15 a.m.  This is an ascension of all of the balloons (hundreds!).  It usually happens in two waves and it seems to me like the number of balloonists gets larger every year.  You’ll want to get there early to park and find a good spot to watch the launch.  We usually get to the park by 6 a.m.  

A large grass field provides the launch site for hundreds of balloons. Fiesta goers mill about watching and cheering as balloons lift off.

Balloon Glows are my favorite part of balloon fiesta.  Balloons fire their burners and light up at the same time.  It really is quite spectacular.  My son loves the special shapes rodeo where he gets to see the Darth Vader balloon along side with a cow, a witch and many other ‘odd’ shaped balloons.  

Special shapes balloon include Darth Vader, the Creamland Cow, Sunshine, the Orient Express Train, pigs, bees, laydbugs and many, many more!

When is all of this fun starting?  Tomorrow!  October 1-9

Click here for a schedule of events.

If  you live near a bike trail consider riding your bike all the way to entrance.  The balloon fiesta offers a FREE bike valet service that is AWESOME!  We use the bike valet every year and save $10 on parking.  More to come about that on our next post.



Keeping Fit as the Belly Expands

I knew before I became pregnant that I wanted to continue exercising throughout my pregnancy.  The consensus is that it’s beneficial for mom and baby.  Sounds straightforward enough, but when I started really trying to investigate exactly what type of exercises I could do and how intensely I should workout I wasn’t finding what I wanted.  I found many suggestions to begin yoga.  “Okay,” I thought, “I’ve done yoga before and it can be very challenging, so this could be good.”  Then when I would read about the sequences of poses that were suggested by various books I was really turned off.  They looked to be mostly resting poses where this silly sketched pregnant lady is propped up with pillows and blankets and just lying there.  It wasn’t “exercise” as I had envisioned.  (Caveat:  check out my post about prenatal yoga at Hot Yoga Downtown.)

Already bummed that I would have to take a break from soccer, I was looking for something more along the lines of running, spin, and weight lifting.  Instead I read that I should “try the elliptical,” “try walking,” “don’t let your heart rate exceed 140 BPM,” and “stop doing abdominal exercises.”  As someone who shuns the elliptical in favor of running and stair-climbing, likes to see her heart rate reach 180 in spin class, and cherishes her core-focused workouts, this did not sit well and so I had to look harder.  I know I need to adjust, but are walking and yoga really all there is?  The health of my baby and me are my number one concern but does this mean cardio and maintaining muscle mass are out of the question?  I think not.

Elite Runners: Paula Radcliff and Kara Goucher

 At first, I read about Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliff (professional runners) in Runners’ World running throughout their pregnancies and using gravity defying running machines.  While I was inspired, I was quite intimidated and, oh yeah, running isn’t my job.  Little by little I uncovered some gems of inspiration like this blog by a gym in Richmond, California that is packed full of inspiring pregnant (1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester) women working out with kettle bells.  I also found these blog posts (and this one) about pregnant women keeping fit by weight lifting, water running, swimming, and kayaking.  My friend also gave me a handy instructional book for trainers about working with pregnant women.  I love that it’s written from the perspective of a trainer with information about the “why” and “how” and not just “do this move, not this one, then do this move, etc.”

With all of this in mind, I’ve taken up spin again at the YMCA in my neighborhood.  It feels so good to get some cardio I can’t believe it!  Although I can still jog, my pace is so slow it’s sort of frustrating, hence, spin.  I like that I can hop on a spin bike and still pump out sprints and hill climbs.  Also, I continue to enjoy the strength workouts that we have our JV soccer team do during practice.  At this point, I can still do most of them.  (Of course, I’ve consulted with my OB regarding my workouts.)

So I guess I didn’t find the magic book, “Rebecca:  Here is Your Guide to the Kinds of Exercise You Would Like Throughout Your Pregnancy,” instead I’m writing it as I go, drawing upon the experiences of many different women.  Based on how I’ve progressed so far, I’m sure I’ll need to continue adapting and adjusting my workouts as I get closer to my due date.

 Lastly, I will keep this mama in mind when it’s time to start working out after I have my baby (if the video in that link doesn’t encourage you to get moving I don’t know what will!).


Corrales Harvest Festival

The Corrales Harvest Festival has been a long time favorite of mine.  It is super family friendly and A LOT of fun!

visiting with local vendors

There is an arts and crafts fair, great food, good music, hay rides a corn maze, and a pumpkin patch.

Hay rides from the start of the festival to the pumpkin patch and corn maze

The hay rides are free of charge and take you from one end of Corrales to the other.  This is important as there are many stops and activities along the way.  One of the many stops includes Casa San Isidro.  It is a working museum where you can watch weaving and horno bread making and many other activities.  It is a wonderful place to bring your children and show them a little piece of New Mexico history.  Other events at the harvest festival include a pet parade, growers market, horse extravaganza and much, much more.

When: September 24-25

I hope to see you there!


Do You Meditate?

Every week I see another article touting the benefits of meditation. Wanting a little mental peace for myself, I’ve decided to try it. Where to start? There are religious methods, for example the Buddhist methods of vipassana (insight) and samatha (calming) (and seemingly endless subtypes, variations, and combinations thereof). There are secular methods of meditation as explained by Rick Heller of the Humanist Contemplative Group. Feeling satisfied with my own religion and spirituality, I’m looking at meditation as more of a way to relieve stress and/or get myself focused during the day. However you want to approach it, since the foundation of most meditation methods is breathing, I’m going to start there.

Ideally this would be my view during my 5 minute meditation.

I like small steps, so everyday before lunch, I’m going to close my laptop, turn off the lights and phone and sit in peace for 5 minutes, contemplating nothing but my own breath. Wish me luck!

Instead, this is my view and I'll just imagine I'm in the mountain scene above. Ahh, the power of the mind.

Do you meditate? Is there some practice (perhaps prayer) that you do and consider a form of “meditation”?


Hanging up Your Boots?

Have you ever given up the sport you love because the physical toll has become too much?  In September 2009  I tweaked my knee and I thought I would have to give up soccer permanently.  I took about 4 months off of soccer, running, and cross training. 
Prior to my injury, I was working out 3x per week with a trainer.  I was the strongest I had ever been and certainly the most fit.  After about 2 years I decided I could work out on my own.  I signed up for a gym membership and after about 1 month I fell off the wagon.  Two months later, soccer season started up and I figured I could jump right in as normal.  Wrong.  In the second game of the season I tweaked my knee and by the third game I was limping around.  I realized that all the work I had done to stay fit and strong was what kept me from getting injured sooner.

I got an MRI and was able to see an orthopaedic surgeon who delivered the good news:  I didn’t have to give up soccer or running, but I needed to do physical therapy to strengthen certain muscles.  I worked with Sandra Knudsen, a physical therapist over at NM Orthopaedics, and she was fantastic.  She understood my problem, my fear of injuring it worse, my desire to continue with the sports that I loved, and how to get my legs back in working order.  She explained how the muscles and ligaments around my knees worked and what I needed to do to maintain them.  “Maintenance!” – that thing you have to do if you want to keep playing strenuous sports as you age.

This February race in Jacksonville, FL was my motivation to get well.

Luckily for me, I had not seriously damaged my knee.  After that 4 month break and several weeks of physical therapy (including an awesome boot camp at XPAC Fit with Marsha Gonzales), I ran a half marathon and felt great.  Yes, my muscles ached and my knees were sort of swollen.  But I took care of them with elevation, stretching, massage, heat, and ice.  Ever since, I constantly remind myself that if I want to keep playing soccer, tennis, and running I absolutely must maintain my fitness (strength, cardio, and not least of all, flexibility). 

 That experience was a huge wake-up call.  I’ve also scaled back my intensity on the soccer field.  I satisfy my competitive drive in other ways – I push myself in spin class, run races, and now I’m coaching soccer too.  This way I get to participate in the team sport that I’ve always loved without trashing my joints.

 Have you had to give up something you love because your body couldn’t take it anymore?  How did you cope with it?

Corrida de Corrales 5K and 10K run

Corrida de Corrales 5k runThe Kiwais Club of Corrales Foundation presents the 26th annual Corrales Harvest Festival in the fall.  Along with the festival the Corrida de Corrales 5K and 10k run is also a fun way to see and explore Corrales, get some exercise in and enjoy the upcoming fall weather.  The race is especially nice if you are running your first 5k or aren’t a seasoned runner.  The trail is flat and follows the acequias (ditches) in the heart of the Corrales green belt.  The surroundings are nice and calm and you have the opportunity really enjoy your run.  I highly recommend this 5k!  The best thing about it is you get to enjoy the Corrales Harvest Festival after the run.

When:  Sunday, September 25th @ 8:00 a.m.

Where:  Corrales Recreation Center;  500 Jones Road, Corrales.

Cost:  25.00 before September 18th or 30.00 after September 19th.

I forgot to mention you also get a T-shirt :)

For more information or to register online visit

Happy Fall Everyone!


Way-Too-Early Morning Spin

I usually get my workouts done after my regular workday, preferring to use the early morning hours for sleeping.  Makes perfect sense to me.  However, to prepare for a half marathon back in February of this year (in Florida – 2 hours ahead of MST) I thought it wise to get up an hour earlier a few times to get my brain and body used to being up and moving at that unholy hour. 

 I questioned my own judgment each morning when NPR started up on my alarm clock at 5:20 a.m.  (Yes, that’s early for me!)  I trudged out of bed, shoved in my contacts, got dressed and headed over to spin with Amy Baldwin at Body Language.  Ten minutes into the class I was already feeling better and quite proud for being there whilst my better half lie asleep in our cozy bed.  The women (no men when I went) in class were energetic and happy, but not annoyingly perky.  Amy was great too – a nice balance between “Good Morning!” and “Let’s just get it done, ladies.”  Good music can make all the difference for spin class and she mixes old and new seamlessly.

 Do you work out in the early morning, midday, or evening?  What motivates you to leave the warmth of your bed for a workout?

P.S.  This little plan did help on the big day of my half-marathon in Florida.  Yay!

P.P.S.  Be sure to bring a mid-morning snack with you to work after you try an early morning workout because spin class put my metabolism into overdrive and, despite eating my normal breakfast after class, I was starving by 11:00 a.m.

P.P.P.S.  I could not keep this up.  Turns out I’m not much of a morning person because I’d rather squeeze in a workout at the end of the day than drag myself out of bed that early :)


Now the Work: Canning Pears

It’s nice to spend the day picking pears, and pears, and more pears.  Hell, until you start running out of room you don’t even remember to get too picky.  Then when you start to process the pears, you realize you weren’t picky enough.

Picked, rinsed, & ready to be peeled

The pears are now perfectly ripe and ready for canning.  We canned our pears with a water bath, used a simple syrup, and tried to halve most of the pears to maintain a pleasing appearance.

Peeled and ready to be cored

I recall when my mom used to can pears and they were delicious year-round.  I think she added cloves, but we went for plain and simple for this first batch.  My dad enjoys eating them with cottage cheese for dessert.
Our canning guide this year is the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.  It’s not complicated, directions and recipes are simple, and it has nice large color photos and illustrations (for me, this is practically a requirement when it comes to cookbooks).


Just 7 jars on the first batch. We got started late in the evening, but we'll keep at it. I'm working on my technique to make the pears looks pretty in the jars - any tips?

Have you tried canning?  If so, we’d love know your recipes!


Gila River Festival – Wild and Free!

Have you ever been to the Gila National forest?  Well, the Gila River Festival is a wonderful reason to go if you have never experienced it.  The Gila river happens to be the last free-flowing river  in New Mexico and is home to a large number of different breeding birds, reptiles and other wild life.  The wild life is abundant and it is also nice to support local tourism.  There are numerous activities going on for the this festival.  Here are a few that I thought were interesting.  Click on any of the activities below for more information.

1.  Fish Tales

Can’t tell a spikedace from a longfin dace? Join fish biologist Dr. David Propst for a morning field trip to the Gila River at the biologically diverse Gila Bird Area, where participants will learn to electrofish, seine, and identify fish. Expect to capture and release native species such as longfin dace, desert sucker, and Sonora sucker, as well as threatened spikedace and loach minnow. You’ll also collect several nonnative species. Propst will discuss the life histories, habitat preferences and New Mexico distribution of each species, current status, and ongoing conservation efforts. He’ll talk about threats to their survival, including the impact of a Gila River diversion on our native fish populations. 

2.  Save for a rainy day

Learn how to capture rainwater to capitalize on our infrequent rain events. Local rainwater harvester Van Clothier will lead a tour of successful water harvesting projects in Silver City. See how water harvesting berms, curb cuts, and bore holes redirect street runoff to garden spaces. Tour projects where basins and other low-tech landscaping techniques cause roof runoff to soak into the ground. Learn how you can take advantage of rainfall to water your trees or garden, while conserving water and protecting the urban watershed from flooding and water quality problems. Everyone benefits from water harvesting!

Who says water and energy conservation aren’t related? Learn about the “water-energy nexus” and take a virtual home tour of how to incorporate water and energy savings in lovely and creative ways. Presenter Denise Smith will show how everyone can harvest the low-hanging fruit with low-cost, easy-to-install retrofits. Discover your home’s water footprint, in direct water consumption and also in hidden water usage embedded in common products. After Denise whets your appetite for water and energy savings, she’ll move on to inspire more beautiful dreams for green homes.

Gila River Festival

When?  September 15-18, 2011
Where? Silver City, New Mexico

Making Marinara

Heirloom Black Krim Tomato

It all starts with organic Beefsteak and volunteer Black Krim seeds in March. Thank your husband’s grandfather for the bell peppers, use some of your LPO onions and garlic, and you’ve got most of what you need to can marinara sauce to last you all year long.

Tomatoes are skinned before cooking

Last year we made enough marinara that even today, I still have one more jar on the shelf.  We make our marinara thick and usually use canned or frozen tomatoes to stretch the marinara when we prepare it for dinner.

According to T, the marinara sauce needs to simmer for a good four hours to make a nice sauce.  He found the recipe on the internet and you can certainly modify whatever you find to suit your own palette.

The big pot should fill a few of these quart-size jars and give us a good start to the tomato season!

Of course, sometimes we do just skin and freeze our surplus tomatoes.  Alas, T is motivated and I credit him for all the delicious marinara suace.

What becomes of your homegrown tomatoes?