Friday, October 10, 2014

First Hike in the Mountains

We finally have adjusted to the altitude here!
(Or so we tell ourselves.)

Currently it's cold and drizzly, reminding me of the French fall days.

Reminds me of the Misty Mountain song in The Hobbit

And it's weird because I thought being in New Mexico would be like living in a desert...

But in a way, I'm glad. It means we get seasons here.
Which might also mean we get snow.

And I love snow!
(Even more so now because I don't have to drive an hour plus to work in the worst of it- thank you very much!)

But anyway, because it's a grey day, I've decided to reflect back on our first hike here, when it was sunny, and share with you some warm weather fun. So grab your mug of cocoa, cider, coffee, or even iced coffee, for anyone who might be on the other side of the world, and read on!

For our first hike, we decided to stick to a paved path on the Canyon Rim Trail. We had no idea where we were really headed and it was great.  We took our lunch and of course, the camera.

Just a wild flower shot as we started out on the trail. I love the bright red!

I started to think of fun artsy shots as we walked. Then I remembered that the camera had a black and white setting. Awesome!

Looks like something from a Western film, huh?

The path was easy and the weather divine.

I love nature. And I think I'm in love with the area. I can't seem to get enough of it here.
Everyday is different and well, just beautiful.

The texture alone is fun!

 And of course, we had to get a shot of the trail.

And this shot sums up what I thought we'd be moving to...complete with the cacti!

No, we didn't touch those.

 Apparently, it's a thing for new comers to want to touch a cactus.

I don't understand it really. I can only imagine the conversation going like this:

Local: I wouldn't touch that if I were you.
New Comer: Oh really?
Local: Yup. They'll hurt you mighty fierce.
NC: Nah, you must be kidding. It probably doesn't hurt that much. *touches cactus* Aieee!!
Local: Told ya. Hurts something awful, doesn't it?

Or maybe not. I like to think we NCers are pretty intelligent beings.
I grew up in FL and we didn't have cacti. But I in no way shape or form wish to subject my typing fingers or legs to such a prickly encounter.

No thank you!

Let's move on, shall we?

The canyon

Mr K and I were taking a shot when a HUGE shadow crossed over us. Looking up, we saw this creature soaring so close to us!

I don't know if you saw him, so I'll zoom in a bit.

Yup, a hawk.

A most majestic bird if I ever saw one, but that could also be because it was about six feet from our heads. We must have startled it when I took Mr. K's photo here.

They had lookouts on the bridge!

Just beautiful.

But my favorite shot of all, is this one. This is where we moved to. The mountains.

I think you will agree. It's just breathtakingly gorgeous here.

And that reminds me of the most awesome thing of all: rainbows. Yesterday, we had a terrible storm.

It rained. It hailed. It lit up the sky with lightning and the thunder shook the windows. Repeat three times.

But at the end of it, we had this:

Yep, that's right. A double rainbow.

My friend, Mrs E and I ran up a small hill in her backyard to take a better shot of it.

And I realized then that we belong here. Mr K and I are in the best possible place, at the best possible time, doing the best possible things we're supposed to be doing.

And that makes me very happy.

Until next time,

Monday, September 29, 2014

Wine Tasting in New Mexico

Hi all!

So, it's been too long. I forgot to update on Labor Day and all the fun we had with some new friends here.

We went wine tasting in Northern New Mexico. Now, I know most of you will say that there are no vineyards in NM and the wine there must be tolerable at best.


There are quite a few vineyards (about 30-50 to be exact) and the wine at three of the four we went to was great!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First stop: Black Mesa Winery!

I loved their painted wall!

The picture doesn't do the bright colors justice, either. So pretty!

We were able to try about five wines of our choice. Mr. K and I tried a port, a couple reds, and two delicious whites: a sparkling wine and a reisling (it's called Woodnymph!). The last two were winners for us and we bought a bottle of each.
We have something to ring in 2015 and also something fun to drink when family visits. Cheers!

Another cool thing about this vineyard? The lavender honey goat cheese. They gave us free samples to go on crackers with our wine. Serious yum factor.

Oh, and their cat was pretty chill too. She was very friendly and didn't mind the baby pats.

The cat came right up to the little guy.
Under much supervision, the babe made friends.

We decided after the tasting to have our picnic lunch outside at their table.

But lo! What's that I see?

Yes indeed! Hummingbirds!  There were about twenty of them all around us. It was awesome.

The merry crew!

Little Man with Mr and Mrs E, then Mr and Mrs B and of course, Mr K.
It's also with this shot that I see my camera has a bit of a fish eye. Hmmm...

Back to the hummingbirds.

I honestly couldn't get enough of them. I may or may not have forsaken my sandwich in search of the perfect shot of those lovely winged creatures.

The consensus: excellent winery, excellent company, excellent bird watching capabilities.
Overall score: 11 out of 10.

After lunch, we were off again to another winery. But the views on the way were amazing!

Reminds me of the covered wagon treks in history books.

Next stop: La Chiripada Winery

They had an excellent red table wine among many others.  And no fee to taste as many wines as you like. They just ask for a donation.

It was great. Plus they let you fill your water bottle there. However, the water is from a well, so if you're not used to that, it might taste a bit funny.

We got a lot of photo ops in their archway.

Consensus: Good reds and kind owner
Overall score: 9 out of 10

Their vineyard

After acquiring a nice bottle of red we were off again to another vineyard.

Side note: Mr K and I will have to return to La Chiripada again soon to get another bottle of red. It was too delicious to last!

Anyway, on the road again, we made a few stops.

 For example, the Rio Grande (which wasn't very Grande least not here)

The day was gorgeous and the clouds just so fluffy.

An old-time shot of the mountains and hills in Northern New Mexico.

Can you tell I like it here?

Then we found the coolest old bridge around.

No one is allowed to walk on it for danger of falling through the planks, but it makes for great black and white photos.

The cliffs around the bridge were fantastic!

Each shot was different.

But I think this one is my fave!

No adjustment, just the natural colors of the rock!

But that bridge. Boy! I was in photo heaven.

And then it was time to head on. The next place was more of a Brewery than a winery and it was okay. They had good Root Beer though. But, probably not a place Mr K and I will return to. Just not our style.

However, Mr E and Little Man were adorable. The babe seems to know when you are taking photos.

Which reminds me! When Mr K and I got to Mr and Mrs E's home at the start of the journey, Little Man plopped down onto the floor and posed for me as soon as he saw my camera!

Leg lifted and such expression! He held this pose for about two minutes.

Hehehe. I love kids. They make for some of the best subjects for photos. Especially when they like the camera as much as this little guy.

We were about to leave to head on to the next place when I saw this.
All the times I've played Oregon Trail came back to me in a single glance.

This photo summed up the Southwest to me.

Wagon wheel and everything!

The next stop was at a nice place and I didn't take a picture. Nor do I remember the name. All I know is that they had and still have excellent port wine, thanks to the Spanish missionaries that developed the area.

Oh, and I tried an herbal wine, which tasted exactly like herbs and roses. Very interesting but probably not one I will have at home. It is worth the experience though.

Afterwards, we all headed back for some dinner and games. We had a great time and I'm so glad we got to explore the area with our new friends.

So, until next time,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Failed Experiments and New Favorites, or, Red Lentil Soup

Hi all,

So I thought it might be fun to bring back some of that chemistry/cooking bit that I had on here a while ago. Up today is a great bowl of Red Lentil Soup!

The good news? It's dairy-free, egg-free, and completely vegan. Delish when it's chilly out or any time of day really.

Well, maybe not at breakfast.

Don't know too many who are into the breakfast soups. Then again, if soup for breakfast is your thing, good on you, mate!

Anyway, back to the recipe. This happened as an experiment in making lentils for dinner. But as with most failed experiments, something awesome always happens!

Here's the recipe.

Red Lentil Soup
Serves: four small bowls or two large bowls

3/4 cup dried red lentils
2 and 1/4 cups water
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1/4 onion, peeled and chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 dried whole clove
2 and 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tsp cracked pepper

Rinse the lentils under cool water, taking out any stones you see.
Add them immediately to the pot. Add the water, carrot, onion, thyme, bay leaf, clove, salt and pepper. Heat to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to a simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The lentils and carrot pieces should be soft and easy to crush with a spoon.
Remove the clove and the bay leaf.
Puree the entire pot with an immersion blender, or if you don't have one, a food processor, until smooth and a rich reddish-orange color. (Add more water if you would like the soup thinner.)

Suggestion: Serve with whole grain bread slices brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted for some fun dippers.

Trust me when I say that this soup is heavenly to smell too.

And there you have it! Easy and so healthy for you. Plus, it has the stamp of approval from Mr. K.

Enjoy, or as they say in France, bon app├ętit!

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The SWAIA 2014 in Santa Fe!

Hello all!

So do I have a great series of photos to share with you. Last weekend, Mr K and I went to Santa Fe, NM to check out the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts. Or, as it's more commonly known here, the Santa Fe Indian Market. About 100,000 people come to this market/festival annually, coming from all over the world for the two day event that showcases the most beautiful hand crafted Native American arts I've ever seen.

It was a beautiful day and we were excited. Our first event! Of course, we hadn't planned on the fact that there wouldn't be enough parking. But, lucky for us, after about an hour and a half of driving around and getting stuck in LOTS of traffic, we found a free parking structure by the courthouse.

The Santa Fe Courthouse

Nice photo op, I think.

Then we walked towards the historic plaza of Santa Fe.

Entering the plaza

As you can see from the above pic, it was starting to get crowded, but it was nothing. We were only on the farthest outskirts of the market.

This building was too pretty to pass up.

And of course, there were wind catcher sculptures too!

It doesn't make sound, but it does make waves.

Anyway, we made our way to the center of the plaza, admiring the various stalls of pottery and jewelry we saw before getting a map. They had all sorts of food there too. Mr K and I had already eaten, but we may have shared a small paper bag of mini fried doughnuts in cinnamon sugar.


They also had roasted corn on the cob and Horchata (basically a cold milky drink made from rice with cinnamon, sugar and vanilla). We almost got some horchata, but we decided that water would be better for us, as we were pretty thirsty.

Another time. Another time...

Well, while meandering and munching on the mini snacks, a performance began. I believe it was a young man from the Apache tribe (please correct me if I'm wrong!) that performed some flute songs he had written based on some Native American stories that he told his children.

His flute playing was gorgeous and created a spell over the audience. Haunting and floating. I loved it.

Then he called up another person and the other man performed a wind dance to tell the story of the trickster coyote.


It was pretty neat.

He called up a sweet little boy, only six years old, his nephew to dance a hoop dance. It was so hard to catch good photos of that little dynamo. He moved so quickly!

Just look at that happy face! I was very impressed with his ability to hold four to eight hoops in one hand.

Following the boy, the flutist called up his father to share a story while he played.

The father told a story in two languages. The version in his native tongue had such expression and such emotion behind it, made me sad that I didn't understand it. But I'm glad he translated it in English too.

After that, Mr K and I decided to stretch our legs and see some of the longer stretches of tents.

We saw all sorts of crafts, but my favorite was the tent with the circle quilts. The colors were absolutely astounding. So beautiful that I forgot to take a picture!

On our way back we happened across another performance. It looked like it was a closing ceremony to the four directions (North, South, East, and West).

The dresses the girls wore were lovely and everyone danced in time. It was incredible to watch.

But, as with all good things, it came to an end and we headed back to our little car. However, we managed a few detours.

I love detours. They're so much fun.

If we hadn't stopped, we would have missed this:

For right now, this is very New Mexican to us.
The hanging chiles, the statue, the buildings.

All of it.

It just says New Mexico and Southwest culture.

And of course, I did see this:

Those carpets are pretty, but they don't hold a candle to the ones I saw in the market.

Well, we headed home and I finally got my favorite photos of the day.

I know, I know. All the photos were my favorites, but these last two really were just perfect with the light and the timing. I was pleased that they turned out!

Exhibit A:

That is Camel Rock Monument, what you see going from Santa Fe to Los Alamos.

And Exhibit B:

I love the Southwest!

And on that note, goodnight all!
Until next time!

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