Monday, January 15, 2018

Rainforest Adventures

Flashback to 2015 when Ed and I took an aerial tram ride through the Costa Rican rainforest.  I'm not sure the post title is entirely accurate since we weren't really "adventuring". 

We were hoping to see sloths, or parrots, or some kind of interesting rainforest wildlife, but sadly we didn't see anything but other tourists on passing trams. 

The guides working the tour were friendly and knowledgeable and if we ever go back to Costa Rica (we really liked what we saw!) I'd book with this company again. 

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Low Ceiling In The Desert

2016: An Original Recycler
2015: There's A Black Hole In The Desert (With Truck Parking)
2014: Strength In Numbers
2013: Woman Cannot Live On Bread Alone
2012: Why Milk Is ALWAYS At The Top Of My Shopping List
2011: Fun For Sale
2010: Dublin Is Incredibly Corny
2009: Welcome To Snowhio
2008: When Big Hair And Denim Were King
2007: Open 24 Hours
2006: Lucky One Eye
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dining Up North

Ed and I had lunch at North Italia this week, the first time for both of us.

The restaurant is located in La Encantada, the only upscale luxury shopping center in Tucson, Arizona.  This is one of the nicest areas in town, for both shopping and living, which is why earlier this year everyone was shocked when a shooting took place at Firebirds Grill, which is right next door to North.  I guess you can't be too careful anywhere these days.  

Anyway....we were in the area to go to the Apple store and decided to hit North for an early dinner.  The place was nice, very open, minimalistic casual decor, open kitchen, a giant pile of bread on the counter as you entered the dining room.  
This restaurant is owned by Fox Restaurant Concepts, which owns several other restaurants in town we've dined at - Wildflower, Blanco Tacos, Culinary Dropout - Sam Fox has worked hard for years building his restaurant empire and he seems to have a real knack for churning out popular restaurant chains.  The food is typically very good and the atmosphere is visually beautiful, modern, and inviting.

Today we started with an appetizer oddly called Zucca Chips ($7) - I say oddly because "zucca" in Italian means pumpkin, but the appetizer was actually zucchini.  Shaved thin and fried, like potato chips.  Very good, although a smidge too salty.

The salty part seemed to be a theme throughout the meal.  We both ordered salads - I had the Simple Salad (farm greens, baby tomato, toasted pine nut, gorgonzola vinaigrette...$9) and Ed had the Caesar (romaine hearts, shaved radicchio, grana padano, classic crouton...$9).  Perfectly acceptable as far as salads go.  I liked the pine nuts.

For our entree, I definitely wanted to try something with pasta since they make it fresh at the restaurant, but I just had pasta the night before so I was hoping Ed would order it so I could have a taste.  He did.  He ordered the Chicken Parmesan (crushed tomato, aged provolone, mozzarella, parmesan rigatoni...$19).  Pretty basic, tasty chicken parm and the pasta was good, also.  

I ordered the Diver Scallops (parmesan risotto, roasted butternut squash, brussels, crispy shallot, pancetta...$25).  The scallops were seared perfectly, I saw maybe four brussels sprouts leaves so I'm not sure why they were included in the description, and although the dish was delicious, it was way too salty.  I'm thinking the parmesan in the risotto and the pancetta, plus possibly a little salt and pepper on the scallops before searing, just made the entire thing a little too salt-heavy for me.  But it was a nice portion and I was happy I ordered the scallops since it's not something I make at home.
For dessert (not pictured) we shared the Almond & Mascarpone Tart (cranberry orange compote, basil, and saba...$7)  I was pretty happy with the dessert.  I didn't take a picture because by the time it came to the table, I was blinded by the setting sun since I sat facing the windows - make a note to yourself NOT to sit facing the windows if you're going to be there anywhere near mid to late afternoon, it was brutal and they don't have any blinds or curtains for when the sun is piercing your eyeballs.

The almond tart was great.  Dense, like a tart should be, with the subtle but definitely there flavor of almond paste.  It had a dollop of mascarpone on top and was served with orange sections and cranberries swirling in the saba (which is like a thick, sweet balsamic) and sprinkled with torn basil.  The fruit component was a little too sweet for me, but it was offset by the not-so-sweet almond tart.  And I loved the basil! 

Overall, the place was pretty good.  Enough that I'd give it another shot.  I did really love the decor (modern, rustic farmhouse, in my opinion) and the patio was very inviting - lots of greenery, citrus trees and flowers planted in galvanized tubs, and potted snake plants everywhere.  I'm totally stealing this idea for my backyard!

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Promoting International Cooperation

2016: Truly A Man Of Leisure
2015: Beer Run
2014: Field Two
2013: We Are A Very Rich, Blessed, Lucky, Fortunate Lot Aren't We?
2012: Passion Creates Pure Art
2011: Reflecting On The Day
2010: Crunching The Numbers
2009: Looking Grand At The Grand Canyon
2008: Overshadowing Government
2007: Miami International
2006: Did You Check The Solenoid?
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Cactus And The Catalinas

The Catalina Mountains absorbing the last light of the setting sun, saguaros standing tall in the foreground.

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Teaching People How To Unite

2016: Shining A Light
2015: Tooling Around The Old Pueblo
2014: Next Blog, Please
2013: My Mother Never Fried Chicken Like This
2012: Shocking
2011: Awesome All-Star
2010: Have Pots And Pans, Will Travel
2009: This One Contains A Young Rider
2008: When She’s Not Sleeping, She Tries To Look Purty
2007: Eddie McSteamy Friday
2006: Pepparkakor Cat
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bread And Wine

A counter in the kitchen area of North Italia, piled high with freshly baked bread. 

Underneath the counter, a few bottles from the extensive collection of wines they carry.

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2016: Sprouting The Good Stuff
2015: Economic Stimulation
2014: The Ninety-Two Year Old Horseman
2013: Where They Store The Crop Goodies
2012: Inside The Trucker’s Studio
2011: The Next Project
2010: Why Would You Want To Be A Zero When Looking Like This Is Clearly A Plus?
2009: The Giant Dirty Bird Goes Sailing In The Four Corners
2008: Soft Core Porn
2007: Almost Fully Integrated
2006: Downtown Scenery And Deals
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


A glimpse at the Tequila cabinet in Aunt Chilada's Mexican restaurant in Tempe, Arizona. 

The list of options is long.  

Tequila has a long history.  In Mexico, it's commonly served neat.  In the rest of the world, it's usually served as a shot with salt and lime.  

Bring a glass!

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Eddie On Ice

2016: My God, This Reminds Me Of Why I Love Adele
2015: Making Friends And Dinner Plans
2014: It's So EXHAUSTing Being Right All The Time
2013: A Marriage Of Two Loves
2012: I Love A Man Wearing A Damn Good Looking Workboot
2011: MMXI At Full Throttle
2010: Maybe There’s A Reason Ed Never Lets Me Out Of The Truck
2009: Napolitos
2008: Pull Up A Chair
2007: The Story Of The Uppity Barista: Otherwise Known As A Texan Gittin’ Above His Raisin’
2006: Rock, Paper, Eddie
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Let Your Love Light The Sky

Sun and Earth

All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth

"You owe me."

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky. 

~ Hafez, Persian poet

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Step One, Neutralize

2016: Penetrating Gaze
2015: Worst Trucking Day Ever
2014: Books Are So Much More Interesting Than Guns
2013: Contemplating Broccoli Cheddar
2012: I’m Totally Contemplating Thievery
2011: Some People Are Just Fucking Nuts
2010: 7am In Beantown
2009: Eddie Taking A Moment To Enjoy Nature Friday
2008: Pull Up A Chair
2007: Brad Blows
2006: Expressly American
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 

Monday, January 08, 2018

Grand Architecture And Strict Discipline

Eastern State Penitentiary is a fortress in the middle of a city.  Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the prison looks like a medieval castle.

Much of the prison is in its original condition, with 8 of the 14 cell blocks open for touring.
The brochure for Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania says it was "the world's first true penitentiary, a building designed to inspire penitence - or true regret - in the hearts of prisoners."

Eastern State Penitentiary is based on a "hub and spoke" floor plan, where each cell block extends from the Surveillance Hub in the center of the prison.  You can see an aerial view of the penitentiary HERE.  In the photo below you can see three of the cell blocks extending from the hub.
Eastern State Penitentiary inspired the design of most prisons built in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia during the 1800s.  There are about 300 copies in all and dozens are still in use today.  It's known as the Pennsylvania System.  Most American prisons were modeled after Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York State.

The design of the Eastern State Penitentiary was created to keep prisoners in solitary cells.  We were told that they often put hoods on prisoners to move them from cells to other portions of the prison, and the guards wore socks over their shoes to muffle the sound of their footprints.  The experience of the prisoners was a solitary, silent one.
The cells are vaulted, with skylights, and some of them held our nation's most notorious prisoners.  The cell block walls are stone and the cells look cold and bare.  Bed, sink, a metal toilet, some had desk areas.
These shower doors were found in the hospital wing.
Everything is old.  Here's a set of worn stairs, with rust and peeling paint.
I will be posting more photos in the future, but if you want to see more check out the website and look at this little online tour.

This is definitely one of the top ten tours I've been on in the country.  I highly recommend visiting if you're ever in the Philadelphia area.  

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Setting Moon

2016: Happy Fucking New Year
2015: Smart And Talented
2014: Who?
2013: Doing A Complete 180
2012: Apple Is My Life. I’m Living It To The Core.
2011: Men (And One Little Man) At Work
2010: Miss Me Like It’s Forever
2009: Speak Already!
2008: On The Hunt
2007: Cash For Life
2006: Nice Melons
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, January 07, 2018

A Ruined Morning

A photo of some modern buildings, in ruins, taken as the sun was rising in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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A Burst Of Design

2016: El Niño Hits The Old Pueblo
2015: Cackling Is One Of The Rules
2014: Ugatz
2013: All The Better To See You With My Dear 
2012: Gratuitous Cute Dog Photo
2011: How To Kill Bees
2010: A Mirage Of Sorts
2009: Clouds Aflame
2008: When You Get One Like This, Don’t Let Him Get Away
2007: A Good Tipper Can Always Get Away With Being A Little Bossy
2006: Like Day And Night In Utah
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, January 06, 2018

A Different Life

Northern Arizona
Last month I was contacted by Nate Wang, of the podcast Life Done Different, and he asked me if I would be interested in doing an interview.  Once I looked into what it was all about, I said yes.

"Life Done Different features individuals who have taken unconventional paths in life, whether in their career, lifestyle or thought process. Each episode, guests share their stories and give honest answers about the trade-offs that come with their choices.  From sailing solo around the world, to living in a tiny house, to gambling for a living, Life Done Different offers an unfiltered look into roads less traveled. So get ready to challenge your assumptions and explore new perspectives each week with host Nate Wang."  

We spoke on the phone so I could get a few more details and we set a date to do the podcast recording.  Then I got nervous because a) I don't like the way my recorded voice sounds, b) I'd have no control over the outcome, and c) I wouldn't have access to any questions beforehand so I could prepare. 

And the whole process went so well!  I was surprised and so happy at how it turned out.  

You can listen to my episode HERE.  Let me know what you think.

And if you're interested in the others (they're good, you should give them a listen) you can find them HERE.

You can also follow Nate on Twitter and Facebook.  


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It Was A Dark And Stormy Night...

2016: Prep Work
2015: Just A Pier
2014: Third Time Is Not A Charm
2013: A Sure Sign You're In A Truck Stop
2012: Waiting For The Bell To Ring
2011: You Don’t Need I.D. To Buy Booze If You Have One Of These In Your Pocket
2010: The Pros Slip In And Out With Ease
2009: Mine. All Mine.
2008: No, You Can’t Fly It
2007: Flying Parasols
2006: Seattle In Motion
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, January 05, 2018

Gateway Saguaro

"Ah, Miracle Mile.  Once the scenic entrance into Tucson, it's been known for the past few decades as the seedy underbelly of Tucson." 

It's taken a while, but now it's on the National Register of Historic Places

Photo of the Gateway Saguaro (#8 on this list) by Ed.

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2017: Sweet Sixteen Heartthrob

2016: The Spirit Of The West
2015: Our House, In The Middle Of Our Street
2014: I'm Pretty Sure I Was Born With One
2013: Gettin' The Juice To Stay On The Move
2012: Light On My Feet. Literally.
2011: We Got Smashed
2010: One Provides Light, The Other Just Stands There
2009: Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!
2008: C’Mon In
2007: Eddie Hits The Bricks Friday
2006: Take It As It Comes
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

New Jersey Wonderland

 I know it's after Christmas, but since I was kinda busy getting married and entertaining, I totally forgot to post these pictures from this delightful surprise we came across in New Jersey.

We were driving from Bordentown to Princeton in New Jersey when I saw a side street with TONS of Christmas lights.
"Ed, Ed, Ed!  Wait....stop...lights!" I stammered. 

"What? Where?" Ed said.

"Turn around!  Go around the block!  Turn here!"  I started barking instructions and pointing.  I LOVE Christmas lights and I was certain this was a giant display.

Boy, was I right!  This place was AMAZING.  One of the best single house displays I've ever seen.  We realized when we turned down the block that this was something big, not just a guy who put up a lot of lights.  We easily got a parking spot on the street a few houses down and as we got closer, we saw people streaming in and heard Christmas music playing. 

I was in awe.  Every inch of his house and yard was covered in lights and Christmas-themed decor.  Animated figures, lights chasing lights, toy soldiers, candy canes, everything you can imagine.  He's got close to 2,000 pieces!
Bob Martel has been decorating his house on this block for over 29 years.  We met him and his family sitting in the driveway on our way out.  It was cold on this night and they were sitting around a fire pit.  He was with his wife, son, and another young girl.  The son lived around the corner in the same neighborhood and directed us to go see his house next, as he also got his dad's decorating bug (although his house wasn't as incredible).

Mr. Martel said it takes him two months to set up the lights and the yard.  He's even spilled into a willing neighbor's yard. did a piece on the house titled Martel's Christmas Wonderland.  

If you happen to be in the area, it's definitely worth a drive-by.  You can find it here:

Martel's Christmas House
21 Phillips Ave,
Hamilton Township, NJ 08610

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A Resting View

2016: Harmoniously Incorporated
2015: Buy Sandwiches
2014: A Room With A View
2013: Is The Coast Clear Yet?
2012: Why So Angry, Birds?
2011: One Hand In The Air For The Empire State
2010: Hitching A Ride From The Frying Pan Into The Fire
2009: Don’t Look At Me Like That. No, Really. Don’t. You’re Making Me Melt.
2008: A Mid-Winter Pick Me Up
2007: I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You
2006: How To Get Rid Of Your Girlfriend
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Rucks, Mauls, And Scrums

Ed started the new year off by playing rugby (for the first time!) yesterday with a few of his friends - that's him, fourth from the left.  I told him to be careful because I heard rugby is a rough game, but apparently this crowd went pretty easy on him.   

Some people started off the new year with actual exercise (see photo above), whereas my physical activity consisted of dusting, vacuuming, mopping, making beds, and doing laundry.

My own personal rugby game.  

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The Power Of The 'Po

2016: Down The Hatch!
2015: New Year Check Up
2014: Because...Perché No?
2013: The Big Little Giant
2012: All The Color I Need
2011: Bobbin’ Around The Neighborhood
2010: Getting Ready For Bathing Suit Season With Bananas
2009: Ed Happy Little Trees Friday
2008: Sorry, no post on this day.
2007: Forty Two Days
2006: I Should Have Never Had That Last Drink!
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy 2018, Y'all!!

Last night we rang in the new year twice - once at our house, at midnight eastern time by watching the ball drop in New York City's Time Square, and once in downtown Tucson's Warehouse Arts District at the Tap & Bottle.

Happy New Year from me and my very handsome husband!!!  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~2017: 2017 Is Looking Up
2016: Good Morning, 2016!
2015: A Good Sign For 2015
2014: Good Luck And Prosperity Is On The Way
2013: As Pure As The Driven Snow
2012: Quiet On The Set
2011: I’d Rather Get A Little Taste Of Mark Ruffalo Than Eat Swiss Chard
2010: Two Very Different Ideas Of Fun
2009: Caution: New Year Ahead!
2008: Fresh Dreams. Clean Slate. High Hopes. New You.
2007: Two Thousand Seven
2006: Happy New Year!
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!