Spring Training and Sister Time

Wow- I’m waaay behind on blog posts for Sugar Sand! I have been focused this past year on getting the word out about a cookbook I recently co-wrote, but I am back now to, hopefully, a more even balance of main employment, cookbooks, and photography. I’m going to try anyway!

Last month, my sisters and I all met back up (after a hiatus last year) in Phoenix for our long weekend of fun, sister time, and Seattle Mariners Spring Training. We stay at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort (I love to say “tapatio”) which has great landscaping and colorful architecture on the grounds, and also has a variety of great pools to get in as much sun as possible! And these white Seattle legs needed it that’s for sure! In addition, the resort is located right next to the North Phoenix Mountain Preserve, so we can go on our morning hikes before we hit the sun and baseball. The beautiful hiking trails and the proximity of them to the resort make it one of my most favorite parts of the vacation. Within a few minutes you feel like you’re really out in the middle of nowhere and able to really relax and enjoy the beauty that is Arizona.

Here are some photos taken of the hotel grounds, on our hikes, and at the baseball games and practices. I’m already looking forward to the next trip!

 

 

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Recent Horse Show Weekend at Little Bit

I was back at my favorite place last month: Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center! They were having their annual horse and dressage shows, and I was honored to be a part of these special events. The riders were adorable (as always), the staff was wonderful, and the horses and facilities just sparkled in their first shows at the new Dunmire Stables.

My most favorite moment of this years’ shows happened after one riding group received their ribbons. As they were exiting the arena, one rider came up to me and, without saying anything, grabbed my forearm and held up their ribbon for me to see. It was such a pure, sweet, and very special moment for me. Saying nothing at all said so much to me.  I even get a little choked up typing this now. It’s moments like these that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world and why I feel so lucky to be a part of Little Bit. Can’t wait till next year!

http://www.littlebit.org

Sisters Weekend 2013

Ahh.. Another spring.. And another sisters long weekend to Phoenix for some sun, fun, and Seattle Mariners Spring Training!

We stay at our favorite place: the Point Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. Oh it’s so lovely there!  The resort is nestled into the side of a mountain (yes, they DO have mountains in Arizona! They’re no Rockies, but there’s elevation just the same!). The grounds are located next to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Posse, where they train their horses, and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Being this close to both of these makes for nice morning walks.

The grounds themselves are just lovely. The architecture, the color of the buildings, and general layout of the resort makes for a great place to shoot! Year after year, I never get tired of taking pictures there.

But while we spent a good amount of time lounging around at one of the pools and sipping on umbrella-laced froofy drinks, we also enjoyed some Seattle Mariners spring training baseball in Peoria. That’s always fun to relax and watch some baseball in the warm, dry weather (a little bit unlike Seattle; thank goodness!).

Below are some photos from the trip (click on a picture to enlarge and scroll through):

Point Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort:

Plants & Cactus:

Seattle Mariners Baseball!

The Beautiful Phoenix Landscape:


Until next time Phoenix!

Great Restaurants during “Dine Around Seattle”

The month of March in Seattle is a great one. It’s my birthday month, the weather is changing for the better, the days are getting longer, and it’s every foodie’s favorite annual event: “Dine Around Seattle”. With Dine Around Seattle, many local restaurants offer special dinner menus: 3 courses for $30. It’s a great way to try restaurants that you’ve always mean to try. The two restaurants I tried this past week were Olivar and Monsoon.

Olivar, Spanish for olive grove, is owned by Chef Philippe Thomelin. Chef Philippe grew up in France, and spent many years in Spain, where he became even more passionate about the Mediterranean-style cuisine. He has been in Seattle for over 10 years, and has been a wonderful culinary addition to the Seattle “foodie” community. The restaurant is in the old Loveless building, which is a Seattle icon. Loveless is a beautiful, Tudor-style building, built in 1930. It was originally a place for artists to live and work, and is currently the home to some apartments, and Olivar. One of the neatest things about the decor in Olivar is the large mural on the wall that dates back to the mid 1930s (done by the muralist Vladimir Shkurkin). It is just beautiful and I love that it’s still there.

Surprisingly, we ended up not going with the special menu and just got some stuff that looked especially tasty! We both started out with a lovely glass of Brut and a mixed green salad with Valdeon cheese, and candied walnuts. Mmmm mmm!

Susan had the Sunchoke soup that was de-lic-ious and I had the sautéed potato gnocchi with hedgehog mushrooms, caramelized onion, migas & Manchego. I had the chocolate creme brulee and a glass of Maderia for dessert. I was so full of great food!

Olivar is a wonderful restaurant with a very unique ambiance. Love it!

I also went to Monsoon on Capital Hill. I have meant to go there for years and finally made it this past week! Monsoon has been in Seattle since 1999 and, according to the website, “Monsoon marries traditional Vietnamese cuisine with Pacific Northwest innovation.”

I went with several of my friends, and we went with the special DAS menu. I had the pork ribs with hoisin & five spice sauce, the wild prawns with lemongrass, spicy yellow curry, and roasted peanuts, and for dessert, the banana cake with coconut sauce. I also tried some Karen’s first course: grilled squid stuffed with duck and basil and Jeri’s Bo La Lot (grilled beef wrapped in grape leaves). Holy BUCKETS! The food was amazing! So good and I’m glad I finally went. Looking forward to more jaunts to Monsoon in the future.

Vivian Maier Photography Exhibit

This past Thursday, I went to the Photo Center Northwest in Seattle, to see the “Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows” exhibit.

The more information and photographs come out about Vivian, the more and more fascinated I become. I absolutely love her work. So simple and yet, so raw at times.

I wanted to do a little something different with this blog post. I usually pre-write something out and then post, but this time I wanted to focus on comments I made while looking at the exhibit. Other than doing a spell check, these are my thoughts exactly as I jotted them down on my iPhone (pictures before my comments are pictures I took at the exhibit. Pictures after the comments are Vivian Maier’s that are some of the ones I love):


40 years; 100,000 photographs.

Got amazingly close in some shots. How did she get so close?!

A natural at street photography- that’s not an easy thing to do (to kind of invade someone’s space like that).
The most amazing things she finds photo-worthy. Worn out mannequins, trash cans, beat up old ladders. And she makes it work. I personally think it’s the black and white aspect. With b&w, you focus so much on the objects and I think that’s what she wants you to do.

The “Bobby Dies” picture. Beautiful.

Completely invisible to the world. And yet had so much to say. For her? Solely as a hobby?

She used her camera as a diary

On the one hand I feel bad because she would hate to know that these photos are out there, and yet I’m personally so glad they are because I think they are magnificent and the photography world is better for it.  I know I am.

The Center is showing a video and the speaker is saying showing not only individual pictures, but sequences of photos (off one roll, etc). You really see the sequence and flow and really see how it’s like a walk and a day through her eyes.

Took around 3 rolls a day. Wandering around…

It’s amazing how CLOSE she gets in some pictures!

Think I like her so much because I love b&w too. It’s so striking to me and is just as powerful, if not more do, than color.

Love the shadows, darkness, lines..

Taking a Walk Down College/Memory Lane

I posted a picture of my alma mater, Florida State University, earlier today, and the response from people caught me pleasantly by surprise. Seeing that one picture either brought people back immediately to their college “heyday” or it simply made them proud to see a picture of their campus that they hold so dear.

From that post, I began thinking more about FSU, and how I miss the simpler life of those days. Oh how we thought otherwise at the time though!  I love that university and will treasure all my college experiences there. It’s a wonderful school that keeps getting better and better (when I went there, friends of mine who wanted to go to med school had to go to the dreaded University of Florida-yuck-because that was the closest school that had a med school program. I pleased to say that FSU now has a very good med school program).

Another cool, fun fact (picture is below) is that FSU has a full-fledged circus, that contains all FSU students doing their own circus acts. It has been around since the late 1940s and is one of only 2 circuses at a 4-year institution (the other is Illinois State University). I think that’s so cool! (and it’s a good show too!)

FSU is located in a lovely Southern city; Tallahassee, Florida. Not that being from Tallahassee and where I was born bleeding garnet and gold, makes me partial or anything! The campus is full of sunshine and students and oak trees with Spanish moss. Just a beautiful campus.

Just feeling all nostalgic for the good old days, so decided to share some photographs from the campus.

GO NOLES! xoxo