Weekend Update: Home Renovations

What a crazy week this has been! Friday was such an exciting day. I could not contain myself when I read the news about the Supreme Court’s decision that same-sex couples have the right to marry. Such a happy day!

Friday was also “Bring Your Dog to Work Day.” Since I work from home, every day is bring your dog to work day for me! They are not amused that I have to go back to my office.
My weekend started off with watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup – US versus China game with some of our softball teammates. USA! USA! Can’t wait to see who wins the semi-final game on Tuesday. 

The rest of the weekend was spent doing home renovations and running around town getting things done.

One thing we got done was getting the pups trimmed up for the summer. Gus went to the groomer, and Raisin Bread and I did Carson’s hair. Not bad, but it took us three days to finish it. He was so fluffy and knotted.

Our current home renovation project is redoing the hallway. The plan is to redo the floors and paint the trim and walls. Here’s what it looked like before. 

Here’s what it looked like after one day of work.

 And here’s what it looks like currently. Still got some more work to do, but it is coming along!

Weekend Adventures: Time to Play Tourist

Hello, friends! Raisin Bread and I had a fun and busy weekend. His friend/ex-co-worker from Virginia came for a visit so we spent the weekend seeing some of the sights of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

On Saturday, we drove the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe. We made stops in Sandia Park and Madrid.

I think I need to invest in a pair of cowboy boots. Thoughts?

After lunch, we went to Cerrillos to view Kevin Box’s Origami in the Garden exhibition. I forgot to mention that this weekend was the hottest weekend we have had since moving to New Mexico. It was a high of 105 degrees! Being an outdoor sculpture exhibit, it was a toasty one. Carson had had it by the time we were half way through and we had to take turns carrying him.
Rock, Paper, Scissors

The artist working

We made it to Santa Fe in the afternoon and walked around The Plaza. There is so much to see in Santa Fe that we visit different shops each time we are in town.

In the late afternoon, we headed up to The Bell Tower Bar, which is located on the rooftop of La Fonda on the Plaza for some drinks and appetizers.

The pups love how dog-friendly New Mexico is!

On Sunday, we headed to an old favorite of mine: St. James Tearoom. This month’s theme was “A Pirate’s Life for Me.”

In the afternoon, we visited The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. There was supposed to be an event going on, but we missed most of it. Instead, we decided to see the Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe exhibit, which is something I wanted to do anyway. 

Lady Gaga’s shoes

Awesome men’s boots

That evening we had dinner at Sandiago’s at bottom of the Sandia Peak Tramway. I do not recommend, by the way. We barely made it on the tram for sunset because the service was so slow. 
This was my second time on the tram, but my first time during sunset. The mountains are so beautiful. I guess this is why they are called the Sandia (watermelon) Mountains! 

We stayed on the top until the sun fully set and waited to the city below us to light up.

Lights of the city

It took us an hour and a half of waiting to finally get down the mountain! We had to wait for three trams before we were able to make it on.

So that was the end to our weekend of playing tourist. It is always so great to have visitors!

Carson’s Runway Debut + DC + Parents’ Visit

Now that I have completed all of my posts on our road trip vacation, it is back to our regularly scheduled program and an update on some recent happenings.

The first week of June was insanely busy and it took me a few days to recover from all of the running around.

Carson made his runway debut at the Reel Dog Fashion Show, which was the opening night event for the Albuquerque Film and Music Experience.

He was all dressed up in his tuxedo and bow tie and did a great job.

The fashion pre-show was open to anyone who wanted to sign up, so I jumped at the chance to get Carson out on stage. He was so adorable. 

We stalked the other dogs while waiting in the green room for the show to start!

The pre-show walkers lined up and ready to go. 
Photo credit: Allen Winston
Then it was time for the “real” fashion show. 

The next morning, I was up before the sun and made the journey across the country again to our nation’s capital.

I scored a bulkhead seat and there was no one beside me! Double score!

DC did not seem to get the memo that it is supposed to be spring. The weather was rainy and gloomy the two days I was there, and as usual, that meant I didn’t want to do much.

I did stay at the Hotel Helix, a new-to-me hotel this trip and I thought it was adorable.

The room was fashionably furnished and I loved that the tv was on a swiveling shelf, so I could watch from the desk or the bed.

Since there was not going to be any exploring that evening, I hit the treadmill for a nice 5 miler.

For dinner, I picked up sushi and watched home renovation shows for the rest of the night. 

The day after I returned from DC was our fourth wedding anniversary, which I wrote about before. 
Then on Friday, my parents came to visit us from California. On Saturday morning, we headed to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
We took in the exhibits and there was a native dance and song performance in the courtyard. 

The courtyard is surrounded by a number of huge colorful murals.

Then we headed to The Grove Cafe and Market for a late lunch. I had a matcha latte that was delish. 

Then I had the spring kale salad. I am addicted to kale. Why is it so yummy?

Carson decided to show how bad he can be by stealing my dad’s house slippers and running around with them. 

On Sunday, it was Gus’s first birthday. I got him a cake.

I even got him to wear a birthday hat! Gus has been a joy to have in our household. He is such a loving goofball.

We brought Gus and Carson along and spent the day with their grandparents in Santa Fe. My folks headed back to California on Monday. It was great seeing them!

Roadtrippin’ 2015: Ouray, Colorado and heading back home

Our final stop on our 10-day road trip was Ouray, Colorado. Raisin Bread visited Ouray once before and has raved about it since. It was sort of on the way back to Albuquerque, so we decided to make a stop here.

As we made our way into the mountains, it was obvious that the weather gods were not on our side.

Ouray likes to call itself the “Switzerland of America.” Unfortunately, for me, I think Colorado hates me. I have visited Colorado three times, and each time, the weather has either been awful or I got sick. This time was no different. The weather was terrible pretty much the entire time we were there.

The temperatures hovered around the 40s for the entire weekend and it rained off and on the whole time. Since our main interest in being there was to go hiking, the weather put a damper on those plans. We even considered just going back to Albuquerque but we would not have gotten any money back on our lodging, so we decided to stay.

After making the drive from Moab, which took 3.5 hours, we were at a loss on what to do. We took a dip in the hot tub and then took a nap.

Carson napping

We also walked around Main Street as much as we could, visiting the shops.

Grey, rainy and cloudy Ouray

We did, however, have a fantastic dinner at The Outlaw. It is an great steak and seafood restaurant, decked out in old saloon fashion.

On top of that, they have a live piano player by the bar. Bonus points!

Raisin Bread had a huge slab of prime rib.

While I had the surf and turf – filet mignon and a king crab leb. The steak outside of the steak was a little too overdone for me, but the crab was amazing!

The next morning, the weather looked like it was going to hold up for a couple of hours so we completed the Ouray Perimeter Trail, which basically goes around the entire perimeter of the town.

A word of warning if you decide to do this hike, the trail is not marked well at all. We lost some time trying to figure out which way we were supposed to go and back tracking when we made a wrong turn.

Although the weather still could have been better, the scenery was beautiful. I love all of the colorful trees.

The trail was very muddy because of all of the rain and the pups got so dirty! We even had to carry them in about three spots because the mud was so deep.

Towards the end of our hike, we arrived at Cascades Falls. Reaching a waterfall always makes me feel like the hike was worth it.

In total, we did over 5 miles along the Perimeter Trail. We headed back to the hotel and it started raining pretty hard. We had to give the doggies baths because they were covered in mud and soaking wet. 
Finally, we were able to head out for some lunch. We decided on Maggie’s Kitchen for some big juicy burgers. 

After lunch, I walked around town for a bit and picked up another ice cream cone before heading back to the hotel for a quick nap.
Our last night of our road trip was met by an unfortunate dinner. We dined at Bon Ton, where I was served the worst lasagna I have ever had. What a disappointing end to our fun road trip. 

The next morning we were back on the road with our destination being home. The mountains were still covered in clouds and rain.

Hello, New Mexico!

Our last and final stop on our roadtrip was Serious Texas Bar-B-Q in Bloomfield, New Mexico. I had a yummy brisket sandwich, which filled me up quickly. 

Well, that concludes our road trip! I love experiencing all of the things that our country has to offer and oftentimes, the best way to see all of the interesting small towns and sights is to hop in your car and drive!

Roadtrippin’ 2015: Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands Island in the Sky District

On our second day in Moab, we visited two different parks. First up was Dead Horse Point State Park. One of our friends recommended this park to us. We discovered that the hiking trails are dog-friendly, so it was a perfect place for us to visit.

In addition to hiking, Dead Horse Point is also well-known for its mountain-biking trail system. We wound up doing about 6 miles within the park along the hiking only loop.

Dead Horse Point is so named because the point was once used as a place to corral horses. For some unknown reason, the cowboys would then leave the horses that they no longer wanted at the point, where they would die of thirst. Seems quite cruel to me.

In addition to the views of the Canyonlands, you are also able to see the Colorado River from various points along the trail.

The second half of our day was spent in the Island in the Sky Section of Canyonlands National Park. Since dogs are not allowed on the trails, we took the driving tour route again.
We started off by driving to Grand View Point. The sky was clear and we were able to see so far away. 

Next, we drove to Upheavel Dome. This required a short 0.5 mile hike, but Raisin Bread’s leg was not feeling good and we also did not want to leave the pups in the car since it was hot out, so I did the trail by myself (with a group of French-speaking tourists).

It was definitely worth it. Upheavel Dome looks like something out of a movie.

We drove to a few more overlooks. Raisin Bread and I kept saying that movie makers must have gotten their ideas from taking tours in the high desert. You can really see how the landscape has influenced many creative people.

Our final stop in Island in the Sky was Mesa Arch. This also required a 0.5 mile hike so we took turns doing the trail, while the other person stayed in the car with the doggies. 

What a beautiful day! We got in lots of hiking and saw some of the main points of interest in both parks.

For dinner, we headed to Sabaku Sushi. We started with a half squid and half seaweed salad.

I did not feel like choosing what to eat so I took the easy route and ordered the chirashi. 
Moab is totally a tourist town, so we figured after dinner ice cream cones were a must. There were several ice cream shops, but we stopped into Crystal’s Cakes and Cones
Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cone

I wish we had more time to spend in Canyonlands and Moab, but we had to head for our final stop on our road trip. I loved the cottage that we stayed at as well. It was right in the middle of town and was super conveniently located.

Roadtrippin’ 2015: Canyon de Chelly and Canyonlands Needles District

We reached the midpoint of our road trip. This day we drove from Holbrook to Moab, Utah. It was by far the longest day of our entire trip. We lost a lot of time during our drive for some reason and wound up at our destination much much later than planned.

At least we had some beautiful weather and scenery to enjoy!

We decided, at the last minute, to make a detour to Canyon de Chelly National Monument, since it was right on our route.

We didn’t want to lose too much time, so we decided to just drive to Spider Rock, which is the main highlight of the park, and enjoy some of the vistas.

There was short walk around the Spider Rock overlook, which we took. Spider Rock is a 750 foot sandstone spire and is quite a sight to behold. 

Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly

Carson even wanted a closer look and hopped onto the ledge to take in the great view.

After that detour, it was back on the road. The highway that we were on was lined with amazing landscapes and geological features. This part of the drive was much more interesting than some of the other days.

Once we reached Utah, our plan was to stop in the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park since we would be passing by the turnoff that leads to this section of the park. 
Canyonlands has two sections that are completely separate and actually very far from one another. It is not possible to visit both sections in the same day because of all of the driving that would be required. Even getting to the Needles section is quite a trek, it is located another 30 miles after you turn off onto the access road. 
At that point, we knew we would be in for a long afternoon! The road leading up to the entrance station was gorgeous. We could not believe that we had not reached the inside of the park yet. There was already so much to see. 
Once we entered the park, we drove along to road and took in the views. 
The Needles in the distance
The road took us to the Big Spring Canyon Overlook and then to Elephant Hill.

Wooden Shoe
Canyonlands is well-known for its hiking and 4 x 4 trails. Much of the park is not accessible otherwise. Also, dogs are not allowed on the trails, so we were stuck doing a driving tour on the main park roads, which do not require a 4 x 4 vehicle.
At the end of our day, we decided to do the Cave Spring Trail and left the pups in the car since it was cool enough by then. The trail is also only 0.6 miles, so I felt okay leaving them for a short period. 
The trail starts off by leading you past a historic cowboy camp. 
Followed by a wall decorated in prehistoric petroglyphs.
Then the fun part, you have to climb two wooden ladders to access the rest of the trail. 
After which, you are treated to some stunning views. 
We rounded our way back to the end of the loop and were met by this furry guy. 
Then it was back to the car and another one and a half hour drive to Moab proper. As we were driving, we came across this arch along the road. I can’t recall the name of it though. 
We finally reached our cottage and headed out for a late dinner at Devran’s Mediterranean. Raisin Bread and I were both so hungry that we ate about two baskets of pita bread and shared the haydari appetizer (yogurt with walnuts, dill and mint). 
For my entree, I had the honey-marinated lamb chops. 

It was a long but satisfying day. We still had to run to the grocery store before we headed back to the cottage for the night. Can you say exhausted?


Roadtrippin’ 2015: Petrified Forest National Park

Before heading to our main point of interest for the day, we hit up some more attractions that I found on roadsideamerica.com.

Holbrook, Arizona lies on Historic Route 66. A fact which they don’t mind reminding you of.

We visited the Wigwam Motel. If you have ever wanted to stay in a fake wigwam, this is your place! Also, for some reason, there are a bunch of classic cars parked outside the wigwams.

Then there were the dinosaurs standing by the side of the road.

Finally, we saw the cowboy riding on some petrified logs while a Native American watches.

After that half hour of dilly dallying, we arrived at the Petrified Forest National Park through the southern entrance.

We were pretty much able to cover the entire length of the park road, entering from the south and exiting through the northern side.

We started at the Giant Logs loop, which features lots of large petrified logs.

I love all of the colors that you can see within the wood. So beautiful!

Next, we completed the Agate House and Long Logs Trails.

Agate House

The Long Logs section has tons of petrified wood for viewing. 

The logs of petrified wood under the backdrop of the badlands made for an interesting scene.

Jasper Forest was my favorite section of the petrified wooded area of the park. It has the largest concentration of petrified wood.

Agate Bridge

This next section of the park wound up being my favorite section of the park even though there was basically no petrified wood there! The Blue Mesa Trail descends down into the badlands. I just thought the colors were so gorgeous. The purples, blues, greys and whites were just unbelievable.

We ended our trip through the Petrified Forest by visiting a series of overlooks in the Painted Desert section of the park,

and completing our final hike of the day: the Painted Desert Rim Trail.

After so many days of activity, I was really craving an Italian meal. We found the Mesa Italiana Restaurant in Holbrook, which seemed to be the most popular joint in town. The place was packed!

I ordered a plate of the spaghetti with meat sauce, and it hit the spot.

I ended my day with a delicious chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream. By the time I was done with dessert, I was uncomfortably full.

But I sure had a great day, exploring the outdoors!

Happy 4th Anniversary!

I cannot believe that Raisin Bread and I have been married for four years! It does not feel like it at all. We celebrated our anniversary in the middle of a hectic week, which involved me traveling to DC and back.

Yesterday after work, Raisin Bread surprised me with a beautiful flower arrangement and anniversary card.

Then we celebrated our anniversary with dinner at Elaine’s in Nob Hill.

Dinner service started with homemade sopapillas with honey butter and proscuitto. It was like starting with dessert, but so good.

We each stuffed ourselves silly with three courses. I started with the King Crab with apple, ghee and watercress. I wanted something that was on the light side so this fit the bill perfectly. 

The hubster had the Ramen Bowl with pork belly, brodo, 45-minute egg and bamboo shoots. The broth tasted very nontraditional to my palate, but the noodles were nicely cooked.

For my second course, I had the Burger with foie gras, aioli, lettuce, onion and cheese on a brioche bun. It was supposed to have kale on it, but instead, I got lettuce. I was pretty disappointed by the lack of kale, but there were lots of yummy pickles.
Raisin Bread had the Pork Rib Chop with roasted fingerling, blue cheese, kale and aged balsamic.

Finally, it was time for dessert. I had the Nutella Semifreddo. Yum!

Raisin Bread ended with the apple gallette.

It was our first time dining at Elaine’s and overall, I was very happy with our meal. Most importantly, I am looking forward to spending many more anniversaries with my loving husband!

Roadtrippin’ 2015: Very Large Array and Pie Town

Our goal for the day was to complete the six hour drive from Las Cruces to Holbrook, Arizona. You might be wondering why I have only been documenting our dinners on this trip. In order to save money, I purposely booked almost all of our lodging at places that offer free hot breakfast. We also packed a cooler full of food for our lunches and road snacks.

On this day, however, the breakfast offerings were so sad that we decided to eat out instead. We headed to A Bite of Belgium, where I had some yummy waffles with Bavarian cream and bananas. I am glad that we skipped the hotel breakfast!

Then it was time to pack up the car with the pups and hit the road. A few days before our trip, Raisin Bread got a few recommendations from his coworkers that were exactly on our route and made for perfect breaks during our road trip.

Our first stop was the city of Truth or Consequences because I wanted to take a picture of a sign with the city’s name on it. Yes, I am a nerd.

Next up was the Very Large Array, located near Socorro. 

The Very Large Array is a astronomical radio observatory that is made up of 27 radio antennas. Each antenna is 82 feet in diameter, which equals HUGE!
We took a self-guided tour around the grounds. The highlight of which was being able to walk to the base of one of the working antenna. 

Gus, Carson and I are teeny!

A town of pie?? We were both super excited about our next stop of the day: Pie Town, New Mexico. Even though his nickname is Raisin Bread, my husband’s favorite type of sweet is…yes, you guessed it…pie!

Stop? For pie? Okay, if you insist!
We visited Pie Town on a Tuesday and we wound up having a hard time finding pie in the town of pie. The first three places we tried were closed. We finally backtracked and found that The Pie Source was open. 
We met the friendly owner and a fellow traveler and enjoyed some delicious pies outside in the New Mexico sun. 
Raisin Bread had a whipped cream covered pecan pie and I had a delicious red chile apple pie. Oh, it was delicious!

We finally crossed the New Mexico-Arizona border, but our day was running behind. So we decided to stop for dinner in Pinetop-Lakeside, rather than trying to make it to Holbrook first. 
Just as its name suggests, Pinetop-Lakeside is definitely a picturesque place. We headed to Moose Henri’s for some burgers, which were just okay. But they did allow us to take Gus and Carson inside with us. 

After dinner, we finally made it to Holbrook to rest are road-weary heads. 

Roadtrippin’ 2015: White Sands National Monument

Day 3 of our 10 day road trip began with a visit to the “world’s largest pistachio” located at McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch in Alamogordo, New Mexico. We stopped for a few photos before continuing on to our main destination of the day.
As an aside, if you ever do a road trip in the US, check out roadsideamerica.com for ideas on stops to make along your route. I referred to this website while I was researching this trip, and it is how I found the pistachio, among other stops. 
White Sands National Monument was our main point of interest for the day. White Sands is the world’s largest gypsum sand dunefield and much of it is preserved within White Sands National Monument.

The plan for the day was to complete the eight-mile scenic Dunes Drive as well as do three short hikes along the way.

We started with the longest hike since it was still early in the day and the temperature had not gotten too high. The Backcountry Trail is a 2.2 mile loop and provides access to campsites within the park. It also gives hikers the opportunity to walk along the dunes. 

I am not quite sure of the distance we actually covered since we did not follow the trail exactly. This was my favorite part of the park because the dunes were almost completely devoid of vegetation. It was pure white sand with beautiful mountains in the background.

Waves within the sand.

Our second hike was along the Interdune Boardwalk. This short walk leads you along an elevated boardwalk in an area of the park where plant life thrives. 

We were expecting to spend more time at White Sands but found that the final trail we intended to hike that day was closed. Without anything else planned to do, we decided to continue on the road. 
We stayed the night in Las Cruces, the second largest city in New Mexico. We happened to be staying at the hotel that is host to the “world’s largest chile pepper.

Since our day was cut short, we had a few hours to wash up and relax before dinner.

We dined at Savoy de Mesilla. Our experience at the restaurant was slightly odd because we were the only customers there the entire time!

My dish was cooked well and quite tasty. I had the Goji Sea Scallops and Shrimp (pan-seared scallops, tiger shrimp, cranberry almond quinoa couscous, assorted vegetables with Himalayan goji berry mango sauce). 

Raisin Bread had the beef special with veggies, risotto and fingerling potatoes.

To end our day, we shared the Four Seasons Mousse (lemon and raspberry mousse with lemon pound cake, whipped cream, berries and a cookie).

The next day, we arrived at the second state on our road trip journey! More on that to come.