Italian Fig Cookies

My Nana used to make these every year during the holidays. I didn't appreciate them much when I was a kid but as I got older I came to appreciate them. My Nana has been gone for nearly twenty years but every once in a while I get the urge to carry on the tradition and make these cookies. Plus, my Dad is in town for Christmas this year and he loves the fig cookies.

I didn't use my Nana's recipe completely because she had the luxury of having a fig tree in her backyard (in Queens!) so she used fresh figs. I have to rely on dried figs so I took some inspiration from this recipe that I found on the Food Network's website.

Merry Christmas!

Peppermint Layer Cookies

Yesterday, Ryan and I made Christmas cookies. I let him pick what he wanted to make. That will teach me! I am very pleased with the way these Peppermint Layer Cookies from Sunset Magazine turned out although making them was a several hour affair.

Next up, Italian Fig Cookies! These were a staple when I was growing up, my great-grandmother made them every year at the holidays.

The Lights on My Tree...

...I wish you could see. It's the first full-size tree that I've put up in eight years. Pretty, don't you think?

November 2010 Gallery Stroll

I visited Stolen & Escaped gallery this month during the November gallery stroll. Even the cold temperatures and gusty winds couldn't keep art lovers away!

Our friend Matt Black and Alex Haworth presented video installations.

Amanda Hurtado and Danielle Marriott created this awesome video installation. I couldn't stop chuckling at it all evening long.


I'm pretty sure that I've made my feelings about flash mobs clear in the past. I love them. I want to take part in one. Plus, to have a flash mob combined with the 'Hallelujah Chorus'? Well, let's just say that I can't listen to this piece of music without getting goose bumps. I officially declare the start of the holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving

I adore watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Perhaps it is a way to feel connected to my family in New York while living out west (let me clarify, they watch the parade on TV too). Maybe I just like parades (I do). Anyhow, seeing the parade in person is on my bucket list. Yesterday, I found an article that listed hotels that are on the parade route and as I bookmarked it dreamily thinking about how fun it would be to order room service and watch the parade. Then, last night, my daughter who is going to school in New York starts sending me text messages while she and some friends were wandering around the upper west side looking for the parade balloons. Next thing I know, she is sending me photos! Sigh, maybe next Thanksgiving I'll be able to cross this off my list...

I Would Like Your Vote

Lonely Trek (Hipstamatic Contest Entry)

I took this photo on my iPhone last month after hiking to Delicate Arch in Moab, Utah. I used the Hipstamatic photo application. Last night I entered the photo into a Hipstamatic photo contest. By the time I went to bed last night the photo was ranked #469, when I got up this morning it was #225, after a plea on Facebook and Twitter I'm up to #106!! Voting ends on Saturday so if you have a Twitter or Facebook account and are willing to vote, I would surely appreciate it. Click here to vote.

Attention Harry Potter Fans!

This is exactly what I've been waiting for! The Quidditch matches are some of the best scenes in the Harry Potter movies and now you can be part of the action too (well, except for the flying part).

I am pretty sure that I'd be a natural Keeper. Anyone up for getting a Quidditch league going in Salt Lake City??

My Halloween Gift to You

I hate feeling scared but LOVE watching other people freak out. This video clip of the Ellen show will not disappoint. Happy Halloween!

Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab

My suitcase is unpacked and stowed on the shelves in the basement. I'm back from four work trips in five weeks. I'm not complaining, I've visited wonderful places, met terrific people, and learned a lot but it is nice to be home.

I just returned from a conference in Moab which was held at the Red Cliffs Lodge. What a stunning setting! Here are a few pictures from my room.

Not too shabby, right?

We also spent an afternoon in Arches National Park and hike to Delicate Arch. It's a about 1.5 miles to the arch with a steep-ish climb up slick rock at the end. Definitely worth the effort! If you've never done this hike but think the image is familiar take a look at the Utah license plate. Delicate Arch graces one of the designs.

This little darling belongs to one of my colleagues and she stole our hearts with her personality plus.

Random iPhone Photo Fun

I've been having fun with some iPhone camera apps lately. My friend Jodi introduced me to Hipstamatic which makes your photos look totally groovy. You can choose your lens and film type to produce different effects. Hipstamatic costs $1.99 from the iTumes store and you can also purchase additional lenses and film types for $0.99. Here are few that I took over the weekend.

Next up is Instagram (a free app) which allows you to view and save photos taken with your iPhone camera using different filters for various effects.

Finally, I couldn't resist spending the buck or two on IncrediBooth which simulates photo booth fun without the worry of who was going to sit on who's lap. You can choose between three different finishes including black and white. Super fun! The first strip is England's Glory, Mannaramma, and I hamming it up at Gallery Stroll and the other is Ryan and I goofing off before we tried to conquer level 20 of Angry Birds. Still no dice on that.


I've been to three cities in the last three weeks. All trips were work-related but held in fabulous locales. My previous post describes my trip to Tampa. The following week I went to Lake Tahoe which despite the cold, rainy weather is still a beautiful place to visit. Finally, last week I was at Duke University in Raleigh, North Carolina for the third and final Geographic Information Systems (GIS) training. I can make maps!

In the two days I was home last week between trips, Ryan and I rode up the canyon to walk around Silver Lake. Here are a few photos from our outing.

Beach Time

On Sunday evening and Monday my Dad and I cruised around checking out beached. I love the beach, my Dad, not so much, but he was a super good sport about it. Keep in mind however, I was subjected to evening TV viewing of shows like Castle and NCIS. All's fair....

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I love sports. I've had the chance to see professional baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey live and in person. The only thing I hadn't experienced was pro football. Yesterday I remedied that. I'm down in Tampa on business this week but was able to come down a few days earlier to spend some time with my Dad. Once he heard that I hadn't ever been to an NFL game he went out and bought us tickets for the Bucs vs Steelers game at Raymond James Stadium.

Tickets are outrageously expensive, parking...forget about it. But despite all that, there is something indescribable about getting caught up in the excitement of experiencing a game live. We chatted with everyone sitting around us. The couple in front of us have season tickets and they drive three hours each way from Ft. Meyers to attend the game. That is dedication, folks!

The Bucs have a big rivalry with the Steelers and it seemed that half the stadium was filled with Steelers fans waving their 'terrible towels'. The Bucs started out strong with an interception but that excitement was quickly extinguished by the Steeler domination that followed. In summary, the Bucs experiences an old-fashioned a$$-whooping. Despite the outcome, I had a great time at the game and loved the excitement of seeing a game in person. Perhaps if the Bears keep it up, I'll have to plan a trip to Chicago to see them play at Soldier Field!

Island Park

A few weekends ago, we had the opportunity to visit our friend's cabin in Island Park, Idaho. I've written about how much I love it up there several times now. This trip will go down as the 'Wildlife Adventure' weekend. First of all, let me introduce you to my little friend Peanut. We bonded over the weekend. Not only was he curious about what I was working on on my computer, the next day he crawled right up my leg. That is where I drew the line.

Later that evening, we were sitting on the deck enjoying the beautiful surroundings when suddenly a bald eagle landed atop of the tree right in front of us. It was HUGE! Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera handy so I can't prove it.

The next day we decided to visit the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. You can get more information here. There was a lovely campground right next to this lake. Next time, I want to bring a canoe and explore the lake that way.

The funniest part of the this adventure was after driving 15 minutes along a dirt road on the way to the wildlife refuge, we saw one house and this sign post in front of it. Utes fans will think of my friend Kylee's mom, aka Crazy Lady, the Utes super fan. It would be awesome to build a cabin up there.

On our last evening we were sitting on the dock watching the sunset when across the reservoir we spotted a moose with her two babes approaching the edge of the water. Ban ran inside to grab the binoculars (you'd think we'd learn to bring them to the dock with us, right?). While I was watching all three moose entered the water and swam across the reservoir! They exited the water a few cabins down from us. I had no idea that they could swim like that. Another fantastic weekend at the cabin. Thanks Liz! xoxo

Hike From Hell: Alexander Basin

It's taken me two weeks to recover from the PTSD of this hike and be able to write about it. It was a lovely Sunday morning and I decided that I wanted to go for a hike up Millcreek Canyon. Ban was game to go along and we decided to do a hike we hadn't done before. We decided to do Dog Lake and made our way to the top of Millcreek. Approximately, a thousand other people had the same idea. The parking lot was crawling with cars, people, dogs, and cyclists (yeah, cyclists get their own category because they were particularly obnoxious on this morning). We went back down the canyon to the overflow parking and it too was packed.

So, Plan B. We decided to head down the canyon to find a trail head with an available parking lot. Alexander Basin trail was the first one we found. It was steep. I mean really, really steep. Steep like my glutes ached for days afterward. Once we finally stopped climbing and the trail flattened out a bit we were treated to a beautiful display of wild flowers. We only passed a couple of people during the whole hike. Seriously, it was so steep, did I mention that? As we neared the top, we did run into a girl that Ban and I had gone to school with and neither of us had since since. Random. All the photos posted here were taken prior to this part of the hike.

Once we reached the basin, we could see that Gobbler's Knob was just a little bit further. Note to self: it always seems 'just a little bit further' when in fact it was a long way off. We climbed up a rock slide and as we made it nearly to the top we heard a loud clap of thunder that seemingly came from nowhere. Ban says 'How do you feel about that?'. I didn't feel good about that at all! I started hauling ass back down the trail. Suddenly, we felt a smattering of rain drops accompanied by more thunder and lightening. But, the worst was yet to come, pea-sized hail started pelting us and the rain and hail made the very steep trail super slick and muddy. It took us over an hour to decent. I'm sorry that I didn't get any pictures of what we looked like by the time we reached our car.

No need to lecture about all the things we did wrong. We know. But, all's well that ends well, right?

Book Review: Red Hook Road

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book really makes me wish that Goodreads let you award half stars because I LOVED this book, I would have given it five stars right up until the end. I felt the end was a bit overly dramatic and rushed which is a shame because otherwise Waldman's writing is excellent. But don't let that stop you from reading this book. Waldman's style isn't for everyone but I think her descriptions and insight into the characters are stellar and a pleasure to read. Don't get me wrong, this book isn't a walk in the park, the opening scene describes a tragic accident but much like her previous book, Bad Mother, Waldman's brutal honesty makes you squirm in your seat a little.

Good Night Moon

Last night's view of the moon through the telescope on the dock at the cabin. Amazing.

Book Review: The Cookbook Collector

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meh...not my kind of novel I guess. I like more continuity in characters and story lines. What started out as a story about two sisters turned into a chapter about one sister's boyfriend, then his coworker, then the girl his coworker has a crush on etc. I stuck it out for 200 pages before I just decided to move onto one of the several other novels on my night stand.

Camping: Mt. Nebo Scenic Byway

This summer we've been crushed with work responsibilities and as we looked at our calendar for August realized that summer was going to pass without us doing much in the way of recreating. So, last weekend we went camping down by Nephi along the Mt. Nebo Scenic Byway. GOR-GEOUS!

We set up camp and were surprised by the number of cows wandering around. I know, I'm a city girl, you don't have to mock. The funniest thing about the cows was that they started mooing very early in the morning which I found oddly hilarious. Ban dubbed them Nephi's roosters. We also saw deer, woodpeckers, the tiniest hummingbird ever, and early Saturday morning I heard something moving around our tent and couldn't resist the urge to have a peek. It was a wild turkey with three little turkeys in tow.

We did a few hikes and checked out Devil's Kitchen which looks like a small version of Bryce Canyon. We also got out on our mountain bikes and rode along a dirt road that climbed back into the mountains. The scenery was spectacular although the air was very thin at 9,300 ft above sea level. I was sucking air hard. But, the wildflowers, mountain views, and total solitude were worth every bit of exertion.

Concert: Chris Isaak

Yeah, he was SO close that I could have touched him. Instead, I had my camera in one hand and my Blackberry in the other trying to snap pictures with both. We've seen Chris Isaak play before but he always puts on such a good show that we were compelled to get tickets to his Red Butte performance again this summer. If you aren't familiar with his music you should definitely check it out. He's a rockabilly good time, yo!

Here's a video of the song he did as the encore of his concert last week. Enjoy!

Perseid Meteor Showers

This week will be the peak time to see the Perseid Meteor Showers. There will be very little moon light which will make viewing even better. The best time to view the meteor shower will be in the early hours before dawn. If you can get away from city lights that will help too. Sounds like a perfect excuse to go camping! Here is some more information about viewing meteor showers and here you can learn more about the Perseid Meteor showers specifically.
Here's a beautiful time elapse video of Perseid Meteor showers that I found on youtube.

How To Be Alone

This video was made from a poem by Tanya Davis. I've never minded being alone but I know so many who do. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Hike to Cecret Lake

Yesterday's hike to Cecret Lake wasn't anything like the first time I made the hike. Back then, my kids were little and they weren't too excited about the prospect of the hike at all. Even my bribery of having a breakfast picnic of egg mcmuffins at the top didn't muster up much enthusiasm.

I wanted to see the wildflowers which are spectacular right now so Ban and I went up to Albion Basin yesterday morning. Many others had the same idea so the area was teeming with people, we were surprised at how far we had to park from the trail head. I imagine the weekends will be considerably more crowded. But don't let that stop you, the air is crisp, clean, and cool and totally worth the effort.