July 22, 2014

Local Love: Exploring Payson, Arizona

Exploring Payson, Arizona
Do you remember going back to school each year and eagerly asking your friends about their summer break?  Some teachers even asked you to write about your holiday and share it with the class.  Well, consider this my "how I spent my summer vacation" post.  Payson is about two hours northeast of Phoenix, making it a great destination for locals looking for a quick escape from the summer heat while exploring Arizona's Rim Country.  Payson also happens to be where my mom lives, so it was an easy decision to spend a weekend with her and check out the sites. 
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona
We started our adventure with a stop at Kohl's Ranch, an area made famous by Zane Grey, the writer of dozens of Western novels.  I popped into Kohl's Ranch Lodge to see a collection of these books and the lovely Zane Grey Saloon.  This was a quick but nostalgic stop, reminding me of my grandfather.  He was an avid Grey reader and also loved to explore the areas in Arizona referred to as "Zane Grey Country".   Mom and I then continued our drive up to the Mogollon Rim, an escrapment lying 4,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level.  From here, we enjoyed beautiful views out over the ponderosa pine trees.  The Rim features in many of Grey's novels, as well as one by the other great Western writer Louis L'Amour.  It goes without saying that Emmie loved her trip to the Rim!
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona
The next day, we headed to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park to see the world's largest known natural travertine bridge formation.  In a valley between Payson and Pine, the bridge stands at over 180 feet high, is 150 feet wide, and the tunnel measures in at 400 feet long.  The valley was discovered by a prospector being chased by Apaches.  He hid in a cave inside the bride for three days, then claimed squatter's rights and settled the area.  He even convinced his family from Scotland to make the long journey out to join him here!  Mom and I packed a picnic and set out to see the bridge from the four viewpoints above the formation.  As often happens when you set out on an adventure, things didn't go quite as planned.  With the intention of walking out to Viewpoint 3 to take some photos, I went down the Gowan Trail and ended up at the bottom of the valley!  I won't name names, but someone had accidentally sent me down the wrong path.  But, in the spirit of adventuring, it turned out to be the right path, because I was able to see the bridge up close in all it's natural beauty.   I spent some time alone, thinking about life and God's creation, when it dawned on me.  Now I had to hike out of the valley.  In jeans.  And Converse.  With no water.  That's when it started to pour.  Well, I must have made it out alive if I am sitting here writing this account, right?  I did huff and puff my way up that trail, desperately trying to keep my camera dry under a scarf while not tumbling off that so-called trail.  SO there you have it: my weekend adventure, my summer vacation.  There were also fun times with my mom, lots of squirrels, elk, javelinas and a bat, as well as some of the prettiest sunsets you can imagine.  Did I mention that it was over 30 degrees cooler there than in Phoenix?  I can't wait to visit again!  Road trip, anyone?
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona

June 26, 2014

Perfect 4th of July Appetizer Recipe: Potato Salad Bites

Perfect 4th of July Appetizer Recipe: Potato Salad Bites

Looking for the perfect 4th of July party pleaser?  Last year I hosted a Summer Tea Party and served these darling and delicious Potato Salad Bites.  The recipe is my most popular pin on Pinterest and I thought it worth resharing.  These savory bites are bursting with the flavors of cheese, bacon and potato.  Yummy, right?!  Whether you are hosting the holiday party or just need something wow-worthy to take to the picnic, these potato bites will be a winner with everyone! 


Potato Salad Appetizer Bites:
2 dozen red potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ cups sour cream
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled with some reserved for garnish
Diced green onions for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut potatoes lengthwise and brush each side with olive oil.  Place face down on a baking sheet and cook 20-25 minutes until the skins are crisp.  Let cool.

Once your potato halves are cool, scoop out most of the center and place in a bowl.  Add your sour cream, cheddar cheese and bacon to the potato and mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Top each potato skin with some of the mixture.  Garnish with the extra bacon and green onions. 

These potato bites are great made in advance and served chilled.  Get creative and swap out the cheddar cheese with your favorite kind.  Just like a baked potato, you can garnish these little cuties any way you please.  Now, you just need to hang the flag, buy some sparklers and enjoy! 

Perfect 4th of July Appetizer Recipe: Potato Salad Bites

June 24, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Palais Garnier, Paris

Travel Tuesday: Palais Garnier, Paris

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Tatiana de Rosnay's book The House I Loved, the story of a woman devastated by the threat of relocation for the modernization of Paris by Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann. Since then, I have thought of the story often.  Paris is a beautiful city, and one that I love, but it is the 'new' city we now know.  Looking back through photographs, I realized that we owe Haussmann for the lovely Opéra de Paris, which was built under his direction and completed in 1875.  I thought I'd share some more photos of this breathtaking building while Rosnay's story is still lingering in my mind.  

Travel Tuesday: Palais Garnier, Paris
The Opéra de Paris, also commonly known as the Palais Garnier, is home to the Pairs Opera.  Today, opera performances are actually held in the newer Opéra Bastille while ballet performances are held in the Palais Garnier.  The building also houses the Paris Opera Library Museum.  It is built in the Beaux-Arts style, which can be seen in the symmetry of the floor plan and its exterior ornamentation.  Its main features are the Grand Staircase, Grand Foyer which opens into the Salon de la Lune and the Salon du Soleil, and the horseshoe shaped Auditorium famous for its ceiling painted by Chagall.  The interior is very ornate and gilded.  It is also very dark so that the the beautiful sconces and chandeliers can be seen in their full glory.  
Travel Tuesday: Palais Garnier, Paris

Travel Tuesday: Palais Garnier, Paris

Travel Tuesday: Palais Garnier, Paris

If you are familiar with the extravagant decor of Versailles, then you have an idea of how overwhelmingly beautiful and gaudy the Palais Garnier can be.  Photos just don't do the space justice!  Every inch is covered in gilded carvings, fine statues, elegant drapes and such exquisite chandeliers.  I love the one above of the woman with lights on her head.  Isn't she almost Steampunk,with her robotic looking arms?!

Travel Tuesday: Palais Garnier, Paris
The building may be most famously known for having inspired Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera.  Today, we think of the musical production by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but this was truly the story of the Palais Garnier and it's spectacular 7-ton bronze chandelier which hangs in the Auditorium.  On May 20, 1896, a counterbalance on the chandelier broke free and burst through the ceiling and into the theater and killed a member of the audience.  Leroux was so captivated by the true-life events, that he wrote his interpretation of the scene into his dramatic love story.  When I visited the Palais Garnier, the Auditorium was closed to the public for a rehearsal.  I was sad to miss seeing Chagall's ceiling and the celebrated chandelier, but loved seeing the rest of this over-the-top building that is so steeped in the history and culture of Paris.  I can't help but think of the fictional Madame Rose and the other real-life people that had to watch their homes be demolished to make room for Haussmann's vision for a new Paris.  But, oh, what a lovely city their sacrifice left for us all to enjoy!
Travel Tuesday: Palais Garnier, Paris

June 12, 2014

Local Love: Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery

 Local Love: Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery

Looking for a good place for lunch in the Phoenix area?  Check out Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery on 16th Street and McDowell!  This sandwich shop and bakery opened in November 2013 and is the perfect place to meet a friend in downtown Phoenix.  The restaurant may be small, but it is big on yummy food options and the cool factor is through the roof.  When I was there, the whole restaurant was lit with the most lovely afternoon light.  I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to eat inside or on the gorgeous patio.

Local Love: Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery
Local Love: Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery

I have always been a sucker for a slice of quiche, so I was in heaven to hear that Ollie Vaughn's serves homemade slices.  The special of the day was ham and Gruyere, and it was amazing.  The crust was savory and the quiche really hit the spot.  I finished off my lunch with the best key lime pie I have ever tasted.  Sweet and slightly tart, it was topped with a dollop of cream and on a graham cracker crust.  It makes my mouth water just thinking about it! 


Local Love: Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery


Local Love: Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery



 Even if you visit on an especially hot Arizona afternoon, don't forget to check out the patio area.  The space is the epitome of an urban garden.  The wooden planters make a lovely vertical garden, complete with fragrant herbs and flowers.  The patio tables are each topped with gorgeous succulent displays.  And there is a lovely mural in the parking lot, too!  I really enjoyed Ollie Vaughn's and I will be back next time I'm in the area!

Local Love: Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...