Guys and Dolls, Stratford

Today I went to Stratford to see Guys and Dolls at the Festival Theatre! It was a beautiful day for a show and a walkabout around town.Guys and Dolls is a musical of the ’30s and ’40s, that is set in 1950s New York, where illicit gambling and fast-talking is the norm. Strapped for cash, gambler and crap entrepreneur Nathan Detroit is desperate to get his hands on some cash to secure a venue for his craps event – anybody who is anybody will be there, so the heat is on!

When Detroit runs into high-roller Sky Masterson, he makes Masterson an offer he can’t refuse, one that Detroit thinks is a ‘safe bet’ and will net him some easy cash: Can Masterson take any doll that Detroit names on a date?

Surely not if the ‘doll’ happens to be the strait-laced, level-headed Sgt. Sarah Brown of the Save-a-Soul Mission. But it turns out that it’s hearts that are at stake, and where love’s concerned there’s no telling how the dice will land.

Evan Buliung (centre) as Sky Masterson with members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Guys and Dolls was vivid and energetic. The singing and dancing were on point. Director and choreographer Donna Feore is sheer talent, as is the company she worked with to make this show possible. I LOVED the opening act of the show, where everything was bustling like it was a busy city street and harbour area. Every scene of the show was exceptional!

Members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The acting was also incredible – the company was full of talent. There is so much to say, but here is a bit about the artists who played some of my favourite characters:

I first encountered the talent of Alexis Gordon (Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls) last fall when she played Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music.

Alexis was great in A Little Night Music where she played a similar role of a straight-laced, naïve young woman – but the character of Sarah Brown was a firecracker just waiting to be lit! It was really nice to see Alexis portray a strong female character, and one that was a more major role. Also of note is Alexis’ singing! She has an incredible voice that you have to hear to believe.

This was my first time encountering the calibre of Blythe Wilson (Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls). She made Miss Adelaide come to life with believable effervescence. I hope I am able to see more of her work!

Alexis Gordon (left) as Sarah Brown and Blythe Wilson as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

I also enjoyed the smooth-talking and wise-cracking of both Sean Arbuckle (Nick Detroit in Guys and Dolls) and Evan Buliung (Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls). I also encountered Sean in A Little Night Music where he portrayed the more minor role of Mr. Lindquist.

The duo of Trevor Pratt (portraying Nicely-Nicely Johnson in this performance of Guys and Dolls) and Mark Uhre (Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls) were a riot! They’re really an ideal friendship and comic-relief.

My favourite aspects of the show were the signs that could change from black and white to all sorts of neon colours – and with the stage floor looking like a map of the city and the stage background made to look like scaffolding and fire escapes, it all really transported you and made you feel like you were on the mean-streets of New York City.I also loved the costumes, everything was gorgeous, period-appropriate, bright and sparkly. I especially loved Miss Adelaide’s outfits and her Hot Box Club costumes, in particular the one she wore for Bushel and a Peck – it was sparkly and gorgeous; it was exactly what I picture when I think of showgirls, very Gatsby-esque. The ensemble costumes for Take Back Your Mink were also gorgeous, and I loved that dance number!

Blythe Wilson (centre) as Miss Adelaide with members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Aaaah, there is so much I could say about this show but I think I will leave it here. All I can really say it that if you get a chance to Guys and Dolls in Stratford, GO! It’s on until October 29.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, New Mexico

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks are located near Cochiti Pueblo, approximately 40 miles (65 kilometres) southwest of Santa Fe. ‘Kasha Katuwe’ means ‘White Cliffs’ in the Keresan Pueblo language. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks was designated as a national park in 2001, but the area and rock formations themselves are more than 7,000,000 years old.The ‘tent rocks’ get their name from how they look – literal tent-like cones made from layers of soft pumice and tuff that have eroded into this shape over time; the rock is very similar to what you see at Tsankawi. Some of the tent rocks are very short but others can reach upwards of 90 feet!When you walk on the 1.2 mile (1.9 kilometre) trail, you’re eventually led through a slot canyon that opens at the base of a rocky lookout that requires you to climb up a series of stairs. Once you reach the top, you get an magnificent view of the Tent Rocks.When you’re at the top, make sure you look down at the area around you, because you may just find some ‘Apache Tears’ – little round bits of obsidian that were formed during the pyroclastic flow, just like the Tent Rocks themselves. When you walk through the slot canyon you can sometimes see them embedded in the ‘walls’.It was a hot walk the day we went, so make sure you bring water with you and that you wear a hat. It’s a great spot if you’re looking for more intense hiking, as some of the trail through the slot canyon is very steep and rocky – lots of climbing! It is not recommended that you go when it is raining because slot canyons are prone to flash-flooding.

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Pecos National Historic Park, New Mexico

Pecos National Historic Park was established as a national monument in 1965 and became a national historic park in 1990 following the inclusion of the Forked Lightning Ranch and the Glorieta Battlefield.The Pueblo and Mission Ruins Trail is a 1.25-mile (two kilometre) self-guided trail through the Pecos Pueblo and Mission Church sites. In addition, there is also the 2.25-mile Civil War Battle of Glorieta Hiking Trail, which we did not see during this trip.Pecos holds and preserves more than 12,000 years of history and cultural remains including pueblos and kivas, two Spanish Colonial Missions, part of the Santa Fe Trail, the Civil War battlefield at Glorieta Pass, and the Forked Lightning Ranch that was built in the 20th century.In addition, Pecos was the chosen summer home of E.E. “Buddy” Fogelson, a Texas oil magnate, and his wife, actress Greer Garson. Fogelson bought the Forked Lightning Ranch in 1941, expanded it to 13,000 acres and raised Santa Gertrudis Cattle. He married Garson in 1949, and together they helped to protect the land and actively supported preservation efforts.

Greer sold the ranch to the Conservation Fund in 1991, who then donated to the National Park Service. She and Fogelson received the Department of the Interior’s highest civilian honour – the Conservation Service Award.According to her friend, newspaper columnist Louella Parsons, Garson said, “I am taking to ranch life like a duck to water. I’ve switched from bustles and bows to Levi’s and boots, and I think it’s definitely a change for the better.”

I definitely share that sentiment!
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Galisteo Basin, New Mexico

One of the days of our trip was spent almost entirely at Galisteo Basin, where we wandered around the desert looking at plants and for signs of a by-gone era.We also hiked a lot, clambering our way up on top of some rocky hills and mountains that had spectacular views.Galisteo Basin is approximately 467,200 acres of desert and rugged sandstone with carved arroyos (Spanish for ‘streams’) and vast grasslands that stretch from San Miguel County, across Santa Fe County and into Sandoval County. Its main watercourse is the Galisteo Creek that flows down into the Río Grande.

Galisteo is located between two mountain ranges – in the northeast are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and in the southwest are the Sandia Mountains – and it also connects the Great Plains and the Río Grande Valley. These features made Galisteo a desirable trade route.The earliest known humans to inhabit Galisteo Basin were the Paleo Indians, who arrived in the area early as early as 7500 to 6000 B.C. As time went on, other ancestral peoples and Spanish explorers also made Galisteo their home. Despite its ideal area, much of the Galisteo Basin remained sparsely populated until around the 12th century.

From the late 1200s to about 1600 A.D., several large pueblos were built approximately 12 miles (19km) from the heart of where the Galisteo Basin Preserve land is today. The largest and most well-known pueblo in Galisteo Basin is the San Cristóbal Pueblo which contained five eight or nine-room blocks that were several storeys in height. It also had five ceremonial plazas, the largest of which had a ceremonial Kiva. It is estimated that the San Cristóbal Pueblo had a population ranging between 500 and 1,000 people.

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When we arrived at Galisteo, we entered via Highway 285 and travelled down Astral Valley Road until we reached the end of Southern Crescent Drive at Candid Crossing.We spent a few hours walking along and off the trails in that area to take photos of the plants. We also found evidence of ‘cowboys’ that had used once use the area – square nails and shards of glass that were patinated in shades of pink and purple. In fact, I found a chunk that had part of a drug company name that I was able to trace back to at least 1910!Later on in the afternoon we moved on to more hiking. We got back in the car and made our way to the Cowboy Shack trail head where we proceeded to trek the Shepherd’s Trail.Coming to a fork in the road at marker 19, we made a left to continue on to Eliza’s Ridge Trail and then Sophie’s Spur. Here we met a nice family and their dog who was very agile and adventurous!When we got to marker 20, we doubled back and made our way the fork where we decided to go along the trail to marker 39 where Liam’s Lark and Cinque’s Spur meet. We went this way to take a look at the valley, which was very lush and green despite the rest the trails being so sparse and rocky. We did see this neat tree along the way though!I loved Galisteo Basin so much and wanted to spend more time there. I just loved looking at all of the beautiful desert flowers and cacti (especially the cacti!), and also searching for signs and a portal back into a time gone by.There’s just something about the vastness of the desert that makes one feel free – when I close my eyes, I can imagine being there, looking out over the vista. It feels like I’m really there. I can’t wait to go back.∆ ∆ ∆

Tsankawi Village Trail, New Mexico

After our visit to Bandelier National Monument, we drove about 12 miles (19km) to Tsankawi (sank-ah-WEE) – a Tewa word meaning “village between two canyons at the clump of sharp, round cacti”. The Tsankawi Village Trail is but a small portion of the protected lands within Bandelier.Tsankawi Sign, New MexicoIn addition to being a part of the National Monument, Tsankawi is also an archaeological site that is culturally significant to the people of San Ildefonso Pueblo, who are descendants of the Ancestral Tewa people who once inhabited Tsankawi several thousand years ago.

When you enter the park, don’t forget to pick up a trail guide!Like the Frey Trail at the main park, Tsankawi Village Trail is self-guided and has various numbered markers along the way that tell you more about what you’re looking at. The loop is 1.5-miles (2.4km) in length.

A large portion of the Tsankawi trail takes hikers through various footpaths and stairways that were cut into the tuff (soft volcanic rock) by the Tewa. These footpaths provided the Tewa with safer and easier access to the mesa-top. As you walk along the routes, you can’t help but imagine what daily life would have been like.Photo by Riaz QureshiImagine walking on these in the rain or during the winter!Footpaths, Tsankawi Village Trail, New MexicoFire stone/artifact at Tsankawi Village Trail, New MexicoOnce you reach the mesa-top there is a spectacular view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Jemez Mountains and the Río Grande Valley. It’s really a sight to see! I spent a lot of time just taking in the landscape.Tsankawi1Mesa-top, Tsankawi Village Trail, New MexicoMesa-top, Tsankawi Village Trail, New MexicoThe village portion of the trail had about 275 ground-floor rooms, many of which were only one to two storeys high. These rooms were used for everything including sleeping, cooking and storing crops and other supplies.

It is believed that the Tewa made Tsankawi their home sometime during the 1400s, where they built their houses and other structures using volcanic rock and adobe. Like the people living at the Frijoles Canyon, the people of Tsankawi took advantage of building cavates (cave dwellings) into the rock face. Many of the caves had stone buildings built out front, which helped to keep the dwellings warm in winter and cool in summer.Seeking - Tsankawi, New MexicoBecause the area receives only about 15 inches of rain per year, Tsankawi experiences periods of prolonged drought. Despite this, the Tewa found ways to thrive through foraging for native plants and cultivating beans, corn and squash.

Plants, like the Tewa people, also adapted to the dry landscape. The types of plants that can be found along the trail are typical of piñon-juniper woodlands and include piñon, yucca, rabbitbrush, salt brush, juniper and mountain mahogany. The Tewa and other Ancient Pueblo people used these plants for food, medicine, dyes, spices and tools – many of which are still used by the Pueblo people of today.Indian Paintbrush, Tsankawi, New MexicoWhile the Tewa were able to live at Tsankawi for generations at some point around the late 16th century, the Tewa left. Archaeologists believe they relocated due to heavy drought and other factors, such as the soil becoming infertile due to years of farming and the depletion of resources. It is believed the Tewa had to venture out further and further to gather even the most basic of resources including fire wood.

As time went on, the buildings fell into ruin due to the elements – the roofs collapsed, the walls crumbled and washed away. As a result, artifacts such as pottery and tools were washed away and the rubble and sand covering everything. Plants eventually began to grow all over the disturbed ground, further obscuring what was once visible.

Today you can find shards of pottery and other artifacts along the footpaths. In addition to encountering these small pieces of the past, you can also see many petroglyphs carved into the rock face.Pottery Shards at Tsankawi Village Trail, New Mexico Pictographs, Tsankawi Village Trail, New MexicoPictographs2, Tsankawi Village Trail, New MexcoMuch of Tsankawi and nearly 3,000 other archaeological sites at Bandelier remain unexcavated – only a handful have been. This is largely due to the cultural significance of the area to the San Ildefonso Pueblo, but thanks to modern technology much can be learned about the site without ever having to uncover it.Footpaths at Tsankawi Village Trail, New MexicoFor more information on Bandelier National Monument, check out my previous post!

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Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Despite its desert connotations, New Mexico has a landscape that ranges from seemingly endless desert to the south and dense forests to the north, to snow-capped mountain peaks and tall mesas. In O’Keeffe Country, the landscape turns to red rock, and at Bandelier National Monument it switches between rocky canyon and lush backcountry.

Its mixed landscape is just one of the reasons why we’ve wanted to go to New Mexico, plus it also provides ample opportunities for hiking – our first of which was to Bandelier.Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoBandelier National Monument visitor centreBandelier is located in Los Alamos and protects more than 33,000 acres of beautiful backcountry and more than 70 per cent of the monument is wilderness. backcountry 2, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexicobackcountry, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoBecause of its varying elevation, ~5,000ft along the Rio Grande, to more than 10,000ft at the peak of Cerro Grande, Bandelier provides an ideal habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna.sign 2 Bandelier National Monument, New Mexicosign Bandelier National Monument, New Mexicosign 3 Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoFence lizard, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoOn February 11, 1916, Bandelier was designated as a National Monument by then President Woodrow Wilson. It was named after Adolph Bandelier, a Swiss-American anthropologist who researched the different cultures of the area and was a big supporter of site preservation efforts.In addition to backcountry, the Monument protects Ancestral Pueblo archaeological sites, such as cave dwellings in the soft rock cliffs of the Frijoles Canyon that date back more than 800 years. Evidence of human history in Bandelier stretches back more than 10,000 years.Bohème and Bourbon beside petroglyphsBandelier National Monument, New MexicoToday, you can walk trails through the canyon, see ancient pueblos, climb ladders up into the cave dwellings and down into a Kiva, a ceremonial chamber. Along the trail are also numbered markers that correspond to information in the trail guide that tell you more about what you’re looking at.Cave dwelling, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoBohème and Bourbon in a cave dwelling, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoKiva at Bandelier National MonumentA hike around the Main Loop Trail of the Frijoles Canyon can easily be done in an afternoon and is very enjoyable. There is a lot of climbing involved, as the trails are located at elevations of more than 6,000ft, so be prepared with water and proper shoes.

A nice feature of this trail is that is has numbered markers along various points. If you pick up a trail guide for yourself, or borrow one from the visitor centre, you can follow along and learn more about the history of the Frijoles Canyon and Frey Trail.

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La Plazuela, Santa Fe

While on our day trip to Santa Fe my boyfriend and I wanted to go out for lunch somewhere that had a nice atmosphere, and we found just that at La Plazuela at La Fonda on the Plaza.

‘La Plazuela’ is Spanish for ‘the square’ – which makes sense given the restaurant’s location. ‘La Fonda’ is Spanish for a space that is used as an inn, tavern or restaurant. It all makes sense!La Plazuela menu displayed outside of the restaurantThe hotel is located at the historic Santa Fe Plaza, and it’s here where Old World charm and modern life converge. When you walk through the doors into the hotel lobby, you feel transported back in time. Everywhere you look there is authentic New Mexican architecture and history – from the wooden beams, to the furniture and decor, La Fonda’s got the look.La Fonda hotel lobby, outside of La Plazuela restaurantWhen you step into the restaurant, it’s like you are transported into a dream – if you thought the atmosphere of the hotel compelling, that of the restaurant is a whole other story.

Built in the 1920s, the restaurant is a lofty space with high beams, lush foliage and an expansive skylight that bathes the entire dining room in natural light. At its centre is a fountain and a wrought iron chandelier with yellow glass shades. I can only imagine how romantic La Plazuela looks at night.La Plazuela, Santa Fe 2La Plazuela, Santa Fe 3The dining room itself is surrounded by large wooden pillars with sconces that match the chandelier, and a series of hand-painted windows.La Plazuela, Santa Fe 1Sconces and windows at La Plazuela, Santa FeIn addition to its looks, we chose La Plazuela as our destination for a special lunch in celebration of our anniversary that was at the end of April. Since our trip to Santa Fe was so close, we thought it would be best to go out for lunch, or dinner, there instead.La Plazuela MenuLooking at the La Plazuela MenuIn true Santa Fe fashion, our waiter brought us complimentary tortilla chips and house-made salsa while we read through the menu – delicious!Tortilla Chips and Salta, La PlazeulaAt this time we also ordered drinks. We both chose the Nut Brown Ale from Santa Fe Brewing Company – also delicious!Chips and salsa, and beers - La PlazuelaWhen it was time to order, we chose to share the ‘Local Heirloom Tomato Salad’, which consisted of brightly coloured tomatoes, sliced and served with extra virgin olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, roasted garlic cloves, local feta cheese and fresh basil, with a side of crunchy croustades. It was so fresh and flavourful! I just love a good balsamic reduction, especially on tomatoes.Local Heirloom Tomato Salad, La PlazuelaClose up of tomato in Local Heirloom Tomato Salad, La PlazuelaFor our main, we chose to split the ‘Torta de Borrego’ sandwich, which had the most tender braised lamb shoulder I’ve ever had, served on toasted telera bread and topped with sliced seasonal tomatoes, sliced avocado, caramelized onion, arugula, local feta cheese, and lemon-cilantro aioli. We also got a side of seasoned French fries.Torta de Borrego sandwich, La PlazuelaThe service was perfect; our meal was filling, flavourful and delicious. We couldn’t have asked for a better dining experience.

The only thing I would have done differently was saving some room for dessert! (And maybe going for dinner, just to take in the romantic atmosphere at night *wistful sigh*)

More information about La Fonda and La Plazuela, as well as historic photos, can be viewed in the La Fonda history book From Every Window a Glimpse of the Past. If you’re in Santa Fe, I highly recommend La Plazuela if you’re looking for a relaxing and romantic dining destination.  Reservations for dinner are highly recommended, as La Plazuela is very popular at this time.

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The City Different – Santa Fe

San Fran/Santa Fe street signsEstablished in 1610 by Governor Don Pedro de Peralta, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the U.S. at 407 years old. Downtown Santa Fe has numerous unique shopping opportunities, and boasts more than 250 galleries making it the third largest art market in the country.

The Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously used building in the U.S. Built in 1610, it is both a National Historic Landmark and an American treasure. The Palace of the Governors completes one side of the Santa Fe Plaza, built in 1609, which has been the heart of the downtown area for more than 400 years.The Plaza, Santa Fe, New MexicoMy boyfriend and I visited the downtown on three occasions: the first time was a short trip with his Oma when we first arrived in New Mexico. The second was also with his Oma to see the Canyon Road galleries.

The third was a day trip for just the two of us, where we explored the downtown, checked out the galleries and shops, took in the scenery and hunted for souvenirs.Boyfriend and I, Santa Fe, New MexicoHere we are at the visitor centre in front of a vintage Ford Falcon in light blue. I had to share this photo because 1) the vintage car, and 2) we were well coordinated!
Adobe House, Santa Fe
Just off of the Plaza is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. It contrasts dramatically with the surrounding adobe structures – its stone façade, bell towers and stained glass windows it looks like it has been transported from the Old World in Europe.Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe(Boyfriend for scale!)

Designed in 1886 by Archbishop Lamy, the cathedral was built on the site of two former churches, the first of which had been destroyed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. A statue of the Virgin Mary, now called La Conquistadora, was removed from the church during the revolt and returned to her place of honour in 1693. Today, she presides over a side chapel.Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New MexicoCathedral stained glass, St. Francis of Assisi, Santa FeCathedral stained glass, St. Francis of Assisi, Santa FeOne of my goals while in Santa Fe was to find some turquoise jewelry that really caught my eye. I was very successful at Wind River Trading Company, the largest Native American jewelry store in Santa Fe. It is famous for its selection and size – the store is one block long, and is located between the Plaza and the Cathedral.

I was also successful on finding other souvenirs. I visited many shops, but found success at The Original Trading Post and Sunwest on the Plaza. We were also fortunate enough to take in an art show put on by the Santa Fe Society of Artists where I found an art print for my Mom by Sondra Wampler.Sondra Wampler ArtIf you’re looking for art shows and galleries, Santa Fe is the place. The show I mentioned above is held on weekends from the end of April until mid-October.

Down the street from the Cathedral is the Loretto Chapel, the one with the famed staircase that was built without nails!
Loretto Chapel, Santa FeWe wanted to see it for ourselves, but unfortunately the church was closed to the public for a special event. I think someone was getting married, because a couple of hours later, we could hear a bell tower chiming for a long period of time.

We loved the beauty and simplicity of walking around downtown Santa Fe. It was a very enjoyable day, especially when you have your best friend by your side ♡
If I could have spent more time here, I would have. There is so much to see and do!Sculpture, Santa Fe, New MexicoOld Santa Fe Trail signmailbox 234, Santa Fe, New MexicoFlower, Santa Fe, New MexicoCarpet, Santa Fe, New MexicoAnother plus to Santa Fe is that you can see nature in pretty much all directions.
For example, if you look out to the east, you can see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New MexicoIf you travel just outside of the city, you will find 1.5 million acres of national forest, several national parks and monuments, as well as northern Native American pueblos and historic sites.Bohème and Bourbon - StephWe can see why Santa Fe’s motto is “The City Different” – it is a place unlike any other.

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The Land of Enchantment

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged because my boyfriend and I were away on a wonderful week-long trip to the Land of Enchantment – aka: New Mexico, USA.New Mexico True/Guest Life Magazines 2017We flew in to Albuquerque and made out way to a beautiful house in the countryside just outside of Santa Fe.

When you travel around New Mexico, you’ll be immediately impressed with its varying landscape, mesas and deeply rooted culture. It’s easy to see how the 47th state got it’s moniker. Native art, Madrid, New Mexico Native art, Madrid, New MexicoNew Mexico has Native American, Hispanic and Anglo heritage. It joined the Union on January 6, 1912. It has 33 counties. Santa Fe is the nation’s highest state capital at 7,000 feet above sea level. New Mexico is 121,589 square miles, making it the fifth largest state!Scenery, New MexicoSanta Fean Harry P. Mera designed the state flag in 1920 to highlight New Mexico’s Native American Pueblo and Nuevo México Hispano roots. It features the ancient sun symbol of the Zia people in red, in the centre of a field of yellow.The New Mexico state flag flies under the national flag of the United States From its centre, the sun symbol has four rays pointing out from the circle in four different directions. The number four is sacred to the Zia and symbolized the four points of the compass, the four seasons, the four stages of life and the four times of day.

The circle binds these elements together. The flag’s colours evoke the red and yellow of old Spain: the flags of Habsburg (the Cross of Burgundy) and the Crown of Aragon brought by the conquistadors. The flag was officially introduced in 1925 and has been used ever since.

New Mexico at a glance:
Capital: Santa Fe, founded 1610
Largest City: Albuquerque, founded 1706
State Animal: Black bear
State Bird: Roadrunner
State Flower: Yucca
State Tree: Piñon
State Vegetable: Chile and Pinto Beans (Frijoles)
State Fossil: Coelophysis
State Gem: Turquoise
State Nickname: Land of Enchantment

I’m looking forward to sharing my New Mexico adventure with you – stay tuned for more!

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Keystone Alley, Stratford

The other night, my boyfriend and I met up with some friends for dinner at the Keystone Alley in Stratford.Malba Pudding, Keystone Alley in StratfordWe were going out because it has been so long since we’ve all been able to get together, and it was also a chance to celebrate my boyfriend’s acceptance at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland for his PhD, and our friend Drew’s acceptance for his medical residency at a hospital in Calgary.

For all of us, this was our first time checking out Keystone Alley. The menu had so many delicious-looking options, I was unsure if I would be able to decide!Menu at Keystone Alley, StratfordFunnily, most of us actually ended up choosing something off the of the three-course Bistro Menu, which made deciding a lot easier because it listed a couple of options and you just had to make the difficult decision of choosing one of them for each course.Bistro Menu, Keystone AlleyMy boyfriend chose the Smoked Trout for his appetizer, which came with pickled vegetables, horseradish and a caper cream. I chose the Greens – a salad of mixed spring greens, with grapes, almonds, pistachio goat cheese and poppy seed vinaigrette. One word: Perfection.The Greens, Keystone Alley in StratfordFor our main course, we both chose the Ale Braised Beef Brisket, which came in a Forked River beer reduction, with roasted heirloom carrots, Brussels sprouts, crispy polenta. It was Heaven on a plate, seriously!The Beef Brisket, Keystone Alley in StratfordUnsurprisingly, we both chose the same dessert – A South African pudding called ‘Malva’ that is made with apricot jam, cream and butter. It was deliciously spongy and sweet. It was served warm with vanilla ice cream.Malba Pudding, Keystone Alley in StratfordIf you are ever in Stratford and looking for somewhere to go for lunch or dinner, I highly recommend Keystone Alley. In addition to inventive and flavourful food, the restaurant also has a great atmosphere.

Take a walk along the Avon River, see a show at one of of the theatres and then stop for a bite to eat at Keystone Alley. You won’t regret it!