Chocolate Crickets, Wooden Shoes, and Live Lemurs

Fair.Chocolate Crickets 2

The only place those three things could exist in complete harmony is the Arizona State Fair. Now, I’ve already raved about the fair in the past (read Quite the Affair), but I feel like the experience is different every year, because the offerings change. Fair.Chocolate Crickets

For example, as part of my annual tour de food, I put on my big girl panties and tried chocolate-covered crickets. Yep, you read that right. I ate bugs—the kind that chirp and hop all over the place at night—and I have no regrets.

Maybe I did it because Bryan and I have been watching too many episodes of Bizarre Foods (I mean, crickets are a far cry from cow testicles).

Maybe it’s because chocolate covered crickets were way less expensive than the high-flying swings—and would deliver the same adrenaline rush.

Whatever the reason, I ordered the crickets…and they were pretty good! Generally, texture is what makes me shy away from certain foods; if it’s slimy, I’m not a fan. The crickets were crunchy, a little earthy, and come on, there was chocolate, so I was in!

I did apologize to a nearby grasshopper for eating his cousin…but I’d order crickets again—maybe even without the chocolate. Fair.Fried Pumpkin Pie

Of course, the tour de food also included lots of fried foods, a state fair specialty, the stamp of ‘Merica. If you can dream it up, they can batter it and fry it up for ya. One of the most decadent fried foods I spied was a fried bacon-wrapped Reese’s peanut butter cup. Yeah, that sounded like a bit too much for me, but we did indulge in fried pumpkin pie with cinnamon ice cream and a fried lemon bar.

The fried pumpkin pie was akin to a turnover or an empanada—beautiful and super delicious! My boyfriend described it perfectly; if pumpkin pie made sweet, sweet love (get it!?) to a churro, this would be the lovechild (okay, he didn’t use that euphemism…)—and then add ice cream.Fair.Lemon Bar

The lemon bar wasn’t exactly what we expected; it was more like lemon cake with lemon frosting as opposed to a traditional lemon bar dipped in batter and fried, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a flavor bomb of awesome. Because it was. The lemon was nice and bright in contrast to the heaviness of the fried dough—a pretty solid combination.

Apart from the food, I did some shopping at the fair, and that was something I didn’t expect. Sure, we walk through the hall of wares every year and take a look around, but the vendors are usually selling gimmicky items that I don’t really care about—spas and sand art and Korean boy band posters and helium-powered toys. Fair.Wooden Shoes

Well, that changed this year, because I found myself a pair of hand-carved wooden slides. They are so unique and comfortable, and I happen to be wearing them right now, which makes me feel rather posh. The vendor, Kingdome Clothing, doesn’t just make rad shoes; they make wooden sunglasses, watches, and phone cases, to name a few things. There were some cool clothing pieces, too, but the shoes simply spoke to me. Seriously. I heard them whisper, “We want to come home with you.” At first, it was creepy, but in a really endearing, fashionable way.

I found another booth that inspired me to start my Christmas shopping, because the item I found is perfect for my mom. Of course, I can’t go into detail about what that item is, because she just might read this blog post.

We didn’t get to experience a lot of entertainment this year. My boyfriend and I weren’t interested in the Fifth Harmony concert happening Sunday afternoon—although the place was packed with teeny boppers. And the community stages didn’t have the same variety as last year. I was left jonesing for a little more cultural art like Folklorico dancing and bellydancing. Fair.Lemur

However, instead of the Flying Pig Races, the fair had lemur racing this year! The racing itself was not that exciting, but the animal handlers brought out a lemur named DJ before the heats. And I kind of wanted to take him home. A member of the marsupial family, the lemur is like an exotic, beautiful monkey and I could imagine DJ traipsing about our counters and staircase—and then I remembered our dogs. Yeah, not a good idea. But a girl can dream.

In any case, we had a brilliant time at the Arizona State Fair, which is no surprise because it’s a blast every year. The fair is running until November 2. If you have the chance, GO!

I mean, where else can you eat crickets, buy wooden shoes, and watch live lemurs?

A New Breed of Gamer

Street Fighter

It’s my boyfriend’s fault. He started watching Tabletop. And he started getting ideas.

Then, he got me to start watching Tabletop with him. And we changed. We became gamers—board gamers.I have to admit, I wasn’t so sure at first. I mean, we’re adults. Board games? Really?

This past December, my mom asked my boyfriend for some suggestions of what to get him for Christmas. Naturally, he created an Amazon wish list, and even more naturally, I didn’t know jack shit about the things on it. My mom bought him a card game from this list called Star Fluxx. Huh? While on holiday vacation, my boyfriend asked if I wanted to learn how to play it. I agreed somewhat begrudgingly, and then wound up asking to play it over and over throughout our trip.

For anyone who hasn’t played a Fluxx game (there are many themed editions), the rules, the goals, and the game play fluctuate constantly―thus, its name. It’s a smart game. You have to strategize, but you rely heavily on the luck of the draw, too.

New gamesDuring the same trip, my boyfriend got me a game called Once Upon a Time. It’s a group storytelling card game. Each player gets a hand of cards containing story elements like “castle” or “ogre,” plus an end card. You take turns telling the story all the while trying to play your element cards and steer the story toward your ending (keep in mind these can vary from “they lived happily ever after” to “he lost a limb and was disfigured for eternity”). Ladies and gentlemen, just add wine.

And then Amazon got involved. I have a Prime account, so my boyfriend orders games online with Prime―and why wouldn’t he with free two-day shipping? Since it’s my account, guess who gets the suggestions from Amazon…And slow clap for Amazon, because I’ve been sucked in a few times. It’s how I’ve come to own Takenoko, Letters from Whitechapel, and Shadow Hunters.

ZombicideAnd now the clincher―game night every Thursday night at CO+HOOTS. CO+HOOTS is “downtown Phoenix’s member-sustained, community-supported collaborative coworking space.” Need a dedicated office-like lounge with various workspaces, meeting rooms, a refrigerator, coffee machine, a laid back, groovy vibe, and instant connections with others in the community? Look no further; CO+HOOTS is your spot, and their rates for renting space are really reasonable.

On Thursday nights, CO+HOOTS transforms. Workspaces become battlefields for growing corn in the wake of the Mayan apocalypse, killing zombies in the wake of the, well, zombie apocalypse, or creating the perfect sushi roll (Wasabi!―awesome game and newest addition to our home collection).

But it’s the people who come to game night who truly make it great. It’s a diverse crowd, which makes for diverse games. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played a certain game before; someone else has, so take a seat and learn by playing. Bring whatever games you’d like and some booze to share, and jump right in to defeat supervillains, cure an epidemic disease before it destroys humanity, or build a city. Make connections. Grow community. Geek out. Thank you for playing.

See? I’m hooked…I’ve been writing this post for the past 20 minutes or so―and now all I want to do it hop on Amazon and find a new game.

Like I said, it’s my boyfriend’s fault―and I couldn’t love him more for it.


Beware the Brides of March!


Would you pass up the opportunity to ironically wear a wedding dress and traipse from bar to bar in downtown Phoenix for cool beverages on a hot day? Yeah, I wouldn’t either.

This past weekend, I joined about 100 other blushing brides for the Brides of March pub crawl, an event that includes high-heeled footraces, bouquet tosses, lots of very creative wedding attire, oodles of cross-dressing, and cocktails aplenty. Yes, these were my people.

I think the photos tell the story of the day, so I’ll let the images speak for themselves.

Needless to say, I’ll be back again next year―in something way less conservative and little more avant-garde.

Beware the Brides of March!

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Resolving to Have FUN!

Photo by flickr user "Clay Carson."

Photo by flickr user “Clay Carson.”

Yes, it’s that time of year – the time where we all make resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, quit swearing, or stop watching marathons of Smash on Hulu at 2am.


You wanna know why most people can’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions? It’s because resolutions are generally negative. Think about it – “I’ll quit,” “I’ll stop,” “I won’t,” “I promise not to.” Instead of promising ourselves we’ll embrace life and new adventures in 2013, we get so caught up in saying “no” to that weekly bear claw from Rainbow Donuts.

Photo by flickr user "smiteme."

Photo by flickr user “smiteme.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating the complete dismissal of healthy changes in 2013. But what I am doing is challenging you to challenge the status quo. Yes, set some resolutions that will make you a better person in 2013, but also indulge in some silly goals and resolve to have some fun so that you have something to look forward to. Otherwise, you know you’re just going to crave that bear claw like mad, right?

Gosh, I’m hungry now…

Anyway…drum roll, please. Here are my resolutions for 2013. I’m really looking forward to this year.

1. Slow your roll. I am all too often asked by my friends when I sleep. That’s because my planner is booked with dance classes, rehearsals, photo shoots, hot dates, concerts, and social events months in advance. I only know one speed – TURBO! I learned a couple of years ago how to say “yes” to opportunities and I have a hard time saying “no” (although I’m getting better at that). This year, I resolve to scale back substantially. I don’t need to be elbows deep in four projects at once. I’m going to focus on one thing at a time and really being present instead of worrying that I need to be somewhere in 30 minutes. This is going to be my year to relax. I plan to reintroduce yoga to my world, focus on my writing, and drink copious amounts of wine in my bathtub.

2. Host twelve 50 Shades of Chicken dinner parties. While Christmas shopping, I came across this gem, 50 Shades of Chicken. Part cookbook, part hilarious parody, it’s absolutely genius. So, I feel like it’s my duty to share this revelation to the world this year. Once a month, I’ll be hosting a 50 Shades of Chicken dinner party, during which I’ll do a reading from the book, I’ll serve one of the recipes, I’ll mix up some lasciviously-named cocktails, and maybe there will be a round of Cards Against Humanity.

50 Shades

3. Health and wealth. With my recent back injury, it’s time to focus on my health, which means a nice, clean diet, lots of stretching and yoga, and lots of core strengthening exercises. My goal is not to lose weight; I don’t need to do that. But I do need to get my body into better shape so that my back is properly supported. Fiscal health will be important this year, too. I’m resolving to cut back on social outings that are pricy and to start putting away a decent amount of money into savings.

4. Cupcake challenge. My boss got me this awesome cupcake calendar for Christmas since she knows I bake. These cupcakes are fun and spicy…and there are directions for how to make them all right on the calendar! So, there will be a cupcake of the month in my house. I’ll be chronicling these baking adventures here on this blog. God help me, because flavor is more of my forte, not decorating. This should be fun!

5. The write stuff. I’ve started a novel – a novel that I actually think I’m going to finish, which is a new and exciting concept for me. In the past, I’ve grown hyper-critical of myself and basically squashed writing projects before they’ve begun. In 2013, I’m following through. I’m going to finish this novel. I’m going to edit it. I’m going to love it. I’m going to shop it around. I’m going to start calling myself a “writer.” And I’m going to work on believing it. I’m going to be published.

What are your resolutions for 2013? Tell me the fun ones about strippers and rum cakes and travels around the world!

Licensing info for Clay Carson image.
Licensing info for smiteme image.

Quite the Affair

Coasting down the giant slides at the Arizona State Fair time and time again is one of my favorite childhood memories. I remember racing to the top of the giant staircase and then smiling wildly as the fall chill whipped against my face during the sail back down.

So when my boyfriend suggested we visit the fair a couple of weeks ago, I was immediately game. However, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Surely the experience of the Arizona State Fair is different at 27 than 12, right?


Strolling through the brightly-colored booths, smelling the grease in the fryers, feeling the Arizona heat on my back, hearing the screams of people on rides – it was all a heavy dose of sweet nostalgia.

The Mardi Gras funhouse is still standing and it’s exactly how I remember it. The giant slides sit proudly over the fairgrounds. The alien abduction anti-gravity ride is still twirling and whirling away. Corn dogs, funnel cakes, and fried Twinkies are available every 20 steps.

Of course, my day was full of new experiences, too. Many people go to the fair for the food, the rides, the games. Those weren’t my favorite things. My favorites included a fluffy alpaca, Native American hoop dancers, pig races, and exhibition halls.


My inner hick danced a jig as we watched the good old Sue Wee Flying Pigs races, the first fair event that I demanded we see while there. The pigs were all wobbly legs and curly tails, and who wouldn’t want to cheer on The Notorious P.I.G.? I wanted to take one of the piglets home, but then I remembered how much Biscuit enjoys bacon and I decided that wasn’t the best idea.

Internally, I was naming all of the livestock on display in the show barns, regardless of whether they already had monikers. For example, I inwardly dubbed a cow Bessie (cliché, I know, but it worked), an alpaca Chuck, and a llama Moses.

Walking through the crafty exhibits, especially those involving clothing, inspired me to submit something for judging next year. Somehow I think my comic book heels and the corset I plan to make in the same vein would go over pretty well with the judges.

Five words – fried s’mores on a stick.

This festive cake was adorned with a 1st Place ribbon. Smart judges.

I was enthralled with the Native American hoop dancers that performed on one of the community stages. I love cultural dancing, I love movement that tells a story, and as any true burlesque artist should, I love me some props. I’m appreciative that the fair includes such diverse and important entertainment. That same stage also saw a hard core rock band earlier in the day and a classic folklorico performance after the hoop dancers.

Honestly, I had no idea that there was fine art and photography at the fair – or that a good deal of it is submitted by kids from public schools and arts programs. Wandering through the displays of every artform imaginable, my heart smiled knowing that kids are still creative and in touch with paint and a canvas, or knitting needles and yarn. Technology hasn’t completely taken over the next generation. This makes me happy.

Have you ever seen a centennial Arizona flag made out of Legos? I officially have.

There was definitely a hipster sighting. I know, look who’s talking, right? But my point is that we saw young families, kids in high school, hipsters, hicks – all of Phoenix was represented, the full gamut of folks who make up one of the largest cities in the country.

Where else does that happen without some kind of riot breaking out? There’s something about the fair that appeals to all of us. Maybe it’s the giant turkey legs.

Or maybe it’s the energy, the throwback, the fun, and the opportunity for a couple to walk around holding hands, enjoying the simplest things in life.

Yeah, I’m gonna go with that one.