Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year from Taos, New Mexico!

I saw this on Facebook today (thanks Gigi) and thought it accurately summed up my goals for 2013. I decided to post on all three of my blogs.

Wishing each of you a very happy, healthy and inspirational new year. Thank you so much for visiting California Girl in Taos this year.  I wasn't sure about starting another blog, but your response proves there is a lot of interest in my newest adventure here in beautiful Taos, New Mexico.  I so appreciate your comments, emails, facebook posts, tweets and support!   Please let me know if you have a particular experience/story you would like me to tell in 2013. 
Speaking of experiences....scraping snow off the jeep at 7:00 am to be able to drive to an 8:00 am yoga class is a very new experience for this California girl!!
be safe tonight!

my best,
december 31, 2012

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First Snow

photo d.padoven

It is snowing in Taos right now...big, fat fluffy flakes.  I made it to yoga this morning, now am sitting in front of a fire writing this post.  For many people, this is a common way to spend a December day.  For this California girl, a completely new experience.

Taos' first snowfall of 2012 was last Sunday.  It had been predicted for days but was still a bit of a surprise for me.  I woke up to clear blue skies and bright sun.  By noon there was cloud 2:00 pm the snow began to fall...and fall...and fall.  It snowed all afternoon and throughout the evening.  Amazingly beautiful.  I grabbed my camera, ran outside and began snapping photos.
photo d. padoven
Happily it was Sunday and there was no place I needed to go.  Football, a big pot of beans, a pan of cornbread, hot cocoa, fires in the kivas, warm house....perfect. 

The next morning was a different story.  And this is where the California Girl kicks in.  I had a 8:00 am yoga class.  Across town.  My jeep was covered in snow...and ice.  First time experiences for me: scraping said snow and ice, starting the jeep 20 minutes before I left to warm it up, being one of the first people on the road, bright sun bouncing off the snow blinding me at different curves in the street, layers and layers of clothing, snow boots.  Yikes.  I asked Peter for some driving advice.  His response?  "Go slow and be careful"  OK...I was looking for bit more specificity....but I guess that covered the important points :)

Taos Inn and Adobe Bar-photo courtesy Gabriel J Romero

We desperately need the snow here in New Mexico as we have been suffering from a major drought for many years...and the forecast for 2013 is particularly dire.  In Taos we need the snow for three major reasons.  The water of course, but Taos Ski Valley is one of the best areas to ski in the world.  We depend on the tourist dollars to support the local economy.  The snow also brings non-skiers who want to spend time in a winter wonderland eating at our delicious restaurants, touring our award winning museums and art galleries, listening to terrific music, shopping and just experiencing Taos.

photo courtesy Gabriel J Romero
photo courtesy Gabriel J Romero
I have never lived in an area that snows in Winter. I am just now experiencing four completely different seasons. So good.  I love looking at the buildings frosted with fluffy, white snow.  My friends and family are getting quite a kick out of me....a person who lives for Summer and warm weather...happily posting about liking snowfall.  But there is something magical about Taos in winter.  There are very few cloudy days...the sun shines 310 days per after the storms end we are blessed with amazing blue skies and low humidity.  It does get cold, but you can dress for it.  Maybe I will be singing a different tune in March but, right now, bring on more snow.  It is so very beautiful here.  Merry Christmas!
thanks to my new facebook friend gabriel for the use of his wonderful photos!

my best,
december 19, 2012

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lighting of Ledoux Street

Ledoux Street is the oldest street in Taos. Named after Paul Ledoux, a French trapper who settled in Taos in the 1800’s, this street is a winding, curvy, narrow path housing shops, homes, art galleries, an amazing yoga studio, restaurants and museums including the famous Harwood Museum of Art.  Ledoux is a must see during any visit to Taos but perhaps never more important than the annual Lighting Ledoux event now in its sixteenth year.

My new acquaintance Sharon first told me about the celebration.  She described it as "magical" and "incredibly romantic".  She was spot on.  The street is closed off to vehicles for two hours from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm the second Saturday in December.  Over 1000 farolitos (small paper bags filled with sand containing a lit candle) line the street and buildings creating the only light.  Most buildings have a luminaria (a small bonfire) in the front courtyard.  I was charmed to see merchants and gallery owners handing out wooden sticks with marshmallows attached for toasting.  Warm cider, cookies and hot chocolate were available to all.

Of all the Taos Holiday celebrations I have attended this year, Lighting Ledoux is my favorite.  It represents everything I imagined living in Taos would be.  The event was filled with families and friends laughing, talking, hugging and catching up. Wide eyed children were enchanted with the lights...and the toasted marshmallows.  Tourists were charmed with our town. There is a true feeling of community...everyone coming together to celebrate the magic of Taos...and the spirit of the Holidays.

We spent an hour wandering through the wonderful Harwood Museum soaking in the art, then visited every gallery...meeting the artists and admiring their work. we ended the evening with an amazing dinner at a terrific restaurant Antonio's....then went to the tree lighting party at The Adobe Inn.  Merry Christmas Taos!

If you have a thought to visit Taos in December (and you should make this a priority sometime soon), plan your trip during Lighting will be very, very happy. 

my best,
December 10, 2012

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Taos Feeds Taos

Are you in or near Taos?  If so, please join me tonight at KTAOS Solar Center for the 5th Annual Taos Feeds Taos Food Drive at 8:00 pm.  Admission is either 5 cans of food or $7.00 per person.  The very, very cool local band Last to Know is headlining. 

A little bit of background about Taos Feeds Taos from their website:

"Taos Feeds Taos - 27 years of Feeding Needy FamiliesOur Taos County is rich in beauty, natural resources, art and culture. For this we give thanks as the holiday season approaches. But many among us are struggling to keep their families together, warm and well-fed. We urge Taos individuals, families and businesses who have been blessed with prosperity in 2012 to join us in helping those in need.
Since 1997 we have delivered over 7000 baskets and the amount spent for food has been in excess of $500,000.00.

This project would not be a success without the support of the National Guard who have allowed us to use the Armory, the troops and the trucks to transport and deliver the food to outlying communities, also the public school children for the food and money contributions.

Lastly thank you Taos for the money and donations, and for your help in putting the baskets together. WE ARE A NON-PROFIT 501 c-3 CORPORATION.

The group's t-shirt uniforms say it all: "Love JOY Peace."

all photos courtesy Taos Feeds Taos Website

Each Taos Feeds Taos Christmas Box will contain the following so please add items from this list to your shopping cart:

Sugar - 5 lb
Flour - 5 lb
Pinto Beans - 2 lb
Rice - 2 lb
Pasta - 1 lb
Lentil Beans - 1 lb
Spaghetti sauce - canned
Coffee - 1 lb
Macaroni & Cheese - box
Saltine Crackers - box
Cookies - 2 lb
Candy - 1 lb
Evaporated Milk - unsweetened
Oatmeal - 18 oz box
Orange Juice - 46 oz can
Pie Crust - 1 box
Pumpkin - 15 oz can
Pears - 15 oz can
Peaches - 15 oz can
Fruit Cocktail - 15 oz can
Cranberries - 16 oz can
Peas - 15 oz can
Green Beans - 15 oz can
Corn - 15 oz can
Mixed Vegetables - 15 oz can
Yams - 29 oz can
Stove Top Stuffing - box
Dried Posole - 12 oz pkg
Dried Red Chile - 8 oz dried
Beef Stew - 24 oz can
Canned Tuna - 5 oz
Canned Chicken - 6 oz
Chicken Noodle Soup - 10 oz
Tomato Soup - 10 oz
Dry Cereal - 13 oz

Hope to see you tonight!  If you are unable to attend the benefit concert, donations are always welcome.  Please visit the website for additional information.

See you tonight!

my best,
December 7, 2012

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Early December

December in Taos.  What a beautiful, magical, glorious place to celebrate the Holidays.  Our population is made up of Native Americans who have lived at the Taos Pueblo for over 1000 years, New Mexicans descended from a Spanish colony formed in the 1600s and more recent arrivals, settlers from other parts of the United States, beginning in the late 1800s.  These three cultures provide an eclectic mix of Holiday traditions and celebrations.
hotel lafonda on the plaza....decorated with farolitos

If you are from out of town, the first thing you will notice is the lack of commercialism...the natural and authentic looking Holiday decorations.  Very few people use the traditional Christmas lights.  Far more prevalent are the farolitos (paper bags filled with sand holding a lit candle) lining walkways, sidewalks and buildings.  There is an emphasis on hand-crafted and homemade....on using ingredients from nature...on art.

I have never spent a Holiday season in here; we have always come later in Winter.  I am looking forward to experiencing all that Taos has to offer...and to sharing the experiences with you.  The first official Holiday launch was the tree lighting ceremony at Taos Plaza.  This two hour celebration featured music from local schools, choirs and sing-along Christmas carols led by the Girl, Boy and Cub Scouts, a Yuletide parade, speeches from local officials, a visit from Santa, dancers from the Pueblo...called Izcalli in Nanatzi Danaza Azteca and, of course, the lighting of the beautiful tree.

It felt like everyone from town showed up.  The wait for Santa was long but, fueled with the free hot chocolate and cookies that were handed out, bearable.  The children in line were very patient and joined in with all the singing.  Something about little children singing and laughing at the top of their lungs gets me every time.  We ended our night with chile rellenos and the world's best margaritas (cowboy buddhas) at the Adobe Bar...a must visit if you come Taos.   What a perfect night.

The local paper put out a special edition listing all of the events being held throughout the month of December.  I am going to attend as many as possible. How cool is that? 

Happy December!

my best,
december 3rd, 2012

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winter Farmers' Market

I love the Farmers' Market in Taos.  It has a very authentic, real feeling.  You can tell the farmers are local, from small farms where they pick their produce early in the morning the day of market and then set up with very simple displays. 

We moved to Taos in time for the last two markets of the year and I stocked up as much as possible. Sadly, I was just not unpacked and organized enough to buy, freeze and can the amount of local produce needed to last through winter. Next year for sure.  This winter will be spent exploring ways to eat locally in a winter climate with very cold weather and very high altitude. (We are at 6,967 feet in the town of Taos). I realize just how spoiled I have been living in California all of my life with year round easy access to fresh, local produce.

I was very happy to hear about the first annual Taos Winter Holiday Market which was held the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Designed to give locals access to end-of-season  produce, fresh baked goods, honey, beef, lamb, preserves, spices and holiday gifts (all from local farmers, purveyors and artisans) the Market was a huge success. This was the perfect opportunity to shop for the Thanksgiving meal and begin Holiday gift buying. 


I was so encouraged by the large crowd of both TaoseƱos and tourists clamoring for organic and/or suistainably grown food.  Taos has always been at the forefront of eco-friendly living.  The emphasis on the locovore movement is growing as farmers and locals learn growing techniques to expand our very short growing season.  I look forward to sharing the successes and learnings (hydroponics, cold frames and greenhouses anyone?)

Keep it local my friends!

my best,
november 27, 2012

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Forbes Magazine Loves Taos

photo by Kate Donnelly

I love it when magazines report on Taos!  Thanks Forbes...I agree with all of your suggestions.

" Can driving be poetry? It can on a scenic and spectacular drive through New Mexico. Writer and Fathom contributor Kate Donnelly goes for a spin. \

TAOS, New Mexico – During my week in Santa Fe, I opt for a 56-mile day trip to Taos (with my adventurous mom in the driver’s seat). Taos is America’s spiritual and historical past. Great artists and thinkers (Georgia O’Keefe, Ansel Adams, Carl Jung) have all passed through. So should you.
The road to take? The mountainous, winding High Road, of course, which involves a few stops:"

click to continue reading

Friday, November 2, 2012

Los Dias de Muertos "The Day of the Dead"

Halloween is a huge event in Taos but just as big, and more interesting to me, is the Day of the Dead celebration ("Los Dias de Muertos" in Spanish) which falls on November 2nd to coincide with All Souls day.  This tradition is supposed to celebrate our departed loved ones and help ease their transition to the afterlife.  The tradition started in Mexico over 3000 years ago.  According to the book "The Days of the Dead/Los Dias de Muertos" by Greenleigh-Beimler,  the day is "celebrated with a mixture of reverence for the departed, revelry to make them happy upon their return and mockery to defy the fear of death itself"

Traditionally families get together and visit the grave sites of their departed loved ones.  They decorate the sites with candles, toys, bottles of tequila, flowers, pictures of their loved ones, notes to them, garlands.etc.  Then they gather at family homes and celebrate with food, drink and music.  Sometimes they build altars in their homes and decorate them with the same materials they used at the cemetery.  They also add calaveras which are skeleton-like figures that are supposed to look like the person did when he/she was alive.  The calaveras also often depict what the person did for a living.  Originally made from sugar, they are now made from many different types of materials in many different sizes.

The Adobe Bar in Taos has held a Day of the Dead celebration for twenty three years.  Each year, George and Beverly Chacon build an altar memorial and invite everyone in the community to add the names and photos of their departed loved ones. Tonight I am live blogging at the celebration amidst a huge crowd.  I met Beverly earlier this evening.  She explained that the altar has been set up for a few days but that most of the names have been added tonight.  She told me there would be music, dancing, an explanation of Day of the Dead and lots of food.  The Adobe Bar would conclude the evening by passing out Mexican hot chocolate and pan de muerte (bread of the dead) a slightly sweet bread flavored with cinnamon traditionally served on this day.  Beverly told me "The bread is delicious.  Take some and put it in your pockets.  It will be wonderful for breakfast tomorrow morning"
Day of the Dead altar at the Adobe Bar

George spoke a while ago and explained the history of the celebration and their family's involvement.  Then he invited the crowd to speak a bit about their loved ones. 

Right now there is live music from the Cuban rumba players Caridad and Daniel, described by George as "sacred drumming from the ancestors".  The beat is addicting, people are dancing, laughing, eating, drinking, talking...many are dressed as calaveras with white painted faces and black paint around their eyes, noses and mouths to depict skeletons.  It is a wild, wonderful and oh so interesting scene.  I love Taos!

my best,
november 2, 2012

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween in Taos

we stumbled upon the halloween festival in taos yesterday.  what a hoot!  the town sponsers a trick-or-treat parade where the local merchants from the plaza and john dunn shops hand out candy.  it felt like the entire town turned out...and everyone had fantastic costumes.

i expected adorable children...


but was most surprised by the number of adults dressed up at 3:00 pm trick-or-treating too....everyone loves candy!  (and most of the grown ups continued on to parties being held at the bars and restaurants in town)....what a night...
warm sunny day...beautiful blue music...everyone smiling and laughing....margaritas at the alley cantina. halloween in taos, new mexico.

my best,
november 1, 2012

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