Girl Gone Globetrotting

Traveling, shopping and eating my way around the world. Or as far as I can go! And sharing the tales of my travels with whoever will listen. Follow on Bloglovin

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Because J hadn’t seen enough cacti on his hike, we made sure to plan an outing to the Desert Botanical Gardens. Only problem? It was 95 degrees. So much for my brilliant plan to take J back to Arizona when the heat had died down a bit. (Though if you’re from the area you know 95 is better than 110 any day!)

I hadn’t been to the Botanical Gardens in years, so I was excited to see the best plant life the desert has to offer!

The entrance to the gardens got an upgrade since I was there last—three new bright green cactus-like blown glass towers, left from Dale Chihuly’s last exhibit, at the garden are on display.

Side Note: If you’re in the Phoenix area from Nov. 10th of this year to May 18th, 2014, you should definitely stop by the Botanical Gardens because Chihuly is back with a whole new exhibition! I missed his last exhibit, so I’m totally planning to stop by this time.

We walked around for a while, seeking shade where we could and peeking around at cacti and succulents in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some of the most commonbarrel, saguaro, and prickly pear—and the most unusual are above. (The picture of the grouping of giant saguaros is the backdrop for one of my favorite pins I’ve ever seen on Pinterest.com: Check it out here.)

I’d been talking about bringing back some prickly pear jelly for a while, so when we spotted a prickly pear cactus I had to point it out to J. I didn’t know that this would become J’s first not-so-fun brush with Arizona plant life.

My dad picked a prickly pear fruit off of the cactus and handed it to J, which obviously he had to squeeze and then proceed to pretend drink the juice. Unaware that almost everything in Arizona has stickers on it, J got little pokeys in his fingers.

We pulled the ones out that we could and the others fell out naturally throughout the day, as most stickers do, but he won’t make the mistake of touching a cactus again. At least I hope not.

Where to Find It:
1201 N. Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008
(480) 941-1225

Earlier this month I took J back to my homeland—that arid place where the mercury is almost always pushing 90 and cacti is our landscape’s main source of “greenery”—Arizona.

Over the next week, follow along as I share our adventures in the Southwest.

Above you’ll see the view from our hike up Pinnacle Peak on J’s first day in A-Z. I had to do some shock therapy and immerse him in the dusty desert right away. What J wasn’t aware of is that since Pinnacle Peak isn’t too strenuous, he would be on the receiving end of a deluge of desert facts. (If I’m schlepping my out of shape, haven’t-been-to-the-gym-in-a-year body up a hill, we have to keep it easy.)

J now knows all he needs to know about Arizona flora and fauna, from “Why is the palo verde tree named that?” to “How long does it take a saguaro cactus to grow an arm?” 

The answers are:

1. In Spanish, “palo verde” means “green stick” and so the palo verde tree is aptly named because the bark is green.

2. The saguaro can take anywhere from 50 to 100 years to grow an arm.

Go ahead, pull those fun facts out at a party. You know you wanna…

Photograph by me. October 2013.

I’m going to get in trouble for saying this yet again, but J loves a good beer. He prefers one that’s tipping the IBU scale at 120. IBU is the scale by which bitterness is measured in beers. The higher the number, the more bitter the beer. Also the more hops used to brew the beer, the more bitter the taste. Needless to say, J is a fan of uber-bitter beers, which I think is totally gross; but who am I to judge?

Anyway, I digress…

In order to prep for his upcoming visit to Arizona (yay!), my family and I tested out a local brewery, Fate Brewing in Scottsdale. Though they were out of the Belgian Whit, which I knew I would love, my dad and I both got a flight of the house-brewed beers. I wanted to see if J would like the beer, but what do I know about bitter beers? Nothing.

So it’s a good thing that Fate not only has yummy beer, but it also has a delicious little restaurant that offers interesting wood-fired pizzas, salads, and appetizers.

We started with the breads and spreads appetizer, which we devoured. The most divisive dip was the sweet orange mascarpone dip. The men weren’t big fans, but the ladies loved it.

Fate’s pizzas aren’t the typical pepperoni and cheese versions you find at every bar. They’re interesting and (dare I say) gourmet. We had one topped with fennel sausage, mozzarella, goat cheese, mushrooms, and tomato sauce. Another pie was covered in capicola ham, pecorino cheese, mozzarella and olive oil. 

It always feels good to eat at a local restaurant instead of a chain, but when the food and beer are as good as they are at Fate, it’s a win-win.

Photography by me. July 2013.

Where to Find It:
7337 E. Shea Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(480) 994-1275

One of my favorite places in the world, Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., recently opened up a delicious traditional Italian restaurant called Isabella’s Kitchen. Maybe my dad works for Grayhawk’s parent company, and maybe I spent a good chunk of my childhood years “learning” to golf on Grayhawk’s links, so maybe I’m biased. But, with or without that family history, Isabella’s has great food, yummy cocktails, and even better views.

Take a peek at Isabella’s, one of the best spots to dine if you’re in Scottsdale.

Photography by me. July 2013.

Where to Find It:
8623 E. Thompson Peak Pkwy.
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
(480) 502-3100

Homemade Hostess CupCakes at La Grande Orange in Phoenix. My family and I stopped by on a busy weekday for lunch only to discover that La Grande Orange isn’t a traditional eatery. Part grocery store, part restaurant it doesn’t matter because the food is 100% delicious.

Photograph by me. December 2012.

Gargantuan romantic yet rustic lights hang from weathered rope in the Restoration Hardware home furnishings store in Scottsdale, Ariz. I wanted to cut one of these precious babies down and take it home with me. Le sigh.

Photograph by me, taken with Instagram for iPhone. December 2012.

Just another Arizona sunset. I always miss the painted desert sky when I leave. Look at how vivid the purples and pinks are as they strike the clouds. Perfection.

Photograph by me. December 2012.

I made rosettes with mama for the first time in several years. I love bringing back Christmas traditions that might have otherwise been lost. Here’s to reliving the holidays for a few more weeks.

Photograph by me. December 2012.

The antler chandeliers at The Lodge bar/restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz. are decked out for the holidays. Every other ch-ant-elier (Get it?) had mistletoe hanging from the center. Clever.

Photograph by me, taken with Instagram. December 2012.

My favorite holiday decoration was this flying pig.

The inflatable sock monkey below is a close second.

Photograph by me. December 2012.