Archive for the ‘Tucson Treasure’ Category

What You May Not Know about the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

March 20th, 2015 by valerieosborne

Gems

Tucson has many treasures, but the Tucson Gem and Mineral show may be the crowning jewel.  Since the 1970’s, gem and mineral professionals, enthusiasts, collectors, and major museums from all over the world come together in little ol’ Tucson in the beautiful month of February.  So how did it come to be that all these folks, including miners from Mali, Morocco, and Switzerland, ship themselves and their most precious rocks and fossils to the deserts of Arizona?

The roots of this legendary gathering reach back to 1954 in a Tucson elementary school parking lot.  On this blacktop a group of mineral collectors and rock hounds under the name of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society created a free exhibition open to the public.  The society’s intent for themselves and the show was to further the knowledge and appreciation for the hobby of mineral collection and lapidary that was just beginning to grow.

vintage parking lot

The exhibition was so successful the organizers decided to make it an annual event.  Over the years the show grew considerably.  Today this “main show” continues to be held by Tucson Gem and Mineral Society volunteers at the Tucson Convention Center.  As a result of the powerful popularity of the main show, many spin-off shows have sprouted up all over the greater Tucson area, bringing even more fun and variety to the scene.

Tucson Gem Mineral and Fossil Showcase from above

Some say the main show gained its global reputation due to the variety and quality of specimens on display including prominent gem, mineral, and fossil displays from museums such as the Smithsonian, the London Museum of Nautral Hisotry, and many more.  For example, one year the Hope Diamond attended the show!  Yet, this does not fully explain how the show became an international phenomenon…how it attracted such special exhibitions.

hope diamond

The main show is philanthropic in nature.  In alignment with the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society’s mission to encourage interest and study in geology, mineralogy, lapidary, and allied earth sciences, all of the proceeds are invested into mineral collections with local organizations such as the University of Arizona, and the Arizona Sonora Desert museum, which further mineral knowledge and appreciation.  Proceeds from the show also go to scholarships in the Geosciences Department at the University of Arizona, and to the Boys and Girls Club.  The Gem Show’s philanthropic orientation helps attract world-class museum quality specimens, but the attraction of this show goes even deeper than that.

If you visit the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society’s website you will find the true magnet.  It is the simple, no-nonsense, and singular passion of the members of this Tucson society that makes the Gem Show what it is.  They are so passionate about mineral collecting and lapidary that they do their best to share the best of it.  Their enthusiasm is contagious, and The Gem and Mineral Show is just one facet of the riches they offer to the public.

tucson gem and mineral society

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society offers meeting on the first Monday of each month (except September).  These meetings present gems and minerals from many perspectives with the intention to excite adventurers and collectors alike.  In the summer the Society holds potluck dinners.  The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society also offers classes and field trips to broaden the knowlege and skills of members.  Visit their website to find out more! www.tgms.org

The story of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show reminds me of the amazing feats a small group of dedicated people can achieve when we pool our passion together.  So, I invite you to come to the sunny Sonoran Desert, sit on a rock, and ponder a while.  What are your passions? We’d love to host you here at The Inns at El Rancho Merlita.  Maybe you’ll come take a class such as “Everything You Need to Know on Gemstones.”  Perhaps you will even make it to the fabulous 2016 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, “Shades of Bule – Minerals of the World,” February 11-14, 2016.  Until then, shine on you crazy diamond!

All the best,

The ERM Family

Desert view

Desert view with the Catalina Mountains

Why we love Summer in Tucson!

June 5th, 2014 by pattiebell

83 degree Salt Water!

83 degree Salt Water!

We love Summer in Tucson because everything in general is calmer and more relaxed.

Less traffic ~ The absence of our winter tourists, who of course we love, quiets the byways of our town considerably.

No crowds to fight at our favorite restaurants  ~  For the same reason.  All businesses  are happy to see customers during the summer months in Tucson. It’s a perfect time to experience the many new eateries calling Downtown Tucson home.

Mount Lemmon ~ At 92,000 feet, the highest peak in the Catalina Mountains.  The beginning of the Catalina Highway which takes you there is just a 15 minute drive from El Rancho Merlita.  Hike in the tall cool pines. Enjoy lunch in the village of Summerhaven.  Ride the lift at Ski Valley.  Gaze at the stars from The University of Az’s Sky Center.

http://www.skithelemmon.com/page2.html

http://skycenter.arizona.edu/programs/public/skynights

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s Cool Summer Nights program.

https://www.desertmuseum.org/visit/events_saturday.php?ref=hp

The Ranch House front porch is the perfect place to watch the Monsoon storms roll in. The Monsoon is our summer rainy season. Typically it begins in early July and can last until mid-September, bringing the possibility of rain every day. The storms usually occur in the afternoons or early evening  and are accompanied by plenty of wind, thunder and lightning. They move around the valley swiftly and don’t last very long. Once a monsoon rain has fallen around you the air is cooled and refreshed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Monsoon

Our salt water swimming pool temperature is PERFECT ~  83 degrees.

Taking advantage of our seriously discounted rates means you can splurge on a massage.  Mention you have read this Blog post and receive $10 off One Hour, and $15 off a Ninety minute massage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tucson,_Arizona

http://www.visittucson.org/

 

Spring Activities!

March 4th, 2014 by pattiebell

Although Spring does not officially arrive until later this month, it has definitely sprung early in Tucson this year. Wildflowers blooming, milder than average temperatures and that certain something in the air make it a great time to get out and enjoy the many activities being offered around town!

Did you know Tucson hosts the 4th largest Festival of Books in the country?  March 15 and 16 on the University of Arizona Mall brings us 300 presentations, 200 exhibitors, and tons of opportunities to meet authors, poets, screenwriters and journalists participating in signings, panel discussions and book sharing. http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/

Tucson’s proud and lively Irish community throws their 27th Annual St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival in Armory Park in Downtown Tucson on March 15th. Guaranteed to get your green up! http://www.tucsonstpatricksday.com/

The Historic 4th Avenue Shopping District is home to the 4th Ave. Street Fair twice each year and this Spring’s event is Mar. 21-23.  Hundreds of juried artist and crafts persons, plenty of food and refreshing beverages, live music, kid’s activities and street performers. http://www.fourthavenue.org/fairs/general-information/

Are you a train enthusiast? Tucson has a very special transportation museum at the Tucson Historic Depot.  On March 22nd The Silver Spike Festival celebrates the 134th anniversary of the railroad in Tucson! http://www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org/

Theater buffs will be happy to know that the Arizona Theater Company presents “Around the World in 80 Days” through Mar 22. Boasting incredible sets and productions, our theater company makes its home in the beautifully restored Temple of Music and Art.  http://www.arizonatheatre.org/our-shows/around-the-world-in-80-days/

And Broadway in Tucson brings us “I Love Lucy: Live on Stage” March 25 – 30. This acclaimed show puts you in the seat at the studio where the famous TV shows were taped and includes plenty of the original music from Ricky and the band. http://www.broadwayintucson.com/shows_lucy_prices.html/

What says Spring more that fluttering butterflies? Experience a live tropical butterfly exhibit everyday through April 30th at Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.  http://www.tucsonbotanical.org/

The Arizona State Museum on the campus of the University presents “Edward Curtis Reframed: The Arizona Volumes” through July 30, 2015. The exhibit will display 20 of the famed photographer’s portraits of the American West at a time, rotating every 6 months, to show a total of 60 works. The State Museum also houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of 2000 years worth of Native pottery making in the Southwest – that’s  over 20,000 whole vessels. http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/exhibits/index.shtml

This is just a sampling!  Visit http://www.visittucson.org/events/calendar/ for more.

 

Farmers Market inspired Salad Nicoise and Tucson’s Own Barrio Bread ~

August 7th, 2013 by pattiebell

nicoise best croppedMy trip this past weekend to one of Tucson’s many Farmers Markets was most fruitful! Well, mostly it was vegetableful – perfect green beans, fresh new potatoes and salad greens, all locally grown. Today I combined them with some other on-hand ingredients to create one of my favorite composed saladsSalad Niçoise

I boiled the green beans in plenty of salted water until tender. This method cooks the beans faster and more evenly than steaming. The potatoes were cubed and tossed in olive oil with salt, pepper and some red bell pepper that needed to be consumed, and roasted in a hot oven until crisp on the edges.  My preferred approach to boiling eggs – place eggs in a pan, cover with cool water, and bring to boil uncovered. Once boiling, remove from heat, cover and allow to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing in cool water.

I can certainly appreciate a fancy restaurant Nicoise with a chunk of seared Ahi Tuna on top, but I also really like the canned stuff. I found a nice variety of pole and troll caught Wild Albacore at Wild Planet Foods

I also had some young homegrown garlic on hand so it went into a simple LemonGarlic Vinaigrette

The beans, potatoes, and tuna are marinated generously and separately in the vinaigrette  (the beans and potatoes while still warm). Place a bed of greens on your plate and arrange sections of each ingredient on top, thus composing the salad as you go. I like them at room temperature but you may want to chill everything first. Either way it is a lovely and satisfying summer meal.

Especially if you have a big chunk of beautifully baked fresh bread, which is what got me to the Farmers Market in the first place. Here in Tucson we are blessed with a unique bread baking venture –Barrio Bread

Barrio Bread is not your traditional bakery! Their business model is a CSB, Community Supported Baker. There is  no retail store, instead the bread is offered at different locations in the community. Don carefully crafts every loaf of Barrio Bread and has a small and dedicated team to assist in the distribution and sales. Production is driven by a pre-order system or a Bread Share at the Tucson CSA. This maximizes the use of resources and minimizes waste and spoilage, thus creating a smaller carbon footprint. The CSB model also ensures the freshest and healthiest bread for the bread lovers of our community. I tried the Cranberry Walnut and Pain au Levain – both wonderful. Can’t wait to try the other varieties, and incorporate them into some of my breakfast recipes for our guests!

Shopping at the Farmers Market gives me a warm glow – both because I am supporting these vital food producing efforts and because it truly inspires me to take better care of myself. And you know, a well nourished innkeeper is a happy innkeeper!

 

 

Parry Penstemon

February 21st, 2012 by pattiebell

A real show stopper when planted in masses in the garden, spring-blooming Parry penstemon sports light to dark pink flowers on 3-4 foot flower stalks. Not only is it attractive in bloom, it is also easy to care for. An added feature is the tubular shape of the flowers which are perfect for attracting hummingbirds.  Parry penstemon grows along washes, on desert slopes, and in canyons in southern Arizona and in Sonora, Mexico, generally at elevations from 1500-5000 feet. You occasionally see it in masses in the wild, but it is more common to see one or two plants here and there. This area is irrigated, which allows for abundant spreading as the plants drop their seeds each year.

New Year Violets!

January 5th, 2012 by pattiebell

Where I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, violets peeking through the last of winter’s snow announced the arrival of Spring. This little patch of them growing right outside the Ranch House entrance (possibly planted by Merle herself in the ’50s?) seems to be wishing us a Happy New Year!

A Most Admirable Amaryllis

December 21st, 2011 by pattiebell

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the appearance of these floral favorites.

Every year I adopt one and enjoy the process of seeing it burst into bloom. This year’s may be a record breaker ~ SEVEN blossoms at once!

I have to keep adjusting it’s stance just to prevent it from toppling over.

 

Peppermint Kisses

December 20th, 2011 by pattiebell

These little delights are on the cover of December’s Bon Appetit magazine. I thought I’d give them a try.

Light, minty meringues, with their cheerful red swirls…what’s not to like?!

I just followed the recipe. Here’s the link. Lots of other good cookie offerings there as well.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/12/peppermint-meringues

 

Simply Sublime Shortbread

August 2nd, 2011 by pattiebell

Sometimes simple is simply the best! I have added everything from sesame oil and seeds to fresh rosemary and orange zest to this shortbread, but sometimes this unadorned basic recipe is all you need!

Cream 2 sticks room temperature butter with 1/2 cup white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Gradually blend in about 2 cups unbleached flour until dough pulls together and is soft and smooth and no longer sticky. Form into a ball and cut in half. Pat each half into a buttered 9 inch pie pan until flat and even. With the tines of a fork score the edges all around. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until golden.  As soon as you remove the pans from the oven, cut each into 12 wedges and poke the decorative holes with fork tines. Allow to cool. Can be stored in pans tightly wrapped for a few days at room temperature.

You can experiment with adding different extracts, zests, spices and nuts for a variety of flavors and textures. Or not. Either way, enjoy the buttery crunchiness of this lovely traditional shortbread!

Amazing Quail Egg!

June 28th, 2011 by pattiebell

Apparently the egg is malleable enough that the hatchlings can peck a semi-circle and squeeze out without breaking the shell. This was dry and firm when I found it. We have not had nearly as many quail babies this year as last, but a couple families are passing through regularly. We had to give up the quail seed blocks because the javelina were devouring them in a matter of days!

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