Southwestern #Wedding Traditions—Part 3

The bridal vase is an ancient vessel still used in traditional Native American wedding ceremonies, especially among the Navajo and Pueblo tribes. One spout represents the husband; the other, the wife. The looped handle symbolizes marital unity.images13

A week or two before the couple is married, the groom’s parents build the wedding vase from clay found in a local river bed. Once the vessel has been fired, both families gather. Both sets of parents give their wisdom to the couple, and the wedding vase is traditionally filled with a nectar made by the medicine man. Many contemporary couples choose water or an herbal infused tea to represent the blending of their lives.

First the groom offers his bride the vessel and she drinks from one spout. She then turns the wedding vase clockwise, and the groom then drinks from this same side. Each will then drink from the opposite side of the wedding vase, and then finally in the culmination of the ceremony, they will both drink from the wedding vase together. It is said that if they manage this feat without spilling a drop they will always have a strong, cooperative relationship. The vase then becomes a cherished piece in their household and great care is taken to make sure it is never damaged.

A cherished tradition, the bridal jar is quite beautiful, and its design is an inherent component of its meaning. The rounded base and shared reservoir of the vase represent the couple’s now-shared lives. The looped handle, much like a wedding band, is a visible reminder of the deeper, spiritual connection shared by a husband and wife. The handle creates a circle in the center of the vase that represents the circle of life.

What is one of your favorite wedding traditions?

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#Recipe—Sopapillas—Courtesy of Under a Turquoise Sky

Sopapillas—often called “little pillows”—are a true New Mexico staple. This quick bread actually originated in Albuquerque almost 200 years ago.

Like Southerners use biscuits, both sopapillas and tortillas are utilized as “sop” breads. Their purpose is to soak up the liquids in a dish, or to use for stuffing with the foods. These sop breads are so popular because they can be eaten without utensils.images

Try this the way I learned to make biscuits. Alter ingredient measurements based on the way the dough feels.

Yields: 2 dozen
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 15 minutes


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups warm milk
Vegetable Oil (for frying)

Dough Preparation:

Blend the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter. Add the milk and mix the dough with a fork.

Flour your work area and knead the dough mass by folding it in half. Push down and fold again. Continue to push, punch, and fold until dough is soft but no longer sticky.

Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rest 10-15 minutes.

Divide the dough in half, but keep the other half wrapped in plastic to avoid drying it out.

Roll the dough to 1/8 thickness. Avoid overworking—results in tough sopapillas.

Cut the dough into rectangles approximately 10×5″. Divide into a 5-inch squares, and then cut this into a triangle.

Frying sopappilas:

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or a deep fryer. The oil should be about 400 degrees.

Submerge the sopapilla in the oil. It should puff. The puff makes the sopapilla a sopapilla. But if it doesn’t puff—don’t fret. “Unpuffed” is good, too.

Non-puffing—this is starting to sound like a cigarette commercial—indicates the oil temperature needs to be increased or decreased depending on the humidity or altitude where you live.

Let the sopapilla fry about 2 minutes per side and then turn with a slotted spoon for another 2 minutes. Once golden brown, remove the sopapilla to drain on a paper towel.

My favorite way to eat sopapillas is to drizzle agave over them while warm. They can be refrigerated and reheated at 350 degrees for 10 minutes in the oven.

This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen sopapillas.

How do you like your sopapillas?

For more recipes and behind-the-scene photos from Under a Turquoise Sky, visit

My Irish Channel inspiration—The world needs more real life CeCe’s

index14The summer after my sophomore year in college (1980s), I had the privilege of living and working in the Irish Channel district of New Orleans with a Baptist mission project and several full time Baptist home missionaries.

This working class neighborhood is bordered on the south by the Mississippi River and on the north by the fabulously wealthy mansions of the historic Garden District. Initially settled by emigrant Irish Americans in the 19th century, the area is now largely populated by African-Americans and Latinos.images15

It’s a tough place to live, to grow up, and attempt to survive, much less thrive. Kailyn’s multiple obstacles to traverse before entering CeCe’s mission house/clinic accurately describe the mission house I lived in that summer. My bedroom overlooked a park across the street where drugs and flesh were bought and sold on a regular basis. Sexual assaults were not uncommon.

images13The most common type of home is called a shotgun house—you can guess why. This was a place law enforcement—at least in those days—preferred not to frequent. I once personally witnessed a police car chasing a suspect who was on foot. When the suspect crossed the invisible boundary separating the Garden District from the Irish Channel, the police car screeched to a halt  and reversed as the suspect continued running into the “sanctuary” of the Irish Channel.

images14Because the Irish Channel was built on the city’s old high ground, it largely escaped the catastrophic devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The mission house which provided invaluable after school and summer opportunities for neighborhood youth as well as essential food pantry items for the populace closed in 2010. The Irish Channel Neighborhood Association is making a valiant attempt to rehabilitate their corner of the world.

For more behind-the-scene photos from Under a Turquoise Sky, visit

2 minute #Video—Therapy dogs help abused children

I never knew about this type of therapy dog until I researched Under a Turquoise Sky.

For a more in-depth perspective of the valuable services these dogs provide—6 minute #video

Tecolote Cafe—Santa Fe, New Mexico

images1It really is the best breakfast in town.index


I love this place—And Guy Fieri agrees.


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Southwestern Dream #Wedding—Part 2

Kailyn’s tips for planning a southwestern dream #wedding—a picture is worth a thousand words:

images3The dress

images2Must-Have turquoise bling

index11The boots

images11The groom

indexThe bouquet

index6The bridesmaids

index4The cake

index14The groom’s cake

imagesThe reception

images4index1Variations on a theme of turquoise

images9The happily-ever-after

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#Recipe—Huevos Rancheros—from Under a Turquoise Sky

There are many versions of huevos rancheros. Some people use cheese, beans or grilled chiles. The most authentic version must include eggs and salsa, served with corn tortillas.


4 eggs

1 cup fresh salsa

4 corn tortillas



1. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. Coat the tortillas in oil and place on cookie sheet. Cook for 5-10 minutes until it achieves the desired crispness.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook each egg on one side until the whites are firm. Flip to cook the other side but remove while egg yolks are still runny. Place one egg on each tortilla.3. Heat salsa and pour about 1/4 cup over the top of each egg.Enjoy.

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Planning a Southwestern #Wedding—Santa Fe Style Part 1

A few behind-the-scene photos of Santa Fe’s premier wedding venue from Under a Turquoise Sky.

images14The Loretto Chapel

images8The mysterious staircase

images16A quiet corner in the courtyard

images12Kailyn’s ring

For more behind-the-scene photos from Under a Turquoise Sky, visit

Kokomo #video—Theme Song of the Charlotte to Shiprock Romance-a-thon

Not one of my favorite movies, but definitely one of my all-time favorite Beach Boys’ songs.

Just for fun—sing it with me now.

Did you spot the “Full House” cutie on the drums?

For more Under a Turquoise Sky fun, visit

Chili-Chocolate Birthday Cake Southwest Style #Recipe

Beyond easy Chili-Chocolate Birthday Cake—Southwest Style—for Aaron’s birthday in Under a Turquoise Sky.

Super Easy—because remember this is Kailyn baking this!!!!images6


  • 1 box Triple Chocolate Decadent Cake Mix
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, separated
  • ¼ tsp. plus ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 container cream cheese, vanilla, or chocolate frosting of choice
  • Pastry bag (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cake mix as directed. You will have your cake batter in 1 bowl and filling in a second bowl.
  2. Add 1 tsp. of cinnamon and ¼ tsp. of cayenne pepper to cake batter and mix well.
  3. Spoon cake batter into greased and floured pans.
  4. Bake cake as directed and cool completely.
  5. Prepare frosting by adding 1 tsp. of cinnamon and ⅛ tsp. of cayenne pepper to each container of frosting that you use. Mix completely and frost cake. For a more decorative look, utilize a frosting bag.


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