The Smell of Fall: Green Chile Roasting

| By Amanda Oien
| Video by Amanda Oien & Brielle Farmer

Crunchy leaves, crisp air and flannels are what most people think of when it comes to Fall. Not in Southern Arizona, though.

Growing up, I knew Fall was here when I smelled the warm breeze of roasting green chiles. Now that is Fall. 

Kris Young of Red's Roasters poses with a bag of freshly roasted green chiles, while wearing a straw hat in front of his company trailer.

Heirloom Farmers Market will have freshly roasted green chiles every Saturday this September at the Rincon Valley Farmers Market. You bet we’re grabbing chiles for mom’s chile rellenos and snacking on chile specialties as we wander the market.

We got to know Kris Young of Red’s Roasters at the Green Valley Farmers Market where he could hardly keep the chiles on the shelves— they were flying so fast, he was roastin’ to order.

Turn up the heat and get your taste buds wanting more at these farmers market’s:

Udall Park Farmers Market – Open Fridays from 8am – 12pm (May-Sept.)

Oro Valley Farmers Market–  Saturdays from 8am – 12pm (May-Sept.)

Rincon Valley Farmers & Artisans Market– Saturdays from 8am – 12pm (May-Sept.)

 Rillito Park Farmers Market– Sundays from 8am – 12pm (May-Sept.)

Be sure to check each location's COVID-19 policies and as always, if you're feeling unwell, stay home.

Camp Dad & Mom

Tucson staycation with the 3-year-old for a week of family fun

|By Oakley Hall

With a week between summer camp and school starting, my husband, Chris, and I worried about how to balance work and childcare. We couldn’t exactly tell kiddo, “Hot dogs are in the fridge, pull some weeds, take a nap at noon, and put the dishes away while we’re out.” For one thing, she’d skip the hot dogs and just eat ketchup.

Fortunately, an idea struck me—take advantage of the situation to get quality time with our favorite kid. Chris took Monday and Tuesday off. I took Thursday and Friday. And Chris’ mom was eager for a day, so she covered Wednesday.

Game-day Monday

Day 1: Dad


The adventure started with thrift store hunting. Dad got the thrill of the hunt for a bargain, and kiddo got the excitement of discovery. A Hogwarts T-shirt for Mom (thanks, guys!!) and Rush Hour Traffic Jam Logic Game for Dad (er—the kid…) were the top treasures.

Game store

Jazzed about the puzzle, Isle of Games became their next stop. We’re regulars at this locally owned game store. It boasts a great selection of board games, puzzles, and other trinkets. And the owners are great.

A kid enjoys a game from Isle of Games in Tucson, AZ
Game time courtesy of Isle of Games

The prize Chris bought was Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. It’s perfect for our family. He’s especially into board games, and we’re all Harry Potter nerds. Seriously—kiddo decided to go by Hermione when she was a toddler (and we’ve indulged enough that it’s now a full-fledged nickname).

Tuesday at the park

Day 2: Dad


Hermione loves the Reid Park Zoo. She’s been enthralled by the place since her first visit. She talked about it for days using the simple vocab she’d had at the time: “zoo” and “otter.”

So, when Dad told her they’d be visiting the zoo the night before, she was thrilled! What she didn’t know is that she’d get to hand-feed one of the animal residents. That’s right—Dad hooked her up with the Giraffe Encounter. Cool parent points!

The Giraffe Encounter at Reid Park Zoo

Video evidence shows Hermione methodically doling out lettuce, while the poor giraffe stretched its tongue to the max trying to snag the snack faster. The two of them fumbled once, but Hermione retrieved the fallen veggie and tried again. She handed off the rest of the giraffe’s salad without a hitch, making observations about the giant animal’s tongue. Snack delivery complete. Memory achieved.


Once kiddo was back in action post-nap, the duo headed to Udall Park. It’s one of our go-to spots since it’s conveniently located, walkable, and has tennis courts. The big win here was the firefighter pole. With Dad’s help, Hermione picked up the know-how and confidence to slide down all by herself. So, she did again and again and again. Chris looked proud as he recounted the event.

Working Wednesday

Day 3: Grandma

Mom and Dad went to work while kiddo spent time with her grandma. Highlights include splashing in the pool and—rumor has it—a movie and cake.

Déjà vu Thursday

Day 4: Mom


Overlapping with Dad’s itinerary, kiddo and I returned to the park—this time to the tennis courts to meet my aunt. We hardly needed the net, sticking mostly to drilling and practicing forehands and backhands on one side of the court. Having fun while making contact was the objective. Mission accomplished.


Overlapping with Dad’s itinerary a bit more, the three of us went to feed animals, this time at a friend’s farm. While I can’t recommend all Tucsonans and visitors storm my friends’ place, I can absolutely vouch for the fun of getting up close and personal with farm animals. One spot to do this on my radar is Funny Foot Farm. There, I intend to get in on the Kangaroo Experience.

Finding farm fresh eggs in Tucson, AZ
Farm day success!


I needed to pick something up from Mesquite Valley Growers, so I thought we’d meander around plants and call that good for the soul or something. But then I remembered a cool flower I’d heard about and started searching for it. Enter Jody, a friendly employee who gave us a golf-cart ride to the balloon flower.

After we found the natural bouquet of balloons, Jody offered to take us to meet cats and turtles. It turns out the Mesquite Valley Cat Sanctuary is on site. This is where Jody and one other employee take care of abandoned cats, which are all up for adoption. There were about 30 cats that day, plus two resident turtles.

The sanctuary—set back amid a dwarf citrus forest—has an added-on fenced-in cat playground. We entered through the kitchen and saw half a dozen cats roaming (or lazing) about on cat trees and counters.

The mesquite valley cat sanctuary in Tucson, AZ
Cats taking a snooze at the Mesquite Valley Cat Sanctuary

Jody identified the outgoing cats. The ones darting away made their skittishness obvious. She gave Hermione hibiscus pedals to feed the turtles, as well as flakes to feed fish in a little pond.

Every flavor Friday

Day 5: Mom


We were up and at ’em early Friday to meet one of my buddies for a trip to Apple Annie’s pick-your-own fruit orchard in Willcox.

Upon arrival, we were blessed with the powerfully enticing, sweet scent of baking pies. That alone sold us on an early dessert. But first, we’d pick—peaches were our target. We got the lowdown from a cashier on what to find where.

“Honestly, there are a lot of varieties—almost 20,” she said. “They’re all really good. You can taste them off the tree. We just ask you don’t make a meal out of it.”

We walked, smelled, reached, tasted, gathered, and learned. My main takeaway was that Red Globe is the best!

Fresh peaches at Apple Annie's in Wilcox, AZ
Fresh peaches at Apple Annie's Orchard

At one point, I noticed a tree cordoned off by tape. Curious, I investigated. Once I knew why, I called down the row for kiddo and friend to come and see.

I asked Hermione, “What is it?”

“A waffle!” she answered.

Apparently, she'd never seen a honeycomb before.

Paying for our slice of pie back in the shop, I noticed honey sticks for sale and bought a couple for later. The three of us shared a slice of warm peach pie à la mode, which brought happiness with every bite.

Music lessons

I woke Hermione from her nap by offering her a taste from a honey stick. She was ready to go in a heartbeat. We set out to Tucson Music Lessons, a professional home studio in northwest Tucson. I’d told her we’d get to play music but didn’t elaborate since I’d been struggling to get her to play her own drum set.

Stuart met us in the driveway with a sunny smile and greeted us both by name.

Two drum kits, a keyboard, several guitars, and other equipment were set up inside. Stuart dove right into the lesson by leading a warm-up on a drum pad. He then provided both of us with headphones and guided her to the kit.

I could list off the technical communication best-practices I noticed, like making himself eye-level and redirecting off-topic requests like a pro, but what really matters is that Stuart was able to engage Hermione in a positive, authentic way that got her pumped about making music.

I’d tried on several occasions to share drumming with this kid—showing her videos of other kids playing, counting games, even putting “Let It Go” on repeat to get her to jam. I’d always had to coax her to play. But, here with Stuart, she was focused and having a blast!

When we left, I pulled out the remainder of the Apple Annie’s honey stick… because what better time to get a kid hopped up on sugar than right before hopping it out at a trampoline park?

Trampoline park

Hermione’s reaction to this news was the best. She exclaimed with eyebrows high, fingers splayed, and all sincerity, “I am so surprised!”

AZ Air Time in Tucson, AZ
AZ Air Time

As planned, we had an excellent time at AZ Air Time jumping, playing catch and whacking each other with dodgeballs, running up the ramps, leaping into a foam pit, and bouncing in the inflatable house. I got the feeling that it met her every hope and dream.

And, on the way home, she proved the music lessons met my every hope and dream by asking when we’d get to go back.

Sonoran Desert Saturday

Day 6: Dad & Mom

Desert museum

We successfully made it through the school gap but weren’t ready to end the getaway vibe. Fortunately, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum was hosting Harry Otter night.

After finishing a round of our new board game, I put on my new Hogwarts tee and drew a lightning bolt scar on my forehead. Kiddo wore her HP dress, and Dad donned a Fantastic Beasts tee. We grabbed the wand and headed out.

I enjoyed watching Hermione’s observations click into place. She commented on other guests wearing HP gear in the parking lot.

When we reached the entrance, she saw the house banners and exclaimed, “It’s Gryffindor! And, and—are we going to Hogwarts!?”

Obviously, Chris and I cracked up; her awe amplified the fun.

Harry Potter Night at the Sonoran Desert Museum
Harry Potter Night at the Sonoran Desert Museum

HP-themed stations dotted the grounds, including a photo booth, face painting, trivia, and planting with Professor Sprout. The decorations added to the ambiance. Still, the main attraction was the museum itself. Among the critters, we saw otters, bighorn sheep, snakes, a scorpion, and birds (including an owl, which may or may not have been a magical mail carrier).

We were up against bedtime, so we had to leave much of the grounds unexplored, including Stingray Touch and the Packrat Playhouse. Another day.

Going forward

Chris and I will face school breaks for the next umpteen years. No worries, though—we’re covered. Check out this lengthy list of fun things to do in Tucson.

Local Business Spotlight: Volare Helicopters

Get a bird’s eye view of greater Tucson with Volare Helicopter Tours.

|By Christian Wlach

|Video by Kristen Brockel, Christian Wlach, and Brielle Farmer

Tasha and Tyler Sturges opened Volare in September of 2017 as a new way to explore greater Tucson. Tour flights take off from the airport in Marana, AZ.

One of the reasons the Sacramento couple chose to open their business in Marana, was the year-round weather southern Arizona offers up for flying. Plus, Marana’s airport isn’t as busy as Tucson International Airport. Not to mention the location has excellent proximity to their family—Tyler’s parents live in San Diego and Tasha’s recently moved to Phoenix. 

The Sturges’ bought a home in the area, and almost instantly fell in love with the region.

If you’re looking to try something new, a helicopter tour is a perfect way to check out Tucson from a different perspective. And if you’re looking to score bonus points—a.k.a kisses—on a romantic date, nothing beats the sunset backdrop.

Volare offers up six different flight packages for the Tucson area:

·      Gates Pass: 20-minute flight

·      Downtown Tucson: 25-minute flight

·      Catalina Foothills: 30-minute flight

·      Mount Lemmon: 35-minute flight

·      The Boneyard: 40-minute flight

·      The Ultimate: 55-minute flight (a taste of all of the destinations listed above)

If you’re vacationing in Mexico, Volare has recently started offering three Mexican tours. For more tour or flight training information, visit

Local Business Spotlight: Carly Quinn Designs

| By Sarah Burton

| Video by Amanda Oien & Brielle Farmer

While going to school for a degree in fine arts, Carly Quinn was in need of a job and ended up working part time for a local artist making tile. What began as a way to pay the bills soon had her undivided attention.

“I fell in love with the technique, and after graduation from college I bought my own kiln,” Carly recalls. She continued tile making on the side while beginning her first full-time job as a graphic designer, but it didn’t quite satisfy: “I was designing temporary tattoos for those vending machines you see, as well as a couple other design jobs, but I was so unhappy I decided to quit.”

Carly saved enough for a small studio, which she shared with another artist, and got to work. “It was the craziest thing for me to do, and I knew I had to get the word out, so I built my own website, created an online Etsy store, and called a bunch of magazines.”

“I was so unhappy in my career, but every single day after work I would go home and make tile.”

When timing was right, she opened her shop—Carly Quinn Designs—and it has become quite an attraction for visitors looking for that perfect bit of Tucson to take home. Carly puts it simply: “I have achieved my dream.”

Her technique is self-taught for the most part, based on a Moorish technique from the 1300 and 1400s called cuerda seca (dry cord). “I knew there had to be a name for how I was making my tiles, and eventually I found it.”

She begins on a blank canvas of terra-cotta-colored base tiles from Italy, which she then draws on with a proprietary wax resist pen. Once dried, she colors in between the wax lines with liquid ceramic glazes. She allows the glazes to dry before placing the tiles into one of the four on-site kilns.

“Firing at 2,000 degrees causes a chemical reaction, so the ceramic turns into glass and fuses to the base tile,” Carly explains. “The end product is weather-proof and will last forever, staying bright and glossy.”

This piece was originally published in our 2018 Artistic Triumph feature.

Timeless Turquoise

Mac’s Indian Jewelry has stood the test of time

Mac and Karen McPherson of Mac'sIndian Jewelry began selling authentic Native American jewelry from a table at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet in the mid 1970’s. Now, nearly 50 years later, their son Shane and his wife Danielle are continuing the family legacy, searching out unique, Native American pieces from Zuni, Navajo, Hopi, Tohono O’odham and Santa Domingo artists from Arizona and New Mexico—often buying from the descendants of artists Shane’s parents traveled the Southwest to find.

From traditional Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces, to modern, contemporary designs, Mac’s has a wide variety of jewelry and accessories in an even wider variety of designs, colors, and prices, with something to fit every budget and style. 

Today, customers can browse their well-organized showroom where timeless, hand-crafted pieces are organized by stone color and style, making browsing a breeze so you can easily find the perfect ring, bracelet or necklace to go with your favorite pair of earrings.

From $12 stud earrings and $20 silver heart necklaces, to a 14k gold inlaid turquoise, lapis and coral Navajo bracelet with a half carat diamond, for $9,000—and everything in between—there truly is something for every style and budget at Mac’s.

You’ll find unique items like traditional silver baby bracelets, rattles, and spoons, along with envelope openers, fine silver Concho belts, silver and turquoise barrettes, bear paw hair combs, and silver, copper, and beaded earrings. There are link and cuff bracelets, fine silver and turquoise rings, Zuni inlay pieces, silver bead and turquoise fetish necklaces of all sizes, bolo ties, watch bands, belt buckles, money clips, and lighter cases, and pendants, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings with stones in hues of blue, purple, and rose. Online, you can browse by price, Tribe, and stone, for vintage, classic pieces.

In addition to jewelry, Mac’s carries authentic Native American crafts, from pottery and walking sticks to wall hangings, tiles, Navajo Kachina dolls, carvings, dream catchers, Tohono O’Odham woven baskets, beaded and leather, silver and turquoise key rings, and Western style purses, with gifts for children for under $10.

Several years ago, Mac’s expanded and opened Silver and Gold Trading, where they buy or take in trade everything from scrap gold and silver flatware to diamond rings, and fine turquoise and Native American jewelry from estates and individuals.

For nearly a half century, Mac’s Indian Jewelry has stood the test of time, providing beautiful, quality Native American pieces at affordable prices. Their knowledge and customer service are unmatched—whether you are just bringing in a piece for a repair or shopping for a signature gift for yourself or family member or friend—the staff at Mac’s will give you all the time you need, and share their expertise with you to help you find the perfect piece to fit your style and budget. Longtime customers might recognize Mac’s wife Karen, who is still very much a part of Mac’s day-to-day operations.  

Whether you are just visiting or have lived in the Old Pueblo your entire life, a trip to Mac’s is a must. Sign up for their weekly email for first dibs on their 50-percent-off piece-of-the week. Every week, a new piece of jewelry or set is highlighted and offered to the first-comer at a deep discount. Be the first to get your eye on a new piece and score the perfect bracelet or necklace to add to—or start—your collection, at a budget most anyone can afford.

Mac’s Indian Jewelry


Silver and Gold Trading


2400 E. Grant Road, Tucson

Desert Son: Tucson’s Treasure Trove

Steve Osborne’s shop is the place to go for quality, one-of-a-kind, Southwest jewelry, pottery, rugs, moccasins, and more

In a time when everything from jewelry to groceries can be purchased with the click of a button, it can be hard to feel motivated to leave the house to shop. But if you’re looking for some retail therapy, or some real quality, look no further than Desert Son. The shop and gallery on Sunrise and Swan is as fun to browse as it is to buy. 

What started as an effort to supply traditional southwest moccasins to Reservation Trading Posts and Pueblos has transformed over the years into something much more. While Desert Son still makes and sells seven different styles of custom moccasins, their shop and gallery offer arts, crafts, and goods of exceptional quality and variety. 

Steve Osborne started his work more than 45 years ago. His decades spent cultivating relationships with traders and artists have resulted in a one-of-a-kind inventory, and his dedication to quality ensures that anything purchased from Desert Son will have lasting value. 

In addition to housing the largest collection of silver buckles in the Southwest, Desert Son has a vast collection of beautiful jewelry, turquoise and otherwise. But the collection doesn’t stop at silver and stones. Hopi Kachina Dolls, Zuni Fetishes, and Navajo rugs, baskets, and pottery are all on display. 

Desert Son has an abundance of wonderful treasures in its shop and gallery, and connoisseurs in search of a particular artist or product can draw upon Steve’s wealth of knowledge and connections to find what they’re looking for. If it isn’t in the shop already, there’s a good chance that he knows just who to call to find it. That’s a personal touch you just can’t find online, or at very many brick-and-mortars, for that matter.

Check out more Tucson shops

Planes, Helicopters, History and More

Tucson’s Pima Air & Space Museum offers big fun for young and old alike 

Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest aviation museums in the world, with more than 360 historic aircraft spread out over 80 acres. Six indoor exhibit hangars (three dedicated to WWII) also feature panoramas with artifacts, photos, and video and audio recordings telling the story of aerospace history, from early warplanes to space exploration.

Home to the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame and the 390th Memorial Museum, the Museum is open 363 days a year. Experience the museum your way with self-guided tours, highlights from docents, and daily tram tours. Pima Air & Space Museum provides exclusive bus tours of the adjacent 2,600-acre “Boneyard,” the military and government aircraft storage facility. Advanced reservations required, visit the website for details.

Pima Air & Space Museum
6000 E. Valencia Rd., 520-574-0462,, On Facebook: PimaAirAndSpace

Go underground and back in time at the Titan Missile Museum. See the launch control center and come face to face with the largest land-based missile America ever deployed. Located in Green Valley, less than 30 minutes south of Tucson, it is the only remaining Titan II missile site open to the public.

Titan Missile Museum
1580 Duval Mine Rd., Green Valley, 520-625-7736,, On Facebook: The-Titan-Missile-Museum

Local Business Spotlight: Active Fun at Arizona Zipline Adventures

|By Christian Wlach

|Video by Kristen Brockel, Christian Wlach, and Brielle Farmer

Emily Goff, along with two other Tucson-area locals, started Arizona Zipline Adventures (AZA) in 2016. Goff, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Oracle, AZ, saw the business as an opportunity to bring life back into a once-thriving community. 

AZA is located on the backside of Mount Lemmon, in Oracle, which is just over an hour’s drive from downtown Tucson. Goff says the company’s mission is to “enrich the community and promote the enjoyment and exploration of the region.”

Oracle is a small town filled with artisans, families, and ranchers. You may be lucky enough to see some of the cattle as you’re pulling into AZA.   

The Zipline Eco-Tour typically takes 90–120 minutes on a total of six ziplines, all located on 20 acres of private land. Majestic views await in every direction—watch the video for proof.    

Arizona Zipline Adventures has evolved since opening. It now has a kitchen serving award-winning chips and salsa, pizza, burgers, and more. They also host team-building activities and events (both large and small) throughout the year. One of the events is Grill Your Own Steak Night, which happens once a month and includes live music. These events help foster a real sense of community.

“I think that there’s always room to grow and evolve,” said Goff. “Whether that’s doing more programming and activities [like] camping, hiking, or events, there are just endless opportunities.”  

Cave tours are an example of this evolution. After receiving permits from the Coronado National Forest and the US National Forest Service, AZA is proud to offer Pepper Sauce Cave Wild Tours. 

AZA has also helped the local economy. Since opening, the company has created jobs and hired employees from the area, as well as seen other businesses pop up as a result of what was started by the three Oracle residents. 

“It’s just really great the way that this town and this community works together,” Goff says with a proud smile, adding, “All of the businesses support one another. It’s a really great feeling to be a part of that.”

The Iconic Movie Locations of Southern Arizona You’ve Never Heard Of

Take a ride through the dramatic Sonoran desert landscape that inspired Hollywood stars and directors. Old Tucson—known as Old Tucson Studios back when—has played host to more than 300 movies and television shows, and it can’t be matched for its sets. However, few know that movies filmed there often featured the panoramic backdrop of Marana's rocky slopes and Saguaro-studded plains. Filming in this area began as early as 1910.  Iconic western films and television shows were set under the vast blue skies, rugged mountain ranges and sweeping expanses of arid desert around the city.

For a true, immersive, Old West experience book a stay at the White Stallion Ranch, a family-run dude ranch on 3,000 acres of pristine Sonoran desert bordering Saguaro National Park West. Saddle up and ride where movie stars made silver screen history. Explore a landscape that hasn’t changed much since cowboys chased outlaws and cattle across the windswept ridges. The ranch even offers film history tours to its overnight guests. 

Marana and its ranches continue to be the setting for movies, television shows, and commercials today. Our spectacular terrain is featured in a nature documentary, Jeep promotional video, Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot, several independent films, and an episode of TLC’s “Four Weddings.”

Discover Marana’s rich cinematic history, a contemporary oasis surrounded by the panoramic vistas of the Old West.

Tip: Get to Old Tucson from Phoenix via Saguaro National Park West through Marana. Take exit 236 off I-10 (Marana Road) and you’ll see two of the wonders of Southern Arizona in one majestic drive.

Continuing to Inspire

Tucson’s Museum of Art’s new exhibit explores the Western sublime

| By Andrew Schaeffer

Art may have changed over the past century, but the inspiration artists get from the serene desert landscape has not. And that’s just what the newest exhibit at Tucson Museum of Art showcases. Featuring 50 paintings, photographs, and textiles from museums around the country, The Western Sublime: Majestic Landscapes of the American West juxtaposes works of art of the West from the 19th century with pieces produced more than a century later.

In the mid-to-late 19th century, daring artists traveled the wagon trails and painted and photographed the sublime beauty they saw, capturing the emotional and spiritual nature of the landscape to instill awe. These artists documented the natural phenomena of the area, from the immense sprawling deserts to the vibrantly colorful Grand Canyon. These were the first images of the West seen by the public, and gave rise to the majestic beauty that drew idyllic dreams westward-bound.

More than a century later, living artists are following in the footsteps of those who brought the West to the world and showcasing the natural scenery through their own methods through all types of media. In addition to the romantic Western ideal, many artists examine the environmental, cultural, and social issues related to the land and educate viewers through their art.

Don’t miss your chance to see the evolution of Western art from the first works to today at The Western Sublime in the museum’s main gallery from Oct. 19, 2019 through Feb. 9, 2020.