Travel theme: Stone

This week’s travel theme made me do some extra research – are rocks and stones the same thing? Apparently the consensus is that stone is rock which has been worked with  – hewn, polished, chiseled, etc. So perhaps I am cheating a bit here… since my post is going to be about the gorgeous red rocks of Sedona! Which have only been worked on by Mother Nature, except in the case of the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Sedona is so gorgeous – it brought out the dormant hiker in me, which is pretty tough! The red rock landscape was almost Martian in feel, and totally different from the forested greenery of the Northeast. I would love to go back someday, but until then, rock out to these pictures!

Getting up close and personal with some really red rocks.

We took a Pink Jeep tour of the Inner Rim in Sedona, where we saw several very cool formations! Each one had a descriptive name… but this one escapes me.

Red rock formations and even more hills and mountains in the distance.

Chapel of the Holy Cross, set into the mountain itself. What an amazing location for a church – the view from the top is beautiful!

This post is in response to the weekly Travel Theme at Where’s my backpack?, check out Ailsa’s great pics!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Three Different Horizons 🙂

and a fourth bonus one 😉


An untouched horizon in the bayous of Louisiana, with mirror-like water…


A horizon with rolling hills, tilled farmland, and evidence of people about…

A nocturnal horizon, showing the huge metropolis of LA at night from the Getty Observatory…

And finally, the elusive Vertical Horizon:

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge at the Daily Post 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

It’s a grey, rainy day here on my day off – the perfect kind of day for sleeping in and just lounging around the house. Unfortunately I was rudely awakened at 8:30 by my hubby on his way to work! Still, let the lounging commence! That is, after yardwork, laundry, and ironing/hanging curtains.

One of my pastimes during my days off, especially dreary days, is to plop myself in front of the TV, watch BBC dramas and cross stitch! It’s somewhat of an obsession for me… I can’t watch TV without having my hands do something. Maybe it’s because I’m already being lazy by watching TV, so I feel like I need to compensate by doing something with my hands, whether it’s cross-stitching or knitting. In any case, I thought I would combine my love of cross-stitching with my favorite colors:


I love shades of blue, green, and purple – and this one captured all of them!

Rainy days also make me want to play the piano… especially this song:

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge at the Daily Post 🙂

Travel theme: Brown

As a color, brown seems to get a bad rep – it looks dirty, or boring, etc etc. But brown is great! It’s earthy, natural, and has a full spectrum of hues from light tan to deep chocolate-brown. And as chef Anne Burrell would say, “Brown food tastes good!” And I definitely agree there… browned meat is delicious and dark chocolate is absolutely luscious! Yum! So let’s go ahead and celebrate all things tasty that are brown:

Brown Food Tastes Good!

Have you had grilled eel? Mostly served in Japanese restaurants, it’s called unagi in Japanese and is called mouthwateringly delicious by me. At Daikokuya in Los Angeles (famous for ramen, which we also did get), I had to have the unagi-don (grilled eel rice bowl) and I was so glad I did. Deliciously brown!

Technically I suppose beer is more a golden color rather than brown.. but the bottles are certainly brown enough!

The very best of brown foods coming together – brown meat and brown carbs! Love it! Chicken and waffles at The Breakfast Klub in Houston, with the as advertised one strawberry to top it.

Now that we have more than 2 square feet of counter space, we’ve whipped out our slow cooker (received from our wedding registry three years ago!) and finally started using it to make pulled pork and other slow-cooked delicacies! This was our first try at pulled pork and the results were delicious!

A cup of brown coffee is a welcome sight for any jet-lagged traveler who has a full day of sightseeing ahead of them!

Chocolate mousse cake is one of my favorite desserts – along with chocolate pot de creme, tiramisu, chocolate lava cake, chocolate truffles…

One of the tastiest briskets I’ve ever had was at Rudy’s Country Store in Texas – the moist brisket is amazing! Juicy, tender, flavorful – I’m drooling just in recollection of this delicious brown meat.

I promise, underneath this thick blanket of powdered sugar these beignets are a lovely golden brown!


This post is in response to the weekly Travel Theme at Where’s my backpack?, check out Ailsa’s great pics!

Travel theme: Deep

After last week’s travel theme of Heights, it’s time to get down and dirty with this week’s theme of Deep at Where’s my backpack! There are a lot of ways to interpret this theme… one can be literally deep inside something, or deep in thought, or reading a deeper meaning in something… so here are some photographs that show my different versions of “Deep”!


Close to our home is a large reservoir that’s popular for fishing, kayaking, and even scuba diving! The water is gorgeous and crystal-clear, and quite deep once you get further in. Here’s my friend knee-deep in water while fishing.


One of my favorite places in NYC is Central Park, especially Bethesda Terrace right in the middle of the park. It’s a wonderful feeling to be deep in the heart of the city, but with this gorgeous oasis of nature all around you.


Every winter, my girlfriends and I take a trip to Vermont to ski/snowboard at Killington, or do other winter sports. Last  year a few of us decided to go snowshoeing and we went deep into the forest, snowshoeing up a mountain to enjoy the views from above. Here we are, deep in the snow, deep in the woods…


On a trip to Houston, I was really amazed by the huge saucer magnolias on the trees – gorgeous and plate-sized, bigger than my head! I had just gotten my 100 mm macro lens so I couldn’t help but take a picture, deep inside the magnolia flower.


And finally, not so deep in terms of meaning but my adolescent humor just cracks up at this! Don’t forget to practice safe lunch, everyone!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite

“She says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars.”

-Neil Gaiman, Stardust

And with a quote like that, you would think you’d see a gorgeous night shot with a blanket of glowing stars! But alas, I have not mastered the art of night sky photography, although I drool over other photographs. I also would like to try out star trail photos… but that’s another thing to master!

This week’s theme at the Daily Post is of things unending, cycles, infinity and beyond. To me, the sky and space are infinite – I can get lost in my own world staring at the everchanging landscape of the clouds. This can be somewhat distracting when one is driving though, which at times can also seem endless. So here are my two versions of infinite, in sky form and on the road:


Travel theme: Height

This week at Where’s my backpack?, the travel theme is about all things high and mighty! I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with height – perhaps because I’m so lacking in it myself! My whole life I have been referred to has “travel-sized”, petite, magical midget, etc etc. Not that I mind overmuch – my height is what it is and it’s not a terrible thing. After all, there are stepstools, ladders, and kind taller people to help you fetch items from higher shelves. And, as my tall female friends point out with a sigh, I can wear high heels without towering over my significant other!

In any case, maybe perhaps due to my shortness, I’ve always been interested in getting to the top of things – and then looking down at the surrounding area. It’s no secret to any traveler that the best views are usually atop a mountain, or at the observation deck of tall building. Earlier this year, I took a trip with my husband back to his hometown in China and we visited the city of Tai’An, which is famous for Mount Tai, a mountain where the emperors would pay homage to heaven. It’s a tiring but doable hike, even for someone mildly sedentary like me. We did cheat however, we took a bus halfway up the mountain and then hiked up the stairs for another 3-4 hours I think… in any case, it was totally worth it! As you ascend the mountain, there are numerous stone tablets with poetry and calligraphy, some of them in such far off places on the mountain that I had to wonder, how did they carve that there?! There is also supposed to be a waterfall or a brook running down the mountain, but apparently due to lack of rain it was dried up, disappointing! At the pinnacle of the mountain there is a small touristy area with food stands, restrooms, small shops, etc – and all of these shops are supplied by porters who carry items up and down the mountain! By foot! Now that, my friends, is hardcore.


There are several rest stops on the way up, and at one of them tables are laid out and a small convenience store sells overpriced bottles of Red Bull – because Red Bull gives you wings to fly up Mount Tai! The tables were littered with empty cans of Red Bull… probably because there was no recycling/waste can nearby. Ahh, China.


Just another long stairway up the mountain. Many hikers bring or buy walking sticks to help them up – we bought them and they’re actually pretty cool souvenirs as well!


We’re almost at the top… almost! Looking down at the stairway, it’s amazing to see how far we came. The stairs stretch back… and back… and back…


Here we are at the top! Even here there are several temples and shrines to explore at various peaks. It really is quite amazing. Another wonderful thing about being so high up in the mountains is that the air is brisk and clean – noticeably different from the air of Tai’an city itself. Even so, it is a bit hazy – but I think it makes it look rather mysterious!


Another tourist admiring the view. It really gave us a huge sense of accomplishment to be able to get all the way to the top! Now the only problem was getting down… thankfully they do have a cable car to runs to the midway point 🙂