Currently viewing the tag: "butterfly"

Having a yard is like having your own park that no one else can visit… unless they’re invited of course. I love watching all the life go on in the yard. And I much prefer to see its critters than those urban critters (i.e. millions of people) in NYC. Then, there’s the flora.

Full frontal flora. IMG_0926

The Preying Mantis is so cool, eating his flies.

My mostly backyard videos. (The bird eating from my hand is from Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge and the circling hawks were in Bath, New York.) Look out National Geographic!

Another Mantis. This one camouflaged to the fence post.

Sorry, Mantis, for invading your space.

An elusive yellow Monarch, less flirty than the orange Monarch.

And inside: A cat high on catnip.IMG_0674

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Dad & Sister coconut whip, blueberry, strawberry chocolate cake parfaits. Happy July Birthdays!IMG_8773

Fluff keeping cool in the shade. IMG_8369

Collaborative craft for a special Momma. 5 people are better than 1!IMG_8419

Symmetry is a kind of beauty.

This salad is from The Purple Elephant in Northport, Long Island. This Buffalo Cauliflower Salad was over $17. Yes, 1-7. The all-organic, best vegan restaurant in metro NYC (Candle 79 in Manhattan’s Upper East Side) also has salads for $17. DSC_0015

Treeline Treenut Cheese is one of the nut cheeses sprouting up in markets with in-the-know buyers. And I love that these options are expanding vegan cheese possibilities beyond them Daiya shreds.  IMG_7824

These are sweet relief on a day like this. Think fresh pressed juice in pop form.
PicMonkey Collage

We were not the only folks looking to doorbust for one of the all-vegan breakfast options at Pingala Cafe & Eatery in Burlington, an Earthy spot for simple vegan fare. Two minutes after opening time, there was a line at the counter. Perhaps if this sculpture and the wild flow of the Winooski river out back hadn’t drawn me in, we could have beat those do-good vegheads to the punch! PicMonkey Collage

So I had to get the Tofu Benedict, given that rule of mine. I love this dish because it has it going on–variety of textures and tastes. This version was less dynamic and lacked a bit of seasoning, but was completely enjoyable. PicMonkey Collage2

After breakfast, we headed to Stowe to see the gorgeous Moss Glen Falls. Situated painlessly on the side of road, no hike is required to view these–which was slightly disappointing considering the sedentary itinerary of yesterday and today. DSC_0014


The falls were completely isolated upon our arrival. So I finally utilized the supplies that have been in my trunk at all times since several years ago for this exact purpose–the ability to swim spontaneously as required. A quick, clumsy change into my suit and swim cap in the backseat and I was ready to go. PicMonkey Collage3

It was a deliciously invigorating dip, and just in the nick of time as more visitors were rolling in.IMG_7605

Back at the car, a beautiful umber and sienna toned butterfly flirted and fluttered.IMG_7593

Here’s a cool cluster of outhouses nestled in the green mountains.

Lunch brought us south to the King Arthur Flour‘s Vermont campus, which hosts a shop and cafe. I was excited to visit, thinking back to my trip to Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store in Oregon last year. But we weren’t the only tourists excited to stop by! The place was swarmed. Though the cafe’s menu isn’t super vegan-friendly, I was relieved to see that all of the sandwich ingredients to the veggie option were sold in containers with all ingredients listed. So I could order confidently. PicMonkey Collage4

Though simple, the Sweet Chili Baked Tofu sandwich was packed with Vermont organic tofu and a yummy Asian slaw–and that is all it needed. It was bright, fresh and delicious. I also had a delectable watermelon, cucumber, and arugula salad with cashew and radish. Such a yummy lunch!PicMonkey Collage5

Later, we got to Northwood, New Hampshire to check out the in-the-middle-of-nowhere Susty’s Cafe, a bonafide 90’s style vegan eatery. PicMonkey Collage

I had my eye on the deep-fried Tofu Fries… and then I devoured way too many of them. Who wouldn’t?! (The Electrician wouldn’t, actually.) Perfectly fried and crispy with ample seasoning, they were kind of dangerous. PicMonkey Collage2

Lastly, my dinner. A Pepper Seitan wrap. The seitan was tender and oozing with flavor. Maybe too much? IMG_7644

And since I hadn’t had a something sweet all day, I got the chocolate brownie (though really a cake) to go. A pretty retro dinner from start to finish.IMG_7653

As the fireworks begin to sound here in Manchester, New Hampshire, it is time to say goodnight again. More from the road tomorrow…

It’s going so fast. I am trying to savor each day, but that seems to make them fly by even faster. Here are some images I’d like to hold on to.

I become obsessed with the Electrician‘s butterfly bush as the the summer rolls on. Monarchs start fluttering around dancing in the air like a child is erratically pulling them with a string. There are a few, then there are many. Here is a rare Swallowtail eating some tasty nectar.

Mr. Blue Sky. The view from my hammock.

All my favorite fruits are in-season. A sweet, juicy retreat before the dense, starchy Autumn.

Splitting time between Long Island and my apartment in Brooklyn, I get the best of both. They both reinforce each other’s better qualities.

The maritime motif of the Nautical Mile, a few blocks from The Electrican‘s house.

I have the time to play tourist. The Grand Central ceiling is one of my favorite city-isms.

And I eat. A lot. Some people lose weight in the summer and bulk up in the winter. I do the reverse. Here are some treats I picked up from Champs Family Bakery to fuel Ladies Night.

And at the end of a long day in the sweltering NYC heat, there’s time to cuddle up with my special buddy Frankenstein

I ❤ summer!

I kind of fell in love with this vibrant compilation of summer recipes. It got me thinking more creatively about what would be an tasty snack during these high temps. Easy, fresh, and colorful were musts. I diced some mango and basil and doused with fresh lime juice, the first summer bruschetta option.

Bruschetta number 2 was a diced avocado and jalapeno with a shower or lemon juice and lime zest. Not much tampering is required to create something delicious when one has a perfectly ripe avocado. Ah avocado, one of the Earth’s most perfect jewels.

Of course a sliced baguette drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt then toasted, brings both of these fantastic toppings together. The perfect pool-side snack.

And check out my Evil Under the Sun look. Now I am all ready to spend the day riding inflatables.

Is there anything more relaxing than drifting in the water with the sun on your back?

A hungry Bumble Bee feasts on lavender.

Sweet treats for all! This huge, gorgeous Monarch gets first dibs from the butterfly bush.

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You’re kind of the most beautiful thing ever. And I kind of want a black polka-dot face.

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1. Watching the butterfly activity around the Electrician‘s butterfly bush.

2. Collecting hugs.

3. Trying to return to baking. Here is a two-layer orange cake with lemon glaze icing. For my Pop’s birthday.

4. Weekending in the Hamptons. That’s an outdoor shower next to the “Love Shack”.

5. Seeing the family.

6. Eating A LOT of pancakes…
…and French Toast.

7. Making videos of my “best of” baking endeavors.

8. De-cluttering.

9. Making tons of lists.

10. And my all time favorite, bothering Frankenstein.

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After crashing hard from the evening before, morning had us ready to hit the road for reals. We had a loose destination, an eatery in Fort Worth, Texas about 3 hours or so north from Austin. But after that… the unknown… kinda. We were going to take it one day at a time, like alcoholics. First, a goodbye to Texas Leslie, Friday the doggy, her cute brightly colored things and a newborn Swallowtail butterfly resting on the stems in her butterfly garden. 
We needed a hearty breakfast to quick-start the day. After some Austin errands, we hit Mr. Natural, a 100% vegetarian authentic Tex-Mex eatery. Mr. Natural has a huge bakery case with mostly-vegan baked goods, too! Though the food looks like a sopping pile of prison food, the Tofu Migas (crispy tortilla strips simmered in ranchero sauce and a tofu crumble served with 2 warm fresh corn tortillas) was very tasty! I had to tack on some potato nibbles for an extra 99 cents and a wonderful spinach-pineapple juice. This place reminds me of a breakfast spot I hit in Guadalajara (post here) when I was in Mexico last October.

Besides sampling their pineapple empanada, strawberry bar and a chocolate chip cookie, I had to purchase their Don’t Mess With Texas cookie. Mmmm, panhandle.
It was then time to head north. We pulled up to Spiral Diner & Bakery in Fort Worth quite excitedly. Maybe it was the huge “vegan” painted on the side of the building and the ton of other v-bombs in the front windows that fueled our appetite, but I was all of a sudden starving. Spiral is 100% vegan. 100%. There is a giddy overwhelmingness to perusing an all-vegan menu. Besides a ton of great food options Spiral hit all the other high points. They use only vegan and biodegradable cleaners, source recycled materials, donate to grassroot orgs aligned with their values and excess food to shelters. They also had Oogave fountain sodas, a Colorado-based agave-sweetened beverage company, reported on here
I tried to order light so to leave room for dessert. I had the “Chik’n-Less Salad San’ich”: diced seitan, chopped apples, cranberries and pecans tossed with a creamy herbed mayo/mustard dressing topped off with lettuce, tomato, and mayo and served on toasted multi-grain bread. I chose a side of greens with Ranch dressing because, really, when can a vegan gal get vegan Ranch? The sandwich and greens hit the spot perfectly. Fresh and flavorful, hearty and multi-textured. 
CandyPenny opted for something a bit more belly-blasting. After pledging no more Daiya, for digestive reasons, she couldn’t resist ordering the chipotle tofu quesadilla, packed with thin slices of flavorful tofu, corn and Daiya with two blobs of guacamole and tofu sour cream.
We had to get dessert. Spiral makes their own ice cream. THEY MAKE THEIR OWN VEGAN ICE CREAM. And they had chocolate chip cookie dough. We ordered their standard sundae: a heaping helping of the good stuff topped with chocolate syrup, sprinkles, whipped cream and coconut flakes. Absolutely delicious. Their ice cream was way creamy and packed with huge globs of soft and yummy chocolate chip cookie dough. Stick a fork in me.

After a day of bus travel, I arrived in Chanthaburi, the City of the Moon. Contrary to the name’s translation, the city’s main draw is gem stones. As the hub of the global gem stone trade, visitors can ooh and aah at piles of gems being inspected and purchased at the countless stores lining the gem district. My guidebook tells me that 50-60% of the worlds rubies and sapphires pass through Chanthaburi for cutting, coming from from Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Africa even (I happened to see 3 towering African men outside a shop; they were just as surprised to see me as I them!) I would stay a few blocks from the gem district, the river adjacent to my guesthouse aglow with large vinyl gem-shaped lamps upon my arrival.

Finding this accommodation was easy, always a nice treat after the entire day on the bus. I stayed at River Guest House, mostly by the urging of my songtheaw driver. Many local transporters have relationships with guesthouse owners and very often tell you other places are full or exaggerate their rates. But not in Chanthaburi. That much I can tell when I stepped off the bus after 7 weeks of dipping my toes in Thailand’s cities. In this case, I considered River, as it’s listed in my guidebook, but dismissed it with the intention of staying in the more “Spartan” guesthouse with the more “Spartan” price. The driver got me the Spartan price I wanted. Appreciating his good manners and insider dealings, I hired him as private transport to see some sights the next day.

To my relief, the room was spotless and the toilet, Western, with an actual roll of toilet paper. This is very rare. My room was small but comfortable, had no windows and stayed pitch-black well into the morning. Another huge plus but with sacrifice: no electrical outlets, no cellular service. Anyhow, my plan for the following day was to see some gem folks doing their thing and grabbing a quick bite to eat before heading out to Oasis Sea World at 10 a.m. with my driver, then continuing onward to Nam Tok Phliu National Park for a glimpse at another falls.

The quick bite was accomplished via mango & sticky rice but the gem shops were still barred and sleeping. No problem, I was ready to hit the town with my friendly driver! But only after accidentally turning the shower on me with my cumbersome tote bag and getting soaked mid-primping. Good times. So yes, Oasis Sea World? Sounds a bit Orlando-esque, a? I had this notion of spending the afternoon swimming with the beloved dolphin performers at the Oasis. And for 400 baht (or $12.59 US), I thought I might as well as such experiences in the states are dramatically higher. Alas, the divine forces (in the form of Asian tour groups) did not want me messing with their sea mammals. I was denied at the door as they were at capacity with swimmers. I could have stuck around for the 40 minute show but thought “heck, no”. And I could have came back the following morning to accomplish my dolphin mission (had the bi-lingual waiver in my sights and disturbingly read “…A.I.D.S….hepatitus..” within its text) but I thought “heck, no” again. The following morning I’d be Bangkok-bound, making one more brief stop in Ayutthaya before sitting still until my flight back to New York.

It was nice to be in the passenger seat. Because neither my driver or I knew too much of each other’s language it wasn’t rude that I stared out the window and enjoyed the scenery. Soon I’d be back in America and I wanted to soak in as much Thailand as possible. But the music in the car was pure American and I welcomed it in all its sweet tarty pop effervescence. No doubt’s Don’t Speak, Extreme’s More Than Words, Air supply’s Making Love (out of nothing at all) {I enjoy the 80’s parenthetical song title craze though this may not officially be the title}… I was in heaven with cheesy America ballads. But it was Stevie Wonder’s My Cherie Amour that had me uninhibitedly singing along. My driver proclaimed “I love Americaaaaa” before putting the disc of hundreds of mp3s in the player. He was a hoot. *To justify my enjoying above-mentioned songs (excluding Stevie Wonder), please note I have been without music since I’ve been here, my iPod having died and blanking all my songs early on.

So we drove to Nam Tok Phliu National Park to see the Phliu waterfall. He gave me one hour to do my thing. The park was dark and damp, surrounded with dense and deep browns and greens. The cool, moist air was worth the “foreigner fee” alone and it helped to see busloads of Europeans leaving as I walked in solo. Even more deserving was the quantity of carp inhabiting the rocky streams of the park. Reading a bit about the opportunity to partake in a fish-feeding frenzy, I purchased a bunch of green beans (very long in Thailand, like 2 feet) on the way in. At the first rocky entrance to the stream, I thought I was simply looking at a dark body of water. I realized it was the motherload of hungry, scurrying carp. I quickly secured my post and fed those very aggressive carp, with the dangle and drop of each green bean causing a fish fight. Check out the video here (if this works):

And some nice shots of the fish:

After the greens were done and the stream full of frisky Thai children scaring away the carp, I walked deeper into the park see the waterfall. The park was beautiful and had the feel of the Pacific Northwest. As I approached the falls, rocked pathways became very slippery. Not having much time left, I wanted to get to the observation point to take some pictures. Over-confidently strutting the path, I nearly slipped many times. I became the damsel in distress to a Thai man who made it his mission to walk me up the inclines safely. Stubbornly independent (and cautious of strange men guiding me in dense foreign woods), I had to reject his reaching hand 10 times for everytime I truly needed it. Then the man insisted on being my personal photographer and snapped plenty of unflattering pictures of me (including one with a dainty butterfly perched on my hand). He was hard to lose but eventually he let me enjoy the falls on my own.

And what do you know… apparently the national park system here in Thailand does this plate business at many of its parks! After noticing the set-up leaving I slowed my step, expecting someone to run after me with my picture plate. But they missed me on the way in. (hmph.) Only when I reached my driver did I decide I’d turn back and demand my face on a plate. For Clinton, who got such a hoot out of the plate posted a couple days back. Not candid and far-less hipster-looking, Karen plate part II.

And that was my time with the driver. After a failed attempt at purchasing mangosteen (a regional fruit I haven’t tried yet), he left me at my guesthouse to forage for food. With far more variety at the day market then at my guesthouse’s restaurant, I made my way to the market by the town’s clocktower. I thought I’d pay a visit to some gem shops on the way. Many owners were friendly and let me take pictures knowing I had no intent to buy. I was shocked with the lack of security in the shops. One man, the lone inhabitant in the store, turned his back to me several times as I requested to see bigger stones! Had I been a character in a Sidney Sheldon novel I’d surely pocket some before smiling charmingly and sashaying out the door. But no, I returned to my guesthouse with only some goods from the market.

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