labor day

labor_day 226labor_day 225labor_day 227This labor day seemed particularly long. Saturday feels like forever ago. We started out with hike in the San Gabriel valley. Since it was so hot, we chose a trail that we knew was shady, but it ended up being quite a bit warmer and more strenuous than we intended. It was still really nice to get outdoors though.

labor_day 220labor_day 224birthday_cake labor_day 219labor_day 228We celebrated my mother’s birthday with some friends. Isabelle made a lovely cake, and when it was remarked that she was becoming a regular Martha Stewart she replied: “Who’s that?” I still don’t feel remotely old but it is slightly strange to see kids I used to babysit grow into adults. Time is curious.

I made some baked spinach artichoke dip for the occasion. I tried something different from the last spinach artichoke dip but I think I like the original recipe better. I’m still tinkering.

I tried this new vegan ice cream that my mom picked up. It was quite good, but more than that, the cold brewed coffee was serious stuff. I probably wouldn’t be writing this post right now if it weren’t for that ice cream.

labor_day 221labor_day 222labor_day 223 We played games including a short but lively game of baseball, where one of the dogs would steal the ball if you hit it too far. Does this make it sound like I played? I did not. Though I did enjoy playing a game of Minotaur. I’m more of a board game kind of girl.

Other things:

  • Meeme and Mochi turned 5! Those little rascals. I love those cats so much it’s ridiculous.
  • We saw Blue Jasmine which I really loved. I’m usually not particularly fond of films about ultra rich people, but Cate Blanchett is truly fantastic. I really thought that everyone was great actually. Even though it’s a tale of distress, it’s still fun to watch. I like many Woody Allen films, but I am not an uber fan as I find many people are. Yet, I think that the “Allenness” of this film makes it work. It was entertaining and surprising. Shawn pointed out it’s has some similarities to A Woman Under the Influence, one of my favorite films.
  • I guess this weekend means that the end of summer is nigh, but it’s been terribly hot. I can’t wait for the cool fall air to make an appearance.

Did you do anything fun or relaxing this weekend?

carnivorous birds

giant_sequoias 229There was one other unexpected special thing that happened in the sequoias. There was a nature presentation at our campground on carnivorous birds. When I first saw it listed on a flyer, I wanted to go, expecting to see some photos of birds and just learn at little. I was so surprised when we arrived to find a presentation with real live birds: a red tailed hawk, a great horned owl and a prairie falcon.

giant_sequoias 228These birds were all rescued and rehabilitated after they were seriously injured (hit by car, hit by a plane [!], shot) but were unable to be returned to the wild.

giant_sequoias 230Each bird was presented with such caring by Diane. I was in awe of not only the beauty of these creatures, but also how she cared for them; delicately straightening ruffled feathers and cooing to them when they were nervous.

giant_sequoias 233 I feel very fortunate to have been able to see these birds up close, though I wish there was a way they could have not been hurt in the first place. It was amazing to hear about what amazing hunters these birds are, in particular the owl. Though I’ve known since childhood they’re carnivorous, I usually just think about owls docilely perched in a tree. Of course, they kill all manner of creatures, crushing them with tank like force. It’s a big reminder that not all cute animals are so cute and cuddly.

You can see more from our sequoia camping trip here and here.

more sequoia camping

giant_sequoias 223giant_sequoias 231giant_sequoias 219 I’ll share just a few more things from our camping trip. You can see more photos that Shawn posted on little vegan planet.

giant_sequoias 222giant_sequoias 220giant_sequoias 227 giant_sequoias 235Now let’s be honest, one of the most fun things about camping is camp food. Shawn did a lot of preparation for our trip and even found us vintage Girl Scout and Boy Scout utensil kits. He also got us some LunchSkins for sandwiches on our first day. Another little treat was getting a camp stove toaster. We cooked all out meals on this little table that Shawn made. The legs are detachable, so it can pack flat.

giant_sequoias 221 Random fun thing from this trip: we took part in a travel study. A park volunteer handed over a few gps units which we toted around with us and returned when we left the park. Not sure what they’ll be used for, but I thought it was fun nonetheless.

giant_sequoias 226giant_sequoias 225 We made lots of s’mores. It’s always a struggle to find vegan graham crackers but Shawn came up with a superior solution: SPECULOOS COOKIES. Paired with dark chocolate and dandies vegan marshmallows I can easily say they were the most enjoyable s’mores I’ve had to date.

giant_sequoias 224 It was just so tremendously beautiful, I really just can’t wait to go back into the woods. Where should we adventure to next?

sequoias

giant_sequoias 219giant_sequoias 223giant_sequoias 224giant_sequoias 227giant_sequoias 226 giant_sequoias 225giant_sequoias 222giant_sequoias 220I have wanted to go camping in the sequoias for years and this weekend Shawn and I finally made the trek up north. To say it is a magical place is an understatement. It is sincerely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Being in the presence of massive trees that have been living for centuries had a great effect on me, especially seeing the destruction humans have caused. I’m thankful that at least the trees within the national park are protected and that conservation efforts continue.

Beyond that, it was really nice to get out into nature and camp for the weekend. Sometimes it’s a great relief to be totally self sufficient and without cell phone service. I loved being surrounded by little creatures and birds all weekend. I even spotted a flying squirrel in a tree above our campsite one night. We cooked some delicious camp meals, did some hiking and really just enjoyed ourselves. I honestly can’t wait to go back. It really solidified for me how important it is to be able spend more time in nature; it makes me feel like a more complete human being.

I’ll have some more to share later in the week, but for now, check out one of the largest trees on the planet.

giant_sequoias 221

little blue sweater

baby_sweater 220 It’s baby season, which means I’m at it again with the handmade gifts. I’ve mentioned before that I really enjoy knitting for kids because you get the satisfaction of making something somewhat complex but on a smaller scale. This sweater took me quite a lot longer than the grey sweater I knit last year since it was made with a smaller garter stitch. The hood is by far my favorite part.

baby_sweater 221I also love these handmade buttons I found at The Little Knittery. They weren’t too cutesy and with the burned wood, they have just enough character. Off this will go to some happy new parents (Who hopefully don’t read this blog. I don’t think they do.) just in time for the cooler months.