Tuesday, June 26, 2012

BBQ and Summer Salads

First weekend of Summer has come and gone, but we took full advantage of it.  We enjoyed a lovely barbecue, good food with great friends and lots of fun playing silly board games.  It was a perfect Summer Saturday night to be out on the patio.

The food turned out so good everyone was gushing over the meal.  I also made sure to wait until everyone was good and hungry, so they would have pretty much ate anything! Fortunately I choose some healthier then usual options for our BBQ meal.

Our meal: BBQ veggie burgers with all the toppings (lettuce, tomato, mustard, sprouts, etc.) plus grilled vegetables and two fabulous Summer side salads ...

Orange Spinach Salad (original recipe from Recipe Girl), for the non-vegans and ...

Arugula Salad with Mango
Original recipe from Healthy Happy Life website

1 large mango, chopped in to cubes
1 avocado, chopped into cubes
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, plain (approximately)
5 cups fresh arugula (approximately)

For the dressing:
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp agave syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients together, mixing well.

2. In a medium bowl, toss the avocado, mango and nuts together with the dressing.

3. When ready to serve, pour the mixture over top of the arugula greens.

4. Add salt and/or pepper to taste and serve.

I missed my salad up on my plate, when you do that the arugula can get pretty soggy quickly.

And for dessert ...

Citrus Fruit Salad
Original recipe from Real Simple magazine

1    organic grapefruit
1    organic navel orange
2    organic tsp honey
4    small sprigs fresh organic mint (mine cam from my garden)

1. Peel away the skin and white pith of the grapefruit and orange, then slice the fruit into rounds or wedges.
2. Arrange the slices in a pretty little pattern, drizzle with some honey and top off with mint, and you're done!

My dog Scarlet begging for a bite of Kathryn's dinner. I don't allow begging but I just had to capture the moment first.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Asia Adventure: My Spirit Rising

Tibet was possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the opportunity to visit.  The landscape, the people and their powerful faith, all was so amazing to experience.  Throughout their history, the Tibetans have truly experienced some devastating hardships and struggles, but in meeting any one of them you surely wouldn't know it.  They are the kindest people.  Their strength is inspiring, their devoted faithfulness to Buddhism admirable, and they remain, to this day, extremely loyal to their leader, His Holiness the 14th Dali Lama.

In my heart they will always be their own nation, their own culture and country. They are a people that, despite their struggles, will always show kindness, compassion and love to all strangers.  We can truly learn a lot from them.

A Tibetan couple securing their prayer flags in the mountains.

An elderly trio taking rest on a bench during their prayer, each of them griping their prayer beads.

Capturing a monk's beautiful smile after he reacts to a question during the monk debates at the Sera Monastery.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Asia Adventure: Cultural Music to our Ears

Our trip through Asia wasn't all about the food or the sights, there was traffic, car horns, people yelling in multiple foreign languages, buzzing insects at night, and of course  music, dramatic conversations, and even loud celebration.  I encountered it all, here are just a few ...

Just one of the dances from the Tibetan cultural show in Tibet.

 The very interesting and confusing (at least to us) monk debates at Sera Monastery, Tibet.

Crashing an Indian wedding procession down the street.  It was about 9:30pm and they were just getting started.

Young female students dance traditional Indonesian dance at our resort in Kalibaru.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Asia Adventure: Olfactory Delights

Pink Hibiscus
Truthfully, whenever I photograph flowers I always keep my mother in mind, she loves flowers! And I like to share my photos of them with her, especially because they really do make an excellent subject for photography.  So, for this trip, I took some time to smell the roses and photographed the prettiest, exotic flowers. Some were definitely more fragrant then others, but all were beautiful.

During our travels we visited many farms and plantations where we tasted and smelled different spices and fruit.  These too I share here with you ...

A woman in Bangkok making flower garlands (puang malai), a symbol for good luck (Thailand).

 The puang malai smelled amazing, the most pleasant flower aromas combined (Thailand).

Very aromatic frangipani flowers (India).

 Wild flowers grow throw the concrete cracks in Beijing's Forbidden City (China).

Lantana Camara (Malaysia).

The most stunning hibiscus flowers at the Butterfly farm in Cameron Highlands (Malaysia).

I couldn't find the name of these flowers but they were also growing at the Butterfly farm (Malaysia).

Decorative Dahlia (Malaysia).

Tiger Tail Orchid (Indonesia).
 Datura (Indonesia).

Rafflesia flower, the world's largest flower, which we learned is actually a fungus!  It was huge and weird looking, almost looked like it was made of play dough. What you don't see in this photo are the swarm of tiny bees that surround it! This flower grows in the rainforest, near Cameron Highlands (Malaysia).

 Green Peppercorns (Indonesia).

 Heating coconut palm sugar to use as a food sweetener and dessert (Indonesia).

 Coconut Palm sugar bricks (Indonesia).

 Roasted Coffee Beans (Indonesia).

Vanilla plant (Indonesia).

Cinnamon tree (Indonesia).

Fresh cacao beans, makes chocolate and smells delicious!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Asia Adventure: Creatures and Creepy Crawlers

One of my most memorable and greatest moments of my entire trip was getting to bathe the baby elephants in the river, after feeding them and riding the adult elephant.  I spent just a few hours at the National Elephant Conservation Centre but they were some of the fondest hours of my life. In fact, there were many opportunities to touch, get tickled by, be pecked at, and cuddle with various mammals and reptiles.

Here are some of my favourite animals and experiences with them...

Cats & Dogs

This gorgeous dog was found wondering the back markets of Beijing.  She was gorgeous, and me, already feeling a little homesick, thought she reminded me of my girl Scarlet.

Cutest Boston bulldog in all of Asia! I loved her, she was super affectionate and sweet.  Her owner ran the Spa beside our hotel in Bangkok.  She was also the only dog I saw ever on a leash, owned by a person who fed her well and gave her lots of love.

It was quite heart-breaking to see so many stray dogs and cats throughout Asia.  Most of them you can't touch because they would run away or could attack. They feared most humans I think and were very weary and skittish.  It was hard to see at times, I wanted to save them all!

 A stunning ginger cat sleeping in Wat Po, Bangkok, Thailand.

I absolutely fell in love with this puppy, her sister and their mother.

We encountered the two pups and their mother on our beach in koh Phangan. I was so close to taking one home, I actually considered just how I might do it.  Until we left the beach anyhow, I played with them every chance I got.

Mike is the cat lover in this family. Every cat he saw, whether they were friendly or not, he was determined to pet ... and he did.

This precious little guy must have just been weeks old when I took this picture.  We never got too close or touched him especially because the mother was near by. We found them in a rural village in Indonesia, so we didn't know how people-friendly they would be.  But OMG, look at that face and those little legs! So sweet!
Okay, now this kitten I loved.  I even more seriously considered taking her home especially since we were near the end of our trip.  I think I even asked my guide how it would be possible ... but sadly, I had to leave her behind.  This kitten loved me because I always fed her and held her in my lamp dosing her with affection (Indonesia).

Wild but Friendly Creatures 

This baby monkey was possibly the cutest furry animal I ever held.  She was so light, so fuzzy and when I put her in my lap her little hand grabbed my finger while she sucked the thumb of her other hand.  Eek! And my heart just melted again (Thailand).

 Feeding some friendly deer at the Deerland, Pahang, Malaysia.

Holding a stunning baby albino python.  Yep, she's only a baby, just 3 years old and so friendly and curious. Okay, so was as sexy as Selma Hayek in From Dusk 'Til Dawn but it was still really cool (Malaysia).

Elephant riding at the Elephant Centre (Malaysia).

Holding a Fruit Bata.k.a. "Flying Fox," at the Bird Market in Melang, Indonesia.  I was laughing because it felt creepy and he was licking my hand which tickled.

He was adorable and would not stop licking my hand.

Mike made a friend, in East Java, Indonesia.  These monkeys were very accustomed to humans, so we could get close to them and feed them.

We visited a water village in Cianjur, Indonesia.  There we experienced a natural fish massage at the fish farms.
Horseback riding up to Mt. Bromo, Indonesia.

Creepy Crawlers
The coolest, a leaf bug!
The creepiest, a millipede ... it really tickled.

 Okay, it was actually kind of cute.
The scariest, a scorpion!

Look, but don't Touch ... Butterflies

There were so many of them at the Butterfly Farm in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.  These are just a few beauties we spotted.
 Either a Blue Morpho or a Karner Blue Butterfly, your guess is as good as mine!

Looks like a Saturn Butterfly.
I wasn't sure if this one was alive, sadly it's wing was broken so I don't think it could fly.

It was an amazing experience to encounter, touch and hold all the wonderful and exotic creatures on our trip ... even if it was just holding Mike's hand.
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