Mono Lake

Mono LakeA few weeks ago, we drove over to Mono Lake, a massive salty lake on the eastern border of Yosemite. I had seen the lake from afar before, and I knew it would be pretty, but I was still surprised by the beauty of this place. Around sunset, the sky was a bright hazy glow and the water had become a milky white. It was a stunning sight paired with the distant mountains and the dramatic tufa towers on the shores of the lake.

Tufa at Mono LakeAccording to the Mono Lake Committee website:

Tufa is essentially common limestone. What is uncommon about this limestone is the way it forms. Typically, underwater springs rich in calcium (the stuff in your bones) mix with lakewater rich in carbonates (the stuff in baking soda). As the calcium comes in contact with carbonates in the lake, a chemical reaction occurs resulting in calcium carbonate–limestone. The calcium carbonate precipitates (settles out of solution as a solid) around the spring, and over the course of decades to centuries, a tufa tower will grow. Tufa towers grow exclusively underwater, and some grow to heights of over 30 feet. The reason visitors see so much tufa around Mono Lake today is because the lake level fell dramatically after water diversions began in 1941.

Interesting!

Mono Lake Seagull Mono Lake Tufa Mono Lake Sunset

Doodles of Guys

FriendThese are a few of the doodles that I’ve done over the past few weeks, which all happen to be of men. The first one was originally going to be of my friend, Tony, but I quickly gave up on the idea because he was having a conversation with people and I couldn’t really get a good look at him.

Jim

This second doodle, which I did on the plane ride home from Argentina, is of Jim. I think it’s funny because it looks like Jim, but a sort of alternate universe Jim where he has a longer head.ManThis last one I did during a meeting at work. Perhaps some of my co-workers will recognize it ­čÖé

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Tango

Plaster crumbling from colorful old buildings, rusty iron balconies, black and white tile all cracked and broken, tropical plants so big they might be monsters. These are some of the things you see when you look into the a hidden courtyard in Buenos Aires. These things transport you to another world, a time of the past, and give you a  glimpse at what Argentina might really be like: quiet, nostalgic, and somewhat falling apart.

El Obelisco

After our time in Patagonia, we headed up to Buenos Aires to enjoy the last few days of our vacation. On our first day there, we quickly discovered that the streets of Buenos Aires are quite different from these whispering courtyards. Instead the streets are bustling and modern, with black and yellow taxis zipping by and people, young and old, walking swiftly to unknown destinations. Perhaps they’re on their way to a corner cafe to have a coffee or to an afternoon meeting in the hectic micro-center.

Or maybe they’re just on an afternoon stroll through one of Buenos Aires’ beautiful neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character.

My favorite neighborhoods were San Telmo and Recoleta. San Telmo is located just south of the city center and has a sort of alternative flair, with lots of run down restaurants and antique shops. Peek into any storefront and you might see hundreds of crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. The neighborhood is also the home of a huge the San Telmo market, which occupies an entire city block and is a great place to buy antiques of all kinds, as well as leather goods, fresh veggies, and delicious sandwiches.

La BocaGabino Coria Pe├▒aloza

Nuestra Se├▒ora del Pilar

Recoleta, on the other hand is quite different from San Telmo. It’s a beautiful residential neighborhood famous for it’s Parisian-style architecture and many green spaces. We loved strolling through the heart of Recoleta, a series of central plazas full of people selling artisan crafts, street musicians, jugglers, and many residents and tourists relaxing on the grass for a picnic or a bit of yerba mate.

The trees in these plazas are especially amazing. Right when we stepped out of the cab we saw a beautiful group of rubber trees. We went over to take a look at it only to discover that it was one monstrous tree. I later learned that this famous tree, nicknamed Gran Gomero, has branches that span over 150 feet. Huge!

We also enjoyed strolling  through the Recoleta cemetery, which is big enough to get lost in, and were amazed at the size of the mausoleums, each one bigger than the next. Many were falling apart from years of neglect.

LettersLightening StormLa Casa RosadaJim in Cafe

It seems that every block of Buenos Aires has five cafes. We also appreciated that. We spent hours sipping coffees, trying new apperitivos, and people watching, as we tried to decipher what Buenos Aires is really about. We only spent three nights there, not enough to figure it out, but we were definitely enchanted, both by the busy streets and the mysterious courtyards within them.

Perhaps one day we’ll return to discover a little bit more about what Buenos Aires really is.

Patagonia

Perito Moreno Glacier

On Sunday, I got back from an amazing two-week vacation to Argentina. The first stop on our trip was Patagonia to see the natural beauty of the country’s southernmost region. We camped for six nights in total, hiked many, many miles, and saw some of the most glorious views imaginable: massive blue glaciers, soaring peaks, and even the endangered huemul, a deer-like creature native to Patagonia, of which there are only 350 to 600 left in the world.

Jim at Perito Moreno Glacier Jeanne at Perito Moreno GlacierUs In Patagonia Patagonian Countryside Mount Fitz Roy Piedras Blancas Our Camp

Glaciar Grande The Endangered HuemulEmpanada de Cordero Leaving Patagonia

I’m Back

Hello! Sorry it’s been so long since my last post! In case you’re curious why it’s been so long, I’ve got two reasons.

First, I just returned from a two week trip in Argentina (it was amazing!) Below you’ll find some of the “how-many-sleeps-until-my-trip” graphics I made and used as Facebook wall cover photos before I left. The “sleeps” concept is something my boss’ son used to use when he was little and excited about a trip or the like. Always thought it was cute.

My second reason for not posting is a little less legit. I was finding it too difficult/stressful to actually do one big project a week, I guess because I was busy with my job, preparing for my South America trip, and this 21-day cooking challenge that I was doing.

Because I want to keep this blog going, I’m going to go back to posting small projects for now, and then hopefully have some bigger projects interspersed. This will definitely take the pressure off and somehow leave me a lot more room for creativity and inspiration.

Annnnyways, I’ll be posting more from my Argentina trip in the upcoming days. Can’t WAIT to go through all the pictures!

16 Sleeps

10 Sleeps

3 Sleeps

Finding Inspiration: Japanese Wood Block Prints

This week, I’m planning to do one or two pen drawings that somehow mimic the style of Japanese woodblock prints. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to do this, so it will be a bit experimental.

Below are several of the pieces that I find exceptionally beautiful. You can find additional pieces on the Japanese Woodblock Prints Pinterest board that I recently made.

Sarusawa Pond by Hiroshi Yoshida

Sarusawa Pond by Hiroshi Yoshida

Sparrows in the Sazanka in Snow

Sparrows in the Sazanka in Snow by Ando Hiroshige

I really love Japanese woodblock prints, but to be honest, I don’t know much about them, apart from what I read on Wikipedia tonight. Luckily, I did learn that the type of prints I like are mostly part of the ukiyo-e genre.

The name of the genre, ukiyo, means “floating world” in English and is meant to represent the need to embrace each moment and the fleeting beauty you find in it.

The Wikipedia article mentions a lovely quote from novelist Asai Ry┼Źi that describes the concept of this floating world.

“… Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and the maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating; … refusing to be disheartened, like a gourd floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world…”

It’s no wonder I’m drawn to this art form. How wonderful!

Birds and Snow-covered Peonies by Kono Bairei

Birds and Snow-covered Peonies by Kono Bairei

Kawase Hasui

By Kawase Hasui

In a Temple Yard

In a Temple Yard by Hiroshi Yoshida

Lake House Bliss

Rocks on IceThis past weekend seven friends and I journeyed northward for a weekend at a lake house that I imagine to be Wisconsin’s most adorable. With its massive stone fireplace, seriously kitschy kitchen, and yards and yards of wood paneling, how could any cabin be better?

Add to that an extremely comfortable leather couch big enough to seat all eight of us, and you’ve got the perfect place to spend a fun weekend with friends.

And it was fun. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe, several times because of repeated impersonations of the “Cheese Doodles Guy.”

Bird HouseShore

Said Cheese Doodles Guy was on a recent Radio Lab episode about the feeling of bliss. In the episode, Cheese Doodles Guy (his real name is┬áAleksander Gamme) explains that as part of his preparation for a solo trek across Antarctica, he buried caches of food for himself so that he can avoid carrying all his provisions across the continent.┬á Later, you get to hear Cheese Doodles Guy experience extreme–and I’m talking extreme–happiness when he locates one of the caches of food after months of trekking alone.

Basically he just screams and screams with joy and then, between many Norwegian words, he says the words “Cheese Doodles.”

It’s an amazing clip and since several of us had heard the same Radio Lab episode, we couldn’t help but impersonate his screams and shout “Cheese Doodles” at the top of our lungs. It was so funny.

You can watch a video of Cheese Doodles Guy’s extreme happiness here.

WaterDead LeafDespite all this tomfoolery about the Cheese Doodles Guy, I spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about what bliss really is. In the Radio Lab episode, they talk about bliss being this supreme state of happiness, almost like a religious experience, where feelings of joy and peace come together to create some amazing moment.

I think I’ve had moments like this. For me, they often result from being in the water. Perhaps in that warmth you feel when you first put on your clothes after a late night swim or during a sit in a hot spring deep within some ancient forest. During experiences like these, I’ve felt deeply at peace and content.

Our HouseOn Sunday night, after our lovely weekend had come to an end, I started to think more about the fact that most of my blissful experiences have a very physical element because of their connection to water. What I’m trying to say is, I think that getting out of a freezing cold mountain lake or relaxing in the warmth of a beautiful┬á hot spring results in an actual physical change in my body, perhaps the release of endorphins or┬á serotonin, that allows me to feel a state of bliss.

Huh. I guess this makes me think that I need to start respecting all of my feelings of happiness equally. I need to stop relying on bodies of water for providing these magical moments and realize that if I’m purely happy, it should be good enough to be considered bliss. I shouldn’t need that physical element. That magic.

And so I return to my friends screaming their heads off and pretending to be Cheese Doodles Guy and to all the other deep belly laughs, basketball games, meandering walks, and long talks that we all shared over the past few days.

These experiences all came together to create an amazing weekend that made me truly happy. It was a weekend that I hope to remember as a time of bliss.

Rock on IceFor anyone reading this, please share your comments! Feel free to respond to any of the following questions:

  • What do you think bliss is?
  • Is there a difference between happiness and bliss? What is it?
  • What have been some of your moments of bliss?

A Few Doodles

BubblesThis week, I’ve made a few doodles here and there. I guess I’m used to doodling since I was doing it almost every night.

Bubbles Triangle Doodle 2  Triangle DoodleUnrelated, Clare from the blog So Many Crafts So Little Time nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger / One Lovely Blog award. Thanks so much Clare!

Here’s the badge I’ll be adding to my sidebar to commemorate my nomination. Thanks to Cristi from Bent on Better Lunches for combining the two original badges into one. Very convenient!

lovelyinspiringaward

The conditions of receiving this award are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award / The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.
  3. Share 7 things about yourself.
  4. Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
  5. Include this set of rules.
  6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

Seven Things About Me

Here are seven entirely random things about me:

  1. I love to travel and have been t0 16 different countries. In February it will be 17 countries because my boyfriend and I are headed to Argentina!
  2. I’m allergic to cats, which is very sad because I like them.
  3. I used to have another blog called Life Less Plastic, which documented my two year experiment in giving up plastic. I got lots of attention for it, and was even on CNN!
  4. I don’t like cheesecake.
  5. I love chocolate.
  6. I’m a huge hot springs enthusiast and have been in hot springs in several different U.S. states and in a few different countries, as well. There’s something amazingly beautiful about sitting in a hot pool of water in an entirely natural setting, maybe even of the middle of some ancient forest. It’s a wonderful experience.
  7. I love baking my own bread! I think it’s magic!

Ten Nominees

Here are the ten blogs I’d like to nominate for the award:

  1. Sarah Takes Pictures – http://sarahtakespictures.com/
  2. Make and Do Girl – http://makeanddogirl.com/
  3. Thefty – http://thefty.wordpress.com/
  4. Kevein Geiger – http://kevingeiger.wordpress.com/
  5. Melange of Life – http://melangeoflife.wordpress.com/
  6. Art by Anto – http://artbyanto.com/
  7. Lady Lira – http://ladylira.com/
  8. Making Games – http://rmatey.wordpress.com/
  9. What Handsome Things – http://handsomethings.com/
  10. Black Crow White Owl – http://blackcrowwhiteowl.com/

Yay! Thanks again, Clare!

Finding Inspiration: Collages

This week, I’m planning to do a series of collages so I’ve spent the past few days scouring the internet for collage pieces that inspire me. I created a collage pinterest board with many of the examples. Here are some of my favorites.

Slow MagicCover art collage for the band Slow Magic

 

Caro-Ma
Collage by Caro-Ma

 

1_squeezingthesun
Collage by Bene Rohlmann

 

5600184854_d3cf9ac0b0_o

Collage by gvmma

 

Bugmask

Collage by James Dawe

 

Bene
Collage by Bene Rohlmann