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I Swear I Haven’t Fallen off the face of the Earth January 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Diana @ 4:49 pm

The last few months have been fairly hectic. Here is a short break down:

October I finished writing my book Woman in Red. The historical fiction account of the life of Anita Garibaldi.

November I took part in a Nanowrimo and wrote another book! It was the first time in the 8 years that I managed to complete the challenge with a full 50,000 words. All fun and extra curricular activities were put on hold so that I could finish.

December Besides getting swallowed up in the holiday madness I came down with a chest cold. Which for most people would be no big deal except for a asthmatic such as me where the slightest cold goes straight to bronchitis. So that happened, and thankfully it cleared up just in time for Christmas and New Years.

What’s next? Well after all of that you can imagine my discipline for blogging has gone to crap but I miss it. So I plan on coming back. Expect more recipes, more adventures and more eclectic California fun!



Mid Autumn Moon Festival at Hsai Lai Temple September 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Diana @ 8:49 pm
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Late September the Chinese celebrate The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. This festival is to celebrate the moon and our connection to our ancestors. As the Venerable Abbot Hui Dong pointed out, the same moon we look at every night is the same moon that our grandparents, and great grandparents and their parents before them looked at. It’s incredible if you stop and think about it.

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Attending the full moon at Hsai Lai Temple was a wonderful experience. The temple is beautiful and the people are welcoming.  Before the festivities began we got to learn about a fermented Chinese tea called Pu’er along with the traditional ways of presenting the tea.

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As the evening progressed we listened to live music followed by a group discussion by with the Monastics and then a group meditation.

After our meditation we each offered an offering of light which was used to create our own full moon. Even with so many people there the whole experience felt incredibly personal and intimate.



North Rim Excursion Day 2: The Grand Canyon September 22, 2015

Filed under: Pins on the Map — Diana @ 9:56 pm
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Diana 3

When I booked this trip I knew nothing about traveling to that area. I got the last available campsite within reasonable driving distance to the Grand Canyon. I had no idea there was a difference between the North Side and the South Side. Let alone that it was a 4 hour plus drive. However, after we got there we discovered we made the right decision.

Grand Canyon

The North Rim is only open seasonally, May through October. There are a number of trails around the canyon with beautiful views fit for all levels of hiking experience.  Everyone we came across had a North Rim chip on their shoulder, the common belief that the North Rim was better than the South Rim because of the number of trails, it’s not as touristy as the South Rim and you can’t beat the rustic charm.

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Grand Canyon 2

Angel's window


The 4 trails we did were:

  1. Bright Angel Point, which is more of a look out point than a hiking trail. (.5 round trip)
  2.  Cape Royal. This nice little trail is more of a nature walk with a paved pathway, leading you to Angel’s window and Cape Royal look out. (.6 round trip)
  3. Cape Final this 4 mile round trip trail is a great trail for the moderate hiker. It has low hills and a steady climb. When hiking the trail don’t stop half way. You’re going to want to. The trail winds along the side of the canyon and it’s tempting to stop but don’t. Keep going all the way up to the end. This trail is only worth it if you go all the way to the end of the trail. There is a wonderful look out. We picnicked on the rock while taking in these lovely views.

Cape Royal view 2 Cape Royal view

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The North Rim Lodge is the rustic base point of my dreams.



The lodge sits right on the edge of the canyon, with it’s large windows you can see spectacular views of the canyon no matter what the weather. We stopped in on Friday night before we set up camp and grabbed a bite at the deli which has hearty soups and sandwiches. The next morning we started out the day with a breakfast buffet at the lodge’s restaurant ($14/person).

After a day exploring in and around the canyon be sure to head back to the lodge in order to sit in an Adirondack chair on the patio that over looks the canyon and enjoy an educational talk by one of the park rangers.


Pictured above is the Roughrider specialty “Brighty” named after one of the trail mules. The Roughrider saloon is fun little place to hang out for it’s signature cocktails or swing by in the morning for a cup of coffee and a pastry.

North Rim spoiled us. I don’t think we’ll ever head over to the South Rim after this trip.



My Meatless Monday Plate: Gazpacho September 14, 2015

Filed under: Adventures in Diana's Kitchen — Diana @ 8:00 am
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Summer doesn’t seem to be leaving Southern California anytime soon. The fact that it was close to a hundred degrees out yesterday certainly proved that theory. It was a perfect night for making Gazpacho (and not cooking).


6 tomataillos

8 tomatoes

1/2 of a small seedless watermelon

1 poblano pepper

3 stalks of celery


Roast the tomatillos and poblano pepper on the grill. until they have blistered. Set them aside to cool.


(Don’t they look delicious?)


While they are cooling make the broth, juice or blend most of the tomatoes and 1/4 of your watermelon.




Roughly chop the rest of the tomatoes along with the other vegetables including the roasted pepper, tomatillo and remaining 1/4 watermelon.



Add in your broth and set aside in the fridge to cool for a couple of hours until it has fully chilled.


Top with avocado and serve.


North Rim Excursion Day 1: Zion National Park September 12, 2015

Filed under: Pins on the Map — Diana @ 9:43 pm
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Emerald Pools 2


Unfortunately we got a late start on the day that we went to Zion. (Always opt for the wake up call in a hotel!) Once we got to Zion it was packed. Parking at this national park is very limited. There are shuttles that run through the little town just outside the park. Easiest thing to do is hop on one of those shuttles. It will take you straight to the front gate where you can walk in and pay for your admission there.


From the visitor center you’ll take a tram, it stops at all of the hiking locations. Because of our limited schedule we only had time for one hike. So we chose the Emerald Pools.

The hike is broken up into three sections. Low, mid and upper. The low trail is the easiest and busiest of the trails. It’s a paved pathway so you get a lot ammeter hikers, mom’s with strollers etc. The lower emerald pool brings you to the waterfalls.  It’s a super easy hike, only .6 miles one way.


Emerald Pools 1


The low to middle pools hike is fairly strenuous, especially compared to the lower pools. The hike itself is pretty, bringing you up to a lovely overlook. This was the husband’s favorite section.

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Total miles to the middle pools is 1 mile from the beginning of the hike to the end. At each stage the number of people one the trail becomes fewer and fewer, so if the lower pools are crowded it should thin out by the time you get to the top. The lower to middle hike was the husband’s favorite.

The hike to the very top becomes quite strenuous but it’s still well worth it. The total number of miles to the top is 1.5, one way.




Zion is a beautiful park. It’s small, smaller than any of the other parks than I am used to. Because it’s so beautiful and popular it gets a lot of tourist traffic. So the hiking trails can be pretty well packed. Likewise, there can be a lot of novice hikers out on the trails. Over the course of our weekend we actually came across some people who had a miserable time. So be aware of this if you are planning on going during a holiday.


All in all it was a beautiful park and I look forward to going back when we have a little more time.


August Link Roundup September 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Diana @ 10:05 pm

Well August was a busy month. When  I wasn’t following around the 501st or checking out events like Brew at the Zoo, I was preparing for our vacation to the Grand Canyon with such posts as creating my own Trail Mix blends and getting myself organized for the camping trip

Over on Pinterest I have been collecting camping tips and recipes. I really loved this recipe from Outside Mom. I made chicken barbecue pockets which were lovely for our hikes.  I also am obsessed with making my own granola, I plan on making a few of these granola recipes from Gimme Some Oven

Over on instagram before the on-slot of vacation photos there were a bunch of photos showcasing my hiking adventures


our lazy pool days (because that’s what summer is for)


Oh! and my awesome new custom painting.


Isn’t it fantastic? It’s a sunset over Huntington Beach on a reclaimed Huntington Beach park bench.

What’s coming up for September? Well it is that time of year:

pumpkin spice

So yes I do have some pumpkin spice awesomeness up my sleeve, some great posts about the trip and lots of recipes! September is going to be a fun and creative month!



North Rim Excursion an Introduction September 7, 2015

Filed under: Pins on the Map — Diana @ 10:40 pm
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The husband and I just came back from a camping excursion at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Over the course of 4 days we hit two national parks and one national monument. We went from Zion to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the Grand Staircase plus a bunch of little trails in between. Even though I am calling this our North Rim Excursion, we spent 90% of our time in Utah. It was our first trip to Utah and as you will soon see, we fell in love.

Over the course of the course of the next week or so I’ll be sharing our experiences and tips for the trip (I’ll also be posting my link round up this week, just a wee bit late). One thing that is a must is getting an Annual Pass from the National Park Service. It’s good for a full year from when you purchase it and completely worth  it if you are going to visit more than one park within a trip. Given that entry into Zion and Grand Canyon are $30 each, the pass is a great savings.

So stand by as I sort through the 700+ pictures that we took over the weekend and prepare our tips from the vacation for you.

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Homemade Trail Mix August 30, 2015

Filed under: Adventures in Diana's Kitchen — Diana @ 7:59 pm

When it comes to camping and hiking there is one staple that we always bring with us:  homemade trail mix. Sure buying trail mix at the grocery store is easy. However, mixing your own at home is healthier and cheaper (especially if you have a dehydrator).

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My first mix is the husband’s favorite, I call it the Yosemite Mix.

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This is a mix of equal parts walnuts, dried cranberries, banana chips, coconut and pineapple chunks. The husband says that it tastes like breakfast cereal. This mix gives you all the carbs and slow releasing proteins you need for any hike in Yosemite.


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If you are looking for something more on the sweet side I would recommend this mixed berry trail mix. It’a a mix of honey roasted almonds, mixed nuts, dried cranberries, blueberries and strawberries.


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The Traditional. This mix is just a basic mix cranberries, coconut, banana chips and mix nuts.


Not pictured: Mango, Walnut and dried pineapple seasoned with just a little Tajin spice for a little extra kick.

If you notice, none of the mixes have chocolate in them. When I’m hiking I don’t want anything gooy. I want slow release protein and sugar to keep my energy up. Everything is mixed to taste but I find an even mix of fruit to nuts works best.


Brick Fest and Tagging along with the 501st August 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Diana @ 11:08 pm
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On Sunday I got to tag along with the 501st legion for a troop at Brick Fest. What’s Brick Fest? Well, it’s only the place to go if you are an a lover of all things Lego.

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On it’s first visit to the west coast brick fest made a good start for itself.  There were some fantastic art, and I say fantastic because at best I can build a tower, a leaning barely put together tower. There is no way that I can pull off what these guys do:

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It was fun watching people’s reactions to seeing the storm troopers when they walked in. Through out the four hour shift the line for pictures with them was all the way through the convention.

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From left to right we have a Jengo Fett (not to be confused with Boba Fett), my favorite TK in the garrison, Juno Eclipse, a Tie fighter pilot (again, not to be confused with Darth Vader) and a Biker Scout.

Brick Fest overall was a pretty cool event if you are in to Legos and need an afternoon of fun. The convention itself is making its rounds across the country and will be back in LA next year.




Hiking My Way Through California August 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Diana @ 10:31 pm

California is known for it’s beaches and beach culture but what people don’t realize is that we have some amazing mountains as well.

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(Jones Peak, that was from the halfway point)

There are a number of magnificent mountain ranges that traverse the inland southern California landscape. Even in my own backyard we have some beautiful trails to explore.



If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that the last three weeks the husband and I have been traversing our local peaks. First it was an old Nike Missile site, abandoned in the 70’s. We made it to the top but the second half of the trial leads to a beautiful Buddhist temple. The next time we tackle that trail we’ll venture on the second half.

The next week was Workman Hill. The average temp last week was around 100 degrees, so we just did a quick one mile that we were able to accomplish in the evening when the temperatures began to drop.


Keeping up with our fantastic hiking streak we decided to give James Peak a go. In retrospect, we probably should have done our research on this one a bit more. It’s more of a winter hike, temperatures climb extremely fast and the trail leading up to the peak has no shade covering. We almost made it to the top, a full 3.3 miles, one way. However, due to the heat and the fact that I just clearly was not prepared for this one. I stopped at roughly 2 miles up before heading back down. It’s always better to play it safe when it comes to hiking. Know your limits!

Overall it’s a really enjoyable trail, lots of switchbacks, beautiful views and long well kept straight away paths. There are also a couple of really good spots to sit and have a picnic.

So what’s the plan now? We were talking about conquering one new trail every week but that just isn’t foreseeable, unfortunately life has a tendency to get in the way. As well as worn out knees and a potentially strained ankle (I took a fun little tumble on the way down).

However, we are going to work towards conquering all of the peaks in Southern California. I love hiking, it gets me outside, exercising and enjoying nature. You don’t need to be all that coordinating, just have to make sure you don’t pull a Jack and Jill style tumble…


So here’s to lots more hiking!