Pound Cake French Toast

One of the things I love the most about the Rochester area is the abundance of locally owned, amazing restaurants. I mean, who wants to cook for one with all of this goodness at my fingertips? I tend to do the healthier thing during the week, by eating a bowl of oatmeal or a Clif bar for breakfast at work. But come the weekend, I want something big and satisfying and a little unique. Thank you, Country Club Diner, for teaching me about pound cake French toast!

Wait, pound cake French toast?

Yes, and it is just as lovely as it sounds. Continue reading “Pound Cake French Toast”

Stacking Stones for Inner Peace



No doubt you’ve seen those stacks of rocks when out and about. More and more people are stacking stones when out in nature, and people are asking why. I have heard of the practice being done to create harmony in a garden. Hikers in the wilderness use these stacks to alert other travelers of trails. Some create cairns as a memorial to a loved one. Mostly I have heard of the practice as being something Zen, to create inner peace.

Pictures of these creations always draw me in, but I had never before tried to do it. Then this summer, I had a very emotional trip back home. So much good happened on that trip, but it is always very difficult for me to go there. My mother is deep into Alzheimer’s disease and my father has been gone for just over five years now. This last trip, I went to the cemetery to pay my respects to my daddy and to my grandmother, who had passed away a mere eight months before him. And then I had the horrible pain of having to leave my mother. I live far enough away, now, where I don’t always know when I will be able to return. I know our remaining time together is short, so I milk all the time that I have with her.

I returned home late on a Sunday night and had to get up Monday morning to work a two-hour shift at one of my part-time jobs. Getting back into the swing of things after being gone for almost two weeks is never an easy thing. Though I’d had my spiritual cleansing of a weekend of Pearl Jam shows in Chicago, and a full afternoon to bask in the beauty that is the Toledo Art Museum, I still felt like something was lacking. Summer was almost over, and it had been so hot, I hadn’t done as much hiking as I usually like to do.

I quickly decided to head east. Chimney Bluffs State Park is one of the most beautiful places you will ever go. The massive spires of clay constantly change, and yet stay the same as the elements slowly erode them.

Peeking through the trees at Chimney Bluffs from the trail.
Peeking through the trees at Chimney Bluffs from the trail.

With the right light, the orange color provides a stunning contrast to the blue of Lake Ontario.

The clay spires of Chimney Bluffs from the woods trail.
The clay spires of Chimney Bluffs from the woods trail.

They are just as majestic and awe-inspiring from the beach.

Looking up at Chimney Bluffs
Looking up at Chimney Bluffs

And speaking of the beach, it is a treasure trove of rocks and stone and other natural debris that has washed ashore or fallen from above.

Rocks and driftwood on the Chimney Bluffs beach

I have always been drawn to rocks and stones. I blame that on my father, who always used them in his landscaping. But I also cannot help but feel some kind of connection to them. Every time I go hiking, I usually find a rock or a stone to carry with me as a sort of talisman on my journey. There’s no shortage of options.

The rocky beach of Chimney Bluffs
The rocky beach of Chimney Bluffs

On this trip, I kept finding rocks to carry with me, but I still wasn’t quite feeling that sense of connection and peace that I usually get. The day was perfect, not overly hot like the rest of the summer had been, and the lake was a perfect blend of blues.

And then I stumbled upon this formation.

Talk about stone-faced!
Talk about stone-faced!

I chuckled to myself and kept on walking, but then suddenly felt the need to make my own creation. I was drawn to a dozen different stones on the ground and felt compelled to try stacking stones on one of the boulders. Instant peace. Apparently it was radiating peace, because I had barely finished when someone stopped and asked if she could photograph my creation. Of course I said yes. And then I sat watching the blue waves of the lake as the backdrop to my creation. A total zen moment.

My stacked stones
Stacking stones brought me such inner peace

You can also see video of the waves crashing behind it, as well as many other traveling adventures here.

Is stacking stones for everyone? No.

Did stacking stones cure what ailed me? Not permanently, but it has helped me to continue on my personal journey of finding peace and happiness in my life.

Should I try stacking stones? That’s up to you. If you are in a place where you can find stones and feel compelled to give it a try, then do so. If you have to force it, it isn’t going to work. You have to open up your heart and mind to feeling the balance. It’s going to take some careful balancing to get them to properly stack, as well as patience to find the right ones, but it is worth it in the end.

What are your experiences with stacking stones? What do you do to find your inner peace?

Behold the Maple Bacon Donut

What’s that you say? A maple bacon donut? Some people immediately wrinkle up their noses and say, “How gross!” Others clamor for a taste, or beg to know where to find one. Well, I found them locally, and they are yummy.

maple bacon donut whole

Yes, this gastric delight can be found at Donuts Delite in Rochester, NY, home to some of the most original donut designs I have ever seen. It has been around for decades and is a familiar place for locals. They also serve a great brunch and are home to one of the many Salvatore’s Pizza franchises. Continue reading “Behold the Maple Bacon Donut”

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