Since I last posted in March I’ve been busy with multiple projects:
1) I traveled to Morocco for the first time and was immersed for a week in new sights, sounds and smells. The only fruits and vegetables sold in the markets are organic. Organic fruits and vegetables don’t have a special label or extra cost. There was a pile of onions in a grocery store still covered in dirt and cucumbers that were twisted and not shined up by food grade wax.
2) I took a black and white photography/darkroom course which was mostly aimed at people interested in b&w as a fine art. I discovered that fine art photography is not my path but documenting animals (humans too) and places around me is more my cup of tea. Regardless, I loved going into the darkroom and seeing a piece of blank paper transform into an image within seconds. I really missed that sense of surprise and serendipity that analogue photography offers so I’m going to continue taking pictures with my Pentax K1000 and see what develops.
3) Started two separate music projects that will hopefully lead to album releases. This is something I have not been able to do for over 6-7 years so I really hope I can accomplish this.
4) Got into counted cross-stitch which I’ve already completed a Southwest country motif. Counted cross-stitch can be tricky at first since you really have to keep track of the rows and columns but once you get going it’s fairly easy and relaxing. I liken it to coloring with thread. I’m hoping to make my own cross-stitch patterns next.
5) Started reading more and watching LESS television. Here are some of my new reads:
- Ohio Knitting Mills – Knitting Book: If you find yourself scouring vintage clothing or thrift shops for sweaters from the 50′s-70′s then this knitting book is for you. I was a little disappointed that they tried to “update” the knitting patterns to fit today’s styles since I am more interested in recreating sweaters/cardis from the past. Still most of the patterns aren’t that far off from the originals and there are great photos from the Ohio Knitting Mills archive.
- Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart: Just started reading this book which is all about poisonous, harmful and/or invasive plants. The funny illustrations and stories keep this book from being a dry scientific encyclopedia about plants and is probably why I was drawn to reading it.
- Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: I know I’m not an unhappy person but recently I’ve felt that there’s got to be a way to maximize on happiness as much as possible. Gretchen’s experience although different from mine has given me some inspiration on ways that I can make myself a better even happier person.
The trip to Miami was well needed and I I had copied down some places that VegNews magazine had spoken about. The vegetarian restaurants reminded me more of what being a vegetarian must’ve been back in the 70′s and 80′s and from the places I visited many were counter service with a menu that changed daily and/or combined with a health food store. I wonder what it is that makes all health food stores smell the same. One restaurant that did stand out as more of a traditional sit down eatery was Vegetarian By Hakin in North Miami Beach. The owner gives you a warm greeting as soon as you step in. The fresh juices and vegan breakfast (pancakes or tofu scramble) was incredible.
I was also introduced to some amazing tropical fruit (mamey, sapote, etc) . If you ever get the chance to go to southern Florida I strongly recommend you make a visit to the Fruit & Spice Park. They give tours around the park where a guide cuts down fresh fruit with a machete and gives everyone a sample. While there I sampled a berry that tasted like cotton candy. Felt like I was in a much healthier outdoor version of Willy Wonka’s factory.
Another great place was Sweat Records where they have a vegan cafe and some decently priced music. While there, I bought some refreshingly tasty Vanilla Iced Rice Baby which is iced Toasted Rice Green tea with vanilla soy milk.
We then drove down to Key West, which was nice change of pace from Miami. It resembled a southern city but with a Caribbean flavor. Everything was in walking distance rather than having to drive 12 miles every time you wanted to do something else. I sampled a bunch of key lime products and even checked out a movie at the local art house/repertory theater: Tropic Cinema. I could definitely see why many people retire down here.
Now I can say that I’ve been in the most southernmost tip of the United States. Come mid-May however, I will be visiting the north-eastern part of the continent of Africa, which I have never been to before. This trip will include visiting three Moroccan cities: Casablanca, Marrakesh and the beach town of Agadir. I am so excited to leave the continent of North America, which I haven’t done since I was twelve.
For awhile I thought winter would never rear its ugly head but snow is finally on the ground and I can’t find my gloves.
Had my two close friends Joan and Nat visit me so I put together a “make your own pizza/calzone night”. I decided to use the Jamie At Home recipes for Pizza Dough and Pizza Sauce, which I had tried out about a year ago. Last year I used all-purpose flour so the bread didn’t turn out as crispy and evenly baked but this time I made sure to use bread flour and it certainly did not disappoint. Now all I need is an outdoor wood burning stove or a pizza stone; the high oven temperature I used warped my baking tray.
I’ve also been experimenting with roasting different kinds of veg and my most favorite recipe so far is from Emeril for oven-roasted cauliflower. The lemon and garlic in the recipe remind me of my mother’s Greek cooking.
Other than cooking I have a few trips coming up, one to Montreal and another one which includes stops in DC, Miami and the Florida Keys. I’m really looking forward to trying out the fresh fruit that is readily available in south Florida.
Had a creativity kick last night and started recording a short instrumental song using my trusty little casio PT-80 synth, which I quickly emailed to my pal Brian to add guitar to. Then today, I walked around my town with a camera filming jittery scenes. This is what happened when I put the two together:
I just taught myself how to knit cable stitch. For years I thought it was far too complicated for me to learn but little did I know how easy it is once you get the swing of things. Can’t wait to get into more complex cable stitches.
I also made a short trip up to Montreal around Halloween with Tim and our old pal Dave. We walked up Mount Royal and it suddenly began to snow (a bit early even for MTL). I love visiting this city since there is never a shortage of things to do and people to see. Thank goodness I’m only an hour plane ride and 5 hour car ride away.
Some of my Top things to do in MTL include (mostly eating):
1) Fresh warm bagels at St-Viateur
2) Poutine and veggie dog at Lafleurs
3) Brunch at Aux Vivres
4) Spruce beer (fresh from Émile Bertrand’s)
5) Walking all around the city. Just like Boston, Montreal is a great walking city.
My brother, sister and Braga came to visit me during Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I gave them the quintessential New England fall tour, which included a trip to Russell Orchards and an evening at the Topsfield Fair. We also tried to ingest at least one pumpkin related item a day.
Up next was the Belle and Sebastian show at the Wang Theater. It was great to finally get to see them live as a 12 piece band. Their newest album has some pretty posi soulful tracks. Since it was a sit down theater it was a little difficult to get folks to dance (only 3 or 4 individuals got up to dance). This changed 3/4 into their set, when they played The Boy With the Arab Strap. The only downside was that we got a 40$ parking ticket — damn tree was hiding the “Resident’s Only After 6PM” parking sign.
Just yesterday I invited a few coworkers over to my place for a veg pot luck. This was the first time I had invited such a large group of people over that were not my family. I made a huge pot of chili and a big bowl of guacamole. Everyone brought over such great food that I am considering hosting such a gastronomical event monthly. Another bonus: all this extra food will help sustain me for the next week.
Today I attended the Classical Cartoon Festival at the Boston Symphony Orchestra hall. I was hoping that the orchestra would play while the Warner Brother’s cartoons aired but unfortunately this was not the case. It was still great to see people of all ages enjoying some cartoons on a Saturday morning. Afterwards, Tim and I met up with our pal Shaun and we noshed on some Hot & Sour Soup at Grasshopper along with book shopping at Raven. I also found some new comics by Liz Prince at Million Year Picnic (one of my fave comic book shops in the world), which I was pretty stoked about.
This week Tim and I’s pal Dave aka Nice Snacks will be visiting us from California and we’ll be going on a road trip up to Montreal Canada. We’ll get to reminisce about our salad days and eat lotsa junk food on the road.
As for projects:
1) I started to compile ideas for music mixes that are tied together by a theme. These will be posted on my Music page soon starting with a mix of songs that revolve around NYC/5 Burroughs (inspired by Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour).
2) Started working on some cat themed illustrations which I will be posting on here as well.
This was the first morning in a long time that I was very tempted to turn on the heat. Instead I just put on my big fluffy robe and made a nice cuppa strawberry rhubarb crumble white tea (courtesy of my family). The tea honestly tasted like a less sweet drink version of the dessert; there were even hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. On the same note, I just checked out this new book at the Ipswich Public Library entitled “The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook.” Anyone obsessed with tea should definitely take a look at this book, which provides rich details about all 6 varieties (and its many sub-variations/mutations), maps and beautiful photographs.
On another note, Fall would be the epitomy of comfort if I wasn’t recovering from an annoying head cold. But I’m trying to stay positive and look forward to crisp afternoon walks in the woods, baking tons of apple related treats, checking out the Topsfield Fair (America’s oldest running agricultural fair) with my siblings next weekend, etc.
I’m also starting to put together some ideas for a monthly music podcast that is theme related. I should have more details in the near future.
Regardless, I am still looking forward to the following:
1) All my siblings birthdays within the next two months and trips back to Montreal for these occasions
2) Teaching myself how to card/tablet weave
3) Trips to Russell Orchards to grab some cider donuts, hot apple cider and a bag of fresh apples to bake a crisp.
4) Baking sweet and savory items utilizing different types of squash and pumpkin.
Half-way through summer and I’ve already done so much:
A) see the first screening of the found footage film 2Everything2Terrible2: Tokyo Drift at the Silent Cinema (if you click on the link you will see my friends and husband shade tipping in the front row!).
B) Eat at Scoops a few times (where the flavors are wild and the portions/sizes are reasonable).
2) Had 8 family members visit me all during 4th of July weekend where I got to:
A) See a handful of people bring fireworks to the beach and launch them all simultaneously
B) Try not to get sun burnt
C) Finally found the Swan boats at Boston’s Public Garden. What a cute, romantic park if only I didn’t feel like my skin was baking that day.
A) Enjoy some Nice Slice pizza. The vegan slices are hands-down the best I’ve ever tasted.
B) Discovered that downtown Providence actually has some great independent stores you can visit: Craftland is a shop that sells handmade goods (many local) and offers classes/workshops. Etsy.com is great to find crafts but it’s so much better to be able to look, smell (i.e. soaps) and touch them (strange sentence, i know). Also found some great comix, music books, etc at Symposium Books (which was on the other side of the street from Craftland). They have high quality remainder books (prices slashed in half or more) that you wouldn’t ever be able to find in a bookstore in Cambridge, MA.
—->But the next few weeks will be just as eventful:
1) Trip to NYC by train to visit my best-est pal Shaun, and an old, long lost friend from Japan.
2) Trip back to Montreal (after a 4 1/2 month hiatus) to attend Otakuthon with my brother and much more.