Snapping Pictures

I used to take my camera everywhere, snapping pictures whenever something caught my eye. I didn’t care what it was, I would document it.  I stopped in part because my camera was heavy and I was tired of carrying a (super) huge bag (not that I carry a small bag, but it’s too small for my camera). But, I also stopped because I felt like I was sacrificing experiences in favor of imagery. I would sometimes get hyper focused on getting the perfect shot, and I felt like I was always missing out on something. Sometimes, I felt like I was removed from whatever was going on.

Still, I really miss taking pictures. I miss going through the images I captured and saving the best ones. I miss the times when I accidentally caught something unexpected. And, I miss having fun with photo editing.

This is picture was taken outside of a restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland (Seacrets, for the curious) and I remember having so much fun playing with the image until the word “Taxi” seemed to glow from atop the circular metal sign.

Taxi Stand

I guess I could start taking more pictures with my phone, but the camera really leave a lot to be desired. Then again, maybe that’s just an excuse. What would it hurt to try?

Pre-Owned and Pre-Loved

When I know I’m going to have an extra trying day, I like to wear my Nana’s wedding necklace. A simple crystal ball with a band of diamond chips, there’s nothing flashy or extraordinary about it. But, being able to reach up and touch it and feel its simple weight against my skin is so comforting. There’s a story behind it, it has a history all its own.

I love objects that have a history. Some of most prized possessions are ones that were given to me or ones that I found. Sure, I love shiny, new things and I love picking something of my very own, catering to no tastes but mine. But, there’s something special about things that have been passed down. There’s something magical about buying a cookbook at a yard sale or antique fair (I collect old cookbooks) and finding notes and annotations written in some unknown hand. It’s like you get to share a tiny part of someone else’s life, like you get a window into their world.

It’s irresistible.

I’m an only child, so I don’t have anything that was passed down from brothers or sisters, but I have quite a few things that were owned before I got them. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Nana’s wedding necklace: I used to play with it at her house all of the time and, finally, she just told me to keep it.
  • Travelling Elephant
  • My Dad’s copy of The Lord of the Rings: My dad bought them, but my mom used them, too (they have known each other since she was 16). Both of them wrote notes in the margins, sometimes to each other. When they were going through their divorce, I used to sneak down and read the notes. It was comforting to see that, somewhere, they still saw eye-to-eye.
  • The Boston Cooking School Cookbook: One of the people who had this book took serious issue with some of the recipes. Her notes are hilarious. I think we would have been great friends.
  • Shoes from my Aunt Mary: The woman has a serious love of shoes and, when she was younger, her feet were almost as tiny as mine. Though I can mostly fit in her boots (since I can wear socks), she’s given me some great pairs.

And, a hand-me-down that I really want? The jewelry box that my Pappy made for my Grandma when they were in high school. It’s covered with tiny wooden hearts and engraved with her name. The best part? He misspelled her name! Ha. I love it.

Books: Bigger on the Inside

“You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!” – Doctor Who, Doctor Who “Tooth and Claw”

The Dude and I recently started watching Doctor Who (yes, yes, I’m quite late to the party) and am really enjoying it. I won’t say it’s an obsession (yet), but the show is quite a lot of fun and fills the supernatural, campy hole left by Warehouse 13 and Eureka (and, naturally, Buffy). The above quote is from an episode we watched on Sunday and is particularly appropriate given that yesterday was was International Literacy Day. This year, the focus was “literacy and sustainable development,” emphasizing the key role that literacy plays in social and human development.

Indeed, I can’t imagine life without books, without reading. I’ve always been a reader with varied tastes, though I tend to prefer fantasies (both YA and adult) and mysteries (particularly those set in London). I really like books with some sort of supernatural element; I’m currently reading and loving The Dresden Files. I also love historical fiction, particularly when the stories involve well-known, real people. Really, unless the book is what I considered poorly written, I’m willing to give it a shot. Well, unless it’s a romance novel. I just can’t get into them. Even Outlander, a book that appeals to me on so many levels, was impossible for me to slog through due to the too-much-a-romance-novel aspect of it.

I love that you have so many options with books, that I can simultaneously be reading about a wizard fighting a werewolf (well, a loup garou) and the mistakes women make in their careers and a Walt Disney biography. I love that I don’t have to pick just one of those things, and that I can give up on any of them whenever I want. I love that I can go on different adventures and learn new things and improve my vocabulary all while drinking a cup of tea.

Books: Making my life better, one word at a time.

Drink Up!

I got a latte at the college cafe today. A new student worker was being trained and she mostly made the coffee by herself (with just a bit of help from a supervisor). I’m ashamed to say that I was expecting it to be horrible.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was quite good.

Not nearly as good as coffee from The Gryphon or Victoria and Albert’s, but very solid.

IMG_2115

A New Favorite Cider: Thatcher’s Green Goblin, an oak-aged cider from Somerset, England.

I really love a good cup of coffee. Or, a good cup of black (preferably Nilgiri) tea. At work, you’ll never see me without a Disney mug filled with one or the other. Since I haven’t made a list in awhile, here are some of my favorite beverages:

  • Whole Milk Latte: The coffee has to be strong (strong, strong) and not bitter. I really like when there are caramel notes. And, yes, it has to be whole milk.
  • Nilgiri Tea: I prefer it unsweetened and with a splash of whole milk.
  • Pimm’s Cup
  • Hard Cider: There are so many varieties, but I’m really partial to English style ciders (usually more dry and less sweet than the one’s from here).
  • Orange Juice: When I get a craving for this, watch out. Do not stand in the way of me getting to my OJ. I have been known to drink an entire 1/2 gallon in a single day. Just ask The Dude.
  • Water with Mint and Lemon: I used to hate water. I used to choke on it. Once I made my peace with it, I’ve never looked back.

What are your favorite drinks?

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Dreaming of Monkeys

This time of year, work is crazy. Classes start in less than a week and everyone, vacation-brained and sunburned, is stumbling back onto campus, trying to make the transition between summer and endless reading and essay writing. Since our department does a large chunk of project work during the summer, I only get to take a few days off here and there; no vacations for me until late September or early October.

So, I dream of vacations, both past and future.

I loved Mexico. I loved the food and the people and the ruins peeking out where you least expected them. One of my favorite places was Calakmul, an ancient Mayan city buried in a tropical preserve. I loved climbing around the ruins, surveying the jungle below, and eating our bagged lunch at the foot of a crumbling temple. I especially loved the monkeys swinging through trees right above my head; I had never experienced anything like it.

Monkey

Young Spider Monkey in Calakmul

This little guy, silhouetted against trees and sky, was my favorite.

The Dude Cooks: Banana Flour Pancakes

I love pancakes, but usually can’t having them in the morning. I don’t know why, for my first meal of the day, I crave savory food (though, I will make an exception for dipping maple syrup on my scrapple). So, what’s a girl to do but ask her Dude to make pancakes for dinner!

Want a fun, gluten-free twist on regular pancakes? Try some made with banana flour! The batter is a bit more savory than regular pancake batter, so feel free to add more of the sweetener. I really like the savory-ness though, and am itching to have the dude make them with chives or bacon or something. Another fun, sweet idea would be to add cinnamon or chocolate chips to the batter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup banana flour
  • 2 tbsp gluten-free flour (we use King Arthur)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil or melted butter (plus more to grease the pan)
  • 1 tbsp agave or honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup almond milk

Method:

  1. Combine both flours, salt, an baking soda in a large bowl.
  2. Combine oil/butter, agave/honey, almond milk, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. (Gluten-Free fun fact: If something only as GF flour in it, mix to your heart’s content; there aren’t any glutens for you to over-develop, so you won’t end up with a tough batter.) When properly mixed, the batter should be slightly runny and similar in consistency to drinkable yogurt or keffir.
  4. Heat a non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat and grease pan with oil or butter.
  5. Pour batter into pan. You can make the pancakes as large or small as you like; we usually like ours to be circular and the size of a small saucer. The Dude recommends using a measuring cup for easy pouring.
  6. When bubbles develop all over the pancake (usually after 2-3 minutes), flip. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes on the other side. The pancake should be golden brown and spring back if you gently poke at it.
  7. Repeat until all batter is used up. You can keep the pancakes warm in a very low oven or on a warming rack.