Tuesday, March 30, 2010

into the wide, wide open


Solace. Comfort. Relaxation. Bliss. Simplicity.

That is what this photo does for me. There's not much to it, but I find it very calming.

It reminds me of road trips. Coasting on the highway in the summer sun, windows open, and my hair blowing all over my face. Queen blasting on the stereo and we're singing along to all the lyrics. I miss those days! Glad it's finally warming up for there to be a repeat. Oh sweet memory, fastforward to present day.

I look at this photo and I think of a Tom Petty tune, especially this tidbit:

...Into the great wide open
Under them skies of blue
Out in the great wide open
A rebel without a clue...

~Tom Petty, Into the Great Wide Open

Friday, March 26, 2010

walk away.

walk away.

I've got to say, I really like this photo. We got a couple of these little figurines at Urban Outfitters a couple of weeks ago. We thought we could think of some fun things to do with them, and we did. There will be more photos of these to come. If not here, then on our flickr page.

To me it seems like this little guy is walking away from something, even if doesn't want to. Story of all our lives at some point or another. There are time when we must walk away and continue on the journey.

This photo reminds me of a Ben Harper song, Walk Away. (You can listen to part of it here.)
So many people to love in my life, Why do I worry about one?/
But you put the happy in my ness, you put the good times into my fun./
And it's so hard to do, and so easy to say./
But sometimes - sometimes./
You just have to walk away - walk away and head for the door.

Well, that's all for today. Enjoy the weekend and springtime!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

spring time

spring time

I think (and hope!) it is safe to say that spring has arrived! I've seen the proof: daffodils blooming and robins hunting for worms. Let's not forget the nearly full week of consistent sunshine folks!

It's not that this past winter was colder or longer than most, it just felt like it. Maybe because we moved right before temperatures really started to drop. However, I think it has much more to do with the fact we walk almost everywhere now. There is no sense in driving; public transportation is faster and more adventurous.

Now that it's spring - that means in with the new, out with the old. We're hoping to do some refreshing of the apartment, daily tasks, and most importantly....our creative energy. It never ceases to amaze how much easier it is to do things when the weather is nice. Instead of bundling up to brace the cold, you can just go. Here's to a weekend and many weeks ahead of e.x.p.l.o.r.i.n.g.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Strategy = Creativity

Time for a game changer. I have decided that if I am going to say that I am creative and an "out-of-the box" thinker, I better start showing it. Neither of these attributes come across strongly in an application submitted through an online system. They also don't come across simply through words and mannerisms. Creativity needs to, at times, be tactile.

What is my solution.? So... sew!

This morning I dusted off the sewing machine, dug through my paper supply and *found my neon threads. The project at hand: Be different. Make the person on the other end curious. I have no proof that my new strategy to the search will indeed be successful, but at least I am having fun with it. (If it is successful - you shall hear!).

About a year ago I did loads of work with paper and my sewing machine. I loved it then, and I looove that I am getting back into it. Now if only I had a sewing/craft room? hmmm.

Friday, March 19, 2010

my fall back plan...

... Almost always involves chocolate. Okay, not really, but it sure does help!

This is bar none my most bookmarked recipe. When you've got to whip up something sweet in under 35 minutes, this is my fall back plan. It's quick, easy and delicious. Oh, and did I mention - you can mix everything together in one-bowl? It doesn't get any better than this!

Chances are if you've ever been a dinner guest or if we've ever brought a dessert over, this was it. (Not to sell myself short though, I do make other sweets well and frequently. :))

No party or company on the agenda for the evening, but I needed something sweet. It has been one helluva week and I couldn't think of a better way of welcoming the weekend than with a one-bowl chocolate cake.

Here's the (drum roll please....) recipe. (It's from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together in one bowl:
+ 1 c flour
+ 1 c sugar
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
+ 1/2 t baking soda
+ 1/4 t baking powder
+ 1/4 t salt
+ 3/4 c milk
1/3 c cooking oil
1 t vanilla
1 egg
Add mixture to a greased cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. (Or until toothpick comes out clean). Cool, frost and enjoy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


The reminiscing about Ireland has got me thinking about some of my other European adventures. The more I think about each of those, the more I think about Spain. (I also find it much easier to think about Spain when the temperatures rise above freezing, people crowd the streets, and birds sing from dawn until dusk.)

This photo is taken in route to the Catedral in Sevilla with our super sampler camera. When I first was in Sevilla as a student this area of the city was not strictly reserved for pedestrians and the metra; in fact, I am certain thousands of cars whizzed by this historical masterpiece on a daily basis. The wear and tear of our modern life was beginning to show adverse effects on the structure of the cathedral - among them: graffiti tags along the exterior and pollution damage to the outer structure. Needless to say, and as you can see in this photo, restoration has since been completed. I love walking around this area. Now instead of having to time the shot perfectly around traffic, the only thing getting in our way are people. It could be worse. :)

[I've got to say, it always amazing me how buildings with such strong historical significance continue to "exist" in our modern society. The U.S. is more recognized for our natural wonders, so there isn't as much of a chance to pass such a historical treasure on our way to the grocery store, bar, gym, or on an afternoon stroll. I always miss this when I am here and not there. *sigh. Although on that same token, I guess the people that do live so close to these historic gems often forget it. Can you imagine living across from the Colosseum or Aqueducts and having it be "normal'?? ]

If you could choose one wonder (be in natural or not) to see on a daily basis, what would it be?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ode to Ireland


In lieu of Saint Patrick's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to reminisce about Ireland. First off, I've just got to say - you haven't had a Guinness until you have one on tap in a small Irish pub. It becomes much more than just a beer - it becomes part of the culture, part of the way of life. In my case, having had travelled on a very limited budget, it also become dinner.

I don't think I had ever seen such lush greenery in all of my life as I did on my trip to Ireland. My roommate from Spain and I decided to travel to Ireland for our first jaunt out of Spain. Both being from Irish heritage, it was an easy decision to make.

We started off our trip in Dublin. We didn't leave until we had done the Guinness Tour. This tour, while a bit pricey, it totally worth it for the views on the city (with beer in hand!) once you complete the tour.

After wandering the busy streets of Dublin, we headed west to Galway. (I am sure Galway is much different now, as I am sure it has become much more of a tourist destination. I could sense it coming when we were there.) What a beautiful coast city! I felt like in the 2-3 days we were there we walked around the entire city. We also found a great restaurant that seemed to be a "locals-only" joint - thanks to a tip and invitation we received from a local. I guess it's no surprise that the place highlighted Irish cuisine - meat & potatoes. The people were all very friendly - so friendly I don't believe we were allowed to pay for any of our drinks at the local pubs. :)

From Galway we took a day trip to the Aran Islands. Some of my most fond memories of all my time spent in Europe include our trip to the Aran Islands. I remember it being an absolutely beautiful day. We took the ferry over and rented bicycles. We certainly put plenty of miles behind us and captured plenty of photos of scenery, livestock, and more along the way. Our trip to the Cliffs of Moher was also a delight, unlike the cave tour.

It's days like today that I like to remember this trip, and dream of the next time I travel across the pond for another visit. Until then... Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Back on track.

One way I have been able to gauge being "settled" in a new city and new apartment has been getting back into brewing. On a side note, we also realized that our reserves from previous batches (sangria tea ale, orange coriander wheat..etc.) were quickly dwindling. This helped expedite getting settled.

In many senses, brewing is just as "therapeutic" to me as baking. The one main different is time. Baking, thankfully!, only takes at the most a day to complete. Brewing on the other hand, requires patience, and at the very least 1 month to complete. I found each very difficult to mess up, but following directions and knowing the process is key.

We've got quite the pantry fermenting happily. Our spicy hard cider is bottled and will be ready to enjoy this fall. (See what I mean about patience?). Our belgium tripple is nearing the end of its secondary fermentation. Our raspberry slow stout (RSS) is almost ready for secondary fermentation.

I was thinking last week as the RSS was taking forever to start fermenting on just how much I enjoy the whole process. And, when I say whole process I mean it. Drinking your masterpiece is the big payoff, but having an adult science experiment in the house is exhilarating!

I have to laugh now as I was panicking that the yeast hadn't started to kick in 24+ hours after it was pitched. I realize now that this is not uncommon for stouts, especially when they contain lactose. This certainly is something I will keep in mind in the future. I look forward to learning more tips of the trade from the American Homebrewers Association. (We just got our membership!).

Now if only we knew what we'd like to brew next? We've got a couple recipes up our sleeve, as well as some exciting ideas, but we are certainly open for suggestions. Cheers!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Got fortune?

Got Fortune?

This little finger puppet says it all. This week has *flown* by, and it certainly has been a busy one.

It's been a week of opposites and mismatches. This week I've had to wear...
+ A fall, winter and spring coat
+ Boots and an umbrella
+ Heels and tennis shoes
+ Suits and scrubs

Anyway - not that all of that matters - it's been a week of many twists and turns. Time to put my hands in the air and say "we've made it to the weekend." [This is what this little finger puppet is saying to me in this photo.]

In fact, my inspiration this week is the finger puppet. We received a comment on this photo that directed us to a group on Flickr dedicated to finger puppets. I've got to say, it was fun to look through the creative ways other people have photographed finger puppets. Plus, who would have thunk there'd be a group for that? (Actually, I am a firm believer that there is a group for everything.)

I have often wanted to do a whole series of photographs with this little guy. The series would most definitely be called a day in the life of a finger puppet. He'd do all the things we all do. Sleep, eat, shower, drink, dance, watch tv, read...etc. I think I may just have to get our one finger puppet another buddy. It's an easy choice on where to pick one of those up -- The Peaceable Kingdom (in Ann Arbor). This store has all sorts of fun little knick knacks - a great place for party favors.

Well... back to a few more twists and turns before we turn in for the weekend. Hooray!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

red on red

We've got a birthday coming up here, which means my apron, rolling stick, and whisker are out and feverishly working. This year I'll be making one the classics ... strawberry rhubard pie. Lucky for me this happens to be one of my favorite desserts.

This was one of the pies my mom made a lot. (She, like me, got her recipe from the Joy of Cooking.) I remember as a kid going into my grandfather's garden (sometimes with my mom and most often with my brothers) to pick rhubarb during the summer. My grandfather tended to let his rhubarb plants go wild, so in many cases the plant was as tall as me. It always amazed me that such a tart taste could make such a delicious pie when coupled with strawberries.

red on red

I thought I'd capture the wonderful, and very red colors of the strawberries and rhubard. I'll be sure to post another photo of the finished product - that is, if it merits one. :)

I find it extremely appropriate that Julie and Julia is on its way to our apartment as we speak. Nothing like watching a movie about good home cooking when enjoying your own delights, especially when it's all being done to celebrate another year. Yum!

Monday, March 8, 2010

origami birds

origami birds

It is amazing to me how sometimes such little things can have such a big impact.

I am sitting in a bustling coffee shop enjoying my americano almost as much as I am enjoying new customers swing into the room through a revolving door. The cold air continually brushes against my back. I am watching the baristas dance around the narrow space by the machines trying to keep up with all the orders coming in. Everywhere I look the room is humming with movement.

Everywhere. Everywhere except for these two little origami birds. There they sit, neatly perched on top of one of the machines. I find this truly fascinating. They are so small, so simple.

I may just have to place a few of these birds around the apartment one of these days. (Here's a link on how to make them.) It may help me remember the simple things more often. Happy Monday everyone! :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

simple inspiration

P3016773 P3016766 asaragusito1

This week I have found myself being inspired by the little, simple things. Maybe it's because I can feel spring in the air, or that I can see the sunshine pouring through our apartment windows. Well, whatever it is - I like it!

I wanted to start a new weekly creative challenge for myself. **Please do feel free to participate as well. Each week I want to find one thing that inspires me, and to try to work this one thing into some creative project.

I am been itching to take out all of my crafting supplies. Unfortunately, I have found myself far too lazy to recover them from our freezing closet and organize them. Not to mention we need a shelving unit to store everything. Okay, I will no longer make excuses!

This week my inspiration was .... asparagus. Asparagus is one of my absolute favorite vegetables, and I have been delighted that it has been on sale this week. I think its shape, structure, taste and color is fascinating. There are so many ways you can photograph this vegetable and I really enjoyed trying to think "outside of the box" with perspective and lighting.

Anyway, as I was preparing some asparagus this week I started to think of all the shapes, colors and expressions that could be used creatively with this vegetable. Naturally, the drawing above (which is mine, forgive the fact that drawing has never been more forte) captures the cuteness of this vegetable. How it always come in bunches and stays close to the others. You would never find an asparagus alone - it always travels as a team. :) I am hoping to do some more experiments with drawings, photos, colors and sayings. Stay tuned for more on that.

Perhaps it was a strange inspiration, and a strange way to start a challenge. Oh well, it is what it is. Now I'll just have to keep my eyes open for next week's candidate.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010



It is a lovely day outside today - the sun finally decided to peak out from beneath the clouds.

One of the things that I like most about sunny days is the reflections and shadows it brings. I enjoy being able to capture a tourist moment of shadows rather than smiles sometimes. This photo just happens to be one that I really love - waiting for the train and playing with our shadows.

I think the combination between being overexposed (we used expired film) coupled with the reflecting light from the rails gives this photo some added character. I will admit: I have been happier with past results we have gotten from the Vivitar using expired film. I guess what I most like about this picture is remembering how close we all had to stand together to be in this photo. (If you look at the very top of the image, you'll notice how you almost don't see four pairs of legs.)

Sometimes the story behind a photo is better than the photo itself. Just like sometimes the reaction to a piece of artwork is better than the actual artwork. I had a long conversation last night about the perceived "value" and "beauty" of visual artwork. Turns out the conclusion we reached is ... It is all in the eye of the beholder. Just like one man's junk is another man's treasure.

Anyway, I can't wait to start seeing blooms and blossoms. Happy sunny day!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Home away from home

Tonight it's a tribute to the homelands. Paella, serrano ham, olives, and red wine. These are only a small sampling of the many things we *love about Spain. The only thing that could be better than eating them here would be to be enjoying them with friends and family as they celebrate (well now celebrated) the day of Andalucía.

Seville Cathedral

Southern Spain, much like many other places in the south, beats to a different beat and has its own flavor. People enjoy life to the fullest - the streets are always bustling with residents and tourists. Its rich heritage (and cuisine) keep people there (not to mention its balmy temperatures in the summer and temperate temps in the winter) and keep tourists coming back from more.

La tierra de amor. At least that's where the story of am. & pm. all began. Somewhere on a winding cobble stone road in the heart of Sevilla.

So tonight we raise our glasses to you, Sevilla. Salud!

(* Here a secret steal on some excellent Spanish wine: Estola Reserva. It's the tempranillo we always keep stocked in our wine rack. You can find it at Trader Joe's for under $7. A bargain well worth it. Click here for a review from albinnyc who is drinking her way through wines at Trader Joe's one glass at a time. We'll be bookmarking this site! :))