I totally still collect photos and stories from magazines that resonate with me and then glue them into a scrapbook (or “dreambook,” as I call it). I love sensory description and being able to flip to those pages and envision myself in a place, but keeping scrapbooks also reminds me to keep collecting in real time the same experiences I dream about.

The World Wanderer

I spend much of my life day-dreaming, and each time it’s about where I want to visit next. One day it’s Bhutan, the next it’s Morocco. Another day it’s Peru, and then it’s Ghana. The list is always growing and sources of inspiration are constantly surrounding me. I imagine my life as a permanent traveler, and never see an end to my adventures, as I believe that it is a part of who I am – something that I know will never change.

Several years ago, in the beginning of my love affair with the world, I would cut out pictures of countries, stuffing them into my journal. This journal was less a chronicle of my life, and more a place filled with lists of the countries I planned to one day visit. As I learned about new places, I would add them, knowing that one day I would visit…

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Columbia Glacier cruise


Cruised out to the Columbia Glacier ice fields not far from Valdez, Alaska, and glimpsed chunks of calves ice so blue, they looked like trapped sky.

Saw bald eagles perched on treetops, mountain goats stepping gingerly along narrow cliffside ledges, stellar sea lions sunning on south-facing shores, even a humpback whale casually surfacing along a stretch of coastline probably feasting on salmon fry. The standout, though, was having my Titanic moment and leaning over the railing of the ship’s prow to watch Dall’s porpoises surf the bow wave. So amazing and joyful to see their fins pierce the surface with a whistle as they played in the wake.

Alaskan crevasse?


I wish. Actually, that’s just a crack in the plowed snow bank that I peered into, below the Worthington Glacier. But what a beautiful blue glow, no? I’m in Alaska now for the first time, just soaking in all the scenery and regional differences. (To wit: I learned that when Alaskans go “Outside”—with a capital O—they’re talking not outdoors, but completely out of state. Anyplace that is not in Alaska is Outside, even in the papers. It’s sort of like when Hawaii residents talk about “the Mainland.” :) Except that here, the Mainland is “the Lower 48.”)

Anyway, I’m in Alaska for my first-ever trip, and since it was the only state I hadn’t visited—having hit the rest on family road trips or flights—I can now say I’ve visited all 50 states. :) Since I’m here I wish I could strap on some crampons and go ice climbing on a glacier like the Matanuska, which did sport this blue light even from the lookout, but probably no time in the itinerary. We’re in Valdez (pronounced “Val-deez”) now, heading out tomorrow on a glacier- and wildlife-watching tour of Prince William Sound, but I wish there were an opp to actually kayak among them, like in this story. But maybe next time. There’s still the rest of Alaska to see, even beyond what I’ve imagined, and the bush to floatplane to one day! When we get back to Anchorage I’m hoping to rent a bike and ride along the Coastal Trail, with a view of the still-snowy Chugach Mountains as backdrop.

South Bay day trip

Today promises to be a gorgeous Sunday, so here’s my plan of attack for an art- and food-filled South Bay/Peninsula day trip. (Contrary to my previous post, I’ve decided to try and hit the Illustrated Bites art show at the Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco later this week.)

1. Hit the San Jose Museum of ArtThis is probably my favorite small art museum anywhere. I find the exhibitions consistently well curated: diverse and fascinating with straightforward, down-to-earth placards that illuminate your understanding of each work. Names like Calder, Thiebaud, and Warhol mingle with up-and-coming and regional artists for a fun, approachable take on modern and contemporary art.

Among the works at the Renegade Humor exhibition (on view through July 8)
are Walter Robinson’s Melt, 2008 (the pink animal cookies), and
Brian Goggin’s Desire for the Other, 2004 (the red millipede-shaped
couch stuffed with household items).

 Betsabeé Romero’s Espiral Sin Fin, 2008,
part of Mexicanisimo Through Artists’ Eyes (through Sept. 23).

Frank Lobdell’s 2.22.93–4.8.93 Bleeker, 1993,
centerpiece of the exhibition Frank Lobdell: Wonderland (through Aug. 5)

2. But first…check out Psycho DonutsThe San Jose location is a five-minute walk from the museum. It’s off-the-wall sugar overload I’m not sure I can handle—I mean, Nestlé Crunch pieces on a chocolate doughnut with chocolate icing? A strawberry-icing doughnut with freeze-dried strawberries and a Pocky stick? Yowza. But I like to say I’ve at least tried a place, so I think I’ll go for the “donut sticks covered in cinnamon & sugar served with custard ‘mayo’ or raspberry jelly ‘ketchup.'”

Relatively innocuous-looking “donut fries.”
Relative to Psycho’s other doughnuts, that is.

3. Post-museum, head to Walia Ethiopian Cuisine. It’s been awhile since I last had Ethiopian food in the Bay Area and I always did like the spiciness of the wots and the spongy injera bread.

4. Stop by the library to pick up a hold copy of Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal. I love libraries. I’ve always loved being able to wander in and be surrounded by all these books, all this knowledge, that I can check out for free! I also love the smell of old books (incidentally a scent bottled by CB | I Hate Perfume). These days I like to audition a book before I buy it, because my shelf space is getting so limited that I want to be sure that I’m going to read the books on it over and over again. Remember that line from Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery when Anne is telling Leslie, on her first visit, to feel free to borrow any of her and Gilbert’s books?

“Our library isn’t very extensive,” said Anne, “but every book in it is a friend. We’ve picked our books up through the years, here and there, never buying one until we had first read it and knew that it belonged to the race of Joseph.”

That’s how I feel about my books. They’re comforting, like being surrounded by a shelf of good friends. Plus I’ve been hearing so much good press about An Everlasting Meal that I’m eager to see if it’ll become a new favorite.

5. Drop by the gourmet grocer for some of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. It seems that ever since Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home won the James Beard award for Best Cookbook in the Baking and Dessert category, a few more Bay Area markets have begun stocking the Columbus, Ohio–based ice cream. This excites me. It retails for $12/pint (!), so plus S+H it can add up. Talk about exercising self-restraint.

Lick the screen: Dark Chocolate and Salty Caramel.

I first tried it last summer when my brother had some shipped to me for my birthday. I’d never heard of Jeni’s before that, but after my first taste of the fudgelike Dark Chocolate (so rich I could eat only two spoonfuls at a time) and the Salty Caramel with its distinctive creaminess and sea-salty caramel flavor, my eyes just about popped out of my head. Then, of course, in the following months I became more aware of it showing up in Garden & GunNat Geo Traveler, and Saveur as well as on Food52.

So far I’ve also tried and liked Riesling Poached Pear sorbet (refreshing and textured, like biting into a cold pear) and Brambleberry Crisp (pie à la mode all mashed up together). Next up is the Buckeye State; it’s so chocolate flecked. No stinginess in chocolate chips for me! Anyway, I can maybe take home a pint and then go to work on the Adler book.

“To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites.” –Robert A. Heinlein

(via San Jose Museum of Art, Psycho Donuts, Walia Ethiopian Cuisine, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams)

The window of opportunity for checking this out is closing! If I can wend my way past all the Bay to Breakers madness, I hope to be able to make it up tomorrow. After a tasty brunch somewhere along or off Valencia, of course. :) Something not unlike this, perhaps … like at Tartine Bakery.

(via Illustrated Bites)

Illustrated Bites

Illustrated Bites

I’m very excited to announce the opening of the Illustrated Bites art show this Saturday at the Curiosity Shoppe on Valencia St. in San Francisco. If you’re in the Bay Area, please stop by and say hello!  And yes, there will be snacks.

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Floundering fitness

Every morning I wake up thinking, Okay, today I’m going to work out, even if it’s just some kind of cardio for at least 20 minutes! And almost every day, it doesn’t happen, because I end up thinking, Well, I blew my diet anyway…I guess I can start tomorrow. You can guess what happens from there.

Ab-so-lute-ly nuthin’!

I realize that inertia’s probably the hardest thing to overcome in (re-)establishing a workout routine, and that at the beginning, even if you’re starting all over again like I am, consistency in working out is the main goal. I know that on one hand, I should start slow and build up my conditioning again bit by bit—but on the other hand, I feel dissatisfied with how short and thus ineffective those small workouts seem. Still, consistency. Day at a time. Gotta start somewhere. Something’s better than nothing!

Clearly I need to quit overthinking it and just do it. Blarg. Why is overcoming slugdom the hardest part about working out? Maybe it is pure physics.

Dude, I only wished I looked this nonchalant when I run.

There are two beginning running programs I’ve scouted so far that I like: Runner’s World magazine’s “Running 101” and Women’s Health magazine’s “Running to Lose Weight.” Of course I want to do the latter but I think I’d better start with the former. There’s also the article “Start Running: The Beginner Running Plan” from Women’s Health that sounds solid. Plus the .pdf comes with a handy-dandy calendar on which you can check off each day’s workout.

Now to take each day as it comes and clock the time. Where’s my positive mantra?!

(via FitSugar)

How to draw a penguin

While browsing illustrator Gemma Correll’s Pinterest page today, I came across the slideshow “How to Draw a Penguin” by Oliver Jeffers, whose penguin stories include the ever-popular Lost and Found. The slideshow itself is part of The Guardian newspaper’s “Children’s Books + How to Draw” series.

Now, ostensibly I browse and buy children’s picture books like Jeffers’s for my little niece and nephew, but really I do it just for the giggles I get out of great illos and a memorable story. I’m pretty fond of Jeffers’ penguin, especially in the story Up and Down when (spoiler alert!) this pudgy black-and-white bird, yearning to fly, somehow finds himself hurtling hilariously out of a circus cannon.

Anyway, the step-by-step drawings make me smile. Plus Jeffers’s droll commentary about drawing this little guy cracks me up.

(via Oliver Jeffers for The Guardian)