Still lifes made while home.

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Here are still lifes from mornings, afternoons, evenings, and all times in between.

I don’t know if it’s the Dutch or the art history student in me, but making still lifes is calming, and photographing them more so. I also occasionally make still life images rather than photographing the people I’m with, especially if I’m not feeling bold enough to raise the lens. Instead, I photograph these places almost like crime scenes- as evidence in a way. Somebody accompanied me somewhere and we did something – eat a diner, drink coffee, sip tea, eat bagels, etc.

I’m currently back in Victoria, sipping on peppermint tea and coughing up a lung or two. I started getting sick on my flight home last Sunday, and now I’ve got a nicely nestled chest cough that insists on accompanying me everywhere I go. David Bowie’s newest album came out today, and the hum of my negative scanner paired with his eerie voice is oddly relaxing and keeping my feelings of general awfulness at bay.

Being back in Canada has been busy. Hannah, a dear dear part of my heart, came and stayed with me for three days. Now I’m back to being very, very alone. I’m cleaning and re-arranging my furniture in my tiny apartment and making decorations with origami cranes and living off of yogurt, juice, and tea. Classes will be tough this semester but if I can keep myself on top of things I think everything will line up well.

Time to edit some film, use the tiny little vacuum I purchased (fie upon ye, dust bunnies!), and begin re-decorating to make this space the space for success I need for 2016.

 

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Facciamo una pizza

23916176845_b15d3a4eda_b23807866782_9f9f37df53_b23916162115_590dd6eb2b_b23916156155_ab05243291_b23807847652_c029b1643f_b23916143555_6d94211530_bI hadn’t made food with people in months. Living alone my diet mostly subsists of hummus, carrots, apples, cereal, eggs, and food that can be made quickly, which I should be deeply ashamed of.

The first night I made a communal meal with friends I nearly cried. As a Lifetime Member of the Frequent Crier Club (LMFCC) I am unashamed to admit this, because the simple act of being around others with smells and things simmering and conversation seemed ethereal and blissful.

One evening we made a pizza. It was, in theory, to be a proper pizza. We had lined it out- a simple, classic pizza with olives, basil, mozzarella, as much garlic as possible, and a homemade tomato sauce. Molto bene, certo!

Whole wheat flour damned us. We tried to make beautiful pizza dough but made the tiny mistake of using whole wheat flour. The dough did rise- a bit- but kneading it and flattening it showed that the whole wheat had reduced the flexibility and texture of the dough to something that was not necessarily right for pizza.

Regardless, we knew it would taste good, and continued to pile ingredients on with the oven on as high as it would go. Nestled in tinfoil, the pizzas broiled and emerged looking delicious. Even with the odd dough, they tasted excellent.

P.S. I do have blog posts lined up. Lots of 35mm film to be developed and scanned in when I get back to Canada as well. I am not dead, just spending time with the living.

An appreciated delay

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The two week delay in finishing this roll of film and getting it to the lab is actually marvelous. I feel renewed looking at images I haven’t seen before.

I remember having cold hands and feeling like the sun was extra bright. It was a weirdly clear, sunny day in Seattle, after the two days of clouds and rain we’d encountered. We had our heavy packs slung over our shoulders after leaving the apartment we’d rented and walked towards the water, down steep hills. West Seattle and the Sound faced us and there was a cold breeze coming up the wind-tunnel like streets. The lack of caffeine in my system made this cold breeze not entirely welcome. My eyes were all over the place and my mind was as well. We walked right past the gorgeous library, and buildings that had actually been obscured by clouds the nights before. Cities always make me feel hyper aware of my ant-like existence.

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A brief stop in a cafe with big windows and odd coffee only made me hungrier, and in my standard clumsy state I spilled water all over the table and felt like a fool. Food was needed. We found a sushi place and devoured quite a bit of raw fish. We were right next door to the Seattle Art Museum and part of me wanted to venture back inside. I felt like a human battery recharging, sitting in the sun by the water.

I am in the midst of finishing papers and getting images back that were made when I wasn’t so stressed out feels destressing, even though writing about them is essentially shooting myself in the foot, as I should be writing about New Zealand government repatriation programs.

After the last member of our party departed, I spent the afternoon and evening in Seattle solo. I went to dinner by myself with a new book and had two large glasses of dark, dry wine while delving into a gorgeous story. I didn’t sleep at all in my hostel bed, and mostly tossed and turned, waiting for the first sign of morning. My ferry the next day was cancelled so the next day was a flurry of being transferred from bus to ferry, bus to ferry, to finally make it back onto the island. Huge waves tossed our ferry around and arriving in town it was pouring rain in a relentless manner. I got back to my apartment that still smelled like burned pancakes (a mini tragedy involving a spacey grad student and a hot burner) and settled back into my routine.

 

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To finish, I miss making pictures. I want to make more of people. On this trip I made images of my friends tentatively, never outright trying to invade space or be intrusive. I wish I’d made more images on film. On this roll you will note the lack of portraits- I made pictures of food in lieu of people. I feel shy at times making portraits of people I am in close proximity with, as tempting as it is to photograph people.

So, this is a kind warning to everybody I will see over Christmas: I miss making images, and you are all potential subjects. Ready yourselves. I will not be shy, and I’ve got a low-light lens.

 

The beginning of our trip!

The flights from Denver to Reykjavik and Reykjavik to Amsterdam were monotonous. Plane flights these days are things best done while not fully aware of the conditions you voluntary enter into. I listened to music, watched the free movies, and didn’t sleep much.

We arrived in the early afternoon at Schipol. We were being picked up by Helen, and whisked into the city in her car. She brought us straight to our hostel and then took us to a delicious bakery/cafe, De Bakkerswinkel. We walked around the city a bit. Emily and I were quite tired but I immediately found myself taking pictures of the rooflines. I was entranced by them, looking up. I don’t know how people in Amsterdam or other architecturally saturated cities don’t constantly run into each other- looking up in awe all the time made me prone to bumping into people, running into my sister, and just plain ignoring what was in front of me. (I did at one point step directly into the path of a speeding Vespa- oops.)

Amsterdam was chaotic. We stayed at Hotel Internationaal, right in the Red Light District. It was noisy 24/7- Emily and I were armed with ear plugs, thank goodness. (We mutually agreed that if we had known how chaotic it was we would have stayed elsewhere.) There were so many people, and so many bikes. We heard Dutch everywhere and I came to the conclusion that it was indeed akin to very very drunk German with more guttural noises.

I remember when we stopped at a bar and I attempted to order a beer. I was dead sober and struggled mightily to pronounce the phrases properly and in the end reverted to the most Neanderthal action ever: Point and grunt. Well, not quite grunt but gesticulate in the direction of the beer I wanted. That, sadly, was more successful than words. (I’d like to clarify here and point out that 95-100% of the Dutch speak excellent English and this was more me trying, stubbornly, to work in another language other than my own.)

Anyway, Amsterdam was magnificent to walk around. If you ever go bring sturdy shoes and explore. There are enough church towers and markets and squares that you can easily find yourself if you’re lost. There are lovely quiet pockets and louder more crowded areas, all scattered across the remarkably flat landscape. Do beware of the bikers though! I have to say that riding a bike in Amsterdam to me seemed akin to suicide or homicide- you would surely either kill yourself or slaughter others. The  Dutch ride their bikes with a speed that borders on reckless- they use their bells ferociously and dodge humans, cars, and other bikes fiercely. If you’re a visitor and you’re up to speed on biking in cities, go for it, but if you’re like me and from a largely rural area don’t unless you’ve got organs lined with steel and a skull made of sheet metal- collisions are imminent.

Now to the important part: the food culture that exists in Amsterdam is one to take full advantage of. Thank god we walked everywhere or I would have come back quite a bit larger. We had incredible Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish food, among many others. For me, one of the best parts of traveling is eating and drinking the culture, which I believe can give you a lot of ideas about who the people are, what they think they are, and how they define themselves or want to be defined. There’s a lot of complexity in food and drink woven into cultural landscapes. Not that I’m delving into this sort of thought while I’m devouring a plate of food, but I have to justify my eating habits somehow. I will definitely be elaborating on all the food we ate, because eating is one of my favorite things to do.

More to come! Til then, tschüß!

Amsterdam: the coffee

Oh goodness.

The coffee.

I can’t even make words about the caffeinated perfection that comes in neat ceramic cups in Amsterdam. I became a fiend- Emily and I would get up and head off to an adventure and I’d have to stop and get a double espresso to go or we’d sit down and I’d savor every bit of the experience. I could become a poet or a folk singer just devoted to singing the praise of the coffee there.

Just kidding. Mostly.

Not really sure how to even begin to post about all the incredible things we ate/saw/did so I’m haphazardly breaking it down in small bits and will most likely sprinkle enormous posts here and there. Stay tuned- I”m queuing posts so that they’ll be regularly posted!

Headframe Spirits

Butte is a proud city that saw some of the nations first unions, had an incredibly diverse immigrant population, and a world famous Red Light district, among many other accomplishments. It also saw some serious mining disasters and has battled environmental issues and dwindling populations at times. There is a sturdiness to Butte, though, that leaves you with the impression that even if you regularly drive past empty or dilapidated buildings or get the feeling of decay, that these issues are not real setbacks. They add to the cocktail that is Butte. The folks in Butte (like many fellow Montanans) are incredibly friendly and Butte itself always seems to surprise me with how much I learn or discover.

Headframe Spirits could be argued to have these ideals woven into it as well. Each variation of the alcohol brewed is named after an important mine within Butte, and I particulary enjoyed this aspect. Seeing as I will soon be a master’s candidate in History, I especially love how much history is reflected. The Headframes website itself is full of historical facts, with links to various historical museums and updates.

Kristin and I went into the taproom on Montana Avenue and I immediately admired the large old fashioned wooden bar with tall windows. The taproom was well lit and comfortable, without any feeling of pretentiousness. Aesthetically I enjoyed how neat everything was- the glinting of the glasses, a lovely vase of purple tulips that we sat near, and the menus which are tied with cord. Our bartender was really friendly and there was no rush- maybe this is because it was a Sunday afternoon.

Our drinks weren’t too expensive, and while I’m no gin connoisseur I greatly enjoyed my basil gimlet. Kristin and I agreed that there could have been more alcohol in proportion to the mixes in our drinks but nevertheless they were delicious. I definitely plan on going back.

Raspberry pie!

This is the amazing all-butter crust pie I made on Sunday night.

It set perfectly overnight and it’s already almost gone…and only two people are eating it. So yeah, I’d say it was a pretty good raspberry pie.

If you don’t like your raspberries super sour, add in vanilla or more sugar. For every 4/5 cups of raspberries I only add in about 1/3 cup of sugar and a bit of lemon juice and some corn starch but taste test yours to where you like it. I love sour pies, especially with a heavy whipped cream.

What’s your favorite kind of pie?

 

Craft Pride: Texas brews on display

Chelsea and Kate and I paid for parking after doing loops trying to find a space for the car. It was definitely worth it!

Craft Pride was worth the parking hassle. It had more kinds of Texas local brews than I thought possible (I think close to 50) and deciding was the worst part. If I had the liver of a decades-older Scotsman I might have been able to try multiple brews, but I only had one!

The one I did have, a delightfully fruity IPA called the Yellow Rose from Lone Pint Brewery, was fantastic! I loved how different it was. I am by no means literate in the sort of terms that are used to describe beer, but regardless of that, I plain loved my beer. The atmosphere was fun, too, with tactile, textured wood tables and hanging lights. We went right at the golden hour and so photographing our brews was perfect. I don’t remember what Chelsea and Kate both got but every beer I tried there was fantastic!

Being from Montana, I’m lucky to be surrounded by a wealth of craft breweries that are always trying new things, but I was really excited to experience Craft Pride in Austin! What an awesome place.

I made a thing. A thing made of Brie, butternut squash, and apples. A galette!

 

I tried to go to work today but I threw my back out of wack taking peanut butter chocolate chip toffee cookies out of the oven. I went to work for an hour and after realizing I couldn’t even sit comfortably I went home, put a hot pad on my back, and slept for a few more hours.

I feel so restless lately. I walk up and down the same streets. I’ve been devouring books, so many books, and they make me even more restless, because when I am done with them I am back to my life, not on a beach in Normandy or in the Carpathian mountains. I decided to foster some creativity and cook, which for me is always a test of my ability to read directions closely and not get too neurotic if it doesn’t come out well.

I have a folder on my computer that holds recipes for everything from Vietnamese spring rolls to sloppy joe sandwiches. However, one thing that I have wanted to try for months was a recipe that Happyolk posted. The recipe below is entirely from her, I take no credit!

She’s an amazing blogger in Colorado who posts beautiful photographs and recipes that make me want to drool. A lot of her posts are accompanied by gorgeous swaths of text. It’s more than a recipe- it’s a little mini story. She gets creative in clever ways, and this galette didn’t look too difficult to put together!

I’m not defective in the kitchen, but to be honest I don’t try. I’m exhausted after work and the gym, and the last thing I want to do is devote 1 or 2 hours to putting together meals.

However, lately I’ve been feeling very antsy and very disconnected to myself. I think cooking, or trying to, will give me a chance to listen to my body more and give it better things than something frozen or quickly, hastily put together. I’m trying all sorts of things to listen to myself more, because it’s hard sometimes to know what’s really wrong. Is anything really wrong?

Anyway, I followed her recipe pretty closely, except I already had pre-chopped butternut squash, so I sliced the small chunks pretty thin. I think getting a whole squash, peeling it, and then slicing much bigger slices would work better!

For the pastry dough you need: 

1 tsp sugar

Pinch of salt

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup ice water

12 tbs unsalted butter, cold

Mix flour + sugar + salt, then use the pastry chopper thing (ugh I have no idea what it’s actually called) or your fingers and break the butter apart and blend with flour until the mixture is course. Mix in the rest of the butter the same way. Pour in the ice water and mix dough into a ball. Roll dough flat, put in the fridge for 30+ minutes.

 

For the inside things (butternut squash, apples, cheese):

3 lb butternut squash

2 cups brie cheese w/o rind

2 apples, preferably Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, or Fuji (I used Pink Lady)

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

1 egg

Peel and slice butternut squash. Lay flat on a baking tray; drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put in oven at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, then take out and let cool. Slice apples into 1/4 inch pieces with the peel on. Pull or slice apart the brie.

Take the dough from the fridge, and put on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Have it be about 12″ or so in a disc shape. Then begin layering cool squash, apples, and brie cheese as you want! Use all your ingredients, leaving a 1 1/2″ empty edge on the dough disc for pulling it up and securing the delicious filling inside!

Gently fold the edges up around the filling. Pinch edges. Put an egg wash on the outside, then put back into the 400 degree F oven for 30-40 minutes! Then consume the delicious concoction you just made and swell with pride that you did it. YAY!

I made this for myself, and I have plenty leftover for lunch at the office! No more sandwiches!

Again, all recipe content from Happyolk.

From the fone.

I got my thesis approved, an independent study approved, and I’ve signed up for a graduate level class as an undergraduate for the second time in my academic history.

Whew.

I also made a pecan pie for Chris for his birthday. He was actually sick on it, but we made the pie once he was better. I did a damn good job. I don’t think he can disagree.

I’ve been mastering pizza. Pizza pizza pizza. Veggie pizza, meat pizza, any kind of pizza I can whip together with what’s on hand!

Chris got me into Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I have been thoroughly sucked in! NOOOO/YESSSS/WHAT?

I cut myself with a particularly rough piece of cardboard (which yes, can happen).

Chelsea came for the weekend and stayed with me. We slept in my bed and ate bagels and drank things with vodka and gin. I already miss that girl but hopefully might be travelling down to see her in California over Spring Break- fingers crossed!

I have literally been busy almost every moment though. If I’m not at school I’m making food or working on projects or coordinating projects or trying to make sure I graduate or I’m working. C’est la vie!

Life is a beautiful fast paced thing right now. I’ve got Portra film in a camera so I might get that done soon.

 

Seattle food- we ate and ate, and it was marvelous

006_19 008_17 012_13 013_12 011_14A 012_13A 013_12A 013_10A 018_5AOver our 36 hours in Seattle, my family and friends and I ate SO much food- I couldn’t quite believe the quantities of food we consumed.

When we arrived in West Seattle, we went to Salty’s near the ferry pier. The food was pretty good! The service was alright, not awesome, but I had a marvelous Moscow Mule (not in a copper mug, sadly) and some oysters and sushi. The sushi could have been fresher, but the oysters were fantastic! The truffle fries were overrated but good nonetheless.

The next day we ventured across the bay into the main part of the city. We had crepes for lunch, which were awesome- a place tucked into the back of Pike’s Place.  Later, we shopped and meandered around some of the downtown area, before I met up with my friend Ariel, who led me to the Clever Bottle- a wittyily named bar that she had been to before.

We had the lavender coconut cocktail and split a board of cheese and bread. It was happy hour, the drinks were excellent, and the cheese board was awesome!

The next morning I had a cheese danish from the Metropolitan Market in West Seattle- which was AMAZING! They also have a seriously awesome cheese selection. Just in case you’re there and you didn’t know. Because cheese is…well, I don’t know what words describe the awesomeness of cheese.

Currently eating, procrastinating, and waiting for spring to make up its mind.

I’ve been eating sporadic delicious things, trying new drinks (whiskey ginger, old fashioned, gin blossom, etc.- yay variety!) and crossing my fingers that spring might actually stay.

Chelsea came to town for a weekend of drinks at Plonk, Jeopardy at 3 am, and in the morning, peach crisp and angora sweaters. Julia has continued to be my model for many photo projects. School is getting stressful. To cope I’ve been ravenously watching Wes Anderson films- they calm me down for whatever reason.

I’ve been reading and trying to write and hitting a wall in getting myself together. I’ll be working in my hometown again this summer, which will be very relaxing. I’m good at my job at the front desk and it’s not too difficult.

So, I leave you all to sleep for 8 hours. Anybody who knows me knows that if I don’t get at least 8 (10 is optimal) I’m a monstrous creature to behold.

Food stuffs.

If you’re important in my life we’re going to go get food together. I’m going to drag you to my favorite diners, we’re going to eat delicious creations, and there will always be something sweet in there. And, inevitably, at some point I will pull out either my bulky SLR or my bulky Minolta (efficiency isn’t my thing, clearly) and begin photographing the food if I have deemed it worthy of being so captured. Most of the people I eat with get conditioned to this behavior, and eventually don’t bat an eye.

Anyway, here are the things that have been consumed in the last few weeks!