Friday, November 29, 2013

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Writer Wednesday

No Writer Wednesday post today, since tomorrow's a big holiday in the US, but in case you're missing your weekly dose of interviews, you can revisit our past ones here:

Tune in next week for an interview with the lovely Beth Bault, and have a great holiday tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Race Recap - Running Festival of Lights

At 6am on Sunday, I woke up much earlier than usual to get into the freezing cold and out to Bay Ridge for the Running Festival of Lights.  I had a run in with a zombie on my way to the subway (no, seriously. the guy was limping with his head crooked and growled at me when I passed him.), and ended up missing my train (not just because of the zombie - I left late and had to buy a new metrocard).  I had to wait another 20 minutes for the next one, and after the hour-long ride, I arrived at the start line at 7:57am, just three minutes before we were set to start.  I was worried about not being able to find the friends I was meeting, Liz and her husband Dana, but the group was so small (173 runners total) that almost instantly after I arrived, I heard them call my name.  Being late actually ended up being a blessing because it meant I didn't need to wait outside for very long.  It was SO cold out!  Just freezing, and the wind coming off the water made things even worse.

Liz and me, right before the race started. It was so chilly!

We had to wait until just after 8 to start running, and I thought there might be a mutiny with all of us lined up and freezing.  We were ready to run!  Before the race started, my toes started to feel numb, and I'd never run in weather so cold before.  I assumed they'd warm up as I was running, but once the race started, they actually got worse.  I felt like I was running with bricks strapped to my feet.  I wasn't wearing my watch (stupidly forgot it on the windowsill where it was charging), so I wasn't sure how fast I was running, but with the brick-feet and the ice on the path, I felt pretty sure I was going slowly.

I've been saying that my goal for 2014 (in addition to marathon training) is to run a 5k in under 30 minutes.  I'm not very fast when running, but it seemed reasonable, and when I signed up for this race, which took place entirely on a flat bike-path, I secretly thought that this one might have been my race.  With all that wind, though, and my feet feeling so terrible, I knew it probably wasn't the right time for a PR.  I mostly just tried to keep with a few specific people in front of me, some of whom were running in parkas!

Before I made the turn for the "back" part of the out-and-back, I saw Liz running and kicking ass - she's so fast!  As it turns out, she made her goal (running it in under 25 minutes), AND came in first in her age group!  I kept going at what felt like a glacial pace (because it was so cold, get it? ha. ha.), and took in some of the really gorgeous views of lower Manhattan from the bike-path.  I wasn't sure how far along I was, but pretty quickly, the finish line came into view, and I could see the clock at 29:51.  I pushed really hard for those last few yards, and crossed the line at 30:02, pretty angry at myself for not pushing just a little harder earlier in the race to make my 2014 goal early.

Maybe not the most flattering photo of me ever, but I'm about to PR!

I got my medal (first one!) and then Liz, Dana and I headed straight back to their apartment (they live in the neighborhood) because it was too cold to stand outside for another minute.  Roger met us at their apartment, and the four of us had a really delicious (and warm!) breakfast of bagels and espresso.  It was wonderful, and the perfect way to warm up was chatting in their gorgeous house, eating a perfect breakfast and playing with their adorable greyhound.   Then, Liz and I got emails with our official scores, and we found out we'd both been disappointed in our times for no reason - we'd both made our goals!  The time, 29:49, is my PR, and I couldn't have been more excited.  I came in 12th place in my division, and I know that was helped along by how small the race was, but it still feels like an accomplishment.

Overall, even though the weather was pretty brutal, the race itself and our celebratory breakfast was just wonderful.  I'd definitely consider running this one again, although hopefully next year, it would be a little warmer!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend Wanderings - Homecoming & Friendsgiving

What a lovely weekend!  On Friday, after picking up my race-packet in Union Square, I headed to Grand Central to catch the train up to Bronxville for Sarah Lawrence's homecoming basketball game.  I waited in the station for a while, and took in their light show, which this year is in the windows that line the western wall of the building.

Once Roger and our friends Julia and Caroline joined us, we headed up to campus.  The game was great - the Gryphons won! - and they had a little halftime show and barbecue.  A clear highlight for Julia and me was finding our old uniforms from when we rowed together at the uniform sale.  After the game, they had an alumni gathering at a local bar.  It ended up being very small, and so we had a chance to meet all the coaches and athletic director, and learn a little more about SLC's admission into the NCAA.  I really didn't know anything about the association, so it was great to hear a little more about some of the benefits they offer.

On Saturday, I woke up early to start cooking for Friendsgiving.  I made a turkey, stuffing, gravy, corn pudding, and Indian pudding.  Barring one pretty bad burn, it all turned out really well, even the gravy.  People started to trickle in with so many delicious dishes - really incredible stuff.  It ended a little earlier than it has in years past, and as always, I was sad not to be able to spend more time with everyone there, but overall, I think it was a successful evening and I'm still full on Thanksgiving leftovers.  After most of the guests had left, a few of us stayed around playing a few different games, and it was wonderful to spend the extra time with them, and have a few extra hands to help with the clean up!

Sunday morning was really early, for the Running Festival of Lights race.  I'll recap that tomorrow, but it was a great one!  After the race and a lovely breakfast with our friends in Bay Ridge, Roger and I headed back to the city for the afternoon.  We did a little thrifting (lots of gorgeous items to peruse, but nothing to buy) and then met up with a few friends to explore the New Museum.  They have an exhibit up on Chris Burden up right now.  You start on the top floor and work your way down.  I was really turned off by the top floor (some pretty disturbing performance art), but as I walked down, the work became more and more appealing to me.  My two favorite pieces were "Tower of Power" and "A Tale of Two Cities."  [ETA: If you're interested in learning more about Chris Burden, a rep from Artsy recently contacted me to direct you to Artsy's Chris Burden page. Artsy is working hard to make all of the world’s art accessible to anyone. Their Chris Burden page, for example, includes his bio, over 50 of his works, exclusive articles about Burden, as well as his up-to-date exhibitions. We gave a few friends who work for Artsy and they're doing some interesting things, so I wanted to update this and add in a link. Click away!]

We stopped for dumplings on the way home, and then did a little bit of cleaning and relaxing to cap off the weekend.

On the roof at the New Museum

Hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving week!

Friday, November 22, 2013

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.
Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:
  • On Monday, I recapped my weekend of skipping my long run and really enjoying myself doing lots of other things.
  • On Wednesday, I featured the lovely Sarah Cummings of The Comyn Space for Writer Wednesday.
  • And, the rest of the week I was so busy with Friendsgiving preparations (if you like the printables above, I found them and many others over at I Heart Naptime) and a wonderful poetry date and a little trivia that I couldn't update at all.  Hopefully next week will be a whit calmer, since I don't really have much to do for real Thanksgiving other than pack to visit my sister in Florida!
Make this weekend a great one!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Writer Wednesday - Sarah Cummings

Sarah is one of the many wonderful friends I've made through the power of the internet, and I'm so excited to be featuring her today!  Her blog, The Comyn Space, is a great combination of vegetarian recipes, beer reviews, and lovely photos.  Definitely have a look at it (and maybe make one of her incredible meals!) after reading this interview.
Sarah and her partner Matt being fantastic.

Who are you? Sarah Cummings

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work?  I write at, which is a mostly vegetarian food blog. You'll find reviews of my husband's and my favorite restaurants as well as pretty regular series, 'Brew Reviews' in order to keep myself from always buying Blue Moon. Now that we live firmly in the heartland, I've started to eat meat again and a few meat-a-tarian recipes have popped up too.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen?  After college, I missed have that forced discipline to writing several days a week. I had just starting reading loads of blogs and thought "I can do that!" I've dabbled in fashion blogging (nope-not for me!) and craft blogging, which turned into a diary of what I'd sewn which no one but me wanted to read. After 3 years, I think I've finally found a voice for the internet. I love food and want to encourage people to have a similar passion for food that is balanced and healthy. There's room for kale and cookies.

Why do you write? I write for the outlet and to channel my creative juices. Since I've started Comyn Creative, I've really enjoyed looking back on my archives and seeing where I was just a year or two ago. It's been a real gift to have those little nuggets saved from our wedding planning and our first two years of marriage.

Who inspires you? I love that there are so many women writing on the internet now but I've been really loving Tracy at Shutterbean, Kiersten at Oh My Veggies!, and my way too large collection of magazines, namely Savuer and Cooking Light. Outside of my blog-inspiration, I am inspired a feminist book club I'm a part of-those ladies are whip smart and always select the best books from The Yellow Wallpaper to the Radical Homemakers.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Ah, such a tough question! If I'm having a nostalgic day, I'd say another trip back to Madrid (where I did my study aboard) just to fill up the days with tapas, perfect sunlight and afternoons at the Prado. If it's a day for adventure, I'd go to Thailand. I've always loved the food and I'd love to eat as much as possible-the fruits and veg, the curries. Plus, I hear there's elephants you can pet ;-)

What is your favorite place on earth?The back of my husband's 1982 Honda Shadow, headed for nowhere, really.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Thank you Kristin!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekend Wanderings - Busy Days in NYC

This was a busy weekend!  It felt almost like being in grad school all over again.  Right after work on Friday I went to a happy hour for two beloved coworkers.  We're having a small exodus at work, so it was sad to see these two go, but they're both moving on to new and exciting things, so I'm really happy for them, and I think we'll keep in touch. 

I woke up early on Saturday and headed up to the South Bronx to help edit a student's college admissions essay at the Bronx Academy of Letters.  The school has a focus on writing and college preparation, so the students were all well-prepared for the essay, and it was a real pleasure to work with them.  I forget how difficult high school was sometimes, and for students growing up in the area, it can obviously be a lot more difficult for many reasons, but the student I was paired with was so excited by the idea of going to college, and his writing was really top-notch.  I'm planning to keep working with him on that essay and some supplementals, so hopefully I'll hear which schools accept him - I hope he has a wide variety of choices because I think he'd succeed anywhere.

In the afternoon, I should have gone on my long run, but I was worried about the timing.  I got back earlier than I expected, but I had some cooking for the week to do, so I did that instead.  It was definitely a mistake, but I don't think it will be the end of the world come race day.  I hope not, at least!  The cooking went pretty well. I made Emily's Five Borough Reuben Dip for a party that night and some mashed potatoes with carrots and a yam for a Thanksgivvikuh potluck at work today.  The reuben dip was really delicious, but a word to the wise: if you make it, follow the directions and layer the cheese before the dressing.  I put the cheese on top and it formed an impenetrable layer that we had to cut through with a knife.  Ooops.

In the evening, we headed out to a friend's housewarming (reuben dip in hand!).  It was a really lovely party - we played Cards Against Humanity and 21, both of which were lots of fun and also took forever.  I'm pretty fond of party games, so it was nice to catch up with people I hadn't seen in a while and also try out the card game I've heard so much about.  We stayed much later than I was expecting (we *had* to make it to 21 one last time), and didn't get home until around 4am. 

Which is what made the weekend so disastrous for running.  I'd been planning to do my long run (12.5 miles) on Sunday morning before my parents arrived, but with them coming at 10am and me sleeping through my alarm until 9:30, there was no way I could do two loops of the park and still make it home in time to let them in.  It was wonderful to see them, though.  They brought down my Christmas decorations. (Space is at a premium here and I have three fairly large boxes of things, so the decorations live in my parents' basement most of the year.)  I was originally planning to decorate before our Friendsgiving party next week, but Roger convinced me to hold off for just a little while longer.  My parents took us out for Indian food for lunch, and we chatted about the holidays and our upcoming trip to visit my sister in Florida.  It was great to spend some time with them.

They headed out around 2pm, and by the time we cleared away all of the decorations that were scattered about, it was raining and getting darker by the minute, so I decided to cancel my long run and miss a reading I really wanted to see in Brooklyn.  I'm going to do longer short runs this week to make up for it a bit, and I still feel pretty well-prepared.  I may try to do a longer run on Saturday before Friendsgiving, but we'll see how it goes.  I'm not going to make myself crazy.  Roger was a doll and made our foodshare for the week (he found a great recipe for vegetable lasagna), and we figured out our schedule for the rest of the week so that we can get everything accomplished before the party.  We're a pretty good party team, I think, even if we did lose pretty brutally at Cards Against Humanity. 

Have a great week! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.
Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

West Coast Wedding Extravaganza - Day 3

Monday, August 19, 2013: Monterey & Big Sur, CA

We woke up early on Monday and headed on our first big day trip: out to Monterey and Big Sur.  Several people had recommended visiting Big Sur, and one of the things I especially wanted to do was drive along the coast.  Unfortunately, without a real map, we ended up skipping most of Route 1 from San Francisco, and I fought with Roger in the car trying to get him to figure out a way to get over there in the morning.  As it turns out, us fighting in the car became a theme of the trip.  Word to the wise: bring a GPS or at least make sure one of your phones can hold a charge.  Ooops.

Outside the Monterey Aquarium

We did make it over to Route 1 and took in some nice views before we made our way into Monterey, where Drew had recommended that we visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It was fun to walk through Cannery Row, which is pretty touristy now, and the Aquarium itself was really nice.  Very big, but still manageable in  a few hours, and we got to touch starfish and see otters (which were enormous! so much bigger than I remember), penguins and jellyfish.  Strangely, one of my favorite things that we saw there was an enormous tank of sardines.  Obviously sardines have a lot to do with the history of the area, but I've never really seen them before.  They're just gorgeous, like a giant silver body.  The views out from the aquarium were also really beautiful - there were some people kayaking on the water and I was definitely a little jealous of them.  It was a perfect day to be out on the water.


After spending most of the morning at the aquarium, we decided to hit the road again, and drove just a bit south to Seventeen Mile Drive.  This was honestly one of my very favorite parts of the trip.  Roger and I aren't great at road trips; we rush through things and never know where to pull over, we fight and get lost, he hates the way I drive and I hate the way he navigates and vice versa.  It's usually just a little disastrous.  Seventeen Mile Drive was the perfect solution to this.  It's a gorgeous cliffside drive through the Pebble Beach golf course, with little pull-asides to lead you from picturesque point to picturesque point.  While on it, we stopped at a lovely beach, saw a giant group of beautiful harbor seals sunning themselves (alongside some incredible sea birds!), and gazed across gorgeous cliffside vistas.  It was absolutely one of the best parts of our time in California.

Seventeen Mile Drive
Harbor Seals!

We took our time driving through each of the sites, stopping and gawking at some truly beautiful vistas.  The drive is private, and there's a fee to get in (I think it's $9), but if you stop at the Lodge at Pebble Beach for lunch (or drinks and a snack at the Terrace Lounge, like we did!), they'll reimburse you for the fee.  I was really glad we stopped in, even though the bar was closed and fog had rolled in to block our views of the 18th hole.  The atmosphere was really lovely (I wished I'd been in fancier clothes!) and it was great to stop and pause for a little while over our grilled cheese fries (they are a thing!) and beer.  I was sad to see so much fog blocking our views there, since that's what they're so well-known for, but since it's one of the things San Francisco is best-known for, I guess it was good to see that, too.  Of course, about twenty minutes after we left the fog lifted.  Oh, well.

Along Scenic Route 1

After a nice wander at the lounge, we saw a few more sites on the drive (we made it the whole way around), then continued south on Route 1 toward Big Sur.  It's rare that a drive is as beautiful as the drive along Route 1 was!  We drove along the coastline and passed through some beautiful forested areas on our way to Nepenthe, the dinner spot that Kristin had recommended to us.  She said the food was great, but it was really the views that were spectacular.  Sadly, by the time we arrived, the fog had rolled back in by the time we arrived, so we missed what I'm sure are absolutely gorgeous views.  But, it was a nice dinner anyway.  There was a bit of a wait when we arrived, so we each got a glass of wine and took them outside to the patio, where they had a fire rolling.  Roger noted that someone who wanted to look at the menu we were holding was more talkative about it than someone in New York would have been (I like to think they were "more polite" about it), and we ended up waiting about a half hour before our table inside was ready.  The food was good, but overall, the atmosphere is really what made the place so great.  It wasn't a highlight of the trip for us, but I can imagine that on a clear, nice day, it's a gorgeous place to sit and enjoy a relaxing meal.

The drive back to San Francisco felt really long, and I almost dozed a few times (I'm really not good at night driving!), so that was less than pleasant, but overall, the day was wonderful.  I don't think I could have asked for a better day trip!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Writer Wednesday - Jen from Jen is Green

I've loved Jen is Green since my friend Shelby introduced me to the blog a few years ago.  Shelby and Jen actually went to college together, and I know I met Jen's sister at a few parties, so it's possible I also met her at one point.  Shelby recommended the blog to me just as we were both getting into running, and it's been a huge inspiration to me ever since.  Jen is always striving to achieve better health for herself, those around her (she's studying to be a nutritionist!) and for the environment.

Jen during one of her many, many races.

Who are you? I'm Jen, I live in Albany, NY with my boyfriend and tuxedo cat.

Where can you be found online? My blog, Jen is Green and on Twitter, @jenisgreen

Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? Yes! I write about my life, mostly about fitness (running and training for races), traveling, and food, my favorite things!

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? In March 2010 I began writing Jen is Green. I had just lost 70 pounds and wanted to keep track of my fitness endeavors. Mostly running-related. I also wanted to provide tips and recipes for people who also want to lead healthy lifestyles.

Why do you write? I like writing my blog because it provides me with a creative outlet that I don't get at my day job! I started it as a way to keep myself accountable after losing weight, but now its more of like a diary and scrapbook where I can keep some of my best memories, and I can always look back and see what I did, two, three years ago from today.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? This isn't writing related, but one of the classes I'm taking right now is community nutrition and we are doing volunteer hours for the class. I decided to volunteer with the Capital District Community Gardens' Veggie Mobile, a food truck that delivers low cost produce to low-income neighborhoods. I'm really inspired by those who put on these programs, such as the ones at CDCG, and I'm really inspired to get more involved to help our community, especially those that need it!
Jen's gorgeous photo of the Adirondacks.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Tough question! I have never been out of this country (aside from Niagara Falls Canada once when I was 12), so I'd love to be able to see other parts of the world, like London, England; Paris, France; Spain; Italy; Australia. Anywhere, really!

What is your favorite place on earth? Right now, I love going to the Adirondacks in Upstate, NY. They are one of the most gorgeous places I've been to and they have so much to offer, like numerous places to camp and hike. I'm lucky they are only a short drive away from where I live! They are just a really great place to get away. I always get sad when I leave.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Can't really think of anything at the moment!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend Wanderings: Poetry & a Long Run

Had a great weekend, but was a little busy to post about it this morning.  On Friday, after work and a quick clean-up, Roger and I headed to Poets House, one of my very favorite spots in the city, for a really excellent lecture on contemporary African poetry.  Dawes was a fantastic speaker, and now I have some great new books to add to my to-read list.

That evening, Allison spent the night at our place, and we kept her up way later than I think she wanted talking.  Even though I'm sure she was exhausted from flying and being tattooed, it was great to catch up with her.

On Saturday morning, I woke up and headed to yoga with Alana.  It's a really nice hatha yoga class, and it's never too much for a Saturday morning.  We did a good number of leg stretches, which was wonderful because I was about to head out on my longest run yet:

Yikes!  The eleven miles actually went by more quickly than I'd thought they would, though I'm still having trouble keeping my time under 12min/mile for these long runs.  It was a chilly 39° out, but I was actually glad for it to be a little cold, and after the first mile, I was pretty warmed up.  I ran along the Hudson instead of in Central Park, which was a great change of scenery.  (The fact that it's mostly flat didn't hurt, either!)  I think I'll need to do the rest of my training runs in the park, just because that's where the half-marathon is and I need some more practice on those hills, but I'll definitely be making my way out to the river again soon.  It's beautiful, flat, and passes some really fun stuff - the Intrepid, Chelsea Piers, and the Statue of Liberty.

Riverside Park

GWB & Seagull

Statue of Liberty

Brooklyn Bridge
By the time I passed under the Brooklyn Bridge, I was starving!  I guess I've learned about how far I can run on a mostly empty stomach - about 9 miles.  I was desperate for the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory ice cream just across the bridge, and I'm definitely planning to pick up some Gu before my next long run - 12.5 miles!  Other than that, I felt pretty strong during most of the run.  I got a second wind around miles 5-6, which went almost as fast as my first one.  At mile 7, I decided to try intervals between running and walking (.10 miles each), and that was a really terrible idea.  During the running portions, my right hip was killing me, and the walking really slowed me down.  I did one more interval (3 minutes running, 1 minute walking) at mile 9, and that felt a lot better, so now I know that if I need a rest, I should do something more like that.  Overall, it went pretty well.  I can't wait for race day in December!

On Sunday, I had another really good, productive day.  My friend Sophie from school came over, and we spent about five hours sending out submissions and working on poems.  I've been trying really hard to approach writing with the same vigor I've been approaching workouts lately, and overall, it's been a really positive experience.  I feel more productive than I have in months.  Hopefully with a little more pushing, I'll be able to reach that goal of 52 submissions I set for myself back in January.  (If the marathon can't happen - and thanks to my back injury it definitely can't - hopefully at least the reading and writing can!)

As if to keep encouraging me, this morning, I got my contributor copies of one of my first print publications (and, interestingly enough, a review copy of a book on the benefits of failure, go figure).  I haven't really mentioned it here, but I recently started a new job at my company, doing more writing.  It feels like things are really starting to fall in place!

Friday, November 8, 2013

{This Moment}

{This Moment} 
A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:
  • On Monday and Tuesday, I started recapping our first big trip in a while, to the west coast for a friend's wedding.
  • On Wednesday, I was thrilled to feature the lovely Christie Jardine on my first real Writer Wednesday.
  • Yesterday, I talked a little about Abundance Everywhere, an amazing family travel project.

I hope you have a peaceful weekend!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Abundance Everywhere

One of the amazing things about the internet is how it's helped me connect with loved-ones, from people I talk to everyday to perfect strangers to old acquaintances.  Sarah Venditti is one of the latter, and I'm so glad to have found her several years after we both graduated from the same high school.  I was completely intimidated by her then - she was, and is, seriously smart and talented - but also completely enthralled by the projects she took on.  She's still taking on incredible projects, the most recent of which is Abundance Everywhere.  Even though it's not a Writer Wednesday (and I hope Sarah will do one of those interviews soon!), the project aligns so well with the travel theme of this blog and the collaborative theme of my life that I felt I had to spread the word about it.  Sarah, as usual, puts it much better than I could:

Abundance Everywhere is an exploration of community. Our mission is to prove to people that sharing parts of ourselves actually creates abundance, not scarcity. Over the course of 60 days we are traversing the country in search of communities, businesses, organizations, groups of friends and individuals who are already living the abundant lifestyle. We will learn from their examples, document it for you and give back our own knowledge, ideas, and local goods. Our hope is that by featuring these successful models, people will be inspired to create a more meaningful presence on the earth. In the spirit of Abundance, we will be couch-surfing the entire way and attempting to utilize the excess we find so as to rely as little as possible on money. We are inviting people to follow our journey and participate in any way they see fit; to get out of their comfort zone and into the community, to borrow instead of buying, to collaborate instead of compete, to redirect excess to those who would gratefully accept it and share, more authentically, this grand experience with others.

I hope you'll follow Sarah, Phil, Chicky and Penjie as they make their way across the country, and if you're able to, help support them in their journey.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writer Wednesday - Christie Jardine

I was so thrilled when the first person to respond to my call for interviews was Christie of What Christie's Doing in Denmark.  I first met Christie at Hobart & William Smith Colleges, likely during a party at Roger's house.  She's an incredibly kindhearted and fun person, and last year, she lived and worked in Denmark.  Her blog records all her travels around Europe, and what daily life was like for an expat.  Now that she's home, I can't wait for her to start posting again about her daily life in New England.  (True story: When Roger and I were on vacation in Maine, we bumped into her parents at an inn in Camden!)

Christie in her favorite place on earth, hiking down from the Gornergrat to Riffelberg in Zermatt, Switzerland.

Who are you? I am Christie Jardine, world traveler. I'm home now, but I've spent the last year discovering myself and working at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Where can you be found online? My blog can be found at I also guest starred on Bearica Quinn's amazing cat blog. [Note from the editor: we'll be featuring that amazing cat blog soon!]

Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? I would describe my blog as letters and pictures that I'm sending to my grandmother who is obsessed with the details. She wants maps of every place I go, she wants to hear about every story- mundane or exciting- with my friends that she's never met. She wants to know what I ate, when I ate it, and if I would eat it again. She's a little chatter box, and I write about absolutely everything to take her along with me.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I have always kept a journal while I traveled, but I decided that I'd make it public for the first time since I was leaving for over a year. I thought that it'd be an easy way to keep in touch with everyone, or at least let them know what was happening in my life. Plus, writing about travels gives people new ideas for their own adventures, which I always encourage.
Christie and her father near Aberfoyle

Why do you write? I write because I think it's important to reflect on our experiences. It also helps me remember things, because I generally have a terrible memory.

Who inspires you? My grandmother, who's also a world traveler, inspires me.

If you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Great question! Also very difficult. It's so hard to say since I've had the opportunity to go to so many places that I would have never chosen on my own- Tallinn or Poznan, for example- and I enjoyed these places SO much. So questions like these make me think of all of the places I want to travel to, but just don't know it yet. As cliché as it sounds, my dream would actually be to go to New Zealand and see (what's left of) the set of the Lord of the Rings. I'd really geek out over that. Plus, New Zealand's gorgeous. Otherwise, I want to go to Cappadocia, Turkey, because it looks incredible.

What is your favorite place on earth? Zermatt, Switzerland on top of the Gornergrat. Takes my breath away.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I love planning trips and meeting new people, so if you're ever looking to go somewhere new, then give me a call! Also, I can tap dance, so I'm a pretty good entertainer on the road.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

West Coast Wedding Extravaganza - Day 2

Sunday, August 18, 2013 - San Francisco, CA

After getting the touristy business out of our systems (okay, my system) on Saturday, we awoke on Sunday morning to a delicious breakfast prepared by Drew.  He also very kindly drove us over to San Francisco's City Hall on his way to class, so we could easily walk to the Asian Art Museum.

We went into the museum not expecting very much, but it was actually one of my very favorite museums that we visited.  They had some really eclectic collections of beautiful art work, and their labels were some of the most interesting I've read.  One room in particular stood out to me: with a reproduction tea room in the corner, it also had an exhibit on baskets and the way basketry is passed from generation to generation.  Really beautiful stuff.  We had some tea and daifuku in their cafe, which was a much more tranquil cafe than the average museum's.  If you're in San Francisco, I would definitely recommend stopping by!

We wandered over to Burma Superstar on the recommendation of one of Roger's coworkers.  She had great recommendations the whole time, and this was no exception - it was one of the best places we ate the whole time!  We had the samusa soup, rainbow salad, and one of the curries.  I'd never had Burmese food, and this was really wonderful, so I would definitely like to find a similar place at home.  Afterward, we shared a milkshake at Toyboat Dessert Cafe, which was also really delicious.  Then we took a nice long walk through Golden Gate Park to the de Young Museum, which has some interesting art and a really beautiful tower with panoramic views of the park. 

For even more art, we headed to Pier 70 to meet up with Kristin and Drew, and see Kristin's great work in action at the Urban Air Market.  Kristin sells some incredible prints (I especially love her Flying Pig print, but Roger likes the Cuddlefish ones), and it was really cool to visit her at work.

The market also had a great band, food trucks, and lots of other awesome booths, so it was fun to wander around for a bit, and we helped Kristin pack up at the end.  We headed back to their apartment and enjoyed a nice dinner before turning in early, since we had plans for a big day trip on Monday.

Monday, November 4, 2013

West Coast Wedding Extravaganza - Day 1

This post has been a long time in coming!  Sorry about that, and many thanks to the wonderful people who gave us ideas for what to do on the West Coast, and especially to Kristin and Drew, who hosted us while we were in California!  More posts to follow soon.

Saturday, August 17, 2013: San Francisco, CA
Roger and I left for Newark airport straight from work on Friday evening, and after an uneventful plane ride and getting a little lost with our rental car, we arrived at Kristin's house, where we were staying, around 1am.  I've known Kristin since middle school (and she's even more talented now, if you're in the market for amazing prints or cards), so I didn't feel too awkward, but it was the first time we met her awesome boyfriend, Drew, and it would have been nice to be a little less sleepy for that.  But it was great to see them - living on opposite coasts makes it hard to get together! - and spending time with them was one of the highlights of the trip.

When we woke up, Drew was making breakfast (another amazing constant throughout the trip), and we all hung out a bit before Roger and I braved our first type of San Francisco transportation: the streetcar.  The streetcars in San Francisco are from all across the country and vintage, so it was really cool to see one in action.  We got off at Powell Street and wandered around Union Square, stopping in at an H&M to buy Roger a jacket.  Turns out San Francisco in the summer is chilly!  (Which, honestly, was kind of a nice break from the New York August heat.)  We spent the day on our own personal walking tour, which was wonderful (though, if you mapped it out, not exactly efficient), and started with wandering around Chinatown.

On the suggestion of one of Roger's colleagues, we headed to Bob's Donuts.  Apparently it's in one of the less savory areas on San Francisco, but our walk over there was nice and the donuts were very good, though Roger was upset that he ordered bread pudding (thinking I wanted to try it) instead of one of their donuts.  Ooops.

After that, we hiked north to Ghirardelli Square.  We wandered around admiring the square (there was a beautiful hotel with a fire-pit overlooking the square) and the view, and then stopped into their Ghirardelli chocolate shop to split one of their World-Famous hot fudge sundaes.  (Yeah, we ate a lot of sugar instead of lunch - it was a vacation!)  It was really, really delicious, and it was fun to watch the chocolate-making process there, too.  We passed on our chance to buy Train-themed chocolate bars, sadly, and headed down to the bay to take in the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and (to Roger's dismay) Alcatraz.

From there, we continued our walk to the San Francisco Art Institute, where we looked at the Diego Rivera mural, "The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City," which was lovely.  There are a lot of great murals in the Bay Area, and it was really cool to see this one in particular.  The institute also has a nice courtyard where we sat and rested for a bit.  We continued on our way and passed by Lombard Street's famous switchbacks, which was actually really amazing to see.  I was surprised at how beautifully manicured it was, although I'm not sure why.

From there, we headed to Fisherman's Wharf (see what I mean about not taking the most efficient route?) and wandered around the Musee Mecanique, which was filled with the most incredible vintage arcade games and automatons.  Some of them were seriously cool (a pin-up viewer), some were seriously strange ("what every married woman cannot avoid," with a portrait of Virginia Woolf on the outside and a doll of a man surrounded by bottles inside), and some were seriously creepy (a crying baby automaton).

After that, we stopped at Boudin Bakery to split one of their famous sourdough bread bowls and a Red Trolley Ale.  Even though it was a little crisp out, we ate on their patio.  The food was really good and it was nice to do some people watching outside.  After, we walked over to Pier 39 to watch the sea lions, which was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.  I'm really into what is common wildlife for other places but feels very exotic to me.  Plus they seemed to have such personality!

After our day of touring around, we took one of the trolley cars south and then hopped on the Bart to meet up with Kristin, Drew, and some of their friends at The Chapel, a really cool music venue/bar that is a converted church.  We had some fancy cocktails and then finished out the evening at a Mexican restaurant.  We had such a blast doing all the touristy things around California, but a definite highlight of the trip was seeing so many friends that we never really get to see.  Kristin and Drew were so wonderful to host us in their gorgeous apartment for the better part of a week, and we loved every minute we got to spend with them!