Friday, April 29, 2011

Anglophilia: blueberry scones and Beefeater

Judge all you want for buying into the hype, but what better excuse for homemade scones than the royal nuptials?


2 cups flour
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon 
1 large egg
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk or cream (I used 1%)
1 cup blueberries (or chocolate chips or whatever your little heart desires)
extra milk & sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (side note: when I lived in Korea I was briefly miffed that my oven only went up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit... I later realized that it was [obviously] in degrees Celsius)

-Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt
-Cut butter into small pieces and cut into the dry ingredients using two knives (or a pasty blender) until mixture looks like crumbs. This part is a pain in the butt.
-Fold in blueberries (or chocolate chips or... whatever)
-In a cup, lightly beat egg and then combine vanilla and milk.
-Add liquid to the dry ingredients, stir until the dough comes together. *Don't go crazy on this step- if you over mix the dough, the scones will be tough* Oh, the science of baking!

-Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 times.
-Pat the dough... I made mini scones, so I made a circle about 10ish inches in diameter and an inch thick, but if you want to make large scones, go with about 7 inches and 1.5 inches thick
-Cut into triangles of desired size
-Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet
-Brush tops of scones with milk, sprinkle sugar
-Bake 18-22 minutes until lightly browned

Enjoy with Prince of Wales Tea or a morning mimosa and a fabulous hat.
Or a Beefeater cocktail. We won't judge. 


And always remember that...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Anglophilia: Rule Brittannia's "Royal Wedding"

In preparation for the royal wedding, watch this gem from Vice TV featuring anarchists, Anglophile Americans with dreams of princessdom, an old lady with a ridiculous collection of royal memorabilia (though she allegedly draws the line at the truly tacky... you can be the judge of that), and the porn stars of the royal wedding porn spoof, along with several other true characters.

Where else can you hear a line like: but darling that's not spicing things up, that's like having the royal jewels of Persia on your fanny?!?!?! So. Good.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

in which our protagonist arrives in Paris

My lovely Guest-blogger, headband enthusiast, fellow-Quaker Kate has checked in from Paris...

"Bonjour! I made it alive to Paris after pulling an all-nighter for a friend's birthday in New York Saturday. God knows what time it is in my head by now but I spent the entire day walking the city. It is outrageously, outlandishly beautiful and infinitely walkable.

Coming from Manhattan, iPhone Google map in hand, I thought navigating would be a piece of cake. But then I remembered that Manhattan is on a numerical grid, it's a city for geographical dweebs or dummies. I got capital S Super lost yesterday, walking in big and small circles all the time, but who cares. I saw a thousand things in the stretch of a few hours.

Ate not one, not two, but three pain au chocolats. They're 1 Euro. Maybe tomorrow I'll go for a jog? Maybe.

Went to Shakespeare & Company, best stop of the day, which sounds lame since it's an English bookstore but it was around 6 after 7 or so hours on foot and in French and on no sleep. And it was Hemingway's hangout. I bought a book and they stamped it, tres cool.

Oh, and I said both "Gracias" and "Por favor" to my waiter last night at the creperie. Here's to a good night's sleep. On a Parisian couch."

The question is, Kate, what book did you purchase?

And oh the pre-several-time-zones-travel-all-nighter. I know that one all too well.

Closing thoughts:
Pain au chocolat! Be the death of me...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

dream destination: Antarctica

Antarctica Shoot from Matt Rutherford on Vimeo.

The biggest challenge in the quest to hit all seven continents is Antarctica.  Not only is it astronomically expensive to join a cruise to the South Pole, but the environment is so fragile that there has been talk about suspending, or at the very least significantly limiting, commercial expeditions.  I'm not sure if I'll ever get there, but that won't stop me from ogling all of the incredible photography and video footage that's out there.

My favorite part of this video is the penguin just staring at the sleeping seals (~3:00).  Whoa there, lil buddy-- let sleeping seals lie.

Ack!  Let's just look at some photos of baby emperor penguins and call it a day.  Has anyone out there ever been to Antarctica/have any desire to go?

Emperor Penguins Antarctica
image via

Monday, April 25, 2011

jet-setting to France (life is rough): meet guest blogger Kate

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend--or a fantastic Easter weekend if that's your thing.  Mine was dotted with a mix of gluttony, hot yoga, unpredictable weather, retail therapy, and visits from far-away friends-- all in all a superb spring weekend.  I have a lot to accomplish over the next few days, and I'm starting to realize that time is going to start flying by with an abundance of good company and exciting events on the horizon.

Without further adieu, I would like to introduce you to Kate, a friend of mine who will be contributing a bit to my little project over the coming weeks.  With wishes of bon voyage over the weekend, she has already taken off and touched down in France.  I'd like to imagine that she is drinking vin rouge and practicing bad French at this very moment.  That's my girl!

(not kidding about the hole)
"Bonjour! I'm Kate and I'll be guest-posting for Lindsey while I'm jet-setting. By jet-setting I mean one trip from New York to Paris to Lyon to New York for a total of two weeks. Lindsey and I met here (see photo), in a hole in the ground in Greece while on an archaeological dig. We wore headbands, sweat a lot, and unearthed all kinds of interesting things, including arrow heads, boar skulls, and a shared love of travel.

the one time we didn't wear headbands
I'm also doing some travel writing while I'm over there, and can meanwhile give some tips on how to "become" a travel writer. I don't by any stretch fancy myself that, but it's more along the lines of how to finagle your way into doing travel writing. It is the dream job, right? I'll be writing a pieces for both Elle Magazine and Fodor's, so wish me luck.

I'll be wearing a fanny pack. And comfortable shoes and a t-shirt. What have I learned from living in Manhattan all these years? New York seems like a fashionable place with fashionable people wearing fashionable things, but in truth, unless you're dying on the sidewalk no one cares about what you look like. I imagine an enormous city like Paris is the same. I have packed some dresses, but we'll save those for nighttime.

   I'm staying with friends from college - Go Quakers! - in both Paris and Lyon. In between the 2 cities I'm going to pop by a few vineyards (my piece for Elle is a super cheesy bit about how a gal with a boxed-wine-and-two-buck-Chuck palate navigates the wineries of fancy old France) and as of now I'm not 100% sure where I'm staying while in the countryside. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. AKA, I will panic and maybe use AirBnB. 

That's all for now! Nice to meet you. Thanks, Lydia, I mean, Lindsey."

I, for one, am tres excited about Kate's upcoming contributions to Litterulae Mundano, and I plan on using all kinds of bad Franglais to celebrate.
K doesn't know (yet) that I used this. She really wasn't kidding about the headbands. Or the sweat.  (Sweat bands?)  If this doesn't pique your interest, there's probably something very wrong with you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

happy Earth Day from some of the most beautiful places on the planet!

Chitwan National Park, Terai Region, Nepal
fields near Egeskov Castle, Funen, Denmark

Lake Champlain, Adirondacks, New York, USA
Arcadia, Greece
Manla Reservoir, Tibet
dawn near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA
sunrise over Sargamatha (Mt. Everest) and neighboring Himalayan peaks from Kala Pattar, Sargamatha National Park, Nepal

*please don't use my photos without asking/crediting me!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I want to be queen of the internets!

If you happen to be one of my "regulars" on Litterulae, you might notice some changes.  (Or you might have noticed some more subtle changes after big changes were scrapped.  Change is sometimes good- like a change in location through traveling!  But sometimes change is bad)  Bear with me, as I'm still trying to navigate my way through templates and html and will certainly be working out some kinks over the next few days while I really should instead be focusing my energy on big picture life things.  Isn't the internet just the best/worst thing to join forces with procrastination ever?

If you are one of my few precious regulars, thank you, spank you.  If you happen to follow along with Google Reader or a similar RSS feed, but aren't a public "follower," why don't you show some support (help a sista out?) and click the button, take the ride?  If bloglovin is more your style, you can now follow through there, as well.  But you should probably show me you love me and go both ways (insert really pathetic bisexuality joke here).

In an attempt to conquer social media/catch up with my peers/compensate for not having a smart phone, I also took the plunge and opened a tumblr account.  For all you tumblr folks out there, is where it's at.  Think short and sweet version of insane wanderlust meets more random stuff about turtles with a heaping spoonful of the daily things that make my life awkward.  Oh, alright, heaping spoonful squared- who am I kidding?

What to look forward to...

Ireland.  And lots of it.  Now is as good a time as any to announce that I'll be spending half the month of June in Ireland traveling around by myself for a bit as well as staying with friends.  In a castle.  A castle?  A castle.  I'll be doing plenty of daydreaming and rough planning in the coming weeks, so help me out with that, OK?  In preparation, I will also be undertaking a bit of a literary challenge.  What better time than now to become better versed in Irish literature, culture, and history?

Guest Posts.  A lovely friend of mine leaves for Lyon soon and has kindly offered to contribute her talents to Litterulae (I said yes, of course).  With all the time I will be away in June, I will be looking for some guests to step in and keep this little exercise in narcissism up and running.  If you have an idea for a guest post that fits in with the general theme of this blog, send an email to citizenmundi{at}gmail{dot}com.  Think travel guides (could be just an insider's look at your city), amusing stories from the road, travel photography, a story behind a souvenir, your dream vacation...

More travels, more photography, more ridiculous stories.  I've barely scratched the surface of several years of traveling, and I'm still adventuring (and making an ass out of myself/learning valuable life lessons) whenever possible.  If there is anything in particular that you'd like to hear more about (or less about), leave some feedback in a comment or an email.  Seriously.

So there you have it.  Follow me, leave some feedback, help make me queen of the internets. 

Dylan the turtle endorses this blog.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

time-lapse video from the Canary Islands and nostalgia for the Himalayas

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

On summer nights, my dad would set up the telescope in the backyard, and we would scan the night sky, identifying Venus low on the horizon just after dusk, Mars with his reddish hue, Saturn with his rings, or on rare occasion the mighty Jupiter and his cluster of tiny moons.  As a child I could identify constellation after constellation in our northern hemisphere sky, a feat I can sadly no longer claim, as those memories have fallen into the abyss of my mind, stashed somewhere alongside my dinosaur catalog.  My fascination with the stars followed me to my slumbers, as my dad and I mapped out our Pennsylvania night sky (for the month of February, I believe, as it is my birth month) in glowing stars on my bedroom ceiling in our previous house, and it remains with me today, though I cannot rattle off the impressive facts that the precocious childhood-me knew by heart.

I would love to one day create a time-lapse video or (more realistically) a gorgeous long-exposure photograph of the night sky.  Had I brought a tripod and a few extra layers along with me on my trek through the Himalayas, I would have had access to the perfect shot.  In particular, I am thinking of a night at Dole, a small village on the way to the Gokyo valley at an altitude of 4040 meters.

The lodge I was staying in had a small bathroom through the dinning hall and down in the basement, near the majority of the rooms.  I, however, was sleeping in one of the four (even colder) rooms at ground level, and lost access to the toilet when the tea lodge locked up for the night.  At altitude, you constantly feel like your bladder is full-- a good thing, as frequent urination is a sign of the body acclimatizing-- which means that it is rare to sleep through the night without waking at least once for a bathroom break.  For me this meant running outside and bearing it all to the elements in the adjacent barren fields.  As the cold stung my rear, I happened to look up, away from the urine splashing at my sock-and-teva-ed feet.  The night was calm, the clouds had parted, and I caught the most perfect night sky imaginable.  Out of habit, I located my favorite, Orion, in an attempt to get my bearings, and fought to suppress all of the emotions welling up inside of me.  I wanted to scream out to nobody in particular, to express being floored by such a grand, yet so simple, display of nature, to share it with everyone and keep it all for myself at the same time.  Pulling my fleece pants back up, I was determined to ascertain the proper reaction before returning to a night of restless sleep.  I looked up to the sky for an answer only to realize that hot tears had stung my eyes and were streaming down my face.

Monday, April 18, 2011

local spotlight: The Dogwood (Baltimore)

image via
Tonight, I once again had the pleasure of dining at The Dogwood in Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood.  The Dogwood's menu is in a state of constant evolution, as they utilize local, seasonal ingredients where possible, which is part of the excitement of dropping in about once a month or two-- you never know what you'll find on the menu (and thus far it seems like you cannot go wrong).  A few mouthwatering constants do remain, however, like bookends on your meal: fresh baked Irish soda bread with mango butter to commence dining (baked during the day, so not available for the lunchtime crowd- yes, we found that out the sad way) and the best carrot cake I've ever had, chock full of nuts and raisins and finished with a rich orange cream cheese icing, to wrap things up.  Formerly closed Mondays, The Dogwood has recently opened for business with a Monday (Funday?) prix fixe dinner option with or without wine pairings.  Though wine pairings are always tempting, it wasn't a dinner for lingering, and so I remained a Sober Sally.  I did, however, take advantage of the prix fixe, opting for a beet salad with Cherry Glen Farm's chevre, rainbow trout over a four grain pilaf with red grapes, cranberries, almonds, and sauteed mushrooms, and to top it all off-- you guessed it-- the to-die-for carrot cake.  BB went for salad and soup-- a sweet and spicy chana masala lentil-- and helped pick at my meal.  Guess who gets yummy trout and carrot cake leftovers tomorrow night?!  We should have probably known better than to inhale the bread and butter, but fresh after our 90 minute sweat sesh all reason had been abandoned.  It is too freakin' good to handle with any sort of restraint.

Dining for a cause:

In addition to their commitment to using a variety of local and seasonal ingredients, The Dogwood is commendable for their mission:

"The Dogwood’s social mission is to transform lives one plate at a time by providing training opportunity and paid employment to individuals who are transitioning from addiction, incarceration, homelessness, and/or underemployment.

Our restaurant is a social business that pursues the double bottom line: financial return on investment and social return through transformed lives. The Dogwood provides intensive, professional paid training to a small class of individuals who are working to better their lives. Their training is supported through business revenues. Our servers, food runners, and chefs are all learners and instructors, working to become exemplary professionals in the culinary and hospitality arts. They are eager to talk to you about our training program."

Good food, good cause-- that's something I can always get behind.

(check it out:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

photo of the day: Lindsu in Yeosu (S. Korea)

In another "one year ago today" post... I spent the evening of April 17, 2010 watching the sunset over the Yeoja Bay mud flats in Yeosu, Jollanam-do, South Korea.  Earlier that morning, I had gotten up at the ass crack of dawn after riding a bus all night from Seoul to hike a mountain for the sunrise.  Yes, I intended on watching that shit come full circle, baby.

During one year in Asia, I probably [intentionally]* experienced more sunrises than all previous years combined-- certainly something to think about as I am home and valuing sleep above all else, even though I am in no way under the same stresses I faced working in Seoul where I still managed to spend the weekends traveling and waking up to watch the sun rise.  Hmm...

*I say "intentionally," as I am not counting the innumerable sunrises I witnessed on the way to morning swim practices, as they were not quite appreciated for all they were.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

happiness is...

...cherry blossoms in the springtime.

Seriously, everyone always goes nuts for the cherry blossoms, with festivals popping up all over the world to celebrate their arrival... which always makes me inclined to say "ehhh, what's the big deal?"  But I'll admit that it brings me out of my winter funk a bit to suddenly see bursts of color emerging where barren trees had previously stood.

Cherry trees in bloom in front of the 63 Building in Yeouido- the tallest building in Korea

The island of Yeouido in Seoul is the best spot in the city to witness cherry blossom season and is always great for a walk or bike ride along the Hangang.  Right about this time last year, I was delighted to be brought back to the world of the living with the arrival of spring in Seoul.
(Yeouido is along Line 5/Purple- stop Yeouido lets you off near the National Assembly and close to the start of the festival, while Yeouinaru is closest to Hangang Park and the path along the river)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

requisite biweekly shark post with a side of dog meat and ethical dilemmas

Kind of joking.  I never intended to post this frequently (now 3 times in 6 weeks?) about the cartilaged creatures, but here I am again (sort of... this post actually evolved to have almost nothing to do with sharks).

Galding posted an article yesterday using California's proposed ban on shark finning (a practice I previously mentioned here) as a launching point for a discussion of the global politics of culinary delicacies, which made me think a bit about my own experiences with food and culture abroad and at home.  The author raises the question of how to strike a balance between wildlife conservation/ethical food production and the preservation of culture.  While shark finning is a gruesome practice that for me is hard to justify with the argument that shark fin soup is integral to Chinese culture, there are other dishes that might not seem "ethical" to many "Westerners" that I have no problem with.  The author writes, "The Philippines has long been under fire for its mistreatment of dogs destined for the dinner table. I don't condone animal cruelty in any form (which is why I want to see gavage [sic]), yet we must also realize that pets are not a traditional part of that culture."  Just to clarify, the Philippines outlawed the eating of dog meat in 1998.  Though there is an underground market for it, most younger Filipinos did not grow up eating dog meat and think of dogs only as pets.  I'm really curious though as to what extent the doggie legislation came about through Western influences-- something that reminds me of a very similar issue in South Korea.

In Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, the sale of dog meat has been illegal since 1984, though the law is barely enforced and one doesn't have to look too hard to find dog meat in the city's traditional markets or in restaurants specializing in 개고기 (Gaegogi aka dog meat).  Hell, it took me less than a week of living in Korea to see my first frozen Fido.  Lindsey, my co-worker leaned in to warn me, you know some people here eat dog, right?  Moments later we passed a large dog in its entirety on ice-- and nowhere special, this was just the market closest to my home and workplace.  Many older Koreans continue to consume dog meat from time to time (especially men-- for stamina, of course!), but far fewer of the younger sect eat it with any regularity and many refuse to eat it at all on the same grounds as most Americans-- dogs are pets, not food.  But where did this shift in perception come from?  I'm willing to bet that most of the men that passed the law back in the mid-80's are part of the crowd that still visits their favorite gaegogi joint from time to time for "stamina soup."  If you remember correctly, Seoul played host to the Summer Olympic Games in 1988.  In talking to older Koreans (one of the distinct advantages of teaching English to adults), I learned a bit more about the historical state of dog meat affairs.  Apparently, in the years leading up to the Olympics, the government tried to phase out the selling of dog meat-- or at least run it underground-- in an attempt to appease the international (read: Western) community and shed the label of "backwards society that eats dogs."  At this point in time, South Korea was beginning to show significant signs of recovery from decades of poverty following the Korean War and was naturally eager to showcase its progress to the world during the upcoming Olympic Games.  They didn't need to be torn apart in the Western media for their culinary practices when their opportunity to become a bigger global player was on the line.  And so the visibility of dog meat quickly faded, and the practice has since steadily declined.

 Side note: I am Olympic Fanatic.

Is it fair?  What surprised me most upon seeing a full dog on ice in the market was its size and build  This clearly was not someone's pet; it was an animal bred specifically for one purpose: human consumption.  In Korean, these dogs are known as
누렁이 (Nureongi) and 황구 (Hwangu), clearly distinguishing them from the type of "dogs" that are considered pets.  For many, that still doesn't make it right, but I don't think you can point the finger at Asian communities for centuries of domesticating dogs as livestock while innocently consuming beef or chicken that comes from American slaughterhouses.  Cows are sacred to the Hindu community, and it is illegal to kill a cow in Nepal and most Indian states, yet Americans consume an average of 67 lbs of beef per year.  If the 1.4 billion people of India and Nepal got together and decided to vilify Americans for their consumption of cows, what would the response be?  Many people would probably laugh at the audacity of the two South Asian countries for suggesting such a thing.  So why does the West get to decide what is globally acceptable at the dinner table? (and I ask that with regard to food production only and issues of conservation aside-- as I do think it is important that global measures are being taken to protect threatened and endangered species)

So what is my personal philosophy on food, culture, and ethics?

I absolutely draw the line at threatened or endangered species, especially when many of them are killed not for survival, but for sale as delicacies, often wasting most of the edible parts of the animal and leaving them to die a cruel death, the way sharks are definned and then thrown back in the ocean to perish.  As a somewhat recent fish consumer, I'm working to become more knowledgeable about sustainable fishing, as I would like to get the occasional super dose of omega-3's without contributing to the destruction of our fragile ocean ecosystems. 

After that, the lines are hazy.  I have been trying to become a more conscious consumer.  For both health and ethical reasons, I eat significantly less meat than I did in the past, and when possible make more responsible decisions when it comes to the source of my food.  My personal decision not to become vegetarian or vegan has a lot to do with culture as well as the belief that one doesn't have to go to extremes to be more responsible or make a statement.  

First off, culture.  Anyone who tries to convince me that food is not an integral part of culture will ultimately fail.  We experience the world through our perception of sensory details, and what, other than the experience of eating and drinking truly uses all of our senses?  If you think back upon your childhood, how many memories feature food to some degree?  If you've traveled, can you honestly say that the experience yielded no culinary memories?  Travel has become a huge part of who I am and I would be remiss to claim that food is of no importance to my appreciation of different cultures.  Whether this means enjoying a buttery fresh baked croissant early in the morning while ambling through the streets of Paris or eating raw octopus on the Yeongmeori coastline of Jeju-do straight from the haenyeo (traditional female free-diver) who caught it, I don't want to limit my experience through a narrow definition of what constitutes acceptable food.  But there is also another, more direct cultural experience that concerns me.  At many times over the past year, I have been a guest at the dinner table, experiences that I am overwhelmingly grateful for and that rank as some of my fondest memories of time spent abroad.  Aside from wanting to be polite and try everything offered, there have been times when the meal I have been served as a guest is considerably more expensive than what the host would normally cook-- how can I possibly eschew the relatively expensive chicken that I am being served on ethical grounds knowing that my gracious host will go back to a diet of rice and lentils for weeks to compensate?  I just can't.  When my host has her husband go miles out of the way to pick up special curd from another town for dessert, how do I refuse it and explain that I do not eat any products that have in any way derived from animals?  I don't.  I can't.  Not only does it not translate to the majority of humans around the globe, but getting on my ethical high horse in that sort of situation just doesn't seem right.  

 eating octopus by the sea, straight from the woman who caught it, right next to where it was caught- doesn't get much more local than that, right?

I know it is not every day that I'm in a situation that demands those decisions of me, but I am not really keen on undertaking a lifestyle of extremes such as veganism knowing full well that time and again I will make exceptions in the pursuit of understanding and respecting other cultures.  Nor do I think that eating healthy and ethically has to come in the form of extremes, as it only serves to further alienate the majority of the population who cannot afford such a lifestyle.  Millions of Americans struggle to get enough fruits and vegetables in their diets-- not because they are ignorant or lazy, but often because the things that are heavily subsidized by the government (corn, meat, processed dairy) are more affordable and more filling, despite how nutritionally poor and lowbrow on the foodie scale they may be.  Healthy and responsible eating should not have to be expensive, divisive, or elitist.  But if the poor keep eating poorly
based on the few affordable choices they have (and looking at the factors for beef consumption in America, geography, income, and race have a significant impact on who relies most on meat in their diets) and the rich who can afford to make food choices that reflect how "socially conscious" they are continue to buy into their exclusive diet and lifestyle clubs, what will change?  What incentive (other than it being the responsible thing to do) does the government have to correct the subsidies that encourage these unhealthy behaviors?  What incentive do companies have to target health foods at a wider population and offer them at more affordable prices when they already have a faithful elite that keep them in business by paying top dollar for organic-local-vegan-status-symbol products?  There really isn't much.  In this way, I think the small changes have the potential to be most effective.  If enough people start to be a little more discriminating about what they put into their bodies, I believe it can have a much stronger impact than if a teeny tiny fraction of the the population decides to cut out entire groups all together.

I've rambled a bit, from shark finning and dog meat to culture and American diets.  Things got out of hand.  Food is fascinating, isn't it?

I'd like to just end with something that I read awhile ago on my friend Andy's blog, which really seems to sum up the conundrum I face balancing health and social responsibility with respect and appreciation of culture when it comes to food:
Eating nutritious and local food is important to me, but I don’t want to turn my back on culture to do it.  Truly experiencing food is what I’m after, and if that calls for settling for imperfection here and there, bring it on. In a perfect world, we’d all grow turnips in our backyards and eat them like candy.  In a perfect world, our farmers would tell us what to eat, not our televisions.  In a perfect world we’d all be eating well.
Truthfully, I’m happy with eating goodly.*
*Eating Goodly is the name of Andy's blog- as a future Master of Management in Hospitality student at Cornell, I assure you he can get away with making up words to make a point.  For some thought provoking posts on food (from ethics and culture to darn good french toast and beer), I encourage you to check it out!

Monday, April 11, 2011

paint by stereotype: USA

My American life could pretty much be summed up as "cheese steak + historical landmarks."  I don't hate it.

Ladies and gentlemen, the best and only infographic I’ve ever made.
And I shall call it: AMERICA IN MY BOOK.
Brought to you by my abundance of free time!
(click to enlarge)
Update: If you’re interested, you can buy a print in my Etsy store here for $18 (11x17). Thanks! 

Things could be worse.  At least I'm not a republican or a serial killer.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

for the love of snail mail

I am a dying breed.  I am a generous sender and gracious recipient of items carrying a stamp.  Put simply, I have quite the affinity for snail mail.  Though I appreciate the swiftness and ease of the email, part of me laments the waning of the hand-written letter as a means of communication.  Not that every correspondence need be rife with sentimentality, but there is something about snail mail that feels a bit more thoughtful than mail of the electronic nature.  That's not to say that every letter is inherently meaningful or affectionate, or that an email cannot be thoughtful and intimate (my own father's short, reflective emails while I've been away have been known to provoke emotional tears), but in this electronic age there is something special about receiving correspondence by way of the "old fashioned" post.

On the sender's side, I've found that it is nice to take a brief moment to write someone, with pen and ink, especially during times of prolonged absence.  With stationary and postcards abundant and cheap in Korea, I often carried writing supplies in my bag to jot down a funny story, recall a moment that made me think of a friend, repeat some ludicrous Konglish a student had uttered, or just to jot some something far from profound- a doodle, a friend's name in Korean, a random question on my mind- in one of my many Sakura Gelly Roll pens.  And just when I had completely forgotten about the mail on its 8,000 mile journey and was trudging through an exhausting day of work, there might be a little note in my inbox that a letter had arrived in the mail and was much appreciated.  Or maybe a year later, I would meet a friend's roommate only to be instantly recognized as "the postcard girl."  Or that.

Conversely, I am also a huge fan of receiving mail.  Maybe it is corny, but my weekend was brightened a little when Saturday's mail brought not one but two parcels- a thoughtful note that made me smile and laugh out loud and a book recommended and lent to me based on my interest in women and gender in the Middle East.  During my stay in Korea, coming home to mail never got old, and I was eager to liven up my dreary bedroom and classroom walls with bright cards of cartoon dinosaurs and octopi (my friends rock), tear-outs from The New York Times Magazine that arrived in a Christmas package, and postcard scenes of the USA.  I know that some people probably are not that fazed by snail mail, likely including some who frequently received my mailed musings from abroad, but if there's even a chance that I can make someone feel, even for just a moment, like somewhere out there someone is thinking of them, then mission accomplished.  Or maybe I'm just exerting my existence.  Read into it however you like.

Last week I received the following gem from Miss M, formerly of Australia, currently of Thailand (that brat), and while I wouldn't normally share my "private" dealings with M (you know, because postcards that can be read by anyone handling the mail are super duper private and the following clearly is meant for my eyes only), I just want the world to know that I am the "Dinotine" to her "Loveasaurus."

Also Amz Kelso, creator of this dinotastic image, you are awesome.  Just sayin'.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

an April trip to Cartagena with Anthropologie

all images via

Anthropologie catalogs are always such a treat to longingly browse, as much for the dreamy photography as for the clothing, accessories, and homewares.  When my copy of the April catalog arrived in the mail, I flipped through the first couple of pages... and a couple more... and was it?... could it be?  Yes, it was Cartagena staring back at me, teasing me, one of my ultimate travel lust destinations paired with some of my favorite sartorial desires.  Ugh.  Yet another reason to love/hate Anthropologie (only "hate" in a jealous way, of course, for always having perfect whimsical wardrobes in the coziest homes and the most envy-inducing locations).

Ah, those colors!

Loving the feminine A-line dresses and floral caftans.

And the Spanish colonial architecture of Cartagena's Old City, of course!


Still magnificent in neutrals wandering the streets of this vibrant Latin American city.

And why don't we throw in the beach for good measure.  Ah, perfection.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

modern architecture in San Diego

Driving into work this morning, due East, blinded by the sunrise piercing the open sky between imposing hospital buildings, my dad described the opposite effect that occurs every evening at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, when, facing due West, one basks in the glow of a perfect Pacific sunset through the modern buildings that disguise a world class reserach facility that five Nobel Prize winning scientists have once called home.

Being unfamiliar with the architecture of the Salk Institute, I, naturally, called upon my good friend, Google, to enlighten me: 
Jonas Salk had a distinctive vision for the creation of the Institute. In the early 1960s, he directed the world-renowned architect Louis Kahn to provide spacious, unobstructed laboratory spaces that could be adapted to the ever-changing needs of science. The building materials had to be simple, strong, durable, and as maintenance-free as possible. Salk summarized his aesthetic objectives by telling the architect to "create a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso." Kahn, who was a devoted artist before he became an architect, responded to this challenge. (via)
When it comes to architecture, I am not always a fan of the more modern (I realize that "modern" is a very, very broad term that encompasses quite a range of styles over the past century, but I'm not really qualified enough to launch into a discussion of particulars here), but I like the way that the light plays with the buildings, lending some character to the seemingly monolithic. 

Another really interesting structure nearby is the UCSD Geisel library-- and if it seems like something out of a Dr. Suess book, well, it was financed by Theodore Suess Geisel (aka Dr. Suess) and his wife. 

Photo Credit: Matt Soave via

So, it appears that my lusting for San Diego continues.  In addition to sun, friends, Pandas, and missions, there are also some funky buildings to check out.  I guess the views over the Pacific are a draw, too?

Photo Credit: AMagill via

Yup, they totally are.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

something doesn't quite fit (Bangkok)

The Loha Prasat pagoda--or Iron Monastery--within the Wat Ratchanatdaram Worawihan temple complex is an anomaly in the Thai temple architecture scene and the only one of its kind in the world after two similar structures in India (on which the temple was modeled) burnt to the ground.


It is also a great place to grab a cold beverage.

Just kidding.  I've always been a Coca-Cola gal. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

travel inspired recipe: banana avocado smoothie (Philippines)

After nearly a week of roaming off the tourist trail in search of whale sharks and a more authentic Filipino experience, I set off for Boracay, the part of my travels that would function as a real vacation from my hectic life in Seoul: six days of diving, relaxing, and taking myself out to dinner (with Infinite Jest as my date) on a picturesque (yet über touristy) tiny island north of Cebu.  While lounging on White Beach won't get you a glimpse of the real Philippines-- just a portrait of how the natural jewels of the 7,107 island nation are being harnessed by the tourism industry (not necessarily a bad thing, as it is a major source of revenue and provider of jobs)-- it will give you access to countless opportunities for water sports, dining out, and nightlife (if you are into that kind of thing and wouldn't rather return to your room for a quiet night with a good book-- I won't judge).

Boracay's White Beach in the morning, with high tide during the full moon pushing further and further up the beach

One of my favorite things in the world is fruit-- especially of the tropical variety.  I had already delighted in the purchase of mangoes in the Sorsogon City markets (at several for a dollar instead of one for several dollars I didn't care if I made myself sick on mangoes, dammit, I was going to get as many in as possible!), but now it was time to enjoy fruit of the blended variety.  Enter Jonah's Shakes, a Boracay staple with around fifty varieties of blended goodness to choose from (though some options were frequently unavailable-- bad when you have your heart set on something, but never really that bad with a bajillion other delicious combinations to choose from).  With my minimum once daily fruit shake, I did a lot of sampling-- go tos like mango and melon varieties naturally did not disappoint, but one in particular that I was not prepared to like turned out to be a big hit with my taste buds: Jonah's banana avocado shake.

If you are anything like me (or my mother recently when she heard I was trying to recreate this), you might be thinking that putting avocado in a smoothie sounds disgusting.  Hear me out.  The avocado and banana pair brilliantly and make for a refreshing and incredibly filling protein and good-fat-packed drink.  I've been experimenting with it over the past couple days, and it has been a great thing to wake up and make on the weekend as a light meal replacement before running off to yoga in the morning.

Banana Avocado Smoothie:

1 ripe banana
1/4-1/2 avocado (the avocado's I've used recently have all had a lot of brown spots that I haven't used, so while I originally intended to use half, I realistically only used 1/4-1/3 of the fruit)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup ice
sweetener of choice, to taste
I usually also throw in about 1/4 cup water- you can always add water or more milk to your desired consistency

blend until smooth, enjoy while pretending you are sitting on a tropical beach (totally normal)

Friday, April 1, 2011

happy weekend, y'all

 Boquete, Panama- my gorgeous feathered friend at Paradise Gardens wildlife shelter

thanks for stopping by!  enjoy the weekend and may sun finally grace the dreary Northeast with its presence!
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