Monday, May 30, 2011

From Portland, ME to Burlington, VT

On Sunday, I went to church at the First Unitarian Church in Portland. The topic was "Heart in Place", a very relevant topic to me in my search for a new place to call home. The woman speaking spoke of places that feel like home sometimes a place you visit repeatedly and sometimes a place you have visited once. Being in Vermont again today, in Burlington, is making me realize how at home I feel in Vermont. Either in the hills of rural southern Vermont or in the town of Burlington. I love it here! The talk also reminded me of how I felt when I went to Amsterdam the first time, like I was home. I also felt that way about Brooklyn the first time I got out of the G train stop at Clinton-Washington. I did Brooklyn, maybe Vermont is next and then Amsterdam?

So on Sunday afternoon my friend Ashley flew to Maine to join me for part of my trip. Our first stop was to go to Duck Fat for what had been claimed at "the best fries". They were perfect fries- the ones that were long anyway. my complaint was that there were too many shorties! They also have an interesting selection of dipping sauces, we tried three: Truffle ketchup, sweet & spicy mustard and horseradish mayo. They were served in a paper cone, as is the fashion for Belgian fries (I'm pretty sure...).
Duck Fat fries and dipping sauces in Portland, Maine

After Duck Fat we stopped for ice cream at Beals, a local favorite that wasn't too crowded at first then the line went out the door. The ice cream was all right, the serving sizes generous :) After saying goodbye to Allison, my lovely host who I know from Oregon and hadn't seen in more than 10 years! we headed to Cape Elizabeth to go to the popular Lobster Shack. It was the epitome of the Maine experience. Rocky coast, park benches next to the water, long line, lots of Jersey license plates :P We got a clam cake and a lobster roll to split. I can now say I've had lobster, for sure (I wasn't 100% sure before) and it was ok... I think it needed some butter! (That dollop on top is mayo.)

The Lobster Shack Cape Elizabeth, Maine

After we had our Maine seafood experience, we headed to Burlington. We left at about 8pm, oops! The drive was about 5 hours and we pretty much drove straight through and fell asleep the moment we arrived at Ashley's friends' place.

We woke up this morning around 7:30, and slowly woke up enough by 8:30 to realize were were massively hungry (and Ashley was in desperate need of coffee) so we headed out to a place suggested by our hosts, only to find they weren't open! The next place was also closed so we ended up walking south into downtown and put our names on the 1 hour wait list for Penny Cluse Café. While we waited we wandered down the pedestrian mall of Church street and stopped at Bluebird Coffee Shop, a small freestanding building on Church Street. This guy knew his coffee, and Ashley was impressed enough to trust him to make her coffee. After our coffee we wandered back to the restaurant and finally ate. It was delicious and totally worth the wait! After we ate and walked around a bit we headed back to our hosts' place where the packaging of baked goods was in progress! Feeling that it would have been rude to just sit there and watch as Abby packaged her gluten-free (and super tasty) baked goods, we offered to help. I can now add a little bakery experience, for From the Ground Up Bakery, (though just packaging) to my list of experiences gained on this trip!
Freshly baked and beautifully packaged gluten-free English muffins

After all the items were packaged, labeled and placed in their respective bins for delivery we began to ponder dinner. We all headed over to City Market where I was drooling over the large bulk section and bought lots of food to fill my cooler and have snacks for the trip. We also bought some veggies to grill! We came back home, prepped the veggies then headed to Leddy Park and grilled up a wholelotta veggies. We also had some lentils and quinoa with us which made for a delicious meal. Mmm fire! After we left the park, where the water was so high that the wide swath of beach that is normally there was completely obscured by water, we headed to The Intervale.
(Hard to see but these signs are talking about the beach... that isn't there at the moment!)

The Intervale is a really interesting place and I don't want to botch the history of it by trying to explain it so I will just give you a link... The Intervale!

Now we are winding down to spend the night in Burlington and tomorrow we will head to Montreal, a mere 2 hours away from Burlington!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Portland, ME

So far Portland smells like 3 things. Either food, flowers or the ocean. There is the constant background noise of segulls, a reminder that you are next to the ocean, even if you can't see it because of fog or buildings. Everything downtown is within walking distance. My bike tire burst last night 1 block from the restaurant which wwas only 3 blocks from my friends' place. Brilliant! Off to church, where my friend is the DRE (Director of the childrens program for those non UUs :P)!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Driving through New Hampshire

Firstly, this should be the state of 10,000 lakes... there's another beautiful lake after every curve in the road!  Secondly I'm  eentertained by liquor stores being promoted all over the highway. I know it's cheap here but it feels wrong somehoww to bee advertising booze on the road... maybe that's just me. And it feels a little "sin city" with the liquor/lottery ticket shops all down the road! I'm also wondering if they salt the roads becauuse the trees along the highway look partially dead and very sparsly filled out. The highway scene isn't that great but driving from VT across route 123 into NH has been beautiful!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Project: compost sieve

Finished! To the extent I will be working on it... I don't know much about motors and gears and stuff... so I finished building the frame and basic structure and Dan is going to add the gear later; probably a motor.
The right side is a tumbler (that black rubber strap is waiting for a motor or gear of some sort) and the left side is a chute. You toss compost in on the right side and compost sifts and rocks tumble out. We decided to design it of the tractor bucket because it was the easiest way to them get the compost wherever you want it.
The chute has rails to make sure the rocks don't fall back into the tractor bucket. Farm #1 raises turkeys for Thanksgiving/Christmas and the bedding is replaced daily. The previous caretaker had spread rocks all over the floor of the turkey house (who knows why, seems silly) so now whenever the straw bedding is shoveled out and put into the compost pile it's full of rocks. Hence my project: Compost Sieve.

Side note about yaks!
This is what yaks do when they are spooked. They are standing in a group with yaks facing in different directions. They were standing like that for a while until a wild turkey flew up out of the grass and they broke apart their neighborhood watch group.

UPDATE: I also drove a big tractor (solo; it is a John Deere) for the first time today!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Today I got started on the rotary compost sieve. I decided to get all fancy (and get some practice) with joinery for the frame... I forgot how long it takes! The first joint took me a long, long time. The second one went much faster but still, I didn't get as much done as I would have liked to! Not everyone knows what a mortise and tenon are, so I clarified my photo with some text :)

I also snapped a picture of the trailer now that it's been finished- it looks amazing! Too bad I have to remove the latches and move them down a bit- there are going to be some holes :(

Trailer before and after
I can't believe I'll only be here for a couple more days! Much more exploration ahead, I'm sure people reading my blog will be much more interested in my exploration of cities than my projects though :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Keeping busy!

So many firsts! Yesterday I drove an ATV for the first time, it was fun but I didn't go too fast, I really wanted to finish the trailer- I might take it out for a little joy ride later this week. The riding mower got stuck in some much so I drove it while Dan pulled it with the ATV. So I also drive a riding lawn mower for the first time! I got most of the new wood on the trailer yesterday and today I finished. Unfortunately after moving the trialer part of the wood broke off- turns out the holes I drilled for the latch are a little too close to the edge. I then applied timber oil to the whole thing so tomorrow when it's dry I will fix the latches and start on the compost sieve. Having people here over the weekend was great and also exhausting. Last night we had curry dinner (amazing) and watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! It was a perfect evening :) I can feel it getting buggier, I came in cause as the sun is setting behind the mountains and drizzles of rain are sliding through the bugs are coming out in greater numbers... and they sure do love me!

I think tonight we'll play another boardgame, now that we had a night off :), and eat nachos. My friends here at Farm #1 are gluten free and also relatively dairy free. Yet, they make the best nachos ever! It's all in the toppings: sauteed greens and onion. They also found a non-dairy cheese that actually melts and has the texture of cheese. I'm not normally interested in fake cheese, but I can't tell the difference with these nachos, in part because my tastes buds are so happy about the veggies! We also have a surplus of avocados, so we will most likely be having some guacamole (which is what I like to have instead of cheese while I'm eating less dairy). It makes nachos into a real meal to top them with veggies, and it's delicious! I am so making nachos like this from now on! The last batch we made I added black beans which is also tasty.

For a first stop on my travels I have been quite spoiled! Amazing hosts, beautiful scenery, tasty food and I've played more games than I could have imagined! I'm heading to Portland on Saturday morning and I will be sad to say goodbye to Vermont. I could easily spend another 2 weeks here, probably more!

Monday, May 23, 2011

No rapture? No problem!

I just spent a wonderful weekend with friends who came up from Brooklyn. Friday I made vegan-gluten-free- mac and cheese (the same one I made down in DE) and it was still super delicious!

Saturday after sleeping in a bit, we went for a walk down the rail trail to our friend's place a mile down the road on Saturday and were treated to amazing gooey gluten free brownies and fresh watermelon. We came back to Farm #1 and had a rapture party, including a turkey dinner (that was raised by my hosts last fall... and was so delicious!). Lots of drinks (Dan makes amazing cocktails that have spoiled us for drinks at bars!), lots of amazing food and lovely people. The wonderful thing about starting a party around 4 is that people with kids can leave early and the rest of us who remain can spend the evening playing boardgames!

Sunday morning A managed to wrangle us all to get to the Dorset farmer's market around 10am, when it opens. Being at the market when it first opens is great, all the produce is fresh and beautiful, and being in a small town we inevitably ran into like 3 people who we had just seen at the party the night before! After some breakfast, we checked out the Merck Forest & Farmland Center and saw some baby chickens, pigs and lambs.

The baby lambs were my favorite! I would have liked to get in there and pet them but it wasn't set up in a way that invited petting. As we were leaving Merck Forest, we passed their new sugaring house. Our hostess used to work there and told us all about the maple sugaring process. The sugaring house itself was also interesting to look at. As soon as we walked in I was examining the joinery (I miss timberframing!) and it seemed like an odd structure, the ridge beam was very small, the rafters of the roof were resting on post that were smaller than the roof support, there were lap joints on top of the posts, metal connections in the beams and the peak of the roof overlapped. It turns out that the building was not designed by an architect, it was kind of thrown together by someone who kind of knew what they were doing but clearly not enough. Vermont is neat because of it's lack of building codes, but it seems like it should be required for a public building to be signed off on at least by an engineer! There are crazy snow and wind loads up in these beautiful mountains! The building didn't pass inspection and had to be retro fitted, hence the extra supports tied in with metal.

All that talk about maple syrup I couldn't wait to get back to the house and have some :) We came back to the farm and had a lovely dinner prepared by M&A with fixings from the farmer's market. For dessert we had maple marshmallows I'd made Friday... topped with a little maple syrup and crumbled bacon that had been purchased at the morning's market. It was... interesting. The sweetness of the maple and the saltiness of the bacon and the two textures... it was interesting. not bad, but not something I'd eat on a regular basis! No regrets for trying it anyhow :)

Now it is Monday, M&A are getting ready (slowly... long night of gaming last night!) to head back to Brooklyn, then I will get back to work on rebuilding the trailer (which is painted! Now I get to use saws and drills... way more fun than painting!) and building the compost sifter... busy week! Then I'll be off to Portland, ME where I am looking forward to some fabulous restaurants and catching up with a friend from back in the day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

*gasp* Pictures! (finally!)

I finally got new batteries for my camera (it's been sitting unused so long in my mom's garage that it doesn't hold a charge anymore) and took a few snapshots of Farm #1 here in lovely Vermont. dang this place is pretty! I love it here.
There are chickens of all colors, including one white one that likes to hop the fence and last year lived in the bushes most of the summer! Now it hops willy-nilly over the fence when it feels like going for a stroll or coming home to roost. Luckily it hasn't taught the others to hop the fence yet. She doesn't seem to wander far, I've seen her walking around the fence a few times, generally in close proximity to the chicken tractor.
There are a few yaks on Farm #1, supposedly they run really fast but I haven't seen them run yet. I'm not about to try to coax them into doing it :P I saw one of them shke his (her?) tail and it's covered in long black hair. As the sun is coming out today and the weather is supposed to be in the 80s next week I feel bad for these animals that are built for high elevations and winter! I'm sure they didn't mind the long winter :)
Vermont, could you be any purdier?
Lavender is also in bloom. I passed by some yesterday walking down the driveway, the smell was intoxicating. It made me want to crumple a handful and rub it all over my hands and arms! Summer is awesome.

With my camera working, I can also document my projects! Hooray! Here is the trailer refurbishment so far:
Trailer after removing all the wood.

Trailer after first coat of black paint. It takes 24 hours before you can apply the second coat so it looks like I will be finishing the painting tomorrow... no sense in scrubbing off all the black paint on my arms, legs and hands tonight! It's like I'm an AmeriCorps all over again!

My other projects include the roatary compost sieve which I will get started on laying out tomorrow after painting; we picked up materials Tuesday. I kind of like the planning ahead that is required for trips to any kind of shop when you are in a rural area. It forces you to be more efficient with your time and fuel. In the suburbs if you forget something it's just (at least it was for me) a few minutes drive back to the store and I never really thought about the fuel required for those extra trips, or trips for a single item. Another project is to design a yak shelter, I won't have time to build it so they will find someone else to construct it, but it will be good for the yaks to have some shade when the peak of summer arrives. They are pretty much stuck wearing a sweater under a puffy fuzzy jacket with a broken zipper. They sure are cute though :) Time to peel myself from the interwebs and get to reading and, speaking of which, figuring out if I can wait to go to the grocery store til tomorrow when Dan has to go anyway... I have already spend $260 on gas in the last 30 days... It's probably a good idea to wait til tomorrow :D

Rural Life at Farm #1

I've been so busy! It's been quite cloudy and I don't have watch so I have been working based on when I'm hungry or exhausted. My days have been getting longer, first I worked 5 hours and yesterday I worked 7 hours. I learned how to prep a gravel spreader for winter, used a steam pressure washer to clean off the trailer I'm refurbishing, learned how to mount a snow plow onto the truck and learned a bit about 2-stroke engines. Exhausting and awesome day! Then after dinner we played Agricola... so far, loving rural life here on Farm #1!

On Tuesday we had a night on the town, we went to Rutland, VT and ate at Roots. I had a cocktail made with a liquor called ROOTS, which tastes like rootbeer, mixed with a vanilla vodka... it tasted just like a cream soda! I had to remove the straw to make sure I didn't drink it too fast :P Roots is vegetarian and gluten-free friendly with several options for the GF and Veg crowd. Not too many vegan options, there was cheese on or with pretty much everything. I had beet salad (delicious!) and carrot ginger soup and a big bowl of fries... so good! After dinner we walked over to the movie theatre and saw Bridesmaids. It was way funnier than I expected! After the movie we went to the grocery store where I got most of the things I need to make a vegan mac and "cheese" for dinner Friday when we have some friends coming up for a little party weekend. Yay friends! Boardgames will be played (but not too many), countryside will be taken in on foot, and good food will be had. (I've been requested to make marshmallows and we've been talking about making them with maple syrup and coating them in bacon... sounds amazing to me!)

Today the plan is to paint the trailer then I will go to the grocery store (luckily only 15 minutes away... in NY!) and get the things I forgot on Tuesday. (I was playing Plants vs Zombies online instead of making a grocery list, I kicked myself when I was at the store cause I forgot some key things!) I'd also like to read some of this book Dan showed me, The Vertical Farm because I am very interested in urban agriculture (in fact went to landscape architecture school... for one semester... because I really wanted to learn more about it but that's another story!)

Time to carpe diem!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day one working on Farm #1 (in VT)

Last night This morning is was beautifully bright in my room so I woke up at 7:30am... when I checked and saw the time I thought "no one else is up yet, I'm going back to sleep!" I then proceeded to sleep until 10:30... oops! I'm sure I needed those extra 3 hours though. Last night we played Settlers of America, a new version of Settlers of Catan, I won! It was a fun game, very dynamic and will be fun to play again now that we got the first learning game out of the way.

After a quick breakfast of pear, sauteed kale and chopped up fresh radish (veggies purchased at the Dorest farmer's market in the rain yesterday), I got a tour of the farm equipment and talked about the compost sieve we're going to make. Did some google searches, watched some YouTube videos and started sketching! Tomorrow Dan and I will go pick up materials for the compost trommel sifter which is based on these two different designs: electric, manual. After sketching and figuring it out I ate a bit more (peanut butter mixed with honey on graham crackers, so yummy!) and wanted to do more work! Figuring we'll be drviing to the hardware store and lumber yard tomorrow I decided to get started removing the rotten wood from a trailer Dan bought recently. The frame is pretty decent, a little rusty, but the wood is all rotted through and in need of an overhaul. Dan set me up with a grinder and the appropriate safety gear and i went to work cutting through 24 lag bolts. Sparks flying, smell of sulfur in the air, back hurting from lack of physical labor lately... it was great! Then after throwing the ball for the Collies a bit (they take a lot of wearing down in order to have them be calm once they are inside) I came in to take a shower, figure out dinner and see what board game we'll play tonight! So far, I'm having a great time! Dan even lent me a book to read while I'm here about Vertical Farming, something I've very interested in, and I'm sharing my Root Cellar book which I have in preparation for the project at Farm #2 (MN) in which I will be building a root cellar (with help from many people, I would hate to have to build it alone!)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

First long term (2 weeks) destination!

I've been too busy to write so let me catch you up!

I left my mom's house in Delaware on Friday morning, stopped in Dover, DE to pick up my repaired sewing machine, and headed to York, PA. Streets seemed to change names in York everytime I looked at gmaps on my cellphone so after much doubling back, I finally made it to the Pomper farm... only to be greeted by a dog (that was the worst guard dog ever) and empty buildings. It took some sleuthing to figure out where exactly the JCC Alex was working at was located but I finally tracked it down and after doubling back... again... I finally arrive aroun 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. It's an awesome projects with the coolest looking rope junglegym thingy ever that I wanted to climb on so bad but it was still under construction :\ Alex then put me to work helping mix a batch of cob with 1st graders... it was so freaking adorable to watch them be squeemish about the mud and some of them umped right in, with gutso! I could totally see Alex working with kids doing natural building stuff, he was a natural! After working til 8 and eating 2 granola bars and a bag of doritos for dinner... oops... we went to Alex's girlfriend's house to change then went to a bar in downtown York called Bistro 19 and had some local brew and got to hang out with Bryce and his date. We hung out til about 1 when this guy Oat, who called Bryce Rice and Alex, Barley... was kind of taking over the airwaves at our table outside. I followed Bryce back to the farm and he set me up in a bedroom in he's grandma's big beautiful stone house. I pretty much fell straight asleep. In the morning I walked down to the small stone house which has working plumbing and Bryce was a sweetie and made me breakfast. I also finally got to meet his brother and niece, an adorable little girl! After a brief tour of the garden I was off... making plans to come back to York for longer when I return to the East Coast. I loved it there and I was excited about all their projects to be done! I really do want to have a garden but I think right now I just want to work on someone else's garden for a while, and build up my gardening skills, and experiment and play with permaculture! I digress :P

I then headed over to Middlesex, NJ and had lunch with Meredith, my roommate from my freshman year in college who I hadn't seen in a while and we got to catch up which was great! It's great to have friend who even when you haven't seen each other or barely spoken in months (and sometimes years) you sit down and conversation flows as steady as a stream. Lovely girl Meredith is :) I decided I felt like having something hearty and had nachos with beef chili. It was tasty but once I was on the road a half hour later I regretted this decision. I was suddenly SUPER sleepy! I pulled off the road to but a soda and the store was closed so I rummaged through my things and found a pear. The sugar got me to wake up again and I continued driving, this time headed towards New Haven, CT to see one of my oldest friends (friends since 3rd grade!). Kayanna had told me to try to avoid the George Washington Bridge heading over but didn't mention how I should go (as message that was also said to her incompletely) so Meredith helped me figure out how to get there via the Tappanzee bridge, which is one of my favorite bridge around NYC. Especially as a passenger because if you peer out the window and squint your eyes you can see the buildings of Manhattan but it's super lush and forested all round the bridge. Lovely! I ended up taking CT-15, a scenic route that was beautiful, up until I hit some traffic, and arrived to Kayanna's sketchy neighborhood, north of campus (but only 3 blocks away from her department building!)

Kayanna was really excited to take me to this sustainable sushi place. I was game but ont really sure what to expect.

OMFG. If you are ever in New Haven, anytime but Sunday or Monday, do not fret! Go to Miya's! If you are lucky, Nate will be your waiter. The food was amazing. I also had a sake bomb, it was spicy and tasty! The sake was called 'firecracker', infused with chillies and other things, then dropped (well, slid) into the beer and chugged or, in my case, drank steadily with a break. I never did learn to chug alcohol, but I'm ok with that :P They make their own special rice mixture that is a whole bunch of grains and even ground flax seed, giving all the rolls a special hearty twist. We had a few different rolls, a curry cauliflower (yum!), one with a crazy name that had black beans, roasted garlic and tempura fried broccoli, I also had Atlantic Char which is the sustainable alternative to Atlantic salmon... delicious. I would go back here in a heart beat! Amazing!

We then walked back through downtown New Haven and the Yale campus, checking out the new and old forestry buildings, trying to figure out the light switches. The campus is great and reminded me of my time at Cornell.. and made me jealous of how flat her walk was to campus :P (When I was in Cornell I lived at the bottom of a hill in Fall Creek... my ass was in great shape after that one semester of climbing the hill everyday!) We stayed up talking til 1 am, got a few hours of sleep and leaft at 5:45am so I could drop her at the airport in Hartford on my way to Rupert, VT.

I felt wide awake until about 30 minutes after dropping her off... then for lack of any rest stops in Massachusetts, I pulled off the highway and parked in a parking lot full of cars (around 7am this being Sunday it was hard to find a parkinglot where I wouldn't be the only car!). I slept for 2 hours in the driver's seat, and woke up refreshed and headed up to Dorest, VT where I bought some veggies at the farmer's market then arrived at Dan and Deb's! We chatted about the potential projects I can work on here (updating the chicken tractor, building a rotary sieve for compost, learning to change oil, building shelves, the list goes on!). I made my bed, took a shower finally (I don't think I got all the clay off my feet yet from cob on Friday... I'll have to go at them again and scrub scrub scrub!) and now we're going to play some board games! I'll start work tomorrow and after 2 months of a desk job... I can't wait to get started using my hands again!

No pictures yet... I've been too busy or too dirty to take any yet but soon... soon :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The plan for the next few days

I'm leaving tomorrow morning! Yay! I've almost found all my stuff, the car is almost completely packed... It started out with lots of space but that is slowly becoming not the case. Picture of the car set up soon. Today I made screens for my windows for when I have to sleep in it. They attach with magnets to the outside of the car.

Here's the plan!

Tomorrow: Leave Seaford, DE! Stop in Dover to pick up my rehabilitated sewing machine, drive to York, PA to visit the Pomper brothers whom I met 2 summers ago at Yestermorrow (and haven't seen since!)
Saturday: Depart York in the morning, stop for lunch with my college roommate from Freshman (and sophomore) years, Meredith, in Middlesex, NJ, then head over to my friend Kayanna at Yale who I haven't seen since winter back home in Oregon, go out for sushi, stay in New Haven
Sunday: Drop Kayanna off at the airport in time for an 8:20 am flight (I might regret this offer :P) on my way up to Rupert, finally arriving Vermont, where I will be staying for 2 weeks.

Today I canceled my netflix and packed some extra books in my car... feeling good about how my brain is going to feel on this epic journey :)
Leg 1 of the trip (or leg 2 if you count this R&R/packing time in DE) is about to be underway!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Searching for places to visit

I love food! I'm trying to eat Vegan these days which probably means I will have to go a bit more out of my way to get good food on the road... Just came across this article via Slashfood for 9 great small towns for good food

1. Ashville, NC (Someone already suggested I go here cause it's cool)
2. Danville, CA
3. Ithaca, NY
4. Edgartown, MA
5. Lawrence, Kansas
6. Ojai, CA
7. Burlington, VT
8. Evanston, IL
9. New Haven, CT

I've also heard things about Madison, WI about farmer's markets anyway... and Hardwick, VT... also known as The Town that Food Saved which I am curious to check out... though my food budget is pretty limited. Any advice for towns with great food or great farmer's markets would be awesome!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Final Jaunt to New York

I just came back from a whirlwind trip up to New York. I drove up yesterday morning stopping in Dover to drop off my sick sewing machine for repair, and to find a button for my step-dad's vest then made it to New York, ate at Bark where my old roommate works (she was in a meeting when I got there but we got to chat briefly) then had dinner and a board game with 3 of my favorite people. Then today, the whole purpose of the trip was realized. I went to the Alexander McQueen "Savage Beauty" show at the Met. (It's up until July 31st, if you are in NYC before then, GO!)

It was unbelievably amazing.

Mind-blowing even.

A little side note about my background. I learned to sew in 4th grade and it's been my hobby ever since. I used to sew a lot in high school, my freshman year of college I was even in the junior fashion show with 3 outfits (I will have to find pictures of that at scan 'em!). It was fun but I decided to study architecture because sewing was my hobby - ie. not something I wanted to turn into a job and therefore, in my mind, suck all the fun out of. I haven't been sewing for a while because I've been too busy (school/work/travel) and/or lived in a place where I didn't have space to set up a table and actually sew.

I also have been feeling lately that my skills have plateaued. My mom and grandma (her mom) taught me to sew and to read patterns. I've also tried my hand at pattern making and draping... but have been getting frustrated with it. I have books on the subject but I just don't learn from books very well- I prefer to learn from a skilled and experienced person. So, I've started researching pattern making and draping classes. I found some in Portland, OR and might decide to stick around there for a little bit and stay with family while I brush up on my skills. I have already sketched some new designs and I'm feeling re-invigorated about fashion design. So what if it's not "my career", and who is to say it won't become some aspect of my professional life. I'm tired of putting sewing, my passion, on the back burner because it "doesn't count" by some standards as something to focus on in this time when I should supposedly be focusing on my "career", whatever that means :P

I recall when I was announcing I was going to school for architecture, many friends were surprised that I wasn't going for fashion design. I wanted to study architecture, I'm glad I did. Architecture school taught me a way to look at the world and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I think it even helps my clothing designs. Now, it's time to up the ante on my sewing skills. When I have a pattern I can make beautiful clothes because my craftsmanship is very good as well as my attention to detail (something that also shone through in model building in school, where I was known for using tweezers to build my models with micro-lumber!) But I feel like I've stagnated in my abilities as a clothing designer/ seamstress because I've been self taught for so long and honestly, that's just not the best way I learn.

Additional side note, I had also hoped to see Forks over Knives in New York as it just came out in NY and LA yesterday, but by the time I was done with the show and had caught up with my buddy and was anticipating the 4.5 hour drive back to DE *and* sitting in a movie theatre (and paying $13) for an hour and a half... I decided I will try to catch it when it's in wide release in another, more affordable theater :) I still really want to see it, but I would also like to finish reading The China Study before I see it. This idea of food as medicine makes sense to me. Eating vegan can be done, it's not easy, and will probably be especially difficult when I'm on the road, but the more I read about it the more I am convinced it's the right thing to do; especially considering my family health history and my own health and energy levels. I have been enjoying the book even though I haven't finished it yet... I will work on that in Vermont :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My favorite food (I'm still in Delaware... heading to Vermont, stop #2, in a little more than a week!)

Marshmallows... Ok, they might not count as real food to some people (if we're talking real food then broccoli wins) but marshmallows are really my favorite thing. I made them for the first time about a month ago and today I made my second batch ever. The first time I made them I coated them in toasted coconut. This time I made 2 styles. Plain vanilla and a s'mores style which is coated in graham cracker crumbs and drizzled with 64% dark chocolate. Both are tasty, I assure you :) I made them to take to dinner with friends tomorrow.

Generally I think it's good to learn to make things that you'd normally buy (even if it's more expensive to make it, at least I can say I did it... once!) Marshmallows are dangerously easy to make and one batch makes a whole lot! I like the Alton Brown recipe, found here at the Food Network. Add a little extra vanilla (or try a different flavor!). If I find myself with a surplus of maple syrup and maple sugar someday I really want to try making maple marshmallows... I'm also curious to see if I could make a savory marshmallow, for some reason a rosemary marshmallow sounds awesome.

I'm curious what I'll find to eat on the road. I want to eat as healthily as I can so that means veggies, more veggies and whole grains and beans! I'll be staying with friends and family a lot and on the road solo the rest of the time. My plan is to rely on farm stands, farmer's markets (need to find a map of farmer's markets yet), grocery stores and keeping a little pantry in my car with things like peanut butter and larabars. My mom offered me a cooler to make sure things don't overheat... I haven't decided yet I'll be starting the essentials packing on Monday and will see how much space there is in the car. I'd like to leave enough space to sleep in the car as well as space for at least one passenger too.

I will be in Delaware until next Thursday then plan to stop in York, PA to visit some friends who I met at Yestermorrow doing the natural building program 2 summers ago, then stopping in NYC to have lunch with my old roommate from college then on to Rupert, VT where I will be an assistant caretaker on a small hobby farm for 2 weeks. I'm so excited! But I also have a lot of work/projects to do before I get there so... back to work!


My aunt sent me a link to the site I was trying to remember where you can find farmer's markets all over the US, it's called Local Harvest. I'm really looking forward to experiencing other farmer's markets, especially when I get to the southwest!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Project #1 = complete!

I took these pants I bought at the GAP factory outlet (like 2 years ago) and finally made them into shorts. I was my plan all along so they have been sitting with my sewing stuff unworn, untouched. And now they are shorts, Project # 1 is complete! Unfortunately I can't fit into them at the moment. The desk job was not kind to my waistline!
But that's ok, I'm working on it. I went for a jog this morning and I am thinking about riding my bike to the grocery store now so I can try out some awesome sounding vegan recipes. Like this one for Mac & "Cheese" and one for Cornbread as I have been wanting cornbread for like months now!

This morning I dreamed of Vermont and it was awesome, I'm excited to get there and for now I'm working on projects that I have wanted to do but haven't had the space. Yay for houses instead of apartments! Woot!

I made the vegan mac and "cheese" and vegan cornbread... amazing!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The beginning

A few cuts, some sweeping and lots of stairs later: I am in Delaware, at my mom's house. I have many things to do on my list of "how to get the most out of my "vision quest" but decided today would be about relaxing. I woke up, got my clothes from the dryer, rode my bike to the local Wal-Mart (3.5 miles along highways!) did a little shopping for a couple things I needed and came back home.

Excited to have access to a big, suburban kitchen I started having grand vision of things to cook! I didn't really feel like going to the grocery store, knowing how close it was now I didn't want to drive but I didn't feel like riding again. I decided to work with what I had and what I found in the kitchen... Polenta! And Black beans and salsa. It was delicious but could have used some guacamole (or cheese but I'm trying to be vegan in this vegan household).

I spent the rest of the day reading, lounging around outside, then watched a movie and made dinner for my mom and step-dad. Tomorrow I'm going to set up my sewing machine and start the creative juices flowing and the fingers sewing! It's been way too long and I've had way too little space and now, being here in Delaware, I have no excuses! Time to sew, time to cook! Huzzah!