Monday, November 14, 2011


So I don't know what happened, but something clicked in my brain about two months ago and now I'm obsessed with succulents. I have always disliked gardening (and succulents in particular) so this was a major surprise. Maybe I just came to terms with the fact that any other plant I have slowly dies until I have to bring it to my mom for resuscitation, where it promptly springs back to life and flourishes. Or maybe I just realized that there are types of succulents that don't have thorns to stab you while you're trying to care for it. Regardless, consider this my newest hobby.

On a recent trip to Berkeley with Dyan, we stopped at a nursery to check out the plants. Obviously, I gravitated towards my new favorites.

Unfortunately, no photos of my own succulent plant--it's repeating history and I might have to bring it to the plant emergency room over Thanksgiving, where my mom can bring it back from a grave illness. sigh. It has lasted longer than most of my plants though. I haven't lost hope yet.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


So this is a shameless post about my dog Casey. I'm mildly obsessed with her. She's so fun to play with and just generally adorable. And she loves to go hiking and go to the beach which is perfect because I love to go hiking and go to the beach, too!

I went home a few weekends ago and took Casey to the beach on an early Monday morning with no one in sight. I love that dogs get so excited about things that we sometimes take for granted, like a crisp Fall morning with nothing to do, an empty beach and the smell of the ocean. It really makes you appreciate life.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It's a sad day when you realize that all of your exciting travel posts are on past trips. But not to worry, I have so many amazing trips in the early planning stages... it's kind of overwhelming. But for the near future, I'll have to settle for revisiting the past.

One of my friends has a good chance of visiting Portugal in the near future (I don't want to jinx it! but I really hope so), and the mere thought of such a trip has plunged me into a feverish nostalgia. After all, Portugal is one of my favorite countries, and one of the few places that I would really love to live, outside of California. That's a pretty amazing statement, given that I've only spent about a week there, but sometimes you just know.

Anyways, the whole process set me into a frenzy, and I spent hours googling for recipes, nearby Portuguese restaurants and bakeries, and staring at pictures. I figured that this was supposed to be the major advantage of Los Angeles, right? The diverse array of food and culture? I might as well take advantage of it.

I had a whole plan: to find pasteis de nata, the delicious custard tart that is everywhere in Portugal, and to create a mouthwatering blog post that would surely encourage someone to hope a plane the next day. If not to Portugal, then to Los Angeles, or some bakery somewhere. After all, food is a major component of travel, right?

Alas, Los Angeles won this round, as I got lost trying to find the bakery (which was not close, nor convenient). Then when I arrived, none were ready for another hour! A classic fail moment. So while I haven't forgotten my quest for these tasty treats, a few pictures of Portugal will have to suffice until I can finally get to that bakery. Maybe this weekend?

Even though I posted about Lisbon awhile ago, there is always more to say about Portugal. For some reason I have no photos of the weekend in Lagos, in the Algarve. Lagos was the most laid-back place, with no rush or concern. It's the kind of life that reminds you of what really matters--and what really doesn't. Lisbon does too--but in a more urban sort of way.

From Lisbon, we took a day trip to Sintra, a small town with castles and charm. The views made the trek well worth it.

Oh Portugal, how I can't wait to visit you again sometime soon(ish).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Atlanta Halloween

I'm not a big fan of Halloween.  I just can't help but roll my eyes at the majority of what passes for costumes and decorations for grownups these days, and the ridiculousness of all those plastic pumpkins in place of carved jack-o-lanterns and the sheer mass of blow up Frankenstein lawn ornaments just makes me nostalgic for childhood... back when I was on the candy receiving, non-judgmental side of things.

My Halloween night this year was spent in Atlanta, a city I have discovered most certainly IS a fan of Halloween.  The decorations are abundant, both throughout the city and within the bounds of each front yard.  Here's a sampling:
Lawn bones
Lawn web

Cute little tree ghosts

Where kitsch goes to... die
Kinda creepy 
Super creepy
See?  There's really a little something for all Halloween tastes in Atlanta!  Unfortunately, only two trick-or-treater tots came to our door, but one asked to kiss my nephew ("Can I kiss your baby?") and the other was Elmo (did everyone see the man who voices Elmo on Jon Stewart the other night?  Amazing!), so clearly it was a quality over quantity situation.

I will totally decorate the socks off my future house if you'll let me live on Berkeley Road, Atlanta!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Santa Barbara

One of the joys of unemployment is the abundance of free time and energy with which to spend visiting (and chauffeuring) friends.  Since my Peace Corps soul mate lives in Santa Barbara, I recently enjoyed a weeklong stay in one of California’s most beautiful places.

Santa Barbara has so many perks!  Ocean breezes!  Beautiful architecture!  Cute dogs!  Fabulous seafood!  HAPPY HOURS! 

During one of my “alone time” days, I took a long walk to the Santa Barbara Mission, where I lingered on the lawn to both avoid tourists (a favorite pastime) and spend some time reading among the roses.

Did I mention the cute dog?

Being that I am an inland dweller, I never pass up an opportunity for ocean time.  Insert: Ellwood Beach “hike.”  Okay so this was much more of a stroll than anything, but it was gloriously cloudy, spotted with surfers but sparsely anyone else.  Such a lovely visit!

The best part of Santa Barbara = This girl

Saturday, October 15, 2011

weekend by the bay?

So there's a chance that I may be in the Bay next weekend with my friend, and I'm so excited by the prospect of my dropping by my favorite spots! One major upside of the potential trip: searching for the perfect elements for my next crafts project at Urban Ore, this amazing Berkeley treasure-filled store. Urban Ore helps the City of Berkeley progress towards its goal of achieving zero waste, by re-selling goods that would normally go to the dump. In this case, it could be just the place to find the perfect wood for my future garden table! Can't wait!

This, combined with a fresh cup of Philz coffee, brunch from Thai Temple and a view of the bay could make for an excellent weekend. *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Double Rainbow

A few weeks ago I spent my first cloudy (yay not 90˚+ weather!) evening in many months visiting with some friends in Sacramento.  Although I'm in and out of Sacramento pretty frequently, I hadn't been to Capitol Park in a really long time... so long, in fact, that my last memories of the area were probably from the viewpoint of my 4'9" fourth grader self.  Enter my surprise at how pleasant it is!

I love lamppost

A few days later it was on to LA, where against all odds I enjoyed some beautiful views from I-5.

Rainy I-5 all to myself
Double rainbow in Simi Valley
Such loveliness in the most unexpected of places.  Lesson learned: always have a camera ready.

Friday, September 30, 2011

life and Austin

The novelty of living in L.A. has almost worn off and, predictably, I'm itching to travel again. It's the kind of thought that takes root in your mind, in a small space, and grows slowly until you can't take it anymore. You're in class searching for airfare, or googling photographs, or daydreaming of hopping a plane tomorrow, destination unknown. Not that I don't love school. Or what I'm studying. But there is so much of the world to see, and it's constantly changing. And I want to see it all.

Instead, I thought that I would take the more mature route and finish the second post of my road trip, now almost two months in the past. Maybe it will remind me that, yes, I actually do cool things sometimes. I actually make progress on my list of things I want to accomplish. I really shouldn't be complaining since I had a field trip to the Getty this past week, so life could definitely be more rough. But there's something about knowing that the whole world is out there, waiting to be seen, and I'm staring at a pile of books to read and a list of projects to do that entail me sitting in a computer lab while the sun is shining and the beach is calling.

So about that road trip...I left off before we arrived in Texas. Austin is seriously one of the greatest places, even with the insufferable heat of July. We stayed at a hostel on the river, and watched the sun set over the city. We met interesting people, visited eclectic neighborhoods, and ate amazing food. I think that Austin has some of the best food on the planet, really. And every place is unique. It reminds me of the Bay, but hotter. And cheaper! sigh, so much cheaper. I have to go back.

See this is the problem: it's not about going everywhere once, it's about going to all of the places that will change your life, and then going back. It's a never-ending cycle, always wanting to keep seeing, experiencing and changing your perspective. And as for the places that affect you most, it's about going there again and again.

(Just a note: In case you're confused, the photo of the eatery was taken on a previous trip, around Christmas)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lost Summer

I have spent most of this summer experiencing various states of losing and lost.  I have been lost in a mind-numbing plethora of reality television options, lost in my own head and lost in mazes of job applications.  I have been lost for words when trying to describe Rwanda, while simultaneously I have been losing my Kinyarwanda, my Rwandan mindset, and my Rwandan sense of purpose and belonging.

This was a summer spent trying to navigate my impermanent present in a town I thought I’d left behind for good at 18.  I’ve discovered that being lost has little to do with lack of familiarity with a place and has everything to do with lack of familiarity with a stage of life.  Lost is what happens when your old skin doesn’t quite fit anymore and you’re left lonely in the place that used to house your whole universe.

It’s not all bad though, this “lost in my one horse hometown” phenomenon.  While I continue to crave and plan out my next steps away from here, I thought I’d pay photographic homage to a few pieces of my hometown, my lost town.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

late summer

It's been forever since my last post. Sorry, but I've been completely immersed in my new, L.A. life. And tomato season. I've become obsessed with tomato season, which could actually last a more few weeks in my new, warm climate. And given my new, intense love affair with the Mar Vista Farmers Market, I've been basking in the benefits of late summer quite well, thankyouverymuch.

On a separate note, the other day I was on my usual (amazing, highlight-of-my-day) bike ride at the beach and I caught this guy hang-gliding. Probably as close as a human can get to being a bird. Very cool, and now on my "to do" list.

And just to rub it in, nothing quite beats a late summer day at the beach.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Spring was very good to me this year.  Not only did I return from Rwanda just in time for artichoke season, but I also got to spend some of that hard-earned Peace Corps readjustment allowance on a month in Central America.

First stop: Guatemala

Beautiful Antigua
I spent my first few days in Guatemala in Antigua and the Lago Atitlán-adjacent town of Santa Cruz.  In Antigua, I spent my days strolling, shopping, eating and reading in a hammock.  I did take one break from vegging out to hike Volcan Pacaya, an active volcano yielding incredible views and pant-ripping lava rocks.

Volcan Pacaya Views

Lago Atitlán is a hot spot for spiritual tourism, and although I didn't have a chance to hit up any of the area's yoga camps, it’s not hard to see why.

At peace.
Sunrise Volcan San Pedro
After a sunrise departure from Santa Cruz, I was on to Huehuetenango, a highland region of the country home to one of my dearest friend’s Peace Corps site and lots of coffee.  I spent an incredible and peaceful few days here indulging in home made tortillas, getting on a first name basis with rogue neighborhood pigs and experiencing a bit of the Peace Corps Guatemala lifestyle.

Journeying through Huehuetenango
San Martin
Todos Santos
Todos Santos
Todos Santos
After Huehuetenango it was off to Tikal, aka the reason Guatemala has been on my "must visit" list for many years.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I love ruins.  The older, more elaborate and telling of ancient societies, the better.  That said, Tikal was a definite highlight for me.

Ruins as far as the eye can see

Don't look down

Feeling small