April 17, 2012

winter + spring // a retrospective

farmer’s markets // shared meals // kinfolk

the Oregon coast // crab feast

trains // planes

pdx // student teaching // coffee + beer + food

Oklahoma friends visit // San Diego exploration

exams // interviews // bike rides + lavender popsicles


Travel: San Francisco

October 24, 2011

My program afforded me the opportunity to go to San Francisco for a week of in-class observation. I spent my mornings at Pacific Rim Montessori School in a bilingual Chinese/English classroom, and spent my afternoons exploring the bay area. The people, public transit, food, and landscape were inviting and inspiring, to say the least. I utilized friends’ suggestions as well as 101Cookbooks’ post on her hometown favorites.

Spent an afternoon biking around and across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Muir Woods in the morning was a sanctuary of light and redwood trees – so quiet it was unnerving.

A dear friend of mine from college works at the de Young Art Museum – where I got to expereince their Chamber Music Day, and roam their vast galleries. It is always so gratifying to see work that I studied in school, as well as be inspired by new work. He also took me to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art where we saw Richard Serra’s Drawing Retrospective. It was incredible – simple in its black and white color palate, large in size, and borderline installation art. The immediacy of the hand and the intimacy of the work contained it as drawing.

The Modern had on its rooftop gallery one of Blue Bottle coffee’s shops. Super clean design and excellent espresso.

Other foodie haunts: NOPA for cocktails and dinner (got to sit at the counter overlooking the kitchen!), the DeYoung’s locally sourced café, the Bi-Rite grocery, Molly Stone grocery.

The infamous, yet unassuming Tartine Bakery. Famous for its fine pasteries, I joined the line that wrapped around the building to hold in my hand one of their buttery croissants. So good!

Also loved Four Barrel Coffee. A sweeping warehouse shop and roaster, with warm wood bars, bike racks, and solid espresso.

I also had to touch the door of Chez Pannise in Berkely. Unfortunantly, I was not able to savor a meal here this trip… someday.

There is so much about this city to fall in love with. But as with every trip I take, I find that regardless of the innovative food, excellent art, established architecture, natural beauty, colorful farmer’s markets, etc, etc, etc… it is the interactions with people that make the places so dynamic: the strangers who helped me find my bus route, the friends of friends who hosted me, the people that I met in restaurants, at cash registers, standing in line, the old friends that I got to reconnect with, and the beauty of newly cultivated friendships. It is the people that make this beautiful backdrop of a city come alive. Many thanks.

summer love.

June 21, 2011




Photo credits: snocone, biking, fireflies, tomatoes, cold brew coffee, al fresco dining, swimming




For the past ten days, I have had the joy of galavanting around Southern California with my family (sans sister). We met some incredible, and hospitable folks, drank great wine, indulged in fresh foods, and soaked in the beauty of both the coast and the mountains. It was a nourishing and inspiring vacation.

We spent an ample amount of time on the beaches of San Clemente and Dana Point. (The handsome man pictured here is my dear brother.) When I was not being mesmerized by the beauty of the water or the grace of the surfers, I was reading: The Help, The Absorbent Mind, French Women for all Seasons, back issues of Saveur, or Ecclesiastes.

We got to go to a few stunning farmer’s markets, brimming with California’s finest – avocados, citrus, and berries of all sorts. Keeping most of our cooking simple, we often grilled fresh fish and loads of vegetables.

On Saturday, we took a day trip to Temecula Valley – Southern California’s wine country. The scenic drive from the coast took us through lush mountain passes, and dropped us off into what felt like the South of France – rolling hills dotted with sprawling vineyards. We enjoyed a stop at Mount Palomar where we ate a Medeterrainian style lunch in their bistro. I especially enjoyed the baked brie bowl (pictured above, soft brie placed into a sourdough bread bowl, lined with fresh basil leaves, then covered with roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes and pine nuts). They recommended enjoying it with their Dry Riesling – perfect to cut the savory richness.

  We followed lunch and a small hike around the vineyard with a leisurely wine tasting. They had a wide variety – my favorite was called Castello Trovato, a red metitage of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc grapes. Everything I love in a red – hints of black cherry, earthiness, robust, with a long finish.

One of the most inspiring pieces of the trip for me was the landscape – especially the vegetation and plant life. Flowers, succulents, and trees of all kinds offered color, texture, and smell that I am unaccustomed to in the midwest.

On our final day, we had the honor of sailing with hospitable friends out of the Dana Point Harbor. It was a breathtaking adventure to go out on the water and feel the freedom of Pacific air. They also graciously took us to a lovely restaurant, Chart House,
overlooking the harbor, where we had a number of quentessential California/Pacific inspired hors d’oeuvres. Pictured top right:  tuna tartare drizzled with wasabi cream paired with seared peppered tuna & avocado, with kim chee slaw & plantain chips. Bottom left: jumbo lump crabmeat tossed in remoulade, layered with avocado & mango.

California was a breath of fresh air and I eagerly anticipate the time that I will be spending there in the near future.


December 26, 2010

Photo Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

This photograph was taken mid-September on top of Mount Scott, in the Wichita Mountains. It was a quiet, early fall day, and time allowed for my mom, a dear friend, and I to venture there for the afternoon. We ate a Meer’s burger, drove through the wildlife refuge, and did a bit of romping around. Even as I sit here now, I can recall the feeling of lightness that I felt that day. Much life transition had accompanied that particular weekend, and our hearts were given leave, to breathe the air and feel joy again. Climbing the little mountain gives just enough perspective to evoke a deep awe and humility.

This season, I am re-learning the beauty of solitude and the goodness of self through time alone. It is from the high places that I can look out and see all the possibility of life ahead. There is a freedom from all that hinders, the illusion of flight, and the hope of something great in the plains below. There is a deep desire in me to wander, and be lost in discovery. This photo speaks to possibility, to potential, to a dream.

I think it also sheds light on who I am in my best moments: quieted by love, and by things greater than myself. A dreamer, and a sojourner. Free.

I am reminded of this exhortation from Anne Lamot, speaking in her candid tone,

But you are not your bank account, or your ambition. You’re not the cold clay lump you leave behind when you die. You’re not your collection of walking personality disorders. You are spirit. You are love. And even though it is hard to believe sometimes, you are free. You are here to love, and be loved, freely. If you find out next week that you are terminally ill — and we are terminally ill on this bus — what will matter are memories of beauty, that people loved you, and that you loved them.



reverb10: [let go]

December 5, 2010

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…
-Annie Dillard

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
[Letting go of all that hinders, binds – and of gathering all that is light, beautiful, and treasured.]

This summer, my family vacationed in Arcadia, MI, located on the serene waters of Lake Michigan. The common lore of the land includes the much coveted Petoskey stone. The stone is made of fossilized coral, and when it is wet, the coral forms a beautiful, sparkling pattern on the surface. Not being from Michigan, my Mom and I set out to go Petoskey hunting, hoping to gain our status as locals. We rolled up our pants, and wadded in the cold northern waters, turning over stones.

We quickly picked up a rhythm of gathering a handful of stones, examining, and then tossing them back. The progression only seemed natural then, that as we reflected about the story of hardship from the past year  we eventually were throwing our rocks back with much force. We began hurling large rocks into the heart of the lake, yelling a name or word, and letting go. The larger the rock, the better, as it took more strength to hoist the mass over my head, gather breath, and simultaneously let go of the rock and the burden.

The rocks that I threw on that summer afternoon carried perfectionism, disappointment, and the grief of loss, among other things. The physical act made the spiritual act of letting go more tangible, more real.

At the end of the day, the joy of letting go exceeds the initial feeling of loss. With the burden removed, I am free to grow and stretch in new ways. After all of our stone throwing, Mom and I both found Petoskey stones, something that many people spend years looking for. Hers was large, magnificent, and prime paper-weight quality. Mine was a small pebble-like stone, perfect to fit in my pocket. It serves as a reminder that letting go of the large rocks results in the beauty of a small stone, sought after and full of worth.

I hope that after a year of letting go, this next one is a gathering small Petoskey stones.


Photo credit: ojoyous1

reverb10: [moment]

December 3, 2010

Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on the year and manifest what’s next: using the end of the year as an opportunity to reflect on what’s happened, and sending out reverberations for the year ahead. There is a new prompt everyday, December 1-31, and it is my goal to offer a reflection each day, beginning today.


Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

Medicine Falls is an unlikely place to find yourself. The strange, small town is near the Wichita Mountains in southern Oklahoma. It claims to be the definitive American cobblestone community – rightly so, because all of the buildings are made of a round sand-colored stone. The town is situated around a quaint lake, which they call the Bathtub and if you pay an entire two dollars during the summer months, you are allowed to swim in the cool waters.

What most people probably do not know, is it is quite possibly the best two dollars one could ever spend. On a miserable, hot August afternoon, myself and a few friends stripped down to our bathing suits and jumped in. The refreshing water immediately took us to a past-time of country life and swimming holes. In a spirit of exploration, we went past the indicated swimming area, down the river that feeds the little lake. To our sheer joy and pleasure, we came upon what appeared to be a small waterfall. Though it was no more than an eight foot drop, the pressure of the water was enormous. It took all the strength we could muster to force our bodies under the falling water. We would turn our backs on the water, avoiding the slippery algae, and find a rock to lodge in, allowing the rushing water to pelt our heads and shoulders.

This summer was difficult, and the hottest that I can remember in recent history. As my body withered into a small thing over the months, with strength sapped, sweaty and dirty, it was the harsh, cleansing waters of Medicine Park that made me feel so very alive. The loudness of water made it impossible to talk to the girls next to me, and we all held our breath when one of us would get swept under, praying that the power of the water did not hold us there.

To be under the water, having the wind knocked out, and mustering up all my strength to fight the rush, was how I regained my breath in this body and found my alive again.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

[Paris]: Food

May 24, 2010

Classic pairing: fresh radishes with butter and salt.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who wake up thinking about dinner, and those that don’t. The French, and myself, are those that do! In Paris, food is a way of life. This is not new information, but for me, it was like stepping into a world where everything made sense! Don’t know where you are going in life? Start with the daily baguette. Don’t know about your relationships? Let’s talk cheese. Regretful about the past? Chocolate or wine. The French have a shop for everything: cheese, bread, pastries, chocolate, candy, spices, fish, meat, tea, wine. Shopping for your meal is a 4 hour experience! Delightful! When left alone, I spent a good three hours wandering around Le Grande Epicerie, buying dijon mustard, cornichons, olive oil, salts, spices, and chocolate to bring home.

Each day, Tyler and I ventured out, with hungry bellies and open eyes. We would start our day with a croissant or quiche from the local Patisserie. Pull into a little cafe to enjoy a daily espresso. And then walk until we were ready to eat again. From street food (crepes, greek sandwich, or baguette sandwiches) to our fine bistro dining, we loved every morsel. We also had a perfect kitchen for cooking, or piecing together no-cook meals.

A few suggestions, if you find yourself in Paris soon. First, buy a copy of Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier (author of blog Chocolate and Zucchini). We carried this book with us everywhere, and every suggestion that we followed, we loved.

A few favorite resturants:

Bioboa: A chic little organic cafe in the 1st arr. (3 rue Danielle Casanova. Cross Street: Avenue de l’Opera. Metro: Pyramids) They had an incredible assortment of fresh, lighter fare that was refreshing after all the red wine and heavy French food. We ate there a few times, enjoying the fresh juice (carrot-pomegranate-ginger- strawberry), the veggie mushroom burger with arugula, and the organic cheese burger with pomme frite.

Cafe Panique: Fresh, French inspired cuisine in an intimate setting, located in the 10th arr. (12 rue des Messageries. Cross Street: Rue du Faubourg Poissonniere. Metro: Poissonniere) This was by far our favorite meal while in Paris. The small restaurant is a bright, high ceilinged room, with only a glass pane separating us from the kitchen. I was lucky enough to be able to watch the cooks prepare my exquisite meal. I had asparagus with an avocado cream, and poached egg, marinated haddock on a bed of fresh vegetables, and the most incredible caramel tiramisu. And they use a little french press for their cafes! The service was delightful. I would recommend a reservation. http://www.cafepanique.com/

Pierre Herme: World-renown pastry and chocolate shop in the 6th arr. (72 rue Bonapart. Cross street: Rue du Vieux Colombier. Metro: Saint Sulpice or Mabillion) I am often skeptical about food that looks to good to eat. But Pierre Herme’s pastries are gorgeous AND incredibly delicious. His macarons are perfect in texture and flavor. Pictured below is the famous Ispahan – a large raspberry macaron filled with rose cream and lichi, and topped with fresh raspberries.

Raspberry Rose Macaron from Pierre Herme.

Les Artistes Gourmands: Franco-Italian Pizzeria in the 10th arr. (83 rue de la Roquette, Metro: Bastille or Voltaire) This is a wonderful place we fell upon our second night in Paris. They have a great thin crust, traditional Italian-style pizza selection, with varieties of French cheeses and other seasonal toppings. I tried a cheese pizza with an egg on top – brilliant! We also had our first experience of escargot, which was simply delicious. It was cooked with some sort of pesto sauce. We became friends with one of the waiters who spoke great English and shared a love for Miles Davis.

Escargot with pesto.

Le Refectorie: Trendy, causal cafe with a nostalgia of a french school cafeteria in the 11th arr. (80 Boulevard Richard Lenior. Cross Street: Rue Saint-Sebastian. Metro: Richard Lenior or Saint-Ambroise) We enjoyed their brunch formule which included, a coffee drink of your choice (I had a cafe au lait), fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice, the best creamy eggs of all time, sausage, bacon, french bread, a crepe, nutella, yogurt with honey, and musili.

Brunch formule.

Bon Appétit!

summer days: Wren Song

August 17, 2009







As classes resume, I can look back over summer days and be grateful for many  sweet times, beautiful tears, and new growth. One of the most memorable times of my passed summer days was the brief time I traveled with with my sister to visit our brother Jonathan. He spent the hot months at a unique place called Wren Song – a little self-sustaining, electricity/petroleum free community in northern Missouri. It was there that he lived in a barn loft, tended to goats and gardens, and learned quite a bit about kindness and love, dedication and hard-work. Twenty-four hours of hospitality from the kind-hearted people there was such a joy to expereince. Food fresh from the garden: a salad of kale, carrots, and beets. Fresh basil pesto and hot sauce. An egg fritata. And of course, fresh goat cheese! We went around the table and said what we were grateful for. . . this land, my brother. The quiet of away and the beauty of stars, hiking through untouched land and waking to bleating goats.

I honor and respect my brother deeply and loved my little time with him. He is precious.