Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Australia: Scenes from the Future

Hello friends!

Remember that I had this?  I barely do.  I'm traveling in Australia this summer...winter...whatever seasonal timewarp I'm in...and am going to do a few updates to this in lieu of actually writing personal emails, because #millennial.  I will add photos later because it's not working well on my iPad and also

July 10/Day 1:
Left Boston at 2:50pm EST.  Arrived at LAX about 6:00pm Pacific time and proceed to walk and walk and walk allllll over. 5 hours on a time difference when you're trying to make yourself tired later?  Meh.  I learned that LAX is huge, the wifi is quite unreliable, and getting your phone shut off at midnight on a time difference is majorly confusing. Finally boarded my massive plane about 11pm and we were off into the future!

July 11/Day 2:
Did this happen? I don't know.  I got on a plane on July 10 and got off on July 12!  I watched Lion, ate some undercooked airplane food, self medicated w/Dramamine and Shiraz, and slept for a few hours.  Then I woke up and realized there were still seven more hours.  I watched the flight map, several move movies, ate some things, and it was still night.  I took this photo of our menu cards, because I appreciated it and also it seemed silly.

July 12/Day 3:
Arrived in Syney with the winter sun!  Customs seemed ridiculously easy - nobody asked me about all the illegal things I'm smuggling!  I mean...kidding, but I scanned my passport, had a robot machine take my photo, and basically collected my bag and left.  The only human interaction I had was handing my print out receipt thing to a lady as I left...which frankly I totally dug.
Picked up a SIM card, so yeah, I've got an Australian phone number, and no, I don't know what it is.  Summoned an uber and the lovely driver took me on a scenic route over the bridge to my AirBnB in North Sydney, where my kind host, Vanessa let me check in very early so I could attempt to be human again.  Despite being tired, I took the advice of my favorite coach - Meesh - and took my talents all over Sydney.    The forecast predicted rain later, so off I went to have my very first Australian flat white and pie (chicken, sweet potato, peas, lime, pickle), and stroll across the harbor bridge before hopping onto a ferry to see the harboR before it got rainy.  After wearing the same leggings for basically 48 hours, I was both sad and glad to throw on some jeans (sad because I like to not wear as many pants as possible in July and August, except you kind of need pants in winter). Naturally, the sky opened when I was halfway across the bridge.  It was beautiful, but do you know what is not beautiful? The moment when you realize your jeans are soaked through and that it's still pissing rain.  I made it across, collected myself underneath, and tried to find somewhere to stay dry in  the Rocks.  I think the best thing to be said is that the Rocks is like Quincy Market, and I don't go to Quincy Market much.  I had a pint, waited for a break in the rain, and rerouted my afternoon to head to the State Library of New South Wales.  Do you know what libraries are?  Warm and dry.  It was a great spot - lots of light, a meld of new and old architecture, and some beautiful gallleries they are currently renovating, right next to the Royal Botanic Gardens.  The rain held off so I decided to stroll through the gardens, over to Mrs. Macqueries Chair, and to the Opera House.  When it was clear the rain was done for the day, I decided I had enough gas in the tank to check out the ferries.  I used my Opal card to hop on the Manly ferry to see the sunset, and then took the Darling Harbor ferry around after dark to see the city by night.  In short: this city is beautiful by day, by night, by land and by sea. Australia: I think I really love you so far.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Not just a flash in the pan: Vengeance Road, Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road
Erin Bowman
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015

You guys. It’s well documented by now that I’m a sucker for a cross-dressing, historically fiction-y, adventure with a twist of romance squeezed over the top novel. I’m looking at you, Bloody Jack, Song of the Lioness Quartet, and most recently, Gold Seer books (I read the second one; it was an awesome albeit at time crushing finale - read it!). The later is totally appropriate to end that aside with, because there’s a bit of a Western element to it, which ties nicely to this one, the truly, madly, deeply, Western you never knew you were missing.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

H8rs gonna hate: The Haters, by Jesse Andrews

The Haters

Jesse Andrews
Amulet Books: New York, 2016
ISBN 9781419720789

Haters gonna hate, but hopefully not on The Haters, a simultaneously witty, rude, and charming title by Jesse Andrews.  Wes and Corey are headed to band camp.  To be specific, jazz band camp.  

They hate it.  They join forces after one epic jam session with the only girl there, Ash (a stone cold vixen), who hates it with equal passion, prompting them to start a band and run away from camp to go on tour, ditching their cell phones and hitting the road.  The problem is, who wants to hear a band that doesn’t even have a name?  Can a human survive on red vines and chips? Can this band avoid their parents long enough to survive each other?

This book is as funny as it is heartfelt, but probably not for those who can’t handle overhearing a conversation with teenage boys (ie. sex, drugs, rock ’n’roll, and yes, dirty words).  For the rest of us, it would be a shame to miss out going on tour with this crew.  The book features a diverse cast, both racially and socioeconomically, and touches upon family issues as well as the general woes of coming of age.  This is a must read if you’re into music, in a band, or need a book for a reluctant to read teenage boy or dude in your life!  

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Anthropologically anthropologic: Euphoria, by Lily King

Lily King
Grove Press, 2015
ISBN: 978-0802123701

Every now and then, I read a book that makes me sigh, “DAMN, that was gooooood.” While these books can run the gamut from totally fluffy books (you guys know by now I’m a sucker for a time traveling/historical/brooding/cooking/horseback/saga/survival romance), generally this type of sigh is saved for the kind of book that hits all the (other) right notes: compelling characters, intriguing plot, balanced highs and lows in pace and plot, language that raises the story off the page and creates strong visual imagery, and, usually, a certain je ne se quois, which is one of the approximately five things I can say confidently in French. Euphoria has that all, and boy howdy did I let out a major sigh of “DAMN,” when I finished. Not only did I get the requisite good book hangover after finishing Euphoria, but the story, plot, and writing have stayed with me since.

As you also well know, I’m a shameless coverjudger, and Euphoria’s colorful book-dress fell into my vain horizon. It’s like a melted Rothko! I will note that I do have some standards, I have no standards, because you know I’ll totally read anything. I’m looking at you, terrible Mermen book that made me laugh so hard this summer when Amazon recommended it that I had to read it. I digress though, because Euphoria is definitely not a case of the terribles, and what I mean to say is that the publisher flab on the classy, colorful jacket was what really put this at the top of my endless pile o’books to read.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fig and Pistachio Corn Muffins

Om nom nom, figs are delicious, and also in season (according to the shelves of the grocery store; I have little to know farming knowledge, so you should absolutely question the source).  If you are a fellow MAhole, it appears they are on sale at Whole Foods Markets this week, 2 pints for $6, and you should definitely get two packs so you'll have one to snack on when you cook the other, right?  

I don't know where, why, or how this idea came into my head, but I couldn't stop wondering if fig would work in a corn muffin, so I decided to throw caution and $7 of figs to the wind.  My first attempt was pretty solid, though I skimped on added sugars because I wasn't quite sure what the figs would do to overall sweetness.  While eating one, I had a brain wave: would pistachio be a good addition?  Short answer: yes.  Long answer: also yes.  These came out fairly delicious, as well as pretty, if I do say so myself.  They are especially delicious when you put half a jar of almond butter on top, but that's an expensive and messy habit, so stick with a normal sized schmear of almond butter, fig jam, honey, butter, your own idea, or nothing!  
Fig and Pistachio Corn Muffins
My one piece of feedback, courtesy of the one and only PopTart is that they are a little dry (little does he know I ran 1 tbsp short of a cup on of cornmeal and subbed medium grind polenta, mwhahaha).  If you prefer them a little less crumbly, I'd test a 1:1 ratio of cornmeal and flour instead of the .75:1.25 listed here, and use a kefir with a fat percentage that is not nonfat.  Let me know if you do!  

We've dilly dallied long enough.  Here be the recipe for your relatively quick, easy, and healthy muffin delights!

Fig and Pistachio Cornbread Muffins

Makes 12 muffins
Fig and Pistachio Corn Muffins
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