Feet, up. Smile inextinguishable. It's your day, mamas!
A nice amount (a perfect amount, in fact!) of time has passed while I was gone.
It's been long enough that American currency is weird-looking. Long enough that the street traffic seems out of place without the roar of a thousand motos. Long enough that I still have the bright-eyed half smile on my face.
My smile threatens to erupt, at the slightest prompt. I'm still looking at everything with a traveler's eager, observant affinity, where every corner storefront merits a second look, where every interesting face passed is noted and memorized with excited inner appreciation.
I'm still in the habit of being rather disconnected. I'm only checking my phone every couple of hours. I expect that bit of loveliness will be the first habit to evaporate, but I hope it doesn't happen today.
I awoke at 3 am today, full of thoughts and done with sleep, despite my valiant efforts at avoiding jet lag. I awoke and I watched this video, of kayaking on Halong Bay, Vietnam, and was tickled at the memory. Reliving this trip is going to be a riot, without a trace of the sad longing that remembering can sometimes bring.
One more watch, and then I'll get back to sleep. Really.
I find myself in yet another magical place. Up in the hills of Northern Vietnam there are countless beautiful, misty villages.
I spent a day each in Sapa and Bac Ha, and encountered quite a few minority Hmong villagers, each with their own beautiful dress, dialect of Vietnamese and lifestyle. I met mothers and grandfathers, cousins and babies. All sweet, some outgoing and some cheeky.
In Bac Ha I was eagerly given a shot of the homemade corn hooch they favor, at approximately 8:30am. Who am I to refuse? Each family has their own recipe, but rest assured its about 90 proof. Tasted great, in fact. Clear but with the smoky flavor, a palate towards whiskey rather than vodka. Whiskey just so happens to be my poison of choice (not that I drink very often, Mama...)
As with Laos, I am repeatedly rendered speechless by the handwoven textiles in Vietnam. The Hmong people really have a way with color theory and exquisite detail. I definitely think I gravitate towards the work of the Flower Hmong. Their work is similar to the textiles I oohed about in Luang Prabang. I tried not to go overboard buying handmade memories, but admittedly I shipped a box home.
This city princess got herself into the mud again. My day of trekking in Sapa began the morning after an overnight rain, so of course I found myself without the proper footwear to hike with. Undeterred, I enlisted a Black Hmong woman named Xay to hold my hand down the steep bits, and happily bought a bag from her at the end of the journey. Along the way she told me all about her life and her children, and had many questions for me about the USA. Her smile was genuine and she was steady as a rock in her own professional hiking shoes (thin plastic flipflops!?) and her command of English was impressive. I'm sending you the bag I bought from her, with a photo of her inside it.
So many more photos to come from Vietnam! The trip wraps up soon, and though I'm attached as hell to Southeast Asia, it will be nice to be in my own (soft!) bed.
In Hanoi, you bring your pet bird to the park with you so that she can chirp the latest gossip with the other birds. Though a caged bird is sad in a way, this is a sweet ritual that I was surprised by and loved. Hanoi, Vietnam.
I parked my pillow in Saigon last night. I woke up feeling alive.
It is such a thrill to disappear. To vanish off of the map of my daily routine, to vanish into the crowded lanes of a new city.
Saigon breathes impatiently for me to get to know her. She emits the rumble of a thousand motos and the smell of almost-ready French bread. Tree-lined avenues and grins on faces.
Endless ways to spend the sticky-hot afternoons, searching out a breeze or a game of Chinese checkers. You lay in a hammock. you gossip in a park.
Endless ways of using coconut and condensed milk. I love a city that loves their desserts.
I'm out of doors and out on my own and out in search of today's adventure.
I'll report back again soon.
Luang Prabang is a place of butterflies. They are everywhere you look. Despite the haze in town from people burning their soil to make it fertile for the upcoming rains, there are flurries of encouraging little butterflies, in all sizes and colors, simply everywhere. They are in the corners of my eyes, at all times. They delight when they randomly alight, and seem to meander to the sound of their own peaceful, syncopated mantra. I'm reminded that I'm here to do the same.
Everything in Lao (most people seem to drop the S in Laos) moves at half-pace, and it's not long before my steps and thoughts follow suit. Every face and conversation is gentle and warm, respectful. Everyone is quite happy to exchange the greeting of hello, "Sabaidee!" And the words for Thank You, "Kopchai!"
There are incredible, intricate textiles made here, ones that could bring you to tears, in colors I never knew I liked, in combinations I never knew could sing together so.
I've met so many kindred spirits on this trip. Mostly I've found the kind of fierce, storytelling, travel-hungry and compassionate-laden women I always seem to find, those women whose histories are unconventional and whose paths were dictated by nobody.
One such spirit in particular has truly made impressions on my heart. Bar-owner, published poet, confidante. I watched day after day as people would belly up to the bar, introduce themselves and within minutes be spilling their secrets; skeletons tumbling out of closets like sighs of relief.
And through the speakers, Tom Waits doesn't seem to judge us, either.
It takes a special kind of person to tend bar. That holds true all the world 'round. Elli's voice is like the tinkling of bells, deliberate but lilting, earnest but quiet. Looking around the room her eyes read hearts but her lips don't judge.
The drinks are strong. The atmosphere full of laughter.
I do hate to be dramatic, but six nights trading tales at this shop-house miracle on the side of a hill just may have changed me forever, just a little.
And have I mentioned there are gorgeous Buddhist temples everywhere, in every direction you look? Did I say here yet how the most beautiful aqua waterfall I ever saw is a scant 30 minute drive from the town center?
Luang Prabang: I'll hurry back, that's a promise.
Okay, granted this is an Instagram photo, but the truth remains that the color the sun splashes as it sets over Angkor Wat, is, undeniably... Epic.
This is a day I won't soon be willing to leave. I won't stop wanting to replay it on loop, in my daydreams. And in the moments before sleep comes.
Free... From understanding exactly what's in your food. Bah. I'm sure there's no additives in there! In Kep, Cambodia, today, I sure wolfed down my grilled fresh crab and veggies, drizzled with this mystery hot sauce.
My journey begins! Butterflies swirling in the best way. Can hardly wait for the chapters to unfold. And I need to thaw out! The last few days of NYC frigid wind have been too much for me. Here's to celebrating the joy of wanderlust...
...and we all couldn't stop laughing!
I couldn't have asked for a better newborn to send me off into the world this week… this little guy is the last newborn of March before I set sail (plane, whatever…) on a magical trip of unknowns.
I'm gonna keep this face handy in my mind's eye, so that I know all my NYC kids are waiting for me and that I'd better not travel too (too) long.
I'll blog again soon, from afar!
My heart grew by two sizes yesterday.
I assumed the day would be beautiful and the food good, the friends laughing and the venue gorgeous with candlelight. All of that happened, to the max. But what I didn't expect was to feel my chest swell with such a potent feeling of, "HELL YES." I felt pride, delight and contentment for my best-ever sister-friend, whose happiness is completely intertwined with mine. It feels so overwhelmingly rad to celebrate each other! Your man is just so tops. HELL YES!
Cheering on two people you love is quite possibly the MOST delicious way to spend a long weekend.
Sash and Mark, I love you both.
GETTING READY! Brooklyn, New York.
Goin' to the chapel!
The beautiful white cape was originally Sashka's grandmother's.
City Hall, Manhattan, New York, NY. Let's get married.
Relax and snuggle.
Change Facebook status.
Lafayette House and B Bar, New York, NY.
If we've met, you may have noticed that there are three things I love, ad infinitum.
a) squeezing babies til they giggle...
b) photo gadgets and new equipment, and...
c) being surrounded by, oh, say, fifteen of my closest girlfriends. An impromptu photoshoot always ensues!
Last Thursday I decided to host a dinner party at my house.
I figured I'd cook the pants off it it so that I could try a bunch of new recipes. I also wanted to make a wine-fueled rolling dinner party SO addictive that a bunch of Greenpoint-bound gals could go home well fed and be willing to come back again for more in the future.
Next--A new gadget. I wanted to give myself some homework, as I'm wont to do. I like to pretend I'm still in art school at Brooks and give myself a single photographic constraint, to see if it'll help me make interesting pictures, or to see familiar things in a new way. On the suggestion of this amazing photographer, I decided to shoot the entire event, start to finish, from food to party pics, with only this tiny yet incredible lens, the Voigtlander 40mm. Pretty impressed with such big, robust images out of such a miniature and adorable (and lightweight!) piece of glass.
Lastly, babies. Well, there weren't any babies in attendance. But, there is always next time! Two out of three 'aint bad.
We begin: the house!
I cleaned and scrubbed. I dripped all over my cookbooks and iPad. I'm neat, but I'm just not that worried about the small stuff. I also had help from this guy, one of the two cute little creatures I co-habitate with.
Beginning to cook! Lots of vegetarians in attendance, so one of the main dishes will be a Tofu Quiche in a Rosemary Crust with caramelized onions and mushrooms. There's also toasty nuts and baked kale. The quiche and nuts are from one of my favorite new cookbooks, The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods
And people begin to arrive, with wine! (Huzzah!)
Amongst a bunch of people that work in fashion and commercial photography there are bound to be a fantastic bunch of personalities. I'm so jazzed that my friends all have such cool, varied lives and passions. Not that far into the night, model Cheryl Soell launched into a bun demo with this thing, because we all LOVED her perfect cute bun, and none of us knew how to do it. I bought one recently, but couldn't figure it out. Now, everything has changed and I'll be wearing a bun NON-STOP. Like, every day. Check out how easy this is:
And now, it's time to eat.
Toasty Nuts with Rosemary
Homemade Lemon Hummus with Dill
Guacamole and Fire-Roasted Salsa
Baked Kale Chips with Sea Salt
Cheese plate with fresh figs, apricot preserves
Tofu Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms in a Rosemary wheat crust
Lamb and Lentil Bites with Cumin Cream in Endive scoops
Homemade Pizza with whole-wheat dough, one Margarita, one Sopressata
Flourless Chocolate cookies with Toasted Walnuts
Coconut-Lime Tart, whole grain crust
"Now is ze time on Sprockets vhen ve dance!"
The highlight of the night is definitely in these two Vines. (Have you been playing with the Vine app? If so, I'd love to hear from you about it!)
Things get more interesting, as she grows. For her, for you. And for the lucky documenter-of-drool, me.
As she grows.
Is she reaching for her feet? Is she wiggling toward a crawl? Are those laughs heartier and smiles wider? Oh, what a chunkalicious, perfectly-baby age.
Be alive, today, a little more than normal.
Be aware, if you might, of the people who make your heartbeats rise towards thunder.
And when the time comes, if it does, watch your heart as it splinters off into a toddling little satellite version, a little Heart 2.0.
Happy Valentine's Day to all hearts that beat.
But especially, in 2013, I wish a happy, sweetness-filled day to all the mamas-to-be.
I'm totally having a cooking moment.
I'm loving just being solo in my kitchen with my tunes playing as I dance and prance around, cooking. All the while my dog watches with his head cocked to one side like he's impressed with my moves (unconditional love!)
This snowy morning I made my very first quiche! I am sated and full of healthy homemade protein-rich goodness, and I'm now due back at my wall of screens for more photo editing.
Hello, Sunday.Read More
Oh, how I love to document-the-documentation. How meta! Sometimes the smiles that come out for the iPhone while packing back up into the stroller are as priceless as the fancier, well-lit versions. Here are some of the faces that have lit up the first 30 days of my 2013.
I found it hard to narrow the month down to only five BTS photos. On days like today I am SO. PLEASED. WITH MY CAREER CHOICE. Boom!
Behind the scenes at Parents magazine, 2013
I'm not a gluten-allergic human (and yes, I'm totally stealing Zosia Mamet's vernacular) but I found myself serving a gluten-free guest recently at a dinner party so I set out to obey my inner fudge-obsessed self while creating something she could actually eat.
These puppies were served drizzled with the tiniest touch of coconut-palm sugar and a zig-zag drizzle of raw honey. Pop the WHOLE mini-muffin in your mouth at once!
Kids love 'em too! Click through for the recipe.Read More
Friends. Sun. Babies that I love. So fierce.