Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I've got a picture in a storefront!

I hate to toot my own horn, but honestly that's not true at all and GUESS WHAT?! A photograph I've taken is in the window of a department store! I KNOW. I can pretty much retire now. Check this out:

I took that headshot of my boss because I'm so awesome and now it's in a window because my boss is so awesome and WE'RE ALL WINNERS!

Please do contact me if you too would like a department-store-window-worthy headshot. I'm just that good*.

Love and hugs,

*If by 'good' we mean 'lucky.' Luck is ALSO a skill.

Monday, September 2, 2013

On the Outer Hebrides and How to Take a Good Photo

Here is a photo process:

1. Take a million photos. Plus or minus a billion. Make these photos difficult to achieve: force whoever is driving to pull over as often as possible. Crawl in ditches. Climb a ridge. Scrape your knees. Wait until everyone you're with is bored and mildly irritated. Then take a half dozen more.

2. Upload the photos to your computer.

3. Immediately delete at least two-thirds. They're horrible. Temporarily consider throwing away your camera.

4. Resolve the following: no more taking photos of old things rusting in the grass. Fence posts. Beaches from ground level. Rocks. Birds. Picnic benches. Decide to throw away all nature calendars when you get home due to their bad influence.

5. Skim the remaining third. Flag the ones that may have potential. Your original 2000 photos should now number around 50.

6. Of the 50, take the ones that make you shrug and toss them.

7. Take the remaining two dozen photos that are left and put them on the internet even though you're still not sure because you can't tarry any longer get them UP.

8. Email your mom to tell her you've done it so she goes online and posts about how wonderful you are.

9. Now pat yourself on the back. You've done it! Totally worth it.

And now introducing....The Outer Hebrides! The Isles of Lewis and Harris, specifically, as enjoyed over a long weekend: 

The beaches of Harris. Except for the bottom right, which was taken at the outermost point of Great Bernera. Another pro tip: when you read about an old Iron Age home excavated on a blustery beach and it takes an hour of driving across wild landscapes, ridges, and a bridge to a mini-island to get to it, make sure you've got weary family in the car. It gives the whole experience a thrilling edge you may not get otherwise. There is all the chance in the world that when you leap out of the car 'just to get one shot!' they will leave you there.

These photos were taken on Stornoway Point. Ridge-climbing happened here. Pro tip: Don't climb the ridge. For one, the top looks a lot closer than it actually is. Also, it's marshy. Also, seagulls will scream and circle you while you're out there alone, sounding for all the world like braying dogs on the hunt.

Take as many bleak photos as possible. Later, when you're moodily scrapping hundreds of pictures, these are the ones that will feel relatable. 

Castles. Flags. You know.

Moody sunsets. You know.

These were taken on the drive home through Glencoe. It was vastly different from the winter perspective, which can be seen in a previous post. Glencoe spooks people because it has bad juju from some bloody history, but that just makes it all the better. You can just FEEL the screams at nightfall. * shudder of delight * 

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to email my mom. I've posted!

Big hugs and lots of love,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On White Walkers and the Survival of the Fittest

'Sometimes I think the world has gone completely mad. And then I think, "Aw, who cares?" And then I think, "Hey, what's for supper?"' - Jack Handey

I've started getting veg boxes in my local grocery delivery. I did it in part because it was good value but more because I like the element of surprise and the idea of cooking with food I wouldn't normally. I remember a girlfriend of mine back in San Francisco talking about her farmer's market veg box: 'It makes me cook new things because I don't want to waste anything. The other day I got loads of kale. Kale! I've never cooked with kale before. I sauteed it with cannellini beans. And I made kale chips! Kale chips with rosemary! When would I have ever made kale chips with rosemary before someone delivered a box to my door with kale in it that I had to use?'

I've always remembered this Adventures with Kale story and I fancied that someday I too would get a veg box delivered to my door and I would cook lovely new things, like chips made from crispy greens that I would then dip into freshly-mashed avocados in my volcanic-rock mortar bowl while my homemade ricotta is curdling away in the background.

So recently when my local delivery offered a veg box option, I jumped on it, fantasies of fresh, exciting produce dancing before me. And then I opened my first box. Potatoes. Onions. More potatoes. Broccoli. Carrots. A couple more potatoes. Leeks! There must be something wrong. Where's my kale? My savoy cabbage? My Jerusalem artichokes? WHERE ARE MY SEXY NEW VEGETABLES FOR ME TO MAKE SEXY NEW FOOD WITH??

And then I remembered where I live, and how delicious root veg is, and got on with it. So now I'm killing soups and risottos and I'd like ANYbody to question the Deep South way I cook anything leftover (namely, covered in brown sugar and roasted to oblivion, next to a slab of steak or fried chicken). Because dangit, Winter is Coming (and by that I mean, 'already here') and the Others are on their way.

Beyond the Wall.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a Kitchen Sink risotto to stir and dragonglass to sharpen. I'll see you soon.

Big hugs and lots of love,

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Scottish Highlands and Not Much Else

I was going to do a proper blog post but then I realised I haven't watched the latest episode of Nashville yet, and that is clearly a priority. So instead I will post a bunch of photos of the Highlands that I took over the Christmas holiday and send you big hugs. Because hugs are like words, but better, because they're less work. 

Did you know you can cover Glencoe, the Highlands, Loch Ness, and Loch Fyne in two days? You can. And you should. Just not in the dead of winter. Brutal.

It's hard to see, but there's a train bridge in the distance background of bottom left picture. It's the one from the Harry Potter movies! You can actually hike to it, but it was torrentially raining when I took this photo and the wind was so fierce I could barely stand upright, so I decided that this view was good enough for me. The castle in the top left photo is Eilean Donan where Entrapment and a million other movies were filmed. (I should probably be relating these places to moments in history - 'This is where the Young Pretender made his first stand in 1745!' - but I don't know history the way I know movies so I'll just go ahead and continue to embarrass myself this way.) Bottom right: Glencoe from Skyfall! Some sort of brutal massacre happened here. You should google it because it's dark and bloody and violent like all good history stories, and also because I don't remember the details. 

 No movies filmed here.

The earth was so dark red and purple and orange it was unbelievable, really wild.
Braveheart was probably filmed here, because obviously.

And so concludes my history of northern Scotland! Stay tuned, I'll be covering Yorkshire soon! 

Big hugs and lots of love,

P.S. I'm currently playing with blogger's dynamic layouts and so far I think I like this one the best, but are my pictures too large? Are they taking years to load on your screen?