My Journals (like blogging but in real life!)

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These are my fourteen journals! As you can plainly see, I’m a really strong believer in journaling. My past two New Year’s Resolutions have been to write in my journal every day (and I have!) I think keeping a diary is, in my ways, very rewarding. Despite the fact that rereading some of these entries motivates me to get a degree in engineering from MIT just so I can create a time machine and go back and slap my younger self, I really like looking back and seeing what my dreams were, what I cared about, and how much better my handwriting was (seriously, how did it get worse?) 

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These four diaries date from 1996 to 2003.

I have no idea where these diaries are from. Probably Barnes and Noble (or whatever the early 90s equivalent was). Yes, I was one of those kids with the diary that locked. And I made sure everyone in my vicinity took that lock seriously.

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I was a bird-nerd even as a kid. Unfortunately, I also did not understand the concept of plagiarism. On the left is my heavily copied “paraphrased” report on the great horned owl. On the right is a dollar bill I found on the bottom of a pool (serious business). Eleven year old me would have swam to the bottom of the Marianas Trench if there were a dollar at the bottom.

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Two four-leaf clovers I found once. You can see my 15 year old self’s obsession with drawing terrible smiley faces.

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These four diaries date from 2003 to 2007.

Three of these journals were from Barnes and Noble, including my very coveted Shakespeare handwriting journal! The one on the top left is from Kinokuniya.

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To the left you can see what is probably the most horrifying leprechaun drawing ever made. To the right is a ticket to ride in a Daytona car at Disneyworld. That car…was very fast.

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Oh lord. So to the left you see my little keepsakes from the prom. (Hey, it was fun!) And to the right is something I apparently felt should be memorialized. I had a skirt that got a little too close to the heater. Fashion casualty.

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To the left is a ticket from my time in England, which included trips to London. I went to see Death of a Salesman. …..I cannot give a ringing endorsement of that play. I definitely fell asleep at one point. To the right is what happens when you’re an art minor at a liberal arts college. I had a printout of a paper that smudged, so I cut it up and pasted it into a little poem. …I know.

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I don’t always write my entries in English! Here is my terrible, terrible Japanese. I was just learning it and trying to practice!

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These four diaries date from 2007 to 2012.

The green diary is from Barnes and Noble. The New Yorker diary is from a trip I took to England. I was concerned about running out of the space in the diary I brought, so I bought one at Waterstones. The cat journal is from Kinokuniya. The pig journal I bought in Tokyo at Tokyu Hands (my favorite store eeeevvver). It was so cheap!

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To the left is the effects of law school. And a solved sudoku puzzle! To the right…I somehow managed to skip a page in the journal. This somehow happens more than you might think.

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Stamps from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Japan. I toured the museum and had the opportunity to listen to a survivor of the atomic bomb speak to us about her experiences. While sitting in the Peace Park, I found another four leaf clover! …I don’t know why I keep finding them. I’m not particularly lucky…

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Japan likes stamps, I guess! Here is a stamp from Mt. Fuji’s 5th station visitor’s center. I never got to the top of Mt. Fuji, but it was an awesome experience.

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And these range from 2012 to right now (my current diary is on the right).

The journal on the left I bought in Venice! That’s the Venetian lion on the front. The one I’m using now is from some random card store in Quebec.

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I went to an art show called THE(UN)FAIR, and there was an art installation that stamped dollars with this. I loved it!

So, if you don’t keep a journal, you really should consider it! I think it is a more personal experience than keeping an online blog. It allows you to tape in little things you find interesting or that make you giggle or jot down thoughts you have throughout the day. I have to say, I am so glad that my teenage years predate social media. At least all of my embarrassing angst and drama is contained in these diaries and not on Facebook!

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Little Crochet Projects

I have many a crochet work in progress at the moment. These are smaller projects that I pick up between the larger (read: blanket) projects.

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Here is a shawl near completion that I made using this pattern. Unfortunately for both me and the shawl, I think I might unravel it and use the yarn for something else. I was making it as a present for my sister, but I’m really not happy with it for a variety of reasons, namely that it’s way too small. The pattern suggests using a size J hook, which I did. So to anyone who plans to try it out…you’re gonna need a bigger hook.

This failure lead me to this…

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Spring flowers (made with crochet hooks and not April showers)! I’m not going to link the pattern (which shows the finished object) quite yet, because I don’t want to give away what it will be. Spoiler alert: it will be awesome.

And finally, I’ve had some fun with baubles. Personally, I love baubles. They’re happy, fun, and super easy to do! But what can you do with baubles? A couple of ideas instantly came to mind…

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Source.

Bubble shooter! Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I love this game. I grew up playing it on the computer as a kid, and I downloaded it as an app the minute I got a smartphone. We won’t talk about all the times I was up until 4 AM trying to get three stars on each level.

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These (unlike everything else in this post) are actually finished. I had a good time making them. Depending on which bubble shooter game you’re playing, the colors of the bubbles sort of vary, so I just went with the colors I already had and thought looked best together.

Remember candy buttons? Of course you remember candy buttons. They were only the best candy ever made!

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Source.

I love them so much that I crocheted a candy button scarf years ago. It was the second scarf I ever finished! Well, I’m currently working on some matching fingerless gloves:

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Glove! Obviously I only have one so far, but the other will be along forthwith. And I shall try not to nibble on them when I wear them.

Baking with Bananas (a lot of them)

I made bread for the first time this weekend:

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RECIPE:

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Makes: one 9 x 5 loaf

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 ripe bananas
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions: (see below for step-by-step pictures)

1. Grease or flour a 9.25 x 5. 25 x 2.75 inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In one bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.

3. In separate bowl, beat eggs.

4. In separate bowl, mash bananas.

5. Mix in beaten eggs, mashed bananas, vanilla, and melted butter.  Stir in nuts or chocolate chips if desired. Pour into pan.

6. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.

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Okay so, let’s back up. Why did I decide to do all this cooking with bananas? Because my friend had approximately a dozen bananas in imminent danger of going bad.

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This x 3.

So instead of letting them go to waste, we decided to make both bread and cookies.

Bread: 

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Here is the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon together in the bowl.

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Beating the egg in a separate bowl. Playing Michael Jackson’s Beat It in the background may facilitate the process.

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This is with the beaten eggs and melted butter added in.

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Denuded bananas in a bowl. Don’t be too concerned if there are some brown spots.

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Mush! You want this kind of consistency before you mix it with everything else. ♪ Mush it good….mush it real good. ♪

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Here is everything all mixed in together.

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Here is the mix poured into the pan. It should reach a little over half way.

Fast forward an hour…

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Oh baby! Fresh out of the oven! Protip: dancing around in front of the oven does not make it bake any faster. I have empirical evidence to support this claim.

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Here are the two banana bread loaves (one with chocolate chips, one without) that we made.

Cookies:

So even after all that bread, we had bananas left over! So I headed over to Yummly and searched for a good cookie recipe. I found this awesome recipe, a four ingredient (you read that correctly) recipe for banana s’mores cookies. I was a little skeptical and was concerned that only four ingredients would make a kitchen fire instead of a cookie (especially with me at the helm), but it worked really well!

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The directions are super easy to follow! Here are all the ingredients mixed together.

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It makes about eight cookies. Here is the mix divided into little cookie lumps.

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After baking! The cookies were  wee bit difficult to get off of the cookie sheet because they had leaked some banana juice, but they were delicious!

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Cookies meeting the bread! So there you have it. If you ever find yourself with an excess of ripe bananas, here are two very easy and fun recipes to make yourself some banana treats!

On Instagram and Photography

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Some of my first photos on Instagram.

So I finally gave in and joined Instagram (I know. I’m, what, five years late to the party?). For a long time, I balked at the idea. Being limited to a square composition and the quality of a camera phone was baffling; after all this technological advancement, why would people purposely choose a medium with low image quality, filters that emulate old technology, and a limiting composition? 

Then I tried to stop thinking like a snob. When I worked at the International Center of Photography, we put on an exhibit of a man who built cameras out of cardboard boxes and took pictures of women’s legs on the street without their knowledge. So, really, who am I to judge what photography should be or how it should be accomplished? And as someone interested in photography, shouldn’t I try to expand my repertoire and try new methods? So I signed up for Instagram and began taking more photos with my camera phone. 

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And I actually like it!  I think Instagram highlights the best thing about photography: it is the most democratic art form. Unlike painting or sculpture, which can require years of practice and expensive materials, photography is accessible to most of society. Almost anyone is capable of being a photographer and capturing a moment in their history. 

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Me with a young photography enthusiast in Jordan. Yes, that’s my camera he has (and wanted to keep)!

Photography, however, can quickly become inaccessible with its expensive DSLR cameras and proliferation of high-powered lenses. Instagram sets us all back on a level playing field and gives everyone the tools necessary to be a photographer. Almost everyone has a phone with a camera, access to the internet to download a free app, and their own sensibility of what makes a good photograph. It enables more people to be art-creators and chroniclers of their own existence in the world. With a smart phone, the little boy I met in Petra (above) can share with everyone what the world is and means from his visual perspective. 

What Instagram is, at least for me, is a way of looking at the world in a different way. While sitting on a bus, it allows me to ask the question “what is the most interesting photograph I could take right now?” It makes me notice shapes and moments that I might otherwise pass by. It allows for experimentation and failures without the constant nagging question of “will this be a good photograph?” It’s just fun. 

My Instagram. Feel free to add me!