April Fools!

birdunderpants

Several prototypes

I have some exciting news…I’ve decided to focus all my attentions on my true passion. I’m going to be opening up an etsy shop called Polly Wants Panties: Artisanal Underpants for Discerning Birds. I’m so excited to embark on this new chapter of my life!

Advertisements

Everest: Part I

Okay, so I trekked to Everest Base Camp in the beginning of October.

ebcsign
The beginning of the path to Base Camp.

Part I (you’re on it!)
Part II
Part III
Part IV 

I thought it would be fun to do a few entries on it! I took approximately 23984728374^23 pictures, so I’m going to split them into separate entries (and I’ll do a separate entry for Kathmandu at the very end). Let’s skip to the fun trekking part! And as always, click on any picture to make it bigger!

To begin the ascent to Everest Base Camp, you usually take a small plane from Kathmandu (capital of Nepal) to Lukla.

nepalairport
This is the hot mess that is the local flights part of the Kathmandu airport.

You can do it the Hillary and Tenzing way and ascend from Kathmandu, but that’s just silly. …I, however, briefly considered it when I saw the plane.

planeoutside

I am frightened of planes. I get scared inside of a jumbo Boeing 777. This plane was tiny and was going to land on a short landing strip on the side of a mountain. There is very little room for error in that kind of situation.


insideairplane
Pictured: tiny inside.

That the flight attendant ran up the aisle during the short flight to hand the pilot a barf bag did not assuage my fears. But after a short flight with breathtaking views, we landed safely in Lukla, and I loosened my death grip on my seat’s armrest.

luklaairport
It’s Lukla Airport!

So after grabbing our bags and drinking some tea, we were off on the beginning of our trek! We first passed through the town of Lukla, with its multitude of tourist shops.

lukla2 lukla
…Because every town needs an Irish pub, I guess?

After walking through Lukla, the trek began in earnest.

thestart
On the road!

I should have known to really appreciate that stone path. It would be the last one I would see the entire trip.

On the first day, we traveled from Lukla to Phakding. A word of explanation on the trekking: we each carried our own backpack and our duffel bag was carried by a dzopkyo.

dzopkyo
The one in the back looks embarrassed by this behavior…

The elegant animal you see here is a dzopkyo, which is a cross between a cow and a yak. Although yaks are usually what come to mind when you think about Everest, dzopkyo are generally the preferred method of baggage handling because yaks cannot descend too far down and donkeys cannot ascend too far up. And that’s how we came to have our bags carried by these weirdos.   

Once we reached Phadking, we tented down for the night and enjoyed the success of our first day.
insideoftent
The inside of my tent before I ejected everything from my bag.

The first day trek was quite pleasant and not very difficult. …Which lulled me into a horribly false sense of security. Day two was much, much worse. On day two, we made the trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar. And to make things more challenging, I was slowly developing a lung infection! My lungs had been bothering me after the first day in Kathmandu, and I had (perhaps foolishly) hoped it would clear up quickly. Day two quashed all hopes of that and breathing became harder and more painful.

The scenery, however, was worth it. The route to Namche was lush and absolutely beautiful.

waterfall2
Waterfall!

flowers prayerwheel
In the picture to the right, you can see the omnipresent prayer wheel.

cabbagefield
Women tending to a cabbage field.

mountainview waterfall

To the left you can see a snow-capped peak in the background with conifer trees in the foreground. And to the right, a beautiful waterfall decorated with prayer flags!

We also met some animal friends along the way…

beggardog
This adorable little beggar really wanted a bite of chocolate bar.

donkey donkey2
Working donkeys carrying loads on the trail.

We then officially entered Sagarmatha National Park:

parkentrance
The entrance gate we used.


startofpark
The sight that greets you when you enter the park.

It is much more forested than I expected.

river viewoftown
Views of a river. Look at the mountain peaking out in the background of the picture to the left!

We trekked around the river for a while and then found ourselves stepping on stones in the shallow water to cross part of it. And then we came to the most terrifying bridge. A word about bridges on this trip: there are a lot of them and they sway. Up to this point, we had been over several already. But this bridge was high. Very, very high.

bridgeuphigh viewofbridge

See that red arrow? That upper bridge is the one that must be crossed on the way to Namche (the lower bridge was the original bridge but is no longer safe/functional). It is a looong way down. And a long way up. I took the picture on the left during the break before the ascent to reach the bridge. What followed was a very challenging and brisk 30 minute ascent. If you go on this trip, for the love of god, make sure you get your cardio in. On the right you can see the view from the bridge.

After what felt like hours (and probably was hours) of zig-zagging ascent, we trekked through a very beautiful forest.

forest porterforest

I couldn’t believe how much it resembled the decidedly deciduous forests back home! In the photo to the right, you can see a Nepalese porter carrying what looks like a heavy load up to Namche.

After what felt like an eternity, we reached Namche. My lungs felt about ready to jump out of my body in protest, but we made it!

namchepanorama

What is Namche? It is the largest Sherpa village (really, the largest village in general) on the trail to Base Camp. And it was the most beautiful sight in the world after all the ascending that we did that day.

namchesunset

And thus the second (and hardest) day ended with the moon coming out over the mountains above Namche and me starting a course of antibiotics for my lung infection that would prove to be totally ineffectual.

Apple Picking

applepicking2

I love fall! Fall, fall, fall. My favorite season. I realize, of course, that it is not yet fall (minor detail), but I will be away for a good chunk of autumn, so I decided to jump the gun a bit on apple picking. My dad suggested we go and I readily agreed!

applepick

We went to a local farm that does apple picking and couldn’t have asked for a better day!

applepick3
First apple picked!

applepick5applepick6
It’s so bucolic, man. (I just want a reason to use that word). 

They mainly had McIntosh apple trees. We searched all over for different kinds of apple trees to no avail…I think. I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

applepick2

applepick7

Various things on wheels on the farm! I remember taking hay rides in those kinds of wagons as a kid!

applepick4applepick8
Fallen crab apples under a tree and the scenery nearby.

This makes me want to crawl under the tree with a blanket and a good book.

applepick9

Some crates. I guess the farm supplies various fruits and veggies to stores! This also marks the first time I’ve actually seen a pear tree. I am sorry to report that I saw no partridges in any of them.

applepick16

A beautiful apple tree full of apples!

applepick15

Our haul at the end of the day. I’m glad that these weren’t the apple trees from the Wizard of Oz because that would have amounted to a lot of fighting.

applepick10

The farm also had beautiful sunflowers! Along with the flowers, there were tiny residents who popped up to say hello…

applepick13
These colors are natural. In fact, I tried to make it LESS saturated.

The bumblebees really loved the sunflowers. Like, a lot.

applepick14

There are two bumblebees!

applepick12

I found this lovely lady hanging out on an apple I plucked from the tree.

And finally, there were a lot of honey bees. I found a hive that the farm was maintaining as well as various stray bees traipsing among the flowers. I probably looked a bit strange lying there in the field with my camera, but I love taking pictures of bees!

applepick11applepick17
applepick18applepick19

I should probably get started on my next project….baking all of the apple pies!

Adventure Time!

I have become mildly obsessed with the show Adventure Time. So I decided to give myself the Adventure Time treatment!

adventuretimeme
The bushy unmanageable hair is so accurate…

I really love reading and have an actually unreasonable amount of books right now (my workplace gets sent tons of advance reader copies and employees are allowed to take them), so I thought it was only appropriate to draw myself on a pile of books. The books I drew are actually some of my favorite books, except for two made-up books (Hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare play, but to my knowledge, there is no such book as “Hamlet the Pig”) and, of course, a shout out to Adventure Time (first book). I also included my favorite animal, the jellyfish, on my shirt, holding a little balloon (how sweet!). I colored it with watercolor pencils, because…that’s basically all I have right now.

Here’s the line art (because why not):

adventuretimemelineart

Painting: Fitzroy, the King of Goldfish

fitzroy
Heavy is the head that wears the fancy crown.

So after a long break from painting, I jumped back in. Kind of. I oh-so-smartly left almost all of my watercolors behind while moving back (except for white and van dyke brown– good thinking, me!) so I had to crack into some watercolor pencils I’ve had lying around for a while. 

coloredpencilsTa-da!

You see how the top part has some words on it? Those would be the instructions. Which, in my excitement and haste, I neglected to read. So of course I dipped one of the pencils into the water and then wondered why it wasn’t working. Yeah, I know. Anyway, I still prefer watercolor paints to these pencils, but they’re a nice substitute for now. 

As for the fish up there, I think I might put in a background, but I think otherwise he’s done. 

Being Sick

Illustration of how my coughing evolved into bronchitis:

bronchitis
Well…I think I’m hilarious. 

I am sooooo super sick right now (seriously, the Dayquil does nothing!). I decided to channel all my sick-y horribleness into a funny little drawing about how my illness evolved. I will never not make Pokemon jokes. It is my right as an American.

The coloring isn’t terrific, but I left most of my art stuff back in New York, so I had to go to Walmart to buy some Crayola colored pencils (along with the aforementioned useless Dayquil). And Koffing and Weezing are the strangest shades of purple I’ve ever seen.

Vegan Soup Endeavors with Kale

Image
Yum, yum!

So, this has become my absolute go-to soup for many reasons. One major reason is that my local grocery store only seems to sell kale in bulk, so I can make about three batches of this soup and still have enough left to stuff a mattress and a pillow set. Another reason is it’s healthy and super delicious! Kale really is the vegetable of the moment, so let’s make some soup with it!

I tweaked this excellent recipe, since I always like to make things my own.

RECIPE:

Prep time: depends how fast you cut vegetables. Conservatively, 10 minutes.
Cook time: 10-20 minutes.
Makes: approximately 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 (32-ounce) box vegetable broth
4 cups packed chopped kale
1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup elbow noodles (or slightly less)
2 tablespoons chili powder

Directions:

1. Cut all the vegetables and chop the garlic. While you’re doing that, boil the cup of noodles about 7-8 minutes until al dente. Put aside.

Image
Onion! I’m tearing up just looking at it. 

Image
Like so. I’m sure you don’t need a visual of noodles boiling.

2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

3. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes.

4. Add the chopped garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.

5. Add the broth, can of tomatoes, kale, carrots, and celery and cover. Cook approximately 10 minutes or until kale is tender (I find it takes a little longer than 10 minutes.)

6. Add the noodles, drained beans, and the chili powder. Stir well and serve hot.

soupinpot2
Forgive the image quality, it was taken with a phone.

Voila! You have a soup. I would recommend adding a little more broth, if you can, since it’s so chock full of vegetable goodness. You can also add or subtract the chili powder, based on your preferences (I would add chili powder to literally everything edible if I could). Enjoy!

Adventures in the Botanical Garden

insta20

So I found myself at the United States Botanical Garden this weekend! Sort of by accident. I initially set out to the National Gallery of Art to see an exhibit on marginalia in books (yeah, I am super fun at parties), but when I arrived, I was informed that it was not open on weekends. I would love for someone to explain to me how that makes any sense. I was already at the National Mall, so I decided to go to the Botanical Garden, since I had never been there.

I only had my camera phone with me, so I had to make do. I honestly feel like photographing flowers is a lot like shooting fish in a barrel, but whatever. In celebration of summer, here are some moments in the garden I thought were beautiful:

(Click any picture to make it bigger…they look better with details!)

insta22insta14
A cactus flower and a peony. 

insta17insta5
A monarch butterfly and some kind of…flower (I’m a photographer, not a botanist).

insta8insta6
A happy little bumble bee and some kind of….other plant. 

insta23insta19
The back of a leaf and some prickly plant thing.

insta11insta16
A pretty flower and a honey bee. 

insta15insta26
A rose (finally something I can identify!) and…something else.

insta21insta18
Flowers growing out of the separation between the stones and a little bug on a flower (if anyone knows what this is, let me know!)

insta24insta9
A honey bee going about his business and a leaf with thorns.

insta1insta13
More of the same leaves and the top of some kind of plant.

insta28insta10
Some colorful orchids and the craziest looking leaf I’ve ever seen.

insta12insta4
Colorful flowers.

insta3insta7
More pretty flowers.

I had a lot of fun taking these pictures and was very impressed by the patience of the bees. I had to get very close to take those pictures, and they didn’t mind at all….except for a particularly nosy bumblebee who tried to fly into my phone.

Making Vegan Chili

Wow, I actually managed to cook myself a healthy meal. Does this mean I get an “I’m an adult” certificate to hang on the wall?

Image

I’m not vegan (or even vegetarian), but after reading recent articles wherein scientists suggest people get approximately 97 helpings of vegetables a day, I thought it couldn’t hurt to eat more. (Meanwhile my petitions for chocolate to be considered a vegetable go unanswered…)

So, without further ado: here is my recipe for this delicious vegan chili. It is a combination of two different recipes: here and here.

RECIPE:

Prep time: depends how fast you cut vegetables. ( I’m very slow at it.) I’d say maybe 30 minutes?
Cook time: 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low
Makes: approximately 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 16 oz bag brown lentils, rinsed
1 peeled carrot
1 can black beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
3 tablespoons chili powder
Red pepper flakes (if you like it extra spicy)

Directions:

1. Cut vegetables as directed. Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker and stir well. Cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

Image

It’s that simple! Here are all the ingredients mixed together just before cooking. Don’t be concerned if it’s soupy– it will get thicker with cooking. I didn’t really take any other pictures of the process because my cutting of vegetables looks like the work of Michael Meyers from Halloween. In the process of making this, I had to call a friend to ask what a “clove” of garlic is. I know. But this turned out beautifully! If I can do it, so can you!

Here is a good look at all the ingredients mixed together:

Image

Happy cooking!

My Journals (like blogging but in real life!)

Image

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?) 

Image

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.

ImageImage

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.

Image

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

Image

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.

ImageImage

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.

ImageImage

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.

ImageImage

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.

Image

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

Image

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!

ImageImage

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.

Image

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…

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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!