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Hi. I'm 23, just graduated from a university where I studied English and geology. I live in Rochester, NY and am soon moving to central NY to help with the family photo business. Then to Edinburgh, Scotland for a year, and then probably to Berkeley, CA.

My "blog goals": to write, show off my mad culinary skillz, and post photos.

Stopped by the Scottish National Museum yesterday. Doesn’t this aardvark remind you of a certain long-nosed collie?

Stopped by the Scottish National Museum yesterday. Doesn’t this aardvark remind you of a certain long-nosed collie?

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On my birthday, I woke up, which designated the birthday endeavor a success. I made pancakes for NJames, oats for me, and then got super mad at Sainsbury’s stupid tomatoes for being all soft and gooey after only 2 days.

SO

I made delicious tomato sauce, as seen here (pre-immersion blender).

I fried up about a fourth of an onion and two cloves of garlic in some olive oil, decided it was going to burn, and added canola oil. Then I added about 10 smaller-than-plum sized tomatoes (“British breakfast tomatoes”… more on this in a later post feat. The Big Breakfast phenomenon), a bit of salt, some oregano, and five-ish chopped up basil leaves. Then I simmered it and added some water occasionally while I did other important birthday things (e.g., read, take an absurdly long shower).  Then I turned it off. And it was literally the best tomato sauce I have ever made, and I think maybe even tasted. Birthday magic.

So I think I actually got around to showering at noonish, and so was rudely interrupted by the postman ringing the doorbell. Fortunately we have an intercom system so I only had to get to the phone and tell him to leave the package (just boring plastic window seals) down there. Phew. Then I made a deliciousdecliousdelicious lunch. 

So I also have been on a Giant Salad with Hommos lunch kick, similar to the oatmeal thing (see previous post). And like I have a secret to good oatmeal (warm up the [oat]milk…), my Giant Salad secret is: layer your salad. Don’t be confused by the separated veg in the following shot - I mean layer your salad as in, put some lettuce down, put some veg down, put more lettuce down, put more veg down. Here’s the salad all finished up with hidden layers: 

My dressing is lemon juice and salt and pepper (layer that, too). AND THEN…

Then put all the goodies on it - cilantro, caramelized onion hommos, and half a bean burger.

Mix it up, stuff it in your gullet. After that I made birthday cake. I literally just cooked and ate all afternoon. 

N James and I did head off to the National Library of Scotland on George IV St for a lecture on “the Secret Lives of Texts”, which wasn’t so thrilling as it sounded, but was still good. I put on my favorite shoes to go, as one should on one’s birthday. We took the camera to prove that we do things other than make food, except this is the only one we took until we went to dinner. Oops.

The lecture featured three Uni. of Edinb. profs who talked about why there are different editions of books, each using an example: Hamlet, Ulysses, and Great Expectations. The professor speaking about James Joyce’s Ulysses kept arguing for one edition over the other because it “at least has the virtue of making pristine sense”, although I think he’s delusional when I think about the rest of Ulysses.

Afterwards I decided I needed mediterranean food - scarce in comparison with Indian and chip shops in this crazy land, but there is ”Beirut”, the “first lebanese restaurant in Edinburgh” according to their sign. It’s also on the way home from the library, so it seemed like a good enough place. I convinced N James to get the Ayran yogurt drink, which is that white milk looking thing (I know, it looks like “aryan” which is weird because it’s white, but I promise it’s unrelated). It was great, especially if you like bitter drinkable yogurt (which… I guess I do!). It was also good since that salad was zoups spicy. 

Hommos and pita. Isn’t he a cute little hommos with his little parsley hat?

Transliteration rocks (especially with alphabets that don’t have written vowels). You can spell things however the heck you like. I like spelling hommos with two o’s cuz it sounds more like it is said to me. Anyway, that hommos was one of the best I’ve had in a long. time. 

The dish in the back there is ful (or fool) mudames (or mudammas… pick your fave.) It was not like the ful that I was used to eating in Egypt. This was almost like a soup. A creamy, delicious soup filled to the brim with tender broad beans. I almost walked up for more today because it was unbelievably good.

The other two dishes were just Meh. Actually they were less than meh, they didn’t really taste like anything, and were petty disappointing. The left is bammieh b’zeit (okra in a tomato-y sauce) and moussaka (which isn’t Lebanese at all, anyway - it’s tomato-y sauce again with chickpeas, onions, and eggplant). They look great. They taste like nothing. We also got falafel, which was not hot, dry and also tasteless.

So unfortunately everything kind of weighed out to be not that great (I am a Libra, after all. Scales, balances, etc.). The actual ambiance wasn’t terribly hoppin’, either, and the waitress was nice enough but obviously SUPER bored. I think we’ll have to stick to the “take away” option for this place (which is cheaper, anyway), and just get the ful muds and hommos. 

This is a sad photo. We were gonna drink champagne and eat cake… but then I got an email from C Mike saying that Harriet couldn’t go on her scheduled flight to come to us and we needed to book a flight. Panic ensued. N James went to work to use their more trusty internet to call and figure things out and three hours later came home again. We decided to save the champagne for when Harriet gets here (which, if all goes according to plan, should be around tomorrow night).

N James came back after midnight, but it was still my birthday in the U.S.! which is where it counts anyway; thanks to Mom for pointing that out. While N James was gone I got to talk to Tieg, baby Liv (who LIED to me and told me she made cupcakes for me! And even opened the fridge and told me they were in there! There were no cupcakes!), and then to my parents who I made stay really late at work while they talked to me. When N James got back I opened presents and stared at the computer.

I was staring at the computer because I was talking to Mom and Dad through Google Voice. But look! Maple syrup! 

And hot peppers! From the gaaarden… They look like they were just picked but I think they had been in transit for a week.

Cake time.

This is really the best cake I have ever had (thank you, Isa Chandra Moskowitz!). And the frosting… is everything I have ever wanted in frosting (crispy glazy outside, fluffy creamy chocolately mocha-y sweet inside… and it’s vegan).

For the frosting: beat together 1/4 c margarine and 1/4 c shortening then add and mix 1.5 to 2 c powdered sugar and 2 T cocoa powder in with it. Add 2 T strongly-brewed coffee (or alternative milk of your choice if you just want chocolate frosting, not mocha) and maybe some vanilla extract. Beat that til it’s fluffy and frosting-y. And heck, add whatever. Blueberry jam. Raspberry preserves. Chunky peanut butter. Bits of roasted pecans. Chopped up dried apricots (maybe soak ‘em in hot water first). An actual vanilla pod thingy. Lemon zest. M&M bits.

That’s a mighty big slice of cake you got there, N James. This is where I want to remind you of your previous birthday… when you claimed your birthday cake as such and told everyone else they couldn’t eat any more of it (including the person who made it). Some may call him a saint. Others should guard their birthday cake. 

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I usually go on breakfast kicks for about month or two months running. As in, I eat the same thing for breakfast everyday with slight changes. When I was living in Fort Plain this summer, it was a well-organized oatbran mix: first fresh raspberries, then banana slices, then cooked oat bran (sort of like Cream of Wheat), then a drizzle of maple syrup in a flat bowl with straight sides. The layering is essential: the raspberries stay cool, the bananas get warmed and a little caramelized from the hot oat bran, and the maple syrup coats the top of the bran, which forms a layer on top that keeps everything warm, and then when you get a spoonful, you get each layer, and the maple syrup drips into the bottom so you get maple syrup with every bite. It’s refined both in terms of precision and elegance. Others might hesitate to call it genius, but I would not. 

When I first got to Edinburgh, maple syrup, oat bran - fresh raspberries… I was lucky if I found a stove. So I progressed to a new breakfast phase: Fage 0% greek yogurt mixed with a sliced banana and any type of cereal I could get my hands on that wasn’t coated in sugar. One glorious time I found Kellogg’s bran flakes, but mostly it was Wheat-a-bix, which is like a card deck-sized chunk of grainy bran and wheat bits that like to get stuck in your teeth. Top all that with honey and mix it up. The opposite of precise. And little grainy things stuck in your teeth don’t make you feel very luxurious, either. Especially when earlier that morning you had showered in a 3x3 ft bathroom that also housed a toilet with sewage issues, and that you shared with thirty others. Oh, and you forgot to pack flip-flops.

Enter: 52/3 Craigmillar Park. Phase 3: Back to the Future, Oatmeal-style.

Browned apples with cinnamon (really I just warmed them up in a saute pan, no margarine/oil necessary) with cooked prunes and oats and topped with agave and soymilk. Key to good oats: heat up the milk!

The glories of leftover pumpkin puree, with Gala apples chunks. Delicious - I think maybe a drizzle of honey topped this off? 

Wanna spoonful?

It was so good the next day I made something very similar. The softened apples are still there but on the bottom. And I added some brown sugah and by this time I had OATMILK (which tastes like the milk that is left over after you eat oats. So now it’s like having double-oaty-milk after eating oatmeal…). 

All mixed up.

Hey, where’d these pannies come from? It’s okay, don’t worry, I didn’t eat them. I love to make pancakes so N James “let” me make them for him on my birthday. And they’re vegan!

Caramelized bananas, walnuts, honey, and nutmeg pancakes with a coffee and blueberry-acai-blackberry juice. Oh, you wanted a close-up of that?

Peanut butter pancake, jelly pancake, and vegan creamer (made from oats… it’s unbelievable).

Creamy-buttery goodness. This one I definitely ate half of, although I still kept room for oats. 

Birthday oats: apples, oatmilk, apricots, banana chunks, honey, cinnamon. These are Bramley apples, as opposed to the usual Gala. Way more tart.

These are today’s oats, which were extra-super-special, because they were MAPLE SYRUP-ified, thanks to Mops and Pops Shaffer, who sent me maple syrup for my bday.

Birthday candles. Should’ve put ‘em in the oats.

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We have fully moved into 52/3 Craigmillar Park, although the only room that looks as if it is lived in is the kitchen. Usually it is too cold in other parts of the apartment to hang out in them much, anyway, although there is a ton of space.

We didn’t actually try to turn on the heat until this past Sunday when we first tried to turn it on. This is kind of odd, since we’ve been using the gas stove and I kind of just expected to get a bill in the mail at the end of the month addressed to the occupant of 52/3 (I’ve been pretty lucky with avoiding anything that could be considered a “responsibility” in terms of leasing an apartment). Anyway, we called the gas emergency number on the heater (it didn’t say it was for emergencies), who routed us to National Grid, who told us that we did not have a supplier. Then N James called British Gas in order to set up the gas, and he suggested we call our landlord’s emergency number. I’m not sure I was actually going to freeze to death, so we decided to risk it and just call the regular number and leave a message, asking them who WAS our supplier so that they could start our heat. And when I say “we”, I’m sure everyone knows I mean “N James”, since I just kind of huddled in a wool blanket front of the cold heater, shivering miserably. In any case, a friend of N J’s at work told him that he just had to turn on the boiler, and so now he keeps looking for excuses to turn on the heat, even though it’s not that cold. Notice we still haven’t really gotten closer to the actual issue, which is that we don’t have a gas/electricity supplier, but I don’t know if we need to actually search out a way to pay someone (who?) if things are working… If it’s not broke, right? I’m sure we’ll avoid taking any more responsibility until forced.

I’m glad that we are, apparently, hooked up to someone’s gasline, in any case (or maybe they just measure it and charge us? I don’t get it. It belongs to no one until someone decides to charge us?). We are still – about a month later – waiting for our internet to be installed. We’re currently using a “dongle” (I’ll pause for you to stop chuckling…)                                 which is a little USB that connects us to the internet for about £15 per 1G of downloaded information. 1G of info on the internet seems to be a lot, although I really don’t want to call anyone and get cut off mid-conversation. I’ve been conservative with it anyway, as I log in to gmail, open my emails, turn off the connection, read my emails, respond to them, re-connect, and then send the emails.

 So back to the actual topic of this blog entry: I’ve been doing a lot of cooking. I decided that we have to eat, so I shouldn’t worry about how much money I spend on interesting things to cook (in any case, it’s always better/healthier/cheaper than eating out). And there are so many different things to try. Not only do I get all of the UK’s and Scotland’s different brands and snacks and crazy things, I get a whole city of specialized food markets. So all the things I’ve hours searching for are readily available, e.g., pomegranate molasses, sweet potato vermicelli, palm sugar, green curry sauce, harissa, tons of flours (graham, teff„ kamut), curry leaves, fried tofu, MOCHI!, Et cetera.

Some loot from the vegan/vegetarian market – with free postcards and movies rented from the library and some junk from the charity shop (including two bowls for Harriet!).

 

Here’s some more loot from the Chinese supermarket.

 

Including the mochi! Covered in sesame seeds and filled with sweet red bean paste. They are delicious.

 

Tonight I made Pad Thai (veggie, obviously).

And roasted my own peanuts for the top!

 

The rest of the roasted nuts I mashed into a flour to stir in with rice with a bit of sugar for breakfast.

 

The pad thai had fried tofu, bean sprouts, scallions, chili sauce, lime juice, bit of soy sauce and brown sugar, red peppers, onion, garlic, and cilantro from the plant I’ve managed to keep alive in the kitchen window.

 

It wasn’t vegan because I added the egg omelet – you stir up an egg and then fry it, roll it up, and slice it. Next time I’ll probably leave it out, but it was fun to do.

 

Yep. It was pretty delicious.

I can’t wait to make it for my parents and my sister, who all love The King and I’s Pad Thai. Dessert was sesame mochi…

 

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Can we talk about how expensive pasta is?

Seriously. A package of pasta runs from £1-£2. That’s $1.50-$3. Not organic. Not whole wheat.

In other news, this majestic tin of goodies —

comes to 50p (£0.50). Haven’t tried it yet, but it will soon be in my cupboard, next to the canned apples and the canned rice pudding. I’m not sure I will actually ever EAT it, but if I do, I will let you know how it is.

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Yeah, so I’m the worst blogger ever. 

In any case, there is good news that bodes well for you blogreaders, which is that N James and I are signing a lease today! And tomorrow we should be moving in to our new flat, at 52/3 Craigmillar Park, Edinburgh.

Tonight should hopefully be our last night in a hostel. Ironically, we finally found one that is decent (Royal Mile Hostel) - friendly people, small rooms, cheap, and adequately clean (as clean as hostels get). The best part: there are separate bathrooms for girls and guys. Truly the height of luxury.

We’ve just come back from James’ Fulbright orientation in London, which he will have to write about himself. We were hosted by a Rochester alum that is also on Fulbright (based in London at Imperial College). She let us take over her tiny little dorm room and stayed at the UCL dorms the Fulbright Commission had for them (they only had a room for James and not me, so otherwise we would have been paying loads of money for a hostel like usual). She was SUCH a great host - picked us up from the train station and left us chocolates next to our bed. It was like a B&B compared to hostel life. 

During the week while James was at Orientation I walked around the city and by the time I got to where I was going I had to sit down and take a break (it’s huge. Also, I had a cold the entire time I was there). I managed to get to the Victoria and Albert Museum (completely impossible to get around in, even after paying a pound for a map which turned out to be even more confusing), relaxed in two great parks (Hyde and Green), visited the memorial to Princess Diana, visited the Seurats at the National Gallery (and equally important, visited the National Gallery Cafe…) and sat in Trafalgar Square to people watch - and be watched… met a fellow wedding photog who also works for Amnesty International as a photojournalist (jealousss), who proceeded to seriously talk my ear off for about an hour. I caught myself backing away a little when he was talking to me. He would come a little closer, I would back off… which I wasn’t conscious of until halfway through the conversation (the first time so far that I have felt the difference in proxemics). He also managed to insult me about three times in the conversation, as well as ignore anything I said. REGARDLESS of all of that, it was a pleasant conversation. 

It was fun to meet Hannah (our Rochester pal) and we got to spend some time with her on the weekend, too. She lives off of Edgware Rd which had a ton of Mid East style restaurants and veg and shisha shops. We got there at night and it was literally like being in Cairo again - everyone was out and about just like during Ramadan or the summer months when it’s too hot to be out during the day. One night we got Lebanese food at al-Balad (including very small pickled eggplant filled with walnuts) and on Saturday we took a (long) walk to the Twinings store and the Portrait Gallery. James and I also got to met up with friends from our Highlands tour in London’s Chinatown for dinner that day, too. 

The highlight of N James’ trip to London was petting David Cameron’s cat, whose name is Larry. He went on a tour of 10 Downing Street and of course pet the cat that was hanging around, which happened to belong to Dave. Also, there is no doorknob or bell or catdoor to the house - there is a guard who sits inside the door and opens it when someone comes up on the TV monitor (including Larry). 

The warm sunny weather in London was a kind of a tease, since we came back to usual Edinburgh dreariness. The weather reports look at life with an optimism that borders on delusional - e.g., please take the phrase “sunny intervals”, which is usually indicated as “scattered showers” by the more cynical. There is also “white cloud” which I would be more likely to call “full cloud cover that indicates scattered showers although not pouring rain”. Even so, it is nice to be back in Edinburgh, which is more like a triple-sized Rochester - city bits but town-like feel. 

Now I am feeling less impatient about moving in to a flat, I am thinking about how in a month’s time, I will be romping with Harriet in the park… 

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Nates on a plane! (almost):

You’ll have to excuse the lack of rabbitfood these last two weeks; we are (still) in transit. We’ve moved from our warm garden villa in Fort Plain, NY to a series of youth hostels in the vicinity of Edinburgh, Scotland (more on this below). Chels called me in to write the “new place” blog again, and I’ve been delinquent (blame me if you are experiencing withdrawal). I’m writing from a Starbucks, so the novelty of this first Scottish post may appear less authentic than you or I had hoped. However, out my window there is a kilted man with furry fawn stilt-legs and hooves prancing around in a circle whilst he squeezes out a traditional diddy on his bagpipes…oh, and Boy with the Arab Strap is blaring over the café speakers in here. (Editor’s note: The author here insinuates that those uncultured enough to be ignorant of this reference are unworthy of an explanation of its significance here. Fortunately the editor has more pity. The Boy with the Arab Strap is a song by the Scottish band Belle and Sebastian.)

The oddity of an east coast earthquake/hurricane matches the weirdness of the Edinburgh atmosphere we entered amidst the Fringe festival. Unlike the tens of thousands of Europeans here on holiday (hundreds of thousands? an extra million or two?), we plan on sticking around for a year. This presents the immediate challenge of flat-hunting while the whole city parties down. Also, as we later learned, Edinburgh’s summer has been unusually cool – sweaters and brollies (Editor’s note: brollies = umbrellas) rather than shorts and jumpers (Editor’s note: jumpers are sweaters). Thankfully, our first impressions of a claustrophobicly bustling metropolis where August is like March in New York were false (although it still hasn’t warmed at all, and there’s really no hope now that it’s fall).

The first five days here were all the same. Jet-lagged, and with a feverish desire for a real place to live, we set about on foot inquiring at every letting agency we passed. When we could walk no further we found the nearest wifi’ed café, ordered tea for two and scanned the online let advertisements. We set up viewings via telephone booth (60p for a local call) or a canned email to the landlord (written by Chels).

It’s always interesting how devolved I feel when I move to a new place. No friends, no bearings, no technology, no mobility. Everything takes three times as long to accomplish. Small tasks (e.g. charging your laptop) turn to grand adventures. But how else can you orient yourself? There are about fifteen overlapping districts/neighborhoods in Edinburgh, hundreds of cafes and restaurants, short-cuts and back-alleys; hunting for a flat was perhaps the best way to root ourselves down into the city, the best way to understand what is where. (Editor’s note: Although we still get lost thanks to streets with five different names or that overlap another (thank you, George IV Bridge).  

We found a place south of the ideal Marchmont area, which means a 30 minute walk up into the city to any café or to use the school’s gym, but the flat is wonderful – top floor of a townhouse, loads of light, high ceilings, attractively simple kitchen, little children in the downstairs flat, six blocks from my office, and blackberry bushes in the front yard, which is big enough to play Frisbee in with Harriet.

Unfortch, we cannot move in until September 19th (read: we are stuck in hostels until school starts). We have chosen to combat this stagnancy with travel – first down to a bed and breakfast in Ambleside, England on Lake Windermere (namesake for my grandparents’ summer cottage in Michigan), then on a five day tour of the Highlands and its various hostels, and finally down to London for Fulbright Orientation (all interspersed with more “cheap” hostels).

So we know where we are going to live in Scotland and we know how to occupy ourselves until we can move in. Now that that is resolved, let’s talk food!

It turns out that Mike (Dana and Tim’s friend) was spot on when he told us that despite (or perhaps in spite of) Britain’s bad rap, nutrition is a top priority here. The obesity epidemic is being visibly challenged: it is discussed in op-eds of the London Times and the Scotsman; at the Edinburgh College of Art’s masters student exhibition we saw designs for products to actively combat obesity (from seaweed chews to t-shirt decals that analyze your body’s chemistry through your sweat). Consequently local, organic, whole-grain, natural, vegetarian, vegan, cage-free, free-range is everywhere. Restaurants offer REAL veg options – none of that portabella sandwich and side salad crap (Editor’s note: or the always inventive breaded eggplant parmesan…). If an item is cleared for vegetarians it is clearly labeled on the packaging (no more scrutinizing nutrition labels), even those pre-packaged convenience store sandwich shelves are at least 1/3 veggie (and not just for vegetarians, but because people don’t feel they need to eat meat in every meal) – last week I had an aged manchego cheese, red-onion, plum chutney and heirloom tomato sandwich for £1.50.

We’ve been eating as frugally as possible: toast or yogurt and banana for breakfast, an apple and half a sandwich from the store for lunch, pita and hummus and carrots for dinner. Although we’ve been tempted by the five or six vegetarian restaurants right around our hostel in Old Town we have stayed ourselves, giving in only twice for the highly-praised all-tapas menu at Mother India Café and The Baked Potato Shop, where we had our first vegetarian haggis served in a HUGE jacket potato, and also fruit coleslaw (the fruit part was raisins).

That’s all for now, although there is plenty more to share. 

Me climbing a hill in Holyrood Park:

James.

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Fruit scones with jam and butter (re: Dad, Mom, T: better than even the memory of the Canjo scones.)

I like watching soccer. 

I brought a raincoat and sweaters. Lots of sweaters.

I’m good at walking.

I can understand everyone’s accents (phew). Related: We all speak English! 

I am able to remember that I have gone to the bathroom in grosser places and am thankful for the mediocre grossness (I’m not talking about Malawian holes in the ground - those are usually nicer than most bathrooms). 

I enjoy N James’ presence. Thank god because he won’t leave me alone. 

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We’ve got Visas. Mine says I’m not allowed to work as a doctor. I’m glad both the U.K. and I agree on that.

This weekend I went up with my Mom to see G Ma Jean before I left. I also: saw Lea’s gorgeous, huge new house in Irondequoit; Mom and I stole Emily from work to eat lunch at my fave, Sol Burrito (fortunately we all love Tex Mex - I was STILL craving it today and made enchiladas for dinner adapted from The Vegan Mouse); I woke up at 4:45 twice to go to the YMCA with my Aunt Kim and took my first spinning and exercise classes (I can barely move today); aaaand I got to see a bunch of cute baby faces, i.e., cue baby faces:

This is my little Liv Monster (my cousin Lea’s daughter). I asked her to show me her new house but mostly she wanted to find the kitties and draw on playing cards.

She also wanted me to take a picture of that candle holder fish thing she is holding in her left hand, the weirdo.

That’s Liv and her momma.

We also got to see my cousins Jodi, Tyler, and Travis at my Aunt Kim’s, and two of Jodi’s kids, Nola and Remi (Drake went home before we got there) and Tyler’s girls Emma and Danae. Mom really wanted to get them a game to play at their grandma’s house so naturally she picked one with heavy mallets.

More croquet.

That’s Jodi helping Emma while Nola watches. Apparently Nola woke up the next morning and first thing she said was that she had to get better at “that mallet game”.

Remi and Danae. 

Remi spent a lot of time trying to uproot the little croquet animal hoops. It’s kind of how I feel about croquet, myself.

I hope to have more pictures (different and ones I like even more) up on Flickr soon… including those from BOTH Cape trips. I think that will is most likely to happen during one of my two layovers next week. P.S., we leave this Monday. I put together a bag of teas to take with me on the plane and threw some shoes in a suitcase, so I’ve started packing (right?). 

Tomorrow I am going to work in the morning and then NJ and I are dropping Harriet off at Judy and Craig’s (N. James’ parents). I know that they will take great care of her but I keep imagining her all sad in the cargo of a Boeing. I wish she didn’t smell like a dog today so I could snuggle her more.

We have a wedding the next day (Friday) and then two full days to pack. Mostly I’m concerned about bringing my pillow, maple syrup (obvs), my books, laptop, clothes and camera. I’m thinking I should pack my bike, but I have to decide by tomorrow if I want to stop at both a bike store for the right box and a Home Depot-type store to get packing insulation. A year is such an awkward time for which to pack.

Today I practiced counting out money that NJ’s uncle George gave him. Ya know… quid and p et cetera. N James would like you to know that 20 pence coins feature Elizabeth the II in different stages of her life. Relatedly, I finally finished that book about Mary and Elizabeth (the first). Oi. It’s taken me all summer. I blame my bosses. Some people have Blackberries and are responsible for calls/emails twenty-four-seven. Like my mom says, sometimes you want to go home and talk about your workmates over a drink… but wait… 

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Doesn’t this walking stick look really happy?

Maybe not. Maybe he’s just being a walking stick.

I’ve been really busy lately working at The Classic Image. We’ve been busy with a bunch of weddings - last Saturday’s at The Otesaga in Cooperstown, which has a great entrance with with huge columns. Some of my favorite shots of Dad’s were taken there (including this one). The bride was enormous…. that is, height-wise. She said she was 6’1” but Mom and I both think she was 6’3”. She played basketball at Columbia and had her “tall girl” friends and tall family, too, so it was like I was a normal person. I was disappointed she didn’t wear high heels though. Oh well. 

We have also been doing high school seniors for these past two weeks. I help the girls put on the drape for the formal picture, fix their hair for them, and change the backgrounds and lighting for their casual photos. We had a girl in with her rodeo stuff in today - black hat and boots, belt with rhinestones, and a black shirt decorated a green sequined-paisley print, which was different. I had Dad do a silhouette of her like he does for some of the guys’ sports pictures and I think it will be interesting. I think the farm kids (we get a lot) will like it. 

I’ve also been doing some photoshop work for Mom. I put together a 5x7 with the Facebook and Twitter logos on it. Well… that’s the FB logo but I only had the bird for the Twitter logo so I added some stuff to it to match the other, so it wouldn’t look unbalanced on the 5x7. I haven’t used photoshop in a while so it was good practice to get back into it. It was a task better suited for Adobe Illustrator; but Dad doesn’t use it so we don’t have a spare copyright laying around.

Here’s the jpeg we printed from. The bits underneath are our handles on each site. Nice font choice, right? Anyway, don’t tell FB. Or Twitter.

I am also working on a few storyboard templates. I am going to make one for the florist who did this wedding - probably just a triptych - and one for the Otesaga (just switching out the middle picture to a romantic shot of the bride and groom at the grounds rather than at the church). And I’ll make some with verticals and horizontals, etc. They are really fun to make. I’m not sure I like the signature on the bottom right but it’s got to be there really.

James and I have also been busy cooking rad dinners for all of us, as usual - the deal is, we cook dinners and M & D buy groceries. I think it’s a fair deal. Although, regardless of that, and usually making him a sandwich and coffee for lunch most days, Dad just went and got a pizza for himself but not Mom and I… “I figure, no one worries about me, why should I worry about anyone else?” That’s some real Shaffer-food-deprived-crazies. Moral of the story: remember to feed the Bear.

We are headed back to the Cape this weekend and James is making homemade English muffins (the BEST!), and I am going to make my favorite chocolate cake for everybody, which also happens to be vegan. 

Hopefully we’ll have a real break and just get to do fun things all day. We’re leaving for the UK in less than 3 weeks (hopefully… still waiting on those visas) and are running around from place to place between now and then, so I am looking forward to walking on the beach with Harry. Do I sound exhausted or what?

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