30 November 2009

december

xmasit’s nov 30th but i can’t wait any longer. tomorrow, it’s december. which means the countdown to christmas! and i’m excited to be excited about christmas. i had some fears at first that i’d be alone, but i think things are slowly becoming more concrete and real. and now i can’t wait!

happy countdown to christmas!

ps christmas lights = heart heart heart.

evreux

evreux01i live in evreux. and while most people might find it boring and dead, i find myself falling more and love with it every day.

however, since i do live here, it doesn’t get much journal love since i see it every day. but don’t worry, i was productive and finally got around to looking through some photos I made during my first week or two here.

evreux02every day, in this bright yellow hallway, i meet, kiss, see, talk with, and laugh with amazing people from all around the world. it helps a lot when you adore the people you live with!

evreux03the river iton is tiny. like, there are points where i could easily step over it. but it has its share of ducks, which i love feeding stale baguettes to.

evreux04and i love peering into all the little houses and their little gardens.

evreux05and the dogs. i love dogs. but i won’t adopt one until many many many years later, when i have time, a house, and a backyard. until then, i’ll just pretend all the adorable french dogs are mine.

evreux06for example, just look at these cuties waiting for their owners who are checking out books and cds from the bibliotheque. especially that one in the back – he’s so ready for his owner!

evreux07and the farmer’s market, bien sur.

evreux08i don’t think there is a farmer’s market that i’m not in love with.

evreux09when i was younger, we had a willow tree in the backyard. but it got cut down because it kept tangling with the power lines. happily, in evreux there are plenty of them and i no longer miss them.

evreux10When people ask me why I am in Evreux or the academie de Rouen, they are always surprised when I say that I chose it. After all, none of the other assistants (or workers) put Rouen as their #1. Just me. And I always give 4 reasons.

1. Close to Paris

2. My prof came from Rouen, so it seemed like i knew it more (even though it was still as mysterious as the rest of france)

3. Rouen is very unpopular, so i thought my chances of being accepted would be higher if I picked somewhere that no one else willingly wanted to go.

4. the clouds

one, two, and three make sense. but people always are confused by number four.

but,

evreux11 i’m

evreux12 serious.

always. how can one not love those puffy clouds that make the sky so dramatic and lovely? i’ve visited the south of france – and while it’s nice, the skies are clear and blue. like texas, which is all i’ve seen my entire life. i want cloudy, diffused lighting, puffy goodness!

and i’ve got it.

evreux, i love you!

29 November 2009

mannheim

mannheim01ahh, mannheim! my first ‘real’ experience in germany. it started with a cup of coffee bigger than a shot glass. yes. a cup of coffee that took me twenty sips rather than half a sip. i love france but i also love big cups of things!

and what greeted me once i arrived at my friend’s apartment? chopped apples for apple pancakes and feldsalat, aka lamb’s lettuce in english.

mannheim02the next day we went to Heidelberg to visit a castle. but i think that the scenery from the castle is more exciting than the actual castle itself.

mannheim03one thing germany can’t do wrong: anything with the word kartoffel. aka, potatoes. even ready made lidl potato salad is delicious.

mannheim05what’s interesting about mannheim is that unlike most european cities, the city is laid out on a grid system. therefore, there are no street names, just blocks. such as A4, C5, H9, etc.

mannheim04they’ve got a nice water tower, which i suppose is one of their landmarks. that and shopping. lots and lots of shops here!

mannheim06a late night bike ride with random strangers. a museum visit. a late night walk after celebrating a birthday in a very high bar. just a few of my favorite things to do.

mannheim07luisenpark. i’m quite a boring person because i like parks.

mannheim08but this one had flamingos!

mannheim09 and geese! and leaves everywhere. *they also had cows, sheep, horses, etc, but i didn’t make any nice photos of them.

mannheim10a chinese style garden. a wavy paved road. and a huge huge variety of plants as well.

mannheim11in texas, i’m pretty sure we don’t get the brilliant yellows and reds and oranges of fall. we might. it could be that i’ve never paid attention. but i’m 90% sure that fall just doesn’t exist the way it does in other parts of the US/Europe. Either way, i’ve discovered that what makes me happiest is seeing bright yellow leaves. i think it’s because of how they glow.

but since these photos were taken about a month ago, they’re long gone now… hello winter!

24 November 2009

salon du chocolat - paris

this happened october 17th… but when it comes to chocolate, better later than never, don’t you agree?

salonduchocolate01 imagine: a giant room in paris filled with chocolate vendors and makers.

and imagine: the only thing separating you from that is an hour long train ride and an entry ticket.

so there was no doubt i was going to be there. and i was. and here are all the things i saw (and tasted).

salonduchocolate02 the chocolate samples may have been free, but you needed to fight for them. they don’t come to you – you need to elbow and maneuver your way in so you are close enough to the sample plate. if not, too bad! or like the french say, tant pis!

salonduchocolate03 chocolate bars. rows and stacks and piles of so many different kinds of beautifully packaged chocolate bars. how can does one even begin to make a choice…?

salonduchocolate04  candied fruits. candied fruits and chocolate. dangerous!

salonduchocolate05 gorgeous blue and yellow calissons. ground almonds mixed with some sort of candied fruit, then layered with icing make up this elegant candy. they are usually about one inch long…

salonduchocolate06 however, for the salon du chocolat, they had a monster-sized one that they were selling chunks of for charity.

salonduchocolate07 stacks. i love layers. heaps of chocolate. layers of flavors. piles of chocolate books. just can’t get over les couches. just seeing piles of such sweetness makes me super happy.

salonduchocolate08 and watching people create is amazing as well. these beauties are from tokyo chocolate. it’s amazing how something so complicated and elaborate looking is actually made so swiftly and easily… but one must think about all the time and dedication spent learning!

salonduchocolate09 sadaharu aoki. how i love you. however, i didn’t buy anything from you because i can easily find you in paris… sorry! salon du chocolat was for things i could not find easily :)

salonduchocolate10 chocolate. chocolate and ribbon. selling stuff is all about presentation and display, i tell you! but i’m sure the chocolate was equally delicious.

salonduchocolate11 and lots of mannequins with chocolate outfits. yum! and gorgeous.

salonduchocolate12 there was even a mini chocolate coating machine. where else can you eat fresh-off-the-conveyer-belt-chocolate…? (besides a chocolate factory, of course)

salonduchocolate13 and it wasn’t just chocolate. it was anything that could be related to chocolate. thus, there were also cakes and chestnuts and pralines and nougats. basically, if it contained sugar, it was there.

salonduchocolate14 chocolate spreads. with the cutest caps ever. dangerous!

salonduchocolate15 macarons. of course you’d find them here! however, samples of these were a tough one to get, expectedly so.

salonduchocolate16 elegant glass viles filled with things that taste good with chocolate, as well as the most seductive black box i’ve ever seen in my entire life.

salonduchocolate17 that’s just the photo. can you imagine the smell of the bundle of vanilla beans from madagascar that overloaded your senses as you walked by?

salonduchocolate18 no chocolate show is complete without a chocolate fountain. and a very deceptive saucisse that was actually chocolate. and a mini version of the palais garnier opera house in paris made entirely of chocolate thanks to dalloyau. and studded with crystals from swarovski.

last but not least, a checkers set made entirely of chocolate. board included. imagine. at the end of the game, you get to devour everything.

salonduchocolate19spices. and salt. all things that i love with chocolate. in fact, theo’s (sadly, no appearances at the paris salon du chocolat) coconut curry bar hits the spot each time. and anytime i have chocolate with fleur de sel… the chocolate does not last long.

salonduchocolate20 sorry i didn’t take down more notes about all the chocolatiers, their names, their history, their methods, their interesting stories, and their secrets… i was too busy reaching for samples and soaking up just being there. but what that really means is that you must go there yourself one day if you find yourself close to a salon du chocolat! (and there are multiples in the world!)

18 November 2009

22 23

pinatajust a little under 12 hours, and i’m going to be twenty-three! vingt-trois! 二十三歲!dreiundzwanzig! veintitrés!

but it’s not just me. on sunday, two lovely friends are also celebrating their birthdays. thus, it’s a triple birthday weekend. and i can’t wait.

so, i’m making piñatas for them… i can’t escape making things. it just feels so right when i spend hours just working with my hands. and it also feels so nice to make a mess.

pmand now, the last thing i will write as a twenty-two year old! i sometimes feel as if i couldn’t possibly be 22 with everything i’ve experienced in life. i’ve met way too many lovely people, seen too many beautiful views, tasted a billion delicious foods, visited so many countries, listened to numerous languages… it seems i should be about 42 with the amount of things i’ve done.

but nope, i really am 22! and if i’ve done this much so far, i’m so excited just thinking about the potential of what i’ll be doing within the next few years…!

i’ve got friends who are 22 who are married and have babies and dogs and houses with giant backyards… and it always blows my mind how different the paths changed once we all graduated from college. we’re the same age, but we’re doing completely different things. because up until then, it was the same: elementary school –> middle school –> high school –> college –>…and then, that straight line goes wack and becomes something very very very different for everybody!

au revoir forever, because a 23 year old will be writing in this journal from now on!

xx

17 November 2009

basel + liminality

basel01although i got a not-so-good grade from an art history class on roman imperialism two years ago, there’s a concept i learned about that i’ve never forgotten. why, i don’t know, but i just know i’m in love with the concept of liminality.

essentially, a point of transition. such as all the triumphal arches. doorways. windows. rivers. borders. train stations. places where we move through, but never actually stay – but in these points, we change. we become slightly different. you can never go through these spaces without coming something happening.

and for me, basel is a liminal city. above, on the left, the swiss SBB CFF FFS train. and on the right, the TGV from france. at the same spot, transporting people between different countries, cultures, and languages.

basel02just a little over an hour by train from strasbourg, basel was a perfect daytrip for me. after all, the idea of being in a different country in less than two hours it never fails to amuse me, seeing as i could drive for nine hours in texas and still be in texas.

basel03basel is full of contemporary art museums. i was craving contemporary art. craving. there’s so much old ancient stuff in europe, and i was getting a bit sick of it.

but. one word distracted me and destroyed any plans for contemporary art. paper.

paper museum. there’s no way i could resist. i love love paper, stationary, pens, communication, letters… and paper making museums are my weakness in life.

*official name = Swiss Museum for Paper, Writing and Printing / Schweizerisches Museum für Papier, Schrift und Druck also known as Basel Paper Mill / Basler Papiermühle

basel04as usual, it was a pretty interactive museum. every paper related museum always covers how paper is made, but this museum offered something new in that it also covered printing, binding, and stamping techniques.

*other museums i’ve visited: vallis clausa in fontaine de vaucluse (france) and su ho memorial paper museum in taipei (taiwan)

basel05you can even write a letter using quill and ink, and then seal it with your choice of wax and stamp.

basel06tons and tons of ancient presses here. also, i can’t stress enough how much i love museums where you’re encouraged to make things. like your own print. where you roll out the ink, coat the plate, and print. you learn so much more when you do instead of just looking.

basel07but what i loved most was the map of the museum. not only was it planned out beautifully and different from any other museum map i’d seen before…. later on in my visit i saw the plates (?) that are used to print them. of course they’d print their own maps! love it when things are fait à la maison.

basel08i also have a hard time resisting cultural history museums. yes, i know i said earlier i was tired of old stuff…. but i’m just tired of old paintings and old sculptures… not old toys, clocks, watches, clothings, living spaces, etc.

so off i went to Haus zum Kirschgarten, or the House to the Cherry garden, a museum dedicated to the daily life of swiss people in the past. *also i thought it was literally a garden full of cherries… but i did not just admit that.

basel09miniatures = also a big weakness. why is it when things are shrunken or blown up, i become enamored?

basel10just too perfect.

basel11old paper dolls. a red and white curtain. miniature patisserie for a doll house. a knitting basket.

basel12you know that i am obsessed with carousels, but did you know i also love chandeliers? and why? easy enough answer –> they give me gorgeous blurry photos!

*ps note the turquoise colored walls. love love love.

basel13and portable carnivals, which all of europe seems to love. at night. their gawdy lights are gorgeous once they’re blurry.

basel14 i can never never get enough of the pink glow at sunset.

basel15pink ferris wheel? sunset? river for reflection? yes please!

basel16i’d also like to thank the people of basel for being so pedestrian friendly. every driver and biker yielded to me, even when they had the right of way. and they smiled and looked happy to let me cross. i just find it really funny that in my small french town my chances of getting hit by a car are much higher than a big international city like basel. but i suppose that’s the difference there… french. french drivers are in a class of their own. but i still love them.

basel17bridges + light + river + sunset = happy cathy. and then, a train back to strasbourg.

and back on the topic of liminality…

i also love it so much right because that is exactly where i am. in between. finished uni, and not doing any “real” work expect exploring, eating, observing, making, talking… i’m transitioning, but i’m not sure where to – art, baking, languages…? only time will tell.

and, very soon, there’s that liminal point once a year when the clock strikes midnight and in a franction of a second you become a whole year older!