25 February 2010

sunday morning markets in ghent

ghentmarch01as you stroll into town, you spy boxes. of bananas, you think? oh no, this isn’t a food market…

ghentmarch02boxes of bunnies! and ducks with the most elegant hairdo ever. (just look how cool that duck looks!) piles of eggs. and people staring right into your camera wondering why you’re making photos.

ghentmarch03a most gorgeous handwritten price sheet… along with a bunny that just makes you melt. except, don’t forget that it’s really cold so melting isn’t possible.

but keep walking. there’s another market just a few steps away…

ghentmarch04a flea market! yes yes yes! old random things. an absolute favorite. a surprise in each bin. something is meant to be found. or perhaps you’re searching for something.

i found an old old old photo album. it was so perfect. elegant slits to slide in photos. frames. borders. threaded binding. yellowed pages. i would have bought it, but there were still photos inside. and i’d have feel awful if i deprived those photos of their only (beautiful) home. so, my new search is for an old and empty photo album. because i don’t want to be the cause of stacks of homeless photos.

ghentmarch05you try to soak in as much as you can because the market shuts down around 1pm, so tick tock, time is not on your side!

ghentmarch06ooooooo. this catches your eye. vintage wedding dresses. a basket full of vintage scraps. ooooooooooo. you wander into the little shop and marvel at all the beautiful buttons, hats, dresses, gloves, scarves, and earrings that are being sold. but you leave your camera in your purse because it’s more polite. when you’re ready to leave, you say dank u, exit, and head back to the flea market…

ghentmarch07and you hit the jackbot. vintage clothing. four of five racks crammed with everything that just makes you tick. and the best part.

oh.

the best part.

the price. let’s just say, after seeing the prices of vintage clothing in paris and strasbourg, one becomes a bit depressed. but in this little market, 5 euros can get you a gorgeous dress… or 15 or 25 in a boutique… much, much, much more affordable.

sadly, you see people taking down their tents and boxing up their goods. and so you go inside a few shops to warm up, then it’s back to exploring!

23 February 2010

brief interruption

i’m just going to interrupt belgium for just a moment to jump to the present tense in evreux. just wanted to share four small things that i enjoyed very much today:

break011. sliced apples with some whole grain mustard (aka moutarde à l'ancienne) with a bit of honey drizzled on top = happiness in my tummy.

break022. i saw twins today. twin rainbows.

break033. the puffy clouds i love so much are slowly making a comeback. you can see them peeking out under the rain cloud. just a few more weeks, and i know i’ll be reunited with my favorite type of clouds. i can’t wait.

break044. i’m definitely taking advantage of the fact that i can see stars in the sky. imagine growing up and learning about the big dipper and orion’s belt but never having the opportunity to see them? but now, away from a population of 6.3 million people, there are a lot less lights, so i can finally marvel at things in the sky!

okay, end of break, we’ll be travelling back in time to where i left off, back in ghent!

a kiwi smoothie to start the day in ghent

ghentday01 ghent really starts with a lovely view out of a cosy loft. and a collection of cups. that will soon be filled with a freshly made smoothie.

ghentday01bn is just amazing. but she moves quickly! note how she uses a wooden citrus reamer. faster, more efficient, and definitely easier to clean than a press or juicer. plus your arms get a mini workout. aside from the orange, also included in this lovely blend are: kiwis, limes, lemons, bananas, and…

ghentday01cthe obligatory maple syrup. because i love how she uses it in everything. however, since she’s no longer in canada, she has to be a bit more careful with her reserve. but seeing the can makes me super happy! isn’t it so wonderfully designed? and it brings up terrific memories of quebec.

ghentday01deverything together, then blended for a perfect morning smoothie.

ghentday01ebread, cheese, caramel, butter, speculoos cookies… and i think a jar of that hazelnut spread snuck in later on.

ghentday01fand the walk into town begins!

I honestly don’t know the quantities. I wasn’t paying attention to that. But if i were to make an educated guess…

3 kiwis

1 banana

1 orange

1/2 lime

1/2 lemon

maple syrup

Peel and chip the kiwis and bananas into small cubes. Juice your orange and add it to the mix. Squeeze in some lemon and lime juice. Don’t forget to add a little bit of maple syrup! Finally, blend it all together. And pour into 2 little glass cups. Drink, eat your breakfast, and get ready for your day ahead!

22 February 2010

hot chocolate, languages, and soup

beginning01a good trip starts off with hot chocolate in paris. which is a great way to get rid of all the heavy change in your wallet.

beginning02and then you have a salad for lunch. but it’s more of a beast. because it has the most wonderful tartine of three cheeses, soup, sliced potatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers, and tomatoes piled on top…

expoyour plan to visit some museums is wiped because you see this poster plastered all over the paris metro. you drop everything you planned on doing because how can you resist a large gathering of people who love languages?

beginning03so you end up here. but you have to rush because you have a bus to belgium to catch, and it’s about twenty metro stops away! and there’s no way that bus will missed. so you do a quick run through, grab all the pamphlets you can, and leave to catch the bus.

beginning04then you fall asleep on an uneventful bus ride and arrive in a city filled with fog. it’s a bit hazy, but you see someone arriving on a bike. you hear a “hey!” with a distinctive accent. you squint. and you see someone you couchsurfed with in quebec who is now living in ghent. the moment you recognize her, you become incredibly happily, run to her, give a huge hug, and start talking nonstop.

the conversation continues with a delicious homemade soup made with carrots, honey, orange juice, and ginger. served with bread. and chocolate filled with salted caramel. oh, you also goût a bit of hazelnut spread too. not nutella this time. something creamier and much better.

after that, you keep talking. but the conversation ends after a few hours for that pesky thing called sleep. but you fall asleep super happy and curious about what new things you’ll encounter in this flemish city.

i'm not sure why i wrote all that in second person. i suppose i just started and didn’t feel like changing halfway through.

21 February 2010

a warm-up for things to come

i love the word mélange. it sounds so much better than blend, combination, or mixture.

the last 2 weeks were a wonderful mélange of:textile01ghent. in belgium.

textile02pont de l’arche. in france.

textile03istanbul. in turkey.

the above photos are all of textiles. but, their forms and functions change depending on where they are. an old flemish dress. curtains of a french-moroccan home. and scarves at a mosque in turkey.

i love seeing how culture and environment influence the differences in everyday objects. small details are what i like to look for.

i just got back from istanbul, and while it’s obviously the freshest in my mind, everything from all three adventures are all blurred together for me, so i thought i’d ease back into this journal with textiles. just a little warm-up post for all the stories i’ve got to share!

10 February 2010

just a few more months

cloth01some things i’m looking forward to doing when summer arrives:

wearing only one layer of clothing. goodbye tights and scarves and hats and boots and jackets and thermals and sweaters and wraps and gloves.

enjoying the double digit celsius or fahrenheit weather. 29C or 85F please.

dipping my spoon into triple layered summer desserts – aka, strawberries-pudding or whipped cream-pound cake trifle.

making one hundred fruit rings.

yes – that’s my summer goal. and i’m writing it here in hopes that it’ll make me actually stick to it instead of the one billion ideas and projects that float around in my head but never see the light of day – or should i say, summer?

09 February 2010

ghent

ghent01ghent. it was gray. i didn’t see a hint of blue in the sky. or any hues of reds and yellows that i so love seeing when the sun sets and rises.

ghent02but my short visit was far from colorless. it was in fact one of my most colorful trips so far. and not just in physical things i saw, but also how i felt.

i don’t have the time right now to exaggerate, but i’ll be back soon enough to share all the magical things that happened in ghent. <3

02 February 2010

claville

claville02 sunday. 10am. 1pm. 3pm. all day, i was full of hope. there were puffy clouds in the sky. sky was blue. not a drop of rain. a marvelous sunset was awaiting me around 5:30pm!!

so, hop, into a car and off to a random countryside excursion with a few friends.

claville03but… the puffy clouds had thinned out and turned into clouds that were still nice, but not perfect ones for sunsets.

claville01but it was all worth it because i got to see ducks walking on water.

claville04and more beautiful french houses in the countryside.

claville05i did get yelled out for taking this photo by the homeowner. the right of a photographer is always a fine line between law, judgment, common sense, sensitivity, etc, etc, and it gives me a headache. there is no right or wrong, it’s always a gray area. but my general philosophy in life is if that someone wants to do something bad, they’ll find a way to do it and there isn’t really a way to stop them. so please, lighten up when someone is just trying to find patterns and textures around them!

claville06thankfully nobody got mad at me for the duck photos. i mean, ducks walking on water – that’s just too beautiful to get mad and paranoid over, don’t you think?

01 February 2010

chartres + mentchikoff man

chartres01meet the mentchikoff man! he’s a very specific type of snowman that comes from chartres, a town in the eure-et-loire department of france, about 96km/60mi southwest from paris. and about a 1h30min drive from evreux. i think. i fell asleep, so i don’t really remember how long it took to get there.

i love playing with my food… physically on the plate, and digitally when i draw on them. but oh do i miss my tablet! i’ll talk about mr. mentchikoff later. first, let’s go on a little tour of chartres. (but its not a really good tour, sorry.)

chartres02we’ve been having a lot of days like this in evreux. cloudy and rainy. SUNSHINE. cloudy and rainy. SUNSHINE. sunny.RAINY. cloudy. SUNNY. rainy. SUNNY. ………. and that’s in one day. my body can’t keep up with all these fluctuations! i’m hoping sunny will take over and just stick.

chartres03chartres’ cathedral is famous for it’s two mismatched spires because they were built at different times. and i love it because its a great example of how symmetry isn’t always king.

chartres04can’t resist all the doors and windows in france!

chartres05can’t resist pastries either…

i do have a small comment. the prices at this bakery were a bit high, and my friends complained a bit about it. i didn’t know anything about the bakery to have a good concrete argument, but i’ll write what i think here.

i think it’s a good thing when food isn’t dirt cheap. when it’s dirt cheap, the quality of the ingredients suffer. perhaps the butter is lesser quality. perhaps apple jam is used as a filling rather than real apples. perhaps things aren’t left to properly rest, so they can make more – but the flavor is less developed. perhaps the people hired are paid less and don’t care as much for the quality. who knows, there are a ton of reasons why one bakery is more or less expensive than another, but in a very very broad sense, price sometimes does reflect quality.

and i’m okay with supporting a bakery that spends more money on its ingredients so that i can have a better pastry.

it’s a good thing they don’t know how much i spend when i visit certain patisseries in paris… because the prices in the chartres patisserie was nothing compared to what i’ve spent before… ahem. i can’t help it! i just love supporting things i love.

chartres06i noticed that the macarons in chartres were very shy and didn’t like revealing their fillings!

chartres08a tea break to escape the cold. with pastries of course. and i’d like to mention that this is the very first place in france where i found a salon de the with a real couch!

chartres07back to the mentchikoffs. i spotted these in a window and couldn’t resist trying something that i’d never seen before.

they are chocolate (actually a mix of chocolate, hazelnut praline, and butter) enrobed in a meringue as white as snow. but not just any snow – russian snow. in 1893 there was a craze in france for anything from russia or russian related thanks to a newly formed alliance between the two countries.

chartres09A confectioner by the name of Daumesnil in Chartres decided to create this confection in honor of the Russian prince Alexander Danilovich Menschiv, who happened to apprentice for a baker when he younger. Selling pies in the street, he caught the attention of a general and was introduced to the Czar where he climbed the ranks and became the most feared and powerful man in Russia. Sadly, he fell out of favor, was banished to Siberia, and died in disgrace. Don’t worry, his son later restored the family honor. Otherwise, i don’t think this would be called a Mentchikoff. So happily, we have something delicious to remember him by!

i’d just like to note that paragraph above took me forever to confirm… because what was written on the card that came with my mentchikoffs had info and names that weren’t matching up to any other sources i could find online. so sadly, you can’t always trust what your patisserie prints :(

sources: here, here, here, here, here.

chartres10then i went back to evreux! and ran in J, who was making dinner. who had come back from a weekend spent at home. where she has chickens. who lay eggs. that she gets to eat. and sometimes, the hens lay unnaturally HUGE eggs! i caught the word “twins” when she was explaining why, but i don’t know anything about hen raising to understand why.

sorry to be an awful tour guide. i really deviated, but i just can’t help it. thankfully, google images is wonderful so you can see what the town of chartres looks like if you are curious.