San Francisco

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When we were planning our trip to Georgia, my mom and I talked a lot about adding a stop over to San Francisco on to our plans. My mom was born there and grew up in a city close by and my dad had also lived there in his younger, hippie days, so we have family and good friends there. I spent a lot of childhood vacations there, sometimes we drove all the way down the coast, and a couple times making the further drive to Disneyland. But mostly I remember staying in my grandpa's house on a hill in the suburbs where I would go and pick oranges from the trees in his strange, steep garden, having family barbeques, swimming in the ocean, and smelling the sweet scent of eucalyptus everywhere. Then staying with our friends in the Sunset area of the city, where the fog from the ocean would roll over the pastel coloured houses, and we would go visit my parents' old tie dyed stomping grounds around Haight-Ashbury and all the sights in Golden Gate Park. I hadn't been since my grandpa's funeral almost five years ago, and we figured it would be too much added expense and time to make it this trip. But when we got to San Francisco from Atlanta to catch our connecting flight back home, we saw that our flight had been cancelled and we had a surprise stopover for a couple of days before they could rebook our flights. What luck! I was thrilled. Growing up, I had always thought I would end up in San Francisco and although life has taken me to another place, it still holds a special place in my heart. And I'm so grateful we were able to spend time with more of the people we care about - my aunt, uncle and cousins, and good family friends. We were also able to visit a couple of favourite spots, although there are obviously lots more. One is the Musée Mécanique in Fisherman's Wharf where I would always go to get my fortune told, picture taken in old photo booths and play games on old board walk machines. 

The middle picture is from a quick detour up to Sacramento, in the old town, where we met up with my aunt and her family. 

Family Valentines

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Photos I've scanned recently of my grandmother, Jeanne Mazhar, and her various valentines throughout her life. Going through and archiving all our old family photos and letters has been so fascinating. I'm learning so much about everyone and feel like now that I'm older, I can understand my family members in a completely different, more complex way. I hope you get and give some extra love today - to your family, friends, neighbours, fur babies, etc. 

A few things I'm thinking of doing today:

+ Making these heirloom prize ribbons
+ Listening to old school love songs
+ Watching the 1968 version of Romeo & Juliet tonight
+ Making these dark chocolate almond butter cups 

And some other lovely things:

+ Maybe these string valentines for next year
+ I wouldn't mind making my own rose water or perfume either
+ I love these giant valentine's day posters for all year 
+ Homemade love tea and lavender truffles sound good too

Magnolia Plantation

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Somehow I've managed to have this post drafted for the past week or so and am just getting around to posting it now. I wish that was a reflection on how productive I've been with my school applications but I'm not really sure that's the case. Oh well, back to the south for now...

Most of our time in Charleston was spent outside the city, at Magnolia Plantation and Garden. The plantation has such an interesting history. It was founded in 1676 and has stayed in the same family since, through the American Revolution and the Civil War and has the oldest unrestored gardens in the country. It also has the largest collection of heritage camellias, which were in bloom while we were there and were pretty amazing. It's a huge area and wandering around the old slave cabins, the swamps, gardens, and the plantation house was the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. I realize I'm really bumping up my old lady status to another level by saying that going to a historic garden was the highlight of my trip, but really, how gorgeous is this place? It's so dreamy. It's made me even more into the south, and this period of history. I rewatched Gone with the Wind with my mom when we got back (I saw it when I was ten and liked it so much that I went and read the 600 page book right away) and was reminded what an amazing film it is. If you are up for watching a 4 hour movie, it really is worth the time. We also saw Django Unchained which was a nice counterpoint to everything. And Lincoln, too, I guess? The Civil War is so trendy right now!

We did manage to eat some good food while we were in Charleston, of course. I'd recommend Basil for Thai food and Hominy Grill for southern style breakfast food and also King's street for wandering/shopping. I would have loved to have seen more of the city! Next time.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

There is a bit of a back story behind our trip to Savannah as well. For some reason, I've had a soft spot for the south since I was young. Mainly the aesthetics really - antebellum porches and architectural details, the live oaks dripping with spanish moss, Southern belle types sipping sweet tea. But of course there is also so much history, which I also find fascinating. As a graduation present, my mom had planned a trip to Savannah for us, which seemed the pinnacle of southern charm. But, as luck would have it, my passport was still with the Danish authorities awaiting it's visa, and we had to cancel our trip at the last minute (like, the night before). We were bummed, since we were unsure whether there would be another time for us to go. I was so into Savannah that I even applied to SCAD for my master's, before I had decided on staying in Denmark. So, it was a very happy coincidence to discover that my aunt lived close by, and it was so special to go on the trip we had planned years earlier as a threesome instead. 

Savannah definitely lived up to my high hopes, what a beautiful place. Here are my recommendations of things to do if you happen to be travelling there, with a lot of rambling as per usual. 

River Street-  The first night we arrived at dusk and took a walk along the river side. It was a good time of day to go, it's pretty touristy but the early evening light made it seem a bit magical. I got the feeling it could be a bit sketchy later at night, so it's probably best to stick to the daytime. The strange thing about Savannah is that it seems like right outside of the historic city centre can be really sketchy, but I guess that is the case for a lot of North American cities. So I guess just be safe/aware/etc. Anyway, there was an old fashioned candy shop down there selling amazing looking pralines, and also a few antique markets towards the end that were closed but looked intriguing. And that paddle boat, sigh. 

Southern food - We'd heard so much about The Lady & Sons that we decided to go there for dinner. Although it was fun to try all the classic Southern foods (or see them, in my case, since it isn't exactly vegetarian, gluten and dairy free friendly) it was pretty disappointing in terms of quality. Ah well, sometimes you can't avoid a tourist trap while on vacation. If you are wanting a more authentic experience, I've heard great things about Mrs. Wilkes' or The Olde Pink House where we went for an after dinner drink and to hear some amazing live blues. 

Trolley tour - The next day we decided to take a hop on hop off trolley tour, after much deliberation. I usually like to avoid touristy things as much as possible while travelling, and to just walk around all day taking pictures and stopping in little cafes. But, I love knowing about the history of a place, we only had one day, and it was hot. I know, it was January but I'm used to Denmark and/or am a huge baby. It ended up being a really great decision, and I'd totally recommend doing it if you are in Savannah. You get to see pretty much the entire town and you can stop and walk around as much as you'd like. Plus the open air trolleys are nice in the "heat". 

Shopping - The Paris Market, shopSCAD and Savannah Bee Company were my favourites but the Design*Sponge guide has a great list of places if you are more of a shopper, as well as lots more great recommendations in general. 

Next up, Charleston!

Atlanta & Family

Monday, February 4, 2013

This trip to Georgia was a special one, and one of serendipity. For those of you that don't know the background story, I'll try to give a little summary. Last summer my mom was contacted by her half sister, who had been searching for her for many years. Due to multiple name changes and an immigration to Canada, my mom was difficult to track down, but with some help, it was done. In one day, we gained a whole new set of family. It turned out that my mom had four half sisters, one living in Georgia with her family and three others in Barcelona. My biological grandfather was from Spain but lived for most of his life in Venezuela, where my four aunts were born and raised. I won't go into more details, since there are many, but I'll say that it's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved. Going to Georgia to meet my aunt, uncle, and cousins for the first time was unlike anything I'd experienced before. My mom and I were both blown away by the warm welcome and felt instantly comfortable and connected. We spent many hours chatting, discovering shared personal traits and looking through family photos. We learnt how to make traditional Venezuelan corn bread called arepas, and had a paella feast where we were also welcomed by their community of friends. We were shown around my cousin's workplaces - CNN and Turner Studios - and went out flying with my uncle who is a pilot. We were also lucky enough to be included in a beautiful baby shower for my cousin. We're so grateful for all the efforts they made! And, we made it down to Savannah and Charleston too, but more about that later. 

I recently saw Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell, which is a documentary about a family experiencing a very similar chain of events. It's an amazing piece of filmmaking, and I'd highly recommend it if you find this kind of thing interesting. 

New Look

Friday, February 1, 2013

After being so sorely neglected these last several months or so, I've decided to give this space a little upgrade. I'm hoping that it's a push to get back into the habit of blogging, I miss reflecting on and recording bits of my life. For a while I've been going back and forth on whether it's too narcissistic to blog mainly about my life or if that's the most authentic thing to do in the end. That maybe it's more self obsessed to pretend to be some sort of 'craft/DIY/food/lifestyle expert', when I barely feel like I have my own life together most days. I should probably just stop over thinking things so much. 

Here's a little peek from my trip to Georgia. I fell pretty hard for this place, so I'll be posting lots more about it soon. 

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