31 July 2009

the list lengthens, or, back to the written word

it was only a few weeks ago that i discovered google reader's awesome capacity to consolidate my incidental and sporadic blog reading, and since then i've been hooked. (looks like that's an on-going theme.) to date, i have 30 blogs listed, which seems like an over-the-top number, but i got a little carried away in my eagerness... ah well.

but today the list went to 31 as i discovered the creative writing blog of one of my new acquaintances at school. a few weeks ago, she had mentioned during small group the start of a blog for her in-progress young adult fantasy novel - that off-hand comment immediate set a bell ringing in my own head. how many young adults (20-35) are writing young adult (12-18) fantasy novels? i used to know one (myself, in high school), but now i know two. !!

i actually haven't mentioned this little-known fact to her, mostly because it's remained little-known to most people since i started college. i did do some creative writing at columbia, but mostly in the form of short stories that i allowed few outside of my class to read (maybe keigo and a couple others). since then, it's been studiostudiostudio, although the writing bug has never left me, and the editing bug still surges back every once in a while (mostly to edit my friends' various school applications).

the other day, i was thinking about my long-ago writing project and how one of my major writing mentors had passed away about a year or so ago. no one has read that manuscript since her eyes laid on it. this was a semi-bizarre realization.

but now, after stumbling on this blog and going through anu garg's faithful word-a-day emails (which, unfortunately have a tendency to clog my box with hundreds of unread messages)...maybe those are the piques of inspiration needed. this summer's already been too ambitious in terms of summer projects i've wanted to embark on but that never left the ground*, but maybe this one will take flight in some form.

* unaccomplished goals left out in the rain (but holding an umbrella, waiting for a future sun):
learning the guitar, improving my spanish, learning dreamweaver and flash, doing a design competition

** in-progress goals that are already enjoying the good weather:
playing the flute again, joined an a cappella group, finding God through music, redefining my architectural goals, learning more about community development, working w/ real materials and expanding my masonry horizons

[bostonian #5] : green street grill

nat was gracious enough to be ok w/ this photo,
despite being caught in the middle of chewing. merci!

nat is frequently one of my faithful partners in crime when it comes to food explorations, and i was fortunate enough to be graced by her presence last weekend, when she came up for a "let's see everyone i know in boston" weekend spree. i had heard about green street through over-heard conversations - people said it was a good place to grab drinks. someone might have also mentioned it was good for food. so when i told nat i knew of a place "somewhere on green street" that could be tasty but had yet been explored, my dinner partner was a good sport. we went to investigate.

yes, green street grill was a good option. the ambiance was cool and borderline romantic with the dim lighting and christmas string accents - it was fine w/ a friend, but i could imagine it being the right atmosphere with the right person, too.

neither of us actually got drinks (too sleepy already from the day), but the food sounded good (aka flowery menu descriptions) and, in most cases, was. nat's burger was juicy and had homemade potato chips on the side. my arugula and grapefruit salad was on the bitter end and probably wasn't the best choice, but it still worked.

although we did talk about food (and aspirations to be a food writer or go to culinary school if it weren't so self indulgent), it was more of an overall catch-up conversation, which is always fun. nat and i have actually been pretty good about keeping up w/ one another over the years, meeting up in the most random of places (from her grandparents' apartment to a japanese stationary store in nyc) and always having a good time :]

and she entertains my idiosyncrasies like taking photos at dinner, which helps.

- - -
green street grill
280 green street (off of magazine st.)

23 July 2009

youtube happiness

there are just some days when a video on youtube makes you tap your foot and sing a long.

(today was actually not one of those days - instead i was at an all day conference where 50 three to five letter acronyms were buzzing all around my head - but i can imagine it could've been.)

most of these videos are rooted in studioness: you're sitting there in front of your laptop, making models or putting together an animation. your butt is glued to the chair, you've been staring forever at the screen, your mouse finger twinges...
and then a friend says, "hey, check out this video!"

whoops. you're hooked.

some favorites:

"do i have your attention?" > anais with the blood arm >> so catchy

"ce jeu" > yelle >> in case i don't have your attention yet...i will now!
(this one courtesy of flo - the shoes and glasses are a riot!)

"her morning elegance" > owen lavie >> stop motion animation at its prime
(thanks to juliet and our long hours of animating...)

"oxford comma" > vampire weekend >> preppy fun music from columbia grads
(the guy in the white suit was in my creative writing class)

22 July 2009

hooray for fromage!

thanks to kcrw's "good food" podcast on raw cheeses, i learned:

cheeses enriched with buttermilk have lactose.

BUT hard cheese has zero lactose.
some medium cheese also has zero lactose.

and some people who are lactose intolerant might just be intolerant of cow's milk, but not sheep's or goat's.

(but no matter what, i eat cheese, so perhaps it doesn't make much of a difference.)


one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
>> henry miller

where to next?

this weekend...the decordova sculpture park + walden pond!

21 July 2009

wide angle, wide-eyed lens

gorilla hunting - i believe this was taken for a piece in national geographic
[photo by brent stirton, courtesy of canon-europe.com]

for some amazing photojournalism and portraits from here and abroad, check out photographer brent stirton's work. he works for getty images and has done stints for national geographic, time, and a slew of other publications. the colors, angles, and subject matter are breathtaking and striking - sometimes even disturbing - and make for good eye candy at work.

19 July 2009

beantown visitors + #4

deanna and allen came to visit this past weekend, which was much fun - first visitors in july! they had never been to boston before, so it was good being able to show them around. wandering is the best way to get around the city, although i have to admit that i gave them a "quiz" and needed to give them some hints (although they had some good guesses).

in case you don't know what hops look like...there they are! i actually never knew they were a flower. we went on a tour of the sam adams brewery, which was interesting although the brewery itself was small and the rest of the tour concentrated on beer tasting (a big draw for some others, but early in the morning?? ...).

and then headed to the harbor for a ferry ride out to spectacle island... then my camera ran out of batteries, but not before this shot of the water (ica in the distance).

i would highly recommend hopping on a ferry (at the long wharf near quincy market) and just spending the afternoon out on some of the islands in the harbor. it's not too far (within 10-25 mins.), not too expensive ($14 for 2 islands), and is a taste of the sea w/in our grasp.

also met up w/ sung later on for dinner at the barking crab. the decor inside was fun and the place crazy crowded...we anticipated an awesome dinner, but the ~hour wait for our food to come to the table left the experience as underwhelming. the dungeness crab legs were tasty, but i wouldn't recommend the clam chowder unless you want someone else to pop open a can of it for you. (joe's american or even legal seafoods has better.)

but anyways, it's not really the food that makes the visit, but the visitors - yay - and the fun of frolicking in the city together. [note: we actually did frolic, sound of music style. no videos.]

[bostonian #3] : pho pasteur

rice vermicelli w/ grilled pork + spring rolls - one of the favorites

vietnamese food is one of my favorites, probably because of the unabashed presence of meat alongside crisp veggies and mint. mmmm... so when i got to choose the dinner venue pre-harry potter on friday, i asked quyen for a vietnamese place in chinatown and got pho pasteur as my answer.

although people always seem to think of pho when thinking of vietnamese, i personally think vermicelli first - not sure why, but it's my dish of choice. this one was pretty good - tasty pork that was still tender (although burnt in some parts) and plenty of crisp bean sprouts, fresh mint, and julienned cucumbers (some were scored - awesome). the spring rolls were a bit densely stuffed with more pork than anything else, but they were still pretty good.

otto enjoying his monster bowl of pho - the size of his head!

my stomach was full w/o being overfull, perfect for a pre-movie meal. i still like le's over in harvard square a bit more, although this was a good option and the long line outside was a testiment to its name (or the # of positive reviews on yelp.com).

- - -
pho pasteur
682 washington st.
(bet. beach aka la grange + kneeland aka stuart)

15 July 2009

(failed) foodage : un-pesto

or, basil + tomato couscous.

my failed - and tasty - attempt at making pesto
and my attempt to post larger photos.*

so i had an ambition to make pesto for the past week or so, but didn't think not owning either a food processor or mortar/pestle set were at all drawbacks to my scheme.

actually, i was wrong. really, you need either one or the other of those items, or at least a blender. hence, my failed attempt.

i tried to do it anyways. i followed the basic proportions provided in a recipe for arugula pesto by clotilde on her well-known blog, chocolate & zucchini, with some modifications:
  • instead of arugula, i used normal basil
  • instead of pine nuts (which, outside of pesto, i have little taste for), i used almonds.
but really, chopping all of that up with a cleaver (the chinese cook's blade of choice) and then trying to mash it all together w/ a spoon really doesn't work well. i suppose i could've tried smashing it w/ the flat side of my blade or used a meat tenderizer, but didn't think of those alternatives at the time.

i found, though, that it actually turned out pretty well anyways. once i got over the fact that it was NOT pesto but a sort of chopped basil concoction, i mixed it w/ my couscous and diced tomatoes (w/ a bit of lemon juice) and had a tasty (and quick) dinner.

the final result (sans subsequent veggies), packed for lunch tomorrow

ah well. i'll get back into the cooking swing of things and make something legitimate soon. until then...failure at least tastes good :]

* i am far from being a real food photographer, but i keep at it anyways. food looks better when it's big.

14 July 2009

play me, i'm yours!

[photo courtesy of lukejerram.com]

this coy phrase accompanied 30 pianos strewn about london, installed by artist luke jerram and just beckoning people to play them. i don't remember how long they were out there, but the last day of installation was yesterday (the day the music died, i suppose). but youtube videos abound of performances, such as:

the 8 hour, 24 piano playing spree of joplin's maple leaf rag

a virtuoso in a young boy playing chopin's waltz in e minor

hm...if this came to boston...

13 July 2009

foodage : fruit trifle

strawberry + banana trifle

my first batch this semester for linda's easter potluck,
taken w/ the trusty cell phone

i usually don't write out recipes, but this time i was spurred on by an email from fennie asking for recipes. for this dessert, i just about never measure, so writing out something more formalized so someone else could follow was pretty amusing to me. all you really need is the ingredients and "method" (if i can even call it that), and then you get an extremely tasty but equally simple dessert to satisfy on a summer evening.

(this is my healthier version of the typical trifle, which usually uses whipped cream or custard and sometimes preserved fruits instead.)

fills a medium sized serving bowl, ~picnic full of people (estimate)

1-2 containers of strawberries
1-2 bananas
1:1 ratio of vanilla to lemon yogurt (i.e. 16 oz. vanilla yogurt like stonybrook, 16 oz. lemon...)
equivalent of 1 full (round) angel food cake (or any light, spongy cake)

1) the day before serving, wash and quarter the strawberries. sprinkle with sugar to taste, mix in a bowl, and place them in the refrigerator overnight. [note: if you don't have time for this step, even an hour or so in the fridge will help.]
2) the day of: mix together the 2 flavors of yogurt in a separate bowl
3) cube the angel food cake and cut the bananas into thin slices, place aside.
4) in a medium to large glass bowl, lay out each ingredient one layer at a time in this order: cake, yogurt, fresh fruit. [note: make sure to layer the yogurt so it fully covers the cake below.]

note: transparent is preferable for visual effect, but really,
any container works, like this mixing bowl.

5) repeat the layers until the bowl is just about full. the top layer should be fruit, and here's where you can make an aesthetically-pleasing pattern if you wish. (after all...i'm a designer.)
6) serve with a large spoon, making sure to scoop several layers at a time.

this recipe can really easily be modified for anything you have in the fridge. i've used blueberries instead of the strawberries and bananas, and also substituted the angel food cake with ladyfingers. you just need to have a certain consistency in sweetness for the fruit.

et...voila! easy, but light and tasty. and fast - the turnaround will be lightning quick.

artifex : the vault

the project.

our team signature - not in the vault, but in one of our projects

in the practical portion of the workshop, we worked on about 3 projects simultaneously: a dry stone wall, a more traditional single-curvature vault, and a pebble stone floor. (another project, which involved banging at a water basin to smooth out the surface, quickly faded into the background.) i worked mostly on the floor but also a bit on laying some of the tiles for the vault.

our main creative project, however, started the 2nd week of the workshop and was preceded by a series of design charrettes. there was a lot of discussion about what exactly we would be building...but eventually we settled on a vault that was the synthesis of our preliminary designs. i'll let the process speak for itself (thanks to cynthia for her dedication to shooting all those photos!):

10 July 2009


brioche roll (or challah)
fresh mozzarella
fresh basil leaves
apple cider jam (courtesy of my cousin jennifer and an apple orchard in the midwest)

makes for good company to trader joe's tomato and roasted red pepper soup, too.


09 July 2009

the City with new eyes

weekend of liberty.

i promised reem we would go together to nyc, and finding that this past weekend was the only time when we'd both be around together, we figured it would be a good moment. and hey, july 4th in the City is fun :D

and so we went!

the partner in crime, who introduced me to the joy of color filters (thanks, also, to canon).
who loves nyc at first sight?

alice's teacup was our first official stop for tea + scones.

other fooding included:
spitzer's corner (ludlow + rivington, lower east side) : tuscan omelet
gregory's coffee (park ave. + 24th st.) : sandwich in a tube!, cappuccino

along the way we came across allen and reem's friend, dasum, and discovered our namesakes in the form of signs (too bad, no "reem road").
[ note : confetti, i had the first photo taken for you! ]

a beautiful sun setting sky from pier 54, seen with lovely college friends and visitors
as we waited for the evening's light display.

happy 4th!

and then, the long-awaited highline!

it's been years since i first heard about the project back in college, and now it finally opened its doors for the first time just a few weeks ago. (thanks to juliet for reminding me!) although i was excited to see in person what diller scofidio + renfro (ds+r, the architects) and field operations (the landscape architects) did with the project, i also was bracing myself for some sort of hipster tourist trap, after hearing about the park's overcrowding.

we grabbed sandwiches from amy's bread in chelsea market and headed up to the old converted railline. thankfully, it was well populated but not stifling, and we had a chance to sit in the 10th ave. square (@ 17th st. and very akin to the ica's mediatheque) and munch away. reem was completely in awe of the park, after having heard about it for the first time just before our trip to the city. i was also impressed with how both urban and wild the highline could be. sure, there were flocks of people with cameras stuck to their faces (my camera actually ran out of batteries after those few opening shots - thankfully so, actually, so i got to do a bit of sketching), but you could still sense both the openness and narrowness of the space. the careful selection of flora. the transitions from concrete plank to well-worn wood and back again. even the water fountain drained elegantly into grates on the ground!

i'm looking forward to the day when the highline is no longer an architectural darling or celebrity spectacle, but instead becomes truly integrated into the surrounding urban fabric. then, i think the park will reach its potential as a city icon. until then, be prepared to fight the crowd.

for a (perhaps) more "official" review of the highline, see the nytimes article.

08 July 2009

architects put to shame

wow... an entire building fell over in shanghai! saw this on a friend's blog feed and just stared. and sort of laughed in a "how the heck could this happen??" sort of way. it was like "i'm a little teapot," architecture-style.

at least it was unoccupied and not on a high-density lot.

who to blame? i'm not sure, but we have to do better than this!

07 July 2009

artifex : in inca

the workshop.

miguel ramis, the founder of artifex balear, gave us an introduction on the projects the stone masonry school has been working on. this includes mini domes such as this one, made with tiles in the catalan construction style.

on a typical day, the first half was spent listening to presentations by various architects, lovers of stone, masons, restorers, etc. structural engineers like santiago huerta spoke about the structural properties of arches and vaults, while architects like mit department-head yung ho chang and madrid's juan herreros presented projects showing how they've bridged the old and the new.

we were very attentive. here, flo (fellow mit-er) sits among the espanolas from madrid: elena, isabel, and paula.

in the second half of the day, we got to the nitty gritty with stone and mortar. at any one time, there were at least 3 projects progressing. flo slaps mortar onto the wall in one of our early exercises, prepping the wall for tile shelving.
(note: this is NOT as easy it as it might seem. see that layer of mortar on the bottom?
yeah, exactly.)

martin (mining engineer, originally from england) presents elena with a precious gift.
what is it?? a freshly-polished stone! how sweet.

next: the project.

06 July 2009

rewind the clock : best kids' books

i was happy to read the nytimes this morning and see nicholas kristof's sunday article on the best kids' books ever. for anyone who's ever known me for even a short amount of time, there's almost always a book within reach (or i talk about one). as a child, i watched tv (mostly "saved by the bell"), but was more into the written word.

in short, kristof's list:

1. charlotte's web
2. the hardy boys
3. wind in the willows
4. the freddy the pig series
5. the alex rider series
6. the harry potter series
7. gentle ben
8. anne of green gables
9. the dog who wouldn't be
10. little lord fauntleroy
11. on to oregon
12. the prince and the pauper
13. lad the dog

agree/disagree? some of these i myself haven't read [those i have, in red], but it inspired me to make my own list of children's books (non-picture) that i've read over and over again (in no particular order) :

1. the trumpet of the swan _ about a boy who meets a mute swan and together regain its voice, in the most unusual (adventurous, and sweet) way

2. the dark is rising series _ i've always been fascinated by magic and its intersection w/ the real world. very well written and pre-harry potter, about brothers and sisters who encounter a magical realm closer to their own than they realize.

3. anne of green gables _ a dear favorite portrait of a spunky, rebellious girl who shakes up a conservative community, also coined the phrase "bosom friend," which i've used

4. a wrinkle in time series _ it's been a while since i've read these, but truly well written, about children who must step into another world to save their father

5. the phantom tollbooth _ probably one of my all-time favorites and the most read book of all, about a simple boy named milo who travels into a world [see a trend?] where everything is letters, numbers, and quite literally taken

6. the redwall series _ definitely the longest series i've kept up with (except for lately), each one about a different young hero/heroine who must prove him or herself in the face of adversary. it's a bit formulaic over time, although the classic characters (martin, etc.) are always great to read about. did i mention they're animals? and that the food is amazingly mouth-watering?

7. james and the giant peach _ sail away with a peach...and bugs! roald dahl was magical with words. i really appreciated the fact that his stories aren't cutesy like many other kids' books, incorporating peril and some aspect of the grotesque along w/ the fun and heroic.

8. harriet the spy _ i reread this recently - this nosy girl who gets in trouble for her honest (and sometimes abrasive) observations of her classmates lead me to keep my own notebook.

9. the indian in the cupboard series _ it took a leap of imagination to think that toys come to life, but isn't that what most kids wish for anyways? and it happens - with the help of a magically mysterious cupboard. the social commentary around omry's neighborhood also starts to come through with multiple readings.

10. the little prince (le petit prince) _ although i originally read this in english, it became more meaningful in french. many bites of knowledge and wisdom in this slim, magical volume.

11. the chronicles of narnia _ this series needs little introduction or summary... the description, narrative, conflict, and resolution in the end have all lead me to read through the entire series and love it. the movies don't really do it true justice, but are good all the same.

12. misty of chincoteague _ i really loved horses when i was younger (and still love them), and this book revealed to me the beauty of the animal and the fascination of chincoteague, one of the few places in the US with wild horses. later on i went camping on assateague island (right next door) to see the wild horses.

13. the wind in the willows _ toad and frog. friendship. hilarity. and i like animals who are portrayed in such a human-like way.

05 July 2009


tourists don’t know where they’ve been,
travelers don’t know where they’re going.

somehow so exemplified in a familiar place you once lived, like new york.
in mallorca, i found i got tired of having my camera stuck to my face.
having my batteries run out (in palma, on the highline) is actually a great thing to happen, in terms of seeing and experiencing.

02 July 2009

artifex : la casa

the arrival:

goodbye newark _ goodbye copenhagen

hola mallorca _ hola sencelles (barrio near inca)
hola casa, se llama S'Erissal
_ this house has been in the family of one of the stone masons (miguel angel) for 300+ years

the couryard of the country home, from the 2nd floor terrace

the stately dining room, where we ate breakfast graciously baked by miguel angel's mother and had our nightly dinners together.
_ it felt like la familia, all 11 of us who were staying there. gathered around, joking, translating words and ridiculous sentences from english to spanish and vice versa.
when you open the huge floor-to-ceiling wooden shutters at one end (opposite) and the terrace doors, the cross breeze is amazing.

the room that flo and i shared, pre-occupancy
_ what a sunny, lovely little place. this part of the house used to be inhabited by miguel angel's brother and family. before that, it was considered to be the feudal lord's quarters. obviously, then, this is where the women stayed. the men stayed in the farmer's quarters - ha!

01 July 2009

m.arch: is it worth it?

[ photo courtesy of gradschooljournal.com ]

this blog entry in the new york times on the value of graduate education struck a chord with me. just the other day, my mom asked me the money question: is what you're doing worth it? is architecture worth it? then you ask, worth what?


in terms of professional degrees, it's definitely not medicine or law, which are said to be hefty but worth the investment because of your payback afterwards. architecture...not so much of that payback, unless you become a starchitect or someone along those lines. time and time again, especially in school, it's said that you gotta love it to do it, or else it's not worth it.

this summer it's my quest to value-add my education and my future, in figuring out what it is that i'm most particularly passionate and excited about in the field, what i want to be dedicated to. i have inklings and interests already, but not quite obsessions. (do i even want to be obsessed? studio critics say yes. i have to think about it.)

another "stay tuned."