Adventures in Baking.

I’m going to be perfectly honest: I’m really not sure why these came out so messy. The chocolate chips were melty, and the brownies were thoroughly fall-apart-y when I cut them into pieces, but oh! whatever, they were still delicious.

These particular (healthy!-ish) brownies are made largely of black beans and are totally flour-less, but don’t get too excited because they’ve still got a load of sugar and chocolate chips in them. Or perhaps that should be instead, do get too excited because they’ve still got a lot of sugar and chocolate in them. I’m still not sure.

It doesn’t matter. Try them. Bake them. Eat them. They’re from Gina at Skinnytaste.com, so you know they’re going to be amazing.

They were. I tried one just to make sure. And because I’m a true scientist and a loyal believer in the scientific method, I was sure to maintain a large sample size by trying one again and again and again…

#forscience!

I Sewed a Thing!

I’ll tell you what. Twenty-somethings can carry batting-filled, quilt-looking satchels too, you know. And what’s more, they can do it without embarrassment.

While vaguely aware that allowing this little homemade blue-and-yellow bag to swing carefree and possibly even defiantly from my shoulder makes it look as though I am wearing something my grandmother has given me, I am just that: only vaguely aware. Or perhaps I am very aware, and it is only that there are no shits given. My grandmother is an amazing woman, first of all. And second of all, this bag is cute, and I’ve constructed it tirelessly with my bare hands and a couple of the Matron’s sewing machines, and the materials are ones that I’ve picked, and the pattern is one that I’ve yoinked from the fabulous See Kate Sew, and I am so proud of it.

Have a look. I’ve sewn a thing!

Dear 2013.

A bit late, as far as reflective New Years posts go, but to be fair, I really did write this on New Years! I swear. Pinky promise. It’s just taken a while to post anywhere at all because I’ve been holding off on it because, to be honest, it’s embarrassing. Here we go. Yeah!!


Dear 2013,

I’ll be frank: you’ve not been the sort of year that’s summarizable in any kind of list or meme or concise, half-assed answers in a string of questions. There’s been a kind of beauty to you, from beginning to end, starting with an explosion of colorful fireworks at midnight in Hong Kong and finishing with a small cup of sake under a starry sky while the flowery bursts in Waikiki and Kaka’ako leapt high into the dark. You were awful and wonderful, and since I am rather in the habit of writing letters to oddly personified parts of my life–instead of just, you know, voicing my thoughts in normal prose fashion or meme form or #alongindecipherablelineofhashtags–I’m just going to carry on doing that as long as it makes me happy, accusations of repetitiveness be damned.

2013, you were a fabulous year for travel. I’m talking Hong Kong, Okinawa, Miyazaki, Fuji Rock Festival. I saw some things and did some things and went to some places for the first times in my life, and it was stupendous and unforgettable. Glass-blowing and live-squid-eating and surfing (unless, of course, your definition of surfing requires the act of standing up without falling, but let us ignore this small detail, in any case) and being within an arm’s reach of Of Monsters and Men. Making sangria in a bucket. And stuff. In fact, I’ll wager that 2012 and 2013 were my best, most travel-filled years yet and forever will be–but I’ll do my utmost, I promise, to make that not so. Here’s to more travel and more adventures and more learning, always learning, for ever and ever, til I’m quite dead. (But then that’s just the next adventure, isn’t it? At least, according to long-trusted giver of sound advice, Peter Pan.)

2013, there was music in you. And all about you, like fireflies in a field on a warm June evening, with me standing in awe of it all, jaw agape, childishly and unabashedly mesmerized. Muse live in Saitama with Kate and Vincent and Jenn and Jason, shivering in the cold of the year’s earliest months and then shuffling into the warmth of the crowd in the stadium, dancing and cheering and yelling and screaming and singing. Goddamn, they were awesome, Muse. And then in the summer: the xx, Of Monsters and Men, Fun, Daughter, the Cure, Mumford and Sons–but mostly the xx, to be honest. It was in 2013 that the xx fell into my lap, so to speak, and it was in 2013 that their music filled my head for months and they appeared like a dream on the White Stage of Fuji Rock. They were so amazing that I nearly passed out–either that or the fatigue of a three-day-long music festival finally set in. Let us not speak of the constant rain of Naeba or my leaky tent or the resulting cold, damp sleeping bag night after night. In the end, after three days of unending wet, the xx made everything seem worth it. Thanks, guys.

 
2013, you were full of hellos and goodbyes. Hellos to new friends and new, wonderful people. Hello-agains to family and dear, old friends. And goodbyes. Bright, happy times; ugly, bitter moments. Beautiful, wonderful, incredible people; and also complete asses. But that’s every year, I suppose. The magnitude of each seemed PARTICULARLY high this year, though; not gonna lie, 2013. For all that I’ve already said about you, you did, at times, really and truly suck.

2013, not to sound dramatic or anything, but you were a year rife with life-affirming good times and similarly life-affirming shit ones. And at some point along the way, I decided that dammit, I’m not going to let all the shit ones defeat me. And neither should anyone else, for that matter. Because at the end of the day–or the year, I guess–no matter how melodramatic the morning and the evening seemed, there’s always tomorrow, and tomorrow you’re going to have to own up to all the whiny, soap-opera-worthy, circle-jerk-y, self-hating, bitchy verbosity you managed to unleash upon the world today, and it’s going to be an embarrassing mess to clean up upon the morrow, so it’s really just easier to be positive and nice and good in the present, trust me. Less to deal with in the morning.

2013, you were, in summary, a learning experience. I may not have enjoyed every minute of your long, long lesson, but I needed every second. So thanks. Thank you kindly.

2014, ‘sup. I’d hate to come across as arrogant so early on in our acquaintance, but you know what? I’m ready for you.

Yours truly,
Ashley

Making Things.

The Matron is teaching me the ancient, revered, and esoteric Art of Sewing.  She has proven a very patient teacher, taking apart each step into smaller steps and making the whole thing (supposedly) easy to understand for even a clumsy neophyte such as myself.  I, of course, immediately made the entirely logical and realistic decision to use my new-found skills to make a bajillion little Japanese-style drawstring bags, called kinchaku.  Here are a few.

image

I am not very good at Sewing.

image

It may not be easy to tell from a distance, but the seams are very crooked.

image

Though I am rather new to the business of making things, you know, physically, I’ll do my best!

image

[Project 2014] #001 and #002

This year, I’m attempting a 365-day photo project again, which means I’m going to take a picture every day! (She said, unaware of her impending descent into madness.)

Here are my first couple of pictures, descriptions and all:

This is my baby brother, pretending to read. Upon observing that I’d plopped myself down with my Kindle to indulge in some futuristic YA, he positioned himself across from me with his Very Fancy Kindle Fire and proceeded to read… Craigslist car ads. It’s fine! It’s fine. At least he’s reading.

I haven’t had pho in about two years, so this bowl was a particular relief. My fabulous friend took me out to her favorite place last week, and the pho there was heaven. Thanks, love. ♥

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 421 other followers