took a hike, took a camera: South River Falls

My front door was a revolving door of family and friends all weekend, leaving my heart happy and full of the stuff: laughter, love, home-cooked meals, hugs, family. It made sense to keep the good vibes going and complete the weekend with a hike…this time, to South River Falls. Rather than being greeted with snow and ice-covered trails like in January and February, we were greeted with blue skies, dripping icicles and fresh mud. The mountains are thawing…specks of green reaching to the sun. We squelched our way along the trail enjoying this time of transition in nature. My friend, Howard Zehr, is working on a photography series for his upcoming show that compares leaves to human aging. I thought a lot about his series as I walked and watched my kids explore that day, their grandfather by their side. The kids, like fresh little green buds. I also thought a lot about bears. I mean, it is Spring…and they’re probably pretty hungry. As much time as I’ve spent in the woods, I’ve only seen a real live bear once…just outside of DC, of all places. No bears today though. Just a few falling icicles that I was certain would have me for lunch…until I realized they were icicles. And icicles don’t have teeth. Or stomachs.
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South River Falls! I can’t wait to see it again surrounded by more green!SouthRiverFalls7688SouthRiverFalls7641SouthRiverFalls7645SouthRiverFalls7655SouthRiverFalls7657There’s always an injury. Next time, I will bring actual bandaids.
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cell phone summary:SouthRiverFalls CellShots

took a hike, took a camera: Whiteoak Canyon

The kids helped me pack supplies for the day: water, gummies, pop tarts, a Harry Potter book, hand warmers, a loupe, bandaids.  My son threw in his fire-starter knife, you know, just incase. Not my standard backpack-o-survival but it would surely get us through the day. Our friend, Erin, met us in Broadway and we headed to Skyline Drive via 211/Luray. The Whiteoak trail was solid ice at first. My daughter hit the deck after three steps…but we laughed it off and kept moving, staying in the brush and stepping toward exposed earth. My son, on the other hand, charged forward. Slipping, sliding, hurdling, clanking sticks, climbing to the tallest points…my little goat…setting my stomach into fits of somersaults. Boys…middle school boys. Lord help ’em. We noticed some large tracks on the trail. And now that I review the photos, maybe they are a bit larger in my head than in real life. I tend to lean toward exaggeration…it’s more fun. That day though, I was thankful I didn’t have cell service. I would’ve googled the paw prints and convinced myself they were the print of a timber wolf…and that’s pretty unlikely. Right? …right?! Ella declared herself “Detective Cheetah” and inspected the prints with the loupe she brought along. Her prediction: a ghost cat. The paw prints led to some interesting conversations about ghost cats, ghost catnaps, animal use of man-made trails, animal communication and relationships compared to that of humans. The mountain is a great place to ask such questions and not expect answers. So we did a lot of that. Just as the kids started getting a little antsy…we could hear the roar of the falls. I’ll never forget my son’s face when he stood on the rock and looked out at Whiteoak Canyon. For a split second, he was all kid again. In awe of nature. Stoked. I can’t bottle that pure emotion but I aim to keep setting up moments like that for my children. We didn’t want to leave but the sun would be getting low soon. We finished our snacks and retraced our steps, content with new memories in our bank.
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These protein balls are the perfect hike snack. They’re super easy and delish. Here’s the recipe.
fclWhiteoak Canyon53fclWhiteoak Canyon54fclWhiteoak Canyon50And the tree was happy.

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cell phone summary:
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took a hike, took a camera: Rose River Falls

We didn’t set out to hike Rose River that day, but with wintery road conditions closing the south end of Skyline Drive, our plans quickly changed. “It’s the prettiest waterfall in the park,” said the man who greeted us at the gate. What was I supposed to say? Oh nah, I’m good. The directions were simple but after unknowingly missing the very first left turn, navigation got weird. Before we knew it a 2.6 mile hike turned into a four hour hike, I’m guessing around 8 miles. But it was worth it. Not necessarily because of the falls, which were quite pretty (even though fallen trees covered in drooping ice obstructed full view), but because I got to see Ben pretend the ice-covered trail was an adult slip-n-slide and earn a gnarly bruise on his butt. And also because the mountains are so beautiful in the winter: icicles hanging in curious little nooks, river water charging through openings in frozen layers, dainty animal tracks on untouched snow. The silence…broken by moving water and swaying tree tops. Plus, I probably burned like 74,019,457,361 calories that day. So, yeah.

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<–the end of Dark Hollow Falls | Rose River Falls + fallen tree + serious icicle—>
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cell phone summary:
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Ashley & Her Dumplings

There are a few roads and chunks of land in Rockingham County, just west of Rt. 42 near Linville, that act as a time machine for me. Gravel turns, belly-flipping hills, broken fence posts, chicken houses, touched-by-time barns, cow-trampled dirt, a storm following the ridge-line in the distance…they serve as photographs to moments passed. To me, these moments are treasures. Little golden trinkets of knowledge practically useless to speak of, yet undoubtedly priceless in the making of me; parts to a whole. This chest of images was spread out before me last week as I drove passed these real-life photographs, on my way to photograph a new memory.

Apples are one of those things that remind me of my Nanny. She was a hard working woman that started picking in the Timberville orchards in her pre-teen years. She used to buy and peel apples for me when I visited her on the weekends as a child. I decided on National Apple Dumpling Day as my Celebrating Life shoot for September in honor of her. When Ashley Sauder Miller told me about her grandmother’s apple dumpling recipe, it took me about four seconds to reply to her…I was sold.

It has been five years since Ashley lost her father and only three years since she lost her grandmother but they are very much alive in her home. For Ashley, her rooted appreciation for cooking didn’t come solely from her grandmother. While Ashley wrangled three of her four children to the kitchen counter, kept multiple conversations going at once, measured ingredients and made me coffee, she reminisced about her dad’s presence in the kitchen when she was a child. She told me a story, one I’m personally familiar with, of the aromas that fill a home during a big cook…and the sounds. These things create connections to your younger self. Just as the salty air and sound of the sea; just as the smell of those ol’ jeans you wore to the last bon fire; just as your sweaty little puppy-dog-smellin’ son after playing outside in his fort all day. Her dad did this for her…he created memories and connections…and meals.

Her content children helped with both dumpling prep and dumpling devouring. They left and rejoined us and went to play again and then helped some more. Those kids don’t even know the information their noses and ears and tastebuds are recording with each moment like this. None of us do I guess. Her son, Sullivan, returned to the kitchen to tell me about their recent visit to get milk from Mt. Crawford Creamer and then he helped mix ingredients with his hands and spoon and then he zoomed his bike around the front porch. Her youngest daughter, Taitum, carried unrelated cabinet findings to a pile in the center of the kitchen floor as her way of helping…all while eating, what seemed to be, an everlasting apple. Her other daughter, Finnly, who was home from school sick, helped stir the sugary, cinnamon-y, glazey topping on the stove then retreated to the sofa for some r&r ‘toon time.  And poor Teagan, the oldest, was stuck at school all day. Wamp.

As Ashley chopped, boiled, mixed and baked, loved on her children, wiped noses and laughed and talked the echoes of her father and grandma filled her kitchen in the form of smells and sounds and love. John and Zona were surely smiling from above…with their mouths watering.

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John, Ashley’s dad, holding her as a baby.

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An old photo of Zona, Ashley's grandma, oversees the apple dumpling making.

An old photo of Zona, Ashley’s grandma, oversees the day’s dumpling making.

Happy Apple Dumpling Day!
Go enjoy the smells and creations of your loved ones!

And be sure to check out more from my Celebrating Life series!

Red Wing Roots II: Day 3

It felt a lot like a Sunday when I parked my car on the third and final day of the second annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival. Time moves differently on Sundays. It ticks away and reminds us to notice the smells and colors and faces and light, to slow ourselves down and enjoy one last little morsel of, in this case, a mid-summer musical dessert. When I shut my car door, there were no echoes on this third day…no soft melodies or harmonicas bouncing off the Chimney’s. There was quiet. A little alarming, I admit, for a music festival…but I proceeded anyway, with curiosity and camera. As I moved towards the back of the seated, silent crowd, I heard Trent Wagler wailing out a line from his gospel set. It was an experience to be there in that moment, watching this community church under overcast skies, surrounded by beauty and bodies who needed this healing sound. People napped and recovered and carried themselves to the stage to wake up. Dang good way to start a day.
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Next up was Willie Watson, who I found to be a pleasant surprise. I love watching passion pour from a face with each lyric…eye wrinkles forming in the delivery of a verse, veins bulging with blood pounding from an aching heart and a shaky esophagus to distract from a tear. I got to see this in Willie’s performance of Rock Salt and Nails, among others. I feel you man. But before I let myself get stuck in my own head, I wandered around to mingle and grab images of smiling faces. It was a good move, the sun joined us and the rest of the day came with a smooth, steady beat as each new band took the stage.
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bsomeIMG_9686bsomeIMG_9699Above: Lucas Roasting Company saved the day for a lot of folks. Below: Year-old swag…we missed you this year Caleb!

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Above: Blackfeather Furniture made taking a break look goooood.bsomeIMG_9632

JP Harris & The Touch ChoicesbsomeIMG_9603bsomeIMG_9626bsomeIMG_9645bsomeIMG_9636bsomeIMG_9602bsomeIMG_9612bsomeIMG_9646bwbsomeIMG_9623bwbsomeIMG_9655bsomeIMG_9613bsomeIMG_9677bsomeIMG_9678bsomeIMG_9671bsomeIMG_9668bwbsomeIMG_9667bwbsomeIMG_9582bwbsomeIMG_9477bwbsomeIMG_9480bwbsomeIMG_9482bwbsomeIMG_9719

Bourbon Barrel CongressbsomeIMG_9727bwbsomeIMG_9730bsomeIMG_9726bsomeIMG_9722cbsomeIMG_9733bsomeIMG_9755bw

Bryan Elijah Smith & the Wild HeartsbsomeIMG_9874bwbsomeIMG_9864bwbsomeIMG_9889bwbsomeIMG_9941bwbsomeIMG_9915bwbsomeIMG_9893bsomeIMG_9894bsomeIMG_9903bsomeIMG_9896bwFCLIMG_9688bsomeIMG_9713bsomeIMG_9716bsomeIMG_9759

The Revelers

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Love CanonbsomeIMG_9807bsomeIMG_9804bwbsomeIMG_9812bsomeIMG_9802

It was time to fill our tanks with some Hanks.bsomeIMG_0030 bsomeIMG_0027 bsomeIMG_0034cbsomeIMG_9578bsomeIMG_0212

Peter Rowan’s Bluegrass Band
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Townes Van Zandt Tribute Set packed the stage with a smorgasbord or festival talent.bsomeIMG_0171 bsomeIMG_0136 bsomeIMG_0116bsomeIMG_0060bw bsomeIMG_0132 bsomeIMG_0135 bsomeIMG_0162 bsomeIMG_0064bsomeIMG_0106bsomeIMG_0065 bsomeIMG_0056

Hayes Carll wrapped up the evening and the festival for the year.bsomeIMG_0291 bsomeIMG_0251 bsomeIMG_0216 bsomeIMG_0228 bsomeIMG_0219c bsomeIMG_0247bw

See you next year, friends!bsomeIMG_0050

Didya miss Day 1? Click here to get caught up! What about Day 2?

This post is part of my year long series Celebrating Life.

Check out my photos from last year: Red Wing Roots Music Festival 2013! Day 1Day 2, & Day 3.

Red Wing Roots II: Day 2

It took two showers to wash away Day 1. Fragments of nostalgia broke away from my muddy footprints on the shower floor. Pieces of Mt. Solon dirt and blades of surely the greenest-grass-in-all-the-land sang sweet harmonies as they swirled to their watery death. I assured my lonely pores that their sweat buddies would return soon. Red Wing Roots Music Festival II, Day 2, started at noon with two bands I did not want to miss: Loves It and Smokey and the MirrorbsomeIMG_8553bsomeIMG_8554

Loves it.bsomeIMG_8564bsomeIMG_8569bsomeIMG_8570bwbsomeIMG_8594bsomeIMG_8600

Above: Red Wing shirts printed by The Mark-it.
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Lucas Roasting Company (above) keeping folks energized and Wholistic Wisdom (below) keeping folks relaxed.bsomeIMG_8558bsomeIMG_8782

Smokey and the MirrorbsomeIMG_8618 bsomeIMG_8625 bsomeIMG_8636

Above and below: So sweet to see their daughter watching the performance from backstage.bsomeIMG_8644 bsomeIMG_8642bw bsomeIMG_8622bw bsomeIMG_8631bsomeIMG_8739

Above: remnants of Pokey LaFarge’s performance.
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Above: One cute little Blue Mountain supporter. Below: One cute little Red Wing supporter.bsomeIMG_8606bsomeIMG_8674bw

Mandolin OrangebsomeIMG_8662bsomeIMG_8687bwbsomeIMG_8679bwbsomeIMG_8666bwbsomeIMG_8693

Below: Artery kicked off on Day 2. Hundreds of children and adults came to help work on this community painting.bsomeIMG_7494absomeIMG_8585bsomeIMG_8579bsomeIMG_8705bsomeIMG_9030

Eric Brace and Peter CooperbsomeIMG_8753bwbsomeIMG_8732bsomeIMG_8746bsomeIMG_8589bsomeIMG_8961bsomeIMG_8654bsomeIMG_8766bsomeIMG_8614bsomeIMG_8970bsomeIMG_8712bwbsomeIMG_8760bwbsomeIMG_9136bwbsomeIMG_8617bsomeIMG_8825

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Above: Grilled Cheese Mania. Below: Jack Browns Beer and Burger JointbsomeIMG_8832bsomeIMG_8896

The Stray BirdsbsomeIMG_8814bsomeIMG_8789bsomeIMG_8817bw

Brothers Comatose
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Miss Tess and the TalkbacksbsomeIMG_8933bsomeIMG_8924bsomeIMG_8932bsomeIMG_8661bwbsomeIMG_8938bsomeIMG_8906

The Judy ChopsbsomeIMG_9025bsomeIMG_9017bsomeIMG_9004bsomeIMG_8983bsomeIMG_9008bsomeIMG_9012bsomeIMG_8986bwbsomeIMG_9045bwbsomeIMG_9042bwbsomeIMG_8974bsomeIMG_9036bsomeIMG_8950bsomeIMG_8899

Sarah JaroszbsomeIMG_9117bsomeIMG_9068bsomeIMG_9073bwbsomeIMG_9061bsomeIMG_9122bsomeIMG_9095bsomeIMG_9100bwbsomeIMG_9115

One really awesome thing about photographing this festival, is that I get to work with other photographers who I know and love. I admire each of them in very different ways and I’m truly a fan of their work. I feel we have a great network and support system of creatives here in the Valley and I simply can’t imagine it being any other way. I’ll introduce my photog friends below. I encourage you to check out their work!

This is Keesha of Ruby Sky Photography. <–If you click on that link, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy her music selection. In fact, feel free to let it play as you continue to look through the rest of this post…you’ll find it quite relevant. Keesha can usually be found with three little assistants. In the photo below, the third assistant is playing hide-and-seek.bsomeIMG_9103

This. Ha. Well, this is Pat Jarrett. He likely rode in on his motorcycle that morning after shooting in Newport News. He’s a busy dude and if you’re a Stauntonian, you’ve probably seen him walking to and from his downtown studio.bsomeIMG_8977

These girls are my studio neighbors at Spitzer Art Center and are an inspiration to me. They own and operate The Pinwheel Collective. It’s great how well they not only work together but also how nicely their work compliments each others. They do cool stuff. And sometimes funny stuff, too.bsomeIMG_8158c

Oh hay. That’s me. You’re looking at my work now…but I do some  other stuff to. Like weddings and portraits and I photograph for a blog I do with my friend Katie about Harrisonburg. I also plan this really cool community portrait show with my friend Denise Allen every year called Art Lotto.bsomeIMG_9131

Trent Wagler and the Steel WheelsbsomeIMG_9147bwbsomeIMG_9148bsomeIMG_9155bsomeIMG_9174bwbsomeIMG_9164bwbsomeIMG_9221bwbsomeIMG_9389bwbsomeIMG_9216bsomeIMG_9182bsomeIMG_9226bsomeIMG_9158bsomeIMG_9266bsomeIMG_9235bsomeIMG_9314bwbsomeIMG_9331bw

Didya miss Day 1? Click here to get caught up!

Check out this writeup and MORE of my photos from Red Wing Roots 2014 Day 2 on ilovemyburg!

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This post is part of my year long series Celebrating Life.

Check out my photos from last year: Red Wing Roots Music Festival 2013! Day 1Day 2, & Day 3.

Red Wing Roots II: Day 1

I played Bob Dylan on the way to this year’s second annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival. I felt it was a decent way to get my soul ready for the day that awaited me in that magical, green pocket of Mt. Solon. When I parked and stepped out of my car to a distant harmonica chirp being carried through the trees with the mountain breeze, I couldn’t help but smile. I’m baaaaaack. Finally. I slung my camera around my neck, grabbed my cash and i.d. and followed the tunes. It led me straight to the Shenandoah Mountain stage where Charlottesville’s The Honey Dewdrops were mid-set. Sadly, I missed the Walking Roots Band all together because I got distracted by the awesome kids activities that Larkin Arts offered this year. They’ve really evolved with the festival and is one of the many ways the whole experience, that was already dang awesome, got even better. bsomeIMG_8551bsomeIMG_7384bsomeIMG_7452bsomeIMG_7373cbsomeIMG_7369bw bsomeIMG_7446 bsomeIMG_7470

Artery's blank canvas awaits hundreds of children and adult artist to leave their mark.

Artery’s blank canvas awaits hundreds of children and adult artists to leave their mark.

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I spy a Judy Chop!

I spy a Judy Chop!

bsomeIMG_7871Peyton Tochterman takes on the crowd at South Stage.

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#redwingselfie

#redwingselfie

WNRN volunteers were there and happy about it!

WNRN volunteers were there and happy about it!

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Old Hill Cider was my go-to when the sun heated up Day 1.

Old Hill Cider was my go-to when the sun heated up Day 1.

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I was particularly excited to see the performance by Many Nights Ahead. Amy, the lead gal, is my former art student and I’ve been trying to catch them live since they started playing. I let myself indulge in photos of these guys. They’re awesome and I felt so proud of them!

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I left the Local Roots Stage to take on what I feel is the most difficult part of the festival: deciding what to eat. There were so many goooood and local choices of festie cuisine available. Luckily I have friends that share so we ordered a bunch of food and taste-tested all of it!bsomeIMG_7752bsomeIMG_7759c

A Harrisonburg TRUCKS staple: Grilled Cheese Mania.

A Harrisonburg TRUCKS staple: Grilled Cheese Mania.

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Sexi-Mexi…oh God.

Sexi-Mexi…oh God. Straight from my other favorite ‘burg: Strasburg, VA!

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David Wax Museum and that sweet sounding jaw bone gets the crowd moving at South Stage!bsomeIMG_7784cbsomeIMG_7788bwbsomeIMG_7793bsomeIMG_7809bsomeIMG_7802bsomeIMG_7852bsomeIMG_7844bsomeIMG_7849bsomeIMG_7880bsomeIMG_7882bsomeIMG_7931cbsomeIMG_7938bsomeIMG_7985The Hackensaw Boys

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After witnessing all that is Pokey LaFarge last year, I could hardly wait to see him again. And I wasn’t alone. The crowd quickly migrated to the Shenandoah Mountain Stage, ready to shake a thang or two.

Also:
Dearest Pokey,
I love all of your faces. Every. Single. One.
Love, Brandy
P.S. I’m glad the watermelon didn’t hit me in the face. bsomeIMG_8395cbsomeIMG_8388bwbsomeIMG_8117bsomeIMG_8091bsomeIMG_8061bsomeIMG_8067bsomeIMG_8236bsomeIMG_8248bsomeIMG_8282bsomeIMG_8160bsomeIMG_8216bwbsomeIMG_8273bwbsomeIMG_8295bsomeIMG_8358bsomeIMG_8134bwbsomeIMG_8276bsomeIMG_8214bwbsomeIMG_8189cbsomeIMG_8152

Night came and The Duhks took the stage. I was ready to take a long nap and prepare for Day 2.bsomeIMG_8509bsomeIMG_8484bwbsomeIMG_8432bwbsomeIMG_8448bsomeIMG_8497

Don’t miss my photos from Red Wing Roots II: Day 2!

Check out an excellent writeup and MORE of my photos from Red Wing Roots 2014 on ilovemyburg!

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This post is part of my year long series Celebrating Life.

Check out my posts from last year: Red Wing Roots Music Festival 2013! Day 1Day 2, & Day 3.

Rice and Roll

I have made sushi a total of two times in my life. And by made I mean someone else cooked/cut/prepared everything and I rolled up a bunch of colorful stuff, dipped it in wasabi soy and ate it. One of those two times was at a surprise birthday party my best friend planned for me and the other time was at my friend Todd’s house. Even after both experiences, I was useless in remembering how it was done. Kind of like singing a song with no music. Once the radio is up and the lyrics get going, I’m all “shooooot, I got this!” but if I’m flying solo it’s like watching one of those awful auditions on American Idol. So when planning for June’s Celebrating Life post, I skimmed right past National Donut Day and National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (to my children’s dismay) and landed happily on June 18: International Sushi Day. If my past behavior was any indication, I knew the day would end in a shark-like feeding frenzy and I would soon forget all the steps…again. Luckily, this time I came armed with two things that rarely let me forget anything: my camera and my children. 

My friend Hannah, being the patient, child-loving, occasional sailor-mouthed, teacher and friend that she is, offered to make sushi with us. She collected all the ingredients from various cabinets and assigned jobs to each of my children. My daughter was in a bit of a funk (she doesn’t like sushi…or much of anything for that matter) but when Hannah put a sharp, “dangerous”  kitchen tool (aka the vegetable peeler) in her hand, she perked up for a moment and focused on her task. Meanwhile, my son did some chopping and peeling and Hannah brought the rice over for a taste test.

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Hannah's salt and pepper shakers!

Hannah’s salt and pepper shakers!

Friendly City Lens Sushi 2Everyone helped prep the ingredients for our rolls: rice, cucumber, crabstick, roe, avocado, nori, wasabi, salmon and shrimp. Hannah explained how in Korea sushi is called kimbap (or gimbap). From what I understand, kimbap is similar to the sushi we made except larger and not always filled with seafood…sort of like the Korean version of a sandwich. You can switch up the filling (seasoned veggies, beef, chicken, tuna, etc) in the same way we could switch up a sandwich: a turkey sandwich or a pb&j or a rueben. She also told us about her upcoming trip to visit family in Seoul, Korea. Her husband has never been before so she has Post-it notes placed around the house with both the English and Korean version of everyday items like “plate”, “bowl”, “towel”, “bathroom”. I was glad to hear this because after seeing the notes in the bathroom, I assumed she was just leaving little works of art everywhere…I mean, it wouldn’t really surprise me.
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International Sushi Day with Ha33International Sushi Day with Ha36International Sushi Day with Ha24International Sushi Day with Ha35International Sushi Day with Ha26International Sushi Day with Ha25International Sushi Day with Ha27International Sushi Day with Ha38International Sushi Day with Ha34International Sushi Day with Ha42Once the sushi mess was under control and we all had Garfield belly, it was time for dessert and another lesson in Korean cuisine. The golden melon she peeled and chopped is called Chameh. It’s a Korean melon that I would describe as a cross between cantaloupe and watermelon, but sweeter. We all tried it but I was full to my collarbone with sushi so I didn’t have much room to thoroughly examine it’s taste complexity. However, I did some searching and found a tempting popsicle recipe using chameh. If the use of Papyrus font is too much for you, try this recipe instead. I’m not judging. 

International Sushi Day with Ha44International Sushi Day with Ha45International Sushi Day with Ha46International Sushi Day with Ha47International Sushi Day with Ha48A lot of the sushi ingredients we used here were purchased at Friendly City Food Co-op and Food Maxx. If you can’t make your own sushi today, go support your favorite sushi spot! If you’re local, you’re in luck! You can devour some excellent rolls at Sushi Jako, Oriental Cafe, Beyond and Kyoto. And if you’ve never tried sushi before, it’s a good day to be adventurous. Happy International Sushi Day!!

 

Today is not National Macaron Day.

This post is a testament to one of the most delicious mistakes I’ve ever made. May is home of National Macaroon Day. May 31st, to be exact. There it was, jotted into my planner, making it fact. For this month’s Celebrating Life post I wanted to photograph a macaroon maker, working his or her macaroon magic at home in their kitchen. With some word-of-mouth references I quickly landed a sweet, willing candidate…and cute to boot! When I arrived at Amelia’s house to invade her space for the afternoon, she greeted me at the front door with a big smile, warmly welcomed me into her home, offered me a glass of water…then straight up schooled me. “People always confuse macarons with macaroons,” she explained as she showed those eggs who was boss. Wait, what? Ah geez. That’s me. I’m the people.

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MacarOONS are chewy and made with coconut. MacarONS are made with almond meal and resemble a cookie-like sandwich. They basically share the same list of other ingredients, but let’s face it: as delicious as they both are, macarons are the Homecoming Queens and macaroons are sitting at home in their sweatpants, eating a pint of Kline’s peanut-butter-cookies-n-cream, watching reruns of Girls. After some brief research, I learned that they both started in Italy but the recipe branched into the two directions where macarOONS became more popular with the European Jewish folks and macarONS became a thing of France. Which is why you may know them as French macarons rather than just plain ol’ macarons. Went to foodiversity; servin’ up some knowledge. Aw sookie! Seriously though, you have no reason to trust me. I just used high school, Hollywood and binge eating to prove a point.

As I photographed Amelia in her kitchen, her daughter and the two boys she was babysitting that day played contently in the room around us. Crawling in and out of the sliding door, tossing sippy cups for more water, piecing together giant puzzles on the floor, tugging at her apron and coming in for leg hugs. All the while, Amelia mixed batter, refilled their water, cleaned her work surface, translated the child-grunts, carried on conversation with me, babbled with the kids and distributed about four rounds of gold fish crackers. What a sweet juggler-of-the-daily-circus she is.

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