Friday, January 30, 2015

23 + a Slight Change of Course

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Birthday Cake
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Birthday Cake

22 is easy. It has its own Taylor Swift song; it's a time when pretty much everyone I know is in college and still figuring out their lives. At 22 you're still exploring and partying.

23 is a totally different business. I know there are lots of 23 year olds still at college, but I was never going to be one of them. For me, 23 is mid-twenties. At 23 I should have a career and a plan and a space of my own, and I have none of those things. I have student loans and a job in retail.

I realized all of this as I got out of the shower a month ago, and it was the worst I had felt in a long time. I had so many regrets -- why didn't I accept that job? Why did I spend four months in a catatonic sabbatical from life? Geneva from a few years ago would be mortified to learn where she was headed.

But I'm 23 now, and it isn't as bad as I expected. I rang in my personal new year with red wine, the best chocolate cake, and Downton Abbey, and although I don't quite feel comfortable with the idea of being 23, I'm sure I will by the time I turn 24. It's less about numbers than circumstances, and those change constantly.

Speaking of which, in the spirit of the new year, I plan to branch out a little bit with this space. I feel as if my writing muscles have atrophied, and as much as I love clothes, food, and travel, there are many more aspects of my life I never touch on. I'm looking forward to sharing my views on some new topics over the next several months, and we will see where that goes!

A very happy birthday to us all!

Friday, January 23, 2015

What I Wore: Traveling in Comfort

I spent about an hour packing for my two-week trip to Utah. Naturally, a few things didn't end up making it into my suitcase. The nice thing about visiting your boyfriend, though, is the ability to steal his clothes to supplement your own wardrobe.

Salt Lake experienced an unexpected heatwave, so I borrowed a cardigan and created a classic layered, comfy, I-have-limited-options-in-my-hastily-packed-suitcase kind of a look. I don't hate the way it turned out.

Traveling in Comfort
Traveling in Comfort

I love the bottom layer of this ensemble -- a shirt that, without a crop-top, reads "Paris | Vienna | London". I often conceal the first city, though, mostly because my experience in Paris extends to a 5 hour layover in the airport that I'm not eager to repeat. My time in London and Vienna, though, was both more extensive, and more pleasant. This shirt is super soft, comfy, and just long enough to wear with leggings (in my book anyway).

Traveling in Comfort
Traveling in Comfort

Infinity Scarf: Hand knit last winter.//Cardigan: American Apparel, stolen from Boyfriend.//Croptop: unknown, old.//Graphic Tee: Double Zero.//Skinny Jeans: Zara, past season.//Shoes: Converse All-Stars.

Photos taken by James and edited by me. Sorry a couple of them are a little blurry -- it was his first time shooting with a manual focus lens!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thai Belgian Fusion

I should probably clarify: I don't know of any restaurants that actually specialize in combining Thai and Belgian Cuisine. What I do know is that there are two restaurants right next to each other, each specializing in one of the above. And while Thai followed by waffles might sound a little odd, let me assure you, it's heaven on earth.

First, Ekamai Thai:

Ekamai Thai SLC

It's affordable, authentic, and delicious. Bonus: it was so warm the day we went, we actually sat outside. James and I shared (as we often do), a combination of beef and chicken curries, steamed vegetables, egg rolls, and brown rice. I can't get enough Thai food! It's one of the few things I can gorge on without feeling totally gross, and Ekamai uses fresh veggies and beautiful, zingy flavors in all their dishes.

Ekamai Thai SLC

Unfortunately, I can't stuff myself with Belgian waffles without feeling disgusting, but I'm willing to take the hit when they're this delicious. Bruges is the place, right next to Ekamai.

Bruges Waffles SLC

By this time, we'd gotten a little chilled, so we shared our waffle in the warmth of the tiny cafe, at the bar.
Bruges Waffles SLC

I'm going to take a second to rave about them: for starters, the staff are lovely. James and I got talking to one of the guys working the counter, which caused him to accidentally leave off one of the toppings we asked for. When he realized his mistake, not only did he correct it, he gave us another topping for free. Perhaps more importantly, though, they are not messing around with ingredients. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a food snob, and too often I find that "raspberries" means "raspberry flavored sauce we bought at the bulk food store" and "Belgian Chocolate" means "Hershey's Sauce". Not so at Bruges -- we're talking good chocolate and fresh berries. Also, authentic Speculoos (look it up, it's amazing). So basically, 6 out of 5 stars.

James and I went to the locations in Salt Lake proper, but learned during our dining adventure that both Ekamai and Bruges have opened up locations in Sugarhouse. Bruges also recently opened a full sit-down restaurant in Provo. So if you're in the Salt Lake area, you have plenty of options for wonderful Thai and Waffles (though I won't be offended if you choose not to indulge in them together).

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sunset Snowshoe

Our final night at Bryce timed up perfectly with the first full moon of the year. Yes, believe it or not, these pictures weren't quite the full moon. James, his family, and I all headed out on not quite as clear a night as the one before, to snowshoe with a couple of park rangers and other visitors.

Bryce gets some really beautiful pastel sunsets. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to capture one properly, but you can get some idea from these photos.

Sunset at Bryce Canyon
Sunset at Bryce Canyon
Sunset at Bryce Canyon

As the sun went down, the moon came up, finally peaking over the clouds.

Moonrise at Bryce Canyon

And as the hike drew to a close, James and I grabbed the tripod one more time, just to see how many stars we could find with the moon partially obscured.

Night Sky at Bryce Canyon

Almost as giddy as the night before, we headed back to the hotel for some warm food, a splash of prosecco, and a long sleep.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bryce at Night

Bryce Canyon has some of the lowest light pollution in the continental United States. It takes stargazing to a whole new level -- on a clear night, it feels like you can see everything.

I received a tripod for Christmas, and had shots like these in mind as soon as I opened it. I had no idea I would be so lucky. The weekend we spent there, the park had pretty steady snow cover, unseasonably warm temperatures, mostly clear skies, and a full moon. Talk about ideal night photography.

Bryce Canyon at Night

James and I had hiked the Peekaboo Loop that day (a hike classed as "strenuous" and far more than I was prepared for), but we knew that this might be the only clear night we had, so we headed back into the park anyway. We took these at Sunset Point, with up to 15 seconds of exposure. The moon was so bright we actually got a solar (lunar?) flare off it with one of the lenses we used, and many of our photos looked like daylight.

Bryce Canyon at Night
Bryce Canyon at Night
Bryce Canyon at Night
Bryce Canyon at Night
Bryce Canyon at Night
Bryce Canyon at Night

I'm still kind of giddy over these. The cold, dark, and exhaustion were unquestionably worth it; I hope you'll agree!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bryce Canyon, Take II

So, yes, I've already been to Bryce Canyon. Twice, actually. And if you've been around since the beginning, some of this may look familiar.

However, a lot has changed since my last visit to the park. Namely, my camera, and my photography skills. So I hope no one will mind the excessive amounts of photos in this post (and in the next few, because I struggle with moderation).

A New Year's trip to Bryce is becoming a tradition in James's family, and I have mixed feelings. It gives me a great opportunity to practice my outdoor photography, and I do enjoy getting the fresh air and seeing the park during the only time of year when it isn't swamped with visitors. My enthusiasm is inevitably tempered, though, by a general dislike of the cold, hunger, strenuous exercise, and especially any kind of exertion at this altitude. Let's just say gentle inclines leave those of us from sea level gasping for breath. 

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

Still, it's worth it to go down into the canyon. In my opinion, it's where you see Bryce at its finest. I took most of these photos on the Peekaboo Loop (NOT for the faint of heart/breath). The weather conditions were hell at the rim, but the clear sky and blustery winds made for some beautiful optical effects inside the canyon. Plus, bonus: it's nowhere near as windy down there.

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

These sunlight+snow pictures are some of my favorites I've ever taken, and despite the altitude and occasional annoyances, I'm really glad I had the opportunity to get them.