Monthly Archives: May 2014

Day 150: Kombu-what?

Okay, seriously, what is kombucha? It sounds a little like a sort of cabbage. I think I’m thinking of kimchi. It also sounds like a seaweed. And maybe a dance. Probably something Mickey Rooney would have done with Judy Garland. “Come on, everybody, let’s do the kombucha!” 

Apparently, it’s fermented tea. 

Apparently, there are some great health benefits to this stuff. We do love all these magical natural things that are supposed to make us miraculously healed of all diseases, have perfect colons, clear skin, oxygenated blood, etc. etc. 

So I gave it a shot. It tastes like slightly sour soda. And it certainly did not make me feel extra healthy. Not sure I’m feeling this. 

Eh. Win some, lose some.

Anyone want to defend the kombucha cause? 

 

 

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Day 149: Me and my kimono

In a bit of a fit of whimsy today, I found myself wondering what it would be like to go out and about wearing something designed to call great attention to myself. Or, more accurately, wearing something with the intention of calling attention to myself. Would I be uncomfortable? Would people stare? Would they try to avoid staring? 

 
Grant you, I’m not a khakis and white shirt kind of a gal. I like wearing clothes meant to be looked at, but appreciatively. I’ll rock a vintage dress, or a floral wedge, or a cloche hat. But I wear that stuff because I like it and I think it looks nice on me. I don’t wear it with the express intention of standing out in a crowd. 
 
So, with the goal of just being strange and out there, I decided to venture out for the afternoon in my kimono (or the kimono-like dressing gown I bought in Chinatown in Montreal a dozen years ago). 
 
Crap, that sounded racist, didn’t it? Okay, look, I don’t mean to be calling kimonos weird. I think they’re lovely. And if anyone wants to wear any aspect of their culture’s traditional garb, God bless. But I’m a frizzy Casper little white girl. For me to go out in a kimono is a tad off.
 
Which leads me to something else I wondered: Would I be considered to be committing “cultural appropriation.,” that growing issue that seems to be concerning privileged white twenty-somethings who have kanji tattoos and practice kundalini yoga at Lululemon?
 
And…. out I went. In the rain. In my kimono-type thing First, I passed a couple on my street. The man gave me a little bit of a side eye. Then the guy behind me in Starbucks had a bit of the “please don’t feed the animals” look. The woman I passed going out the door gave me a bit of a “bless your heart” glance, and the two girls who walked by me in front of Dunkin’ Donuts looked at me and then started giggling to each other. 
 
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Indeed, you might be asking: “Are you insane?” To which I respond, “I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested.”
 
I found myself having to walk slow, due to the rain making the streets slippery, and a lot of material around my legs. I decided to walk as though I felt a great deal of confidence: “Yes, here I am in my gorgeous kimono.” In truth, I was feeling a little bit like a combination of Jeff Lebowski and being the only one to wear a Halloween costume to the office
 
The first person to actually make a comment was a girl who wanted me to donate money to an anti-bullying cause, so a compliment was a good conversation starter. 
 
About an hour into my experiment, I was feeling surprised that I hadn’t actually gotten more looks, questions or comments. I figure this is for one of two reasons: 1) People are more polite than I give them credit for. 2) Being a Caucasian woman wearing a kimono in public is not actually as weird as it feels. 
 
To be clear, I wouldn’t anticipate anyone shouting “weirdo” at me, I just thought there might be a few more wondering glances, or even that someone in a store might strike up a conversation, probably in an attempt to be friendly and make a commission. 
 
The strongest reaction I got was in Whole Foods, from a gentleman working there. He told me the kimono was beautiful and asked if I’d gotten it in Japan, where he said he was from. I couldn’t tell if he was being facetious, but he seemed like a sincere guy. Upon further (polite) inspection, he noted that traditional kimonos have longer sleeves. Considering that, again, I bought the thing in Canada, I have no objections. 
 
I’m not a person who likes looking silly or foolish.  I only like standing out if I know it’s going to be for positive reasons, or for something that makes me happy enough to not care what others think. People singing “Happy Birthday” at me is one of my nightmares. I don’t dance on bars, do karaoke… you get it. 
 
And, as I’ve mentioned before, that’s one of the goals of this project — to stretch the boundaries of my comfort zone, even if that includes ridiculousness. And yes, I am fully aware that I’m ridiculous. But I generally think people who are unable to laugh at themselves are fairly useless, so I must strive to be more useful in this world. 
 
Oh, and in response to the burning question on your mind: Yes, I was wearing clothes underneath the robe.
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Day 148: Our daily art

What do you pass by, unnoticed, each day as you walk to work, to your car, the train, the store, out for coffee, lunch, dinner, to pick up diapers, Tylenol, that basil you forgot you needed for your tomato sauce? 

Maybe it’s some great architecture, or a fantastic view. Maybe there’s a garden or park you don’t appreciate. Or maybe there are paintings, sculptures and stonework right in the middle of your busy commute, away from any sort of museum or gallery.

In an attempt to, I don’t know, stop and smell the roses, I spent some time today checking out the public art offerings in my new town of Silver Spring, Md. 

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The Hand

Washington, DC-based sculptor Ray Kaskey created this bronze sculpture of a hand releasing seagulls for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The large bronze hand reaches its fingers toward the atmosphere releasing seagulls to the ocean, continuing the agency’s mission of recording and protecting the environment,” reads the website Silver Spring Downtown. Wouldn’t it be fun to climb up and just sit in the hand? Only me? Okay, I’ll own that one.

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Untitled art deco benches

According to the Silver Spring Downtown website, these benches (or as I’m going to think of them, giant armchairs) were inspired by the architecture of Silver Spring. Now, I’ve only been here a few days, but I think the architecture in general is pretty ugly. These sculptures, on the other hand, quite cool. Artist Carolyn Braaksma used water jet cutting to create the floral patterns.  

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I don’t actually know what this piece is called, but I was struck by the way the sunlight reflected off the panels and showed shades of silver, blue and green. 

Are there any public art offerings in your city or town? 

 

 

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Day 147: Go green (juice)

You know those weeks when you find yourself playing “Beat the Produce”? When you have to figure out how to use up all the fruit and vegetables you have before they go bad? And then those nights when you realize you’ve eaten nothing but pizza, chocolate, apples and cornflakes all day? Perfect evening for a green juice dinner. 

Based on what was in my refrigerator, I’ve created a juice that I think will be satisfying to all you people who like this sort of thing, and won’t be scary for those who don’t. 

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I really shouldn’t have to state this, but just in case, please wash all produce thoroughly. 

The Something New Project Green Juice

One generous handful kale

Two celery stalks

About 1 inch cucumber, peeled

Three florets broccoli

One green apple

I used a Vitamix, so I added about 3/4 cup water and several ice cubes, but if you have a juicer, you can use that and increase the amounts slightly. 

Here are some varieties you can try. I’ve never tried them because I just made up the base, but I have a decent culinary imagination. 

For added sweetness

Add a handful of frozen green grapes and/or a slice of honeydew

For added antioxidants

Replace any water with iced green tea

For added zinginess

Add the juice of one lemon and a chunk of raw ginger

For the feeling that you’re drinking a really healthy, non-alcoholic mojito

Add the juice of one lime and some fresh mint. 

For genuine satisfaction

Just eat chocolate. Really good, high quality chocolate.

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Day 146: On today’s top hashtag, #YesAllWomen

I debated with myself: Does it really count as “something new” if it’s news? If that’s the case, I could just link the front page headline from the New York Times each day and be done with it. 

But I’m learning more than just a few basic facts reading the #YesAllWomen tweets. Truth is, I’m not a huge fan of hashtag advocacy. In fact, as a rule, I feel like the best intentions of most advocacy gets lost among the shouting and the anger and the unwillingness to actually listen. I’m a lot less interested in -ists and -isms than I am in basic human decency and dignity. That shouldn’t be a challenge. As a friend of mine once said, “humanity’s not hard.” I’m not a politically correct person, but I do humanity pretty well. 

I don’t want to talk about the challenges of being female. I don’t want to talk about whether society is unfair to women. And I sure as hell don’t want to talk about my own personal challenges “as a woman.” I just want to encourage people to read these tweets. 

You may not agree with all of them. I don’t. Some of them make me sigh, or roll my eyes. Some of them are incredibly unfair to men. Some of them exacerbate so many of the negative perceptions of women and modern-day feminism. 

And the truth is, I really question whether it’s appropriate (it’s not) that the deaths of six innocent young men and women are being overshadowed – even hijacked – by this opportunity for advocacy, well-intended though it might be. 

But as long as they’re there… read, learn, consider, agree, disagree, ask…

LISTEN.

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Day 145: To-may-to, To-blah-to

Valuable new bit of information I learned in the kitchen today: Adding baking soda to an acidic dish cuts the acidity. That I’d heard, but not tried. Here’s the new part: Adding too much baking soda cuts taste. 

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So… that doesn’t speak well for my soup (creamy roasted red pepper and tomato, with a secret ingredient). Thus lots of salt and cumin.  Eh, not my favorite lesson to learn, but now I know better for the future. 

 

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Day 144: Ninety minutes from history

In April 2014, Smithsonian Magazine named its 20 best small towns to visit in 2014. Among them, Havre de Grace, Md. 

Located at the mouth of the Susquehanna River, Havre de Grace maintains much of its Colonial charm. I passed signs for it probably a thousand times driving between New York and Baltimore to visit my late grandparents when I was growing up, but never actually visited. 

Havre de Grace, or HdG, as it’s abbreviated, was attacked in the War of 1812. The town has a history as part of the Underground Railroad

My guy whisked me away for an afternoon outing. The first thing I noticed is that there are no chain stores in the downtown area. No Gap. No American Apparel. No Chipotle. 

We stopped in to browse at Glyph Art and Design Studio, where I really wanted to buy pretty notecards that were a bit out of my price range, and where the gentlemen purveyors directed us to dine at Laurrapin, a locally sourced restaurant with a sort of gastropub feel. 

I could have spent an entire day (and my entire bank account) in Seneca Cannery Antique Mall. I was all but craving the vintage Pyrex bowls, the bakers rack, the hand painted trays, the phonograph stand, and the telephone table I saw. I settled for an antique washboard similar to the one my grandmother had in her laundry room and consoled myself with a cone from Bomboy Ice Cream. Clearly, we should have stopped in across the street at the candy store. 

This town is long for amazing antique stores, and JoRetro is not to be missed for those who appreciate mid-century styles. 

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Trust me, once I’m actually finished unpacking and have a better idea of what I have room to get, I am getting back to this town and doing some serious antiquing. A visit to the Susquehanna State Park is also in order. So much to anticipate…

 

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Day 143: The key to ruining a nice afternoon

I know, I know, I should be writing about the meteor shower. The cosmos forgive me, but I am too damn tired to stay up until possibly 4 a.m. for that. 

Instead, here’s a little story about what happened this afternoon. 

I accompanied a friend to the car dealership to have her tires rotated. While the car was being serviced, we ran a couple of errands, and when we returned, the car was ready and freshly washed. Sounds good, right? 

So, we’re getting ready to leave and as I’m getting in the passenger side, she calls me to come around to her side of the car. There, scratched lightly into the driver’s door are the words “You’re An Idiot.” 

Granted, the car was dirty beforehand, but so dirty that a fairly observant person wouldn’t have noticed such invective? Note, please, that I’m in no way accusing anyone at the dealership of doing this, but as she’s not yet been able to view footage (the manager had left for the day), the possibility of it happening there cannot be dismissed out of hand. 

Certainly, we’ve all heard of cars being vandalized. Maybe it’s happened to us. Maybe we’ve even committed the crime ourselves. But I’ve never seen a circumstance quite like this one. 

It certainly put a damper on the afternoon

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Day 142: Monkeying around with Yoda

Random fun fact I learned today: Yoda was almost played by a monkey. Contemplate that, you will. 

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Day 141: Georgetown Waterfront Park

I spent the summer of 1999 interning at a small newspaper in Georgetown (aptly named The Georgetowner), and spent some after-work hours meandering the neighborhood I’d describe as “quasi-posh.” 

However, during that time, I never came across this: 

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Welcome to Georgetown Waterfront Park. Heading toward a meeting today, the bus dropped me off across the street from this lovely little spot, which I’d had no idea existed. Granted, at 19, I was probably too busy perusing the Urban Outfitters (I got the cutest blue dress there).

Georgetown is close to an hour from where I live, and I don’t have a lot of occasion to go there, but should I have need, it’s nice to know about this pretty stroll. This is what I love about exploring cities, new and old — there’s always something to discover.  

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