Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cooking Japanese: 最初鍋スープ

Tonight I cooked my first ever hot pot soup (also known as nabe in Japan) after finding a hot pot base at the grocery store and buying some produce to go with it. And let me tell you, it turned out great.

(Now, if only I had actual nabe cooking ware in my kitchen. ヽ(~_~ )ノ)

My Japanese lessons have been a little scattered in the last few months, but I've done everything I can to start re-introducing it into every part of my downtime that wasn't spent on something else. And while I'm doing that, I've started taking even more time to introduce myself to parts of the culture that I hadn't experienced yet - hot pot recipes being among the list.

This recipe was put together on a whim from the ingredients I grabbed at the store. It's all veggie, but with hot pot soups you can add meat if you want. I'm just still working to make more veggie-based choices with my meals.

含ま: ヒマワリ油、発酵大豆、ウルフベリー
contains: sunflower oil, fermented soybeans, wolf berry

Pour the contents of the package into a hot pot.

Add garlic and ginger. Then add 6 cups of boiling water.

When the soup is boiling, put in remaining ingredients.

ラディッキオ (Radicchio)
キャベツ (Cabbage)
豆腐 (Tofu)
新玉ねぎ (Scallion)
キノコ (Mushrooms)
トマト (Tomato)

I let the scallions, mushrooms and tomatoes cook first for about 10 minutes. After that, I added the cabbage, radicchio and tofu and let it cook for ~10 more minutes. The result was incredible.

If you're scared to try a new cuisine, give little packets/kits that you find at the store a shot. They're not always a home run, but you can learn more about the flavors and experiment more in the future.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

ILY, Ariel

Ariel left last Saturday shortly after my posts about our first episode of our new podcast, and her flying in to see me. I've been wanting to sit down and talk about how much fun we had, but I immediately jumped back into work the second she left. Let me just tell you, I could have kept her for another month.

Ariel has always been one of those kindhearted and careful people that never feels like her being there disrupts the flow of your life. We laughed and talked the entire time she was here - and that's honestly such an accomplishment for two introverts such as ourselves. At one point, when she went to bed before me, and I walked into the office with Tripp (who had been in hiding from our chatter and Real Housewives of Atlanta marathon), I realized that that walk back to the office and pulling up Tumblr was the first few moments of silence I had experienced since she had been there.

Tripp's response: Oh, I know! You two won't stop! 

We walked all over Redmond, several days in a row, and even matched one day - almost by accident, then on purpose - and took to writing and exploring some shops in a nearby shopping mall that had a nice seating area by an artificial fireplace on that breezy day. I probably ran her ragged with all the little places we explored, but with walking being my favorite thing to do (and being confined to a one-car household), I couldn't let her experience Redmond without experiencing Redmond the way I do every week!

The sun was even nice enough to occasionally come out and play while she was here.

All parts of the time off with Ariel were the best, but one of the best parts was taking Ariel to Seattle to show her Pike Place Market, get some Beecher's cheese curds and have brunch at Biscuit Bitch. On the bus ride there and back we enjoyed one of our favorite podcasts The Read, and Ariel got to see us cross Puget Sound.

We even found two little bookstores around Seattle before we headed back, and that's where Ariel snapped this shot of me at this charming nook.

Ariel tried to lie to me and say that I won for the coolest place to live, but I still love Savannah, Ga., with all my heart. Hopefully I can make it to her this year or next once my vacation time builds back up - oh, the "woes" of full-time working status.

I miss her dearly and wish she was still here, but after not being able to hug her for nearly four years, that was one of the best weeks I've had this year to date. I hope she feels the same. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Within Walking Distance - the podcast

I have some news. After months of planning, my college bestie and soul sister Ariel and I have started a monthly podcast. Today was the reveal of the first episode.

Go check it out and subscribe now! More episodes to come in the next months.

Each episode is accompanied by a visual component of our adventures on Instagram:

Follow us at @wwdpod on Instagram, Twitter and Soundcloud for more episodes in the future. We hope to have more structured episodes in the future, and to be on iTunes and TuneIn along with Soundcloud.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Five Ways to Get Involved with Your Local Library

When it comes to accessibility to the tools and resources people (young and old) need to improve their literacy and reach their highest level of education, I believe it all can begin with encouragement and books. Unfortunately, those two things can be a novelty for some neighborhoods and families. That's why getting involved with your local library - to make sure its patronage never dwindles and can continue to serve its community - is a strong step in keeping doors open that prove a safe space for others to learn and grow. 
My life practically began in a library.
So here's my five tips for you if you're looking to get involved with a library: 
  1. Go to your library. - Don't click away, I'm not being sarcastic. It's easy to notice your library, but it's another to be a member, to go inside regularly and to help it succeed. Simply being there, having a card, trading in and out books, and sharing that experience with others is a small step into making it an active part of your community. And the more of a necessity communities deem their libraries to be - before they are at risk - the stronger of a chance they have of remaining in your neighborhoods. Hold small writing groups at your library. Find the non-quiet corners of the library to host your soft-talking book clubs. Take the children in your life there for a fun day out and get them excited to read something you used to love - or explore a new story together. 
  2. Vend from the digital library. - With the invention of e-readers, and just anything that has words printed on a screen these days, it's easy for many libraries with the system to loan you digital copies of your favorite stories. If you can't make it into the library, borrow from the digital one in your county/town. Being a patron that way validates the system's use. 
  3. Get involved in programs. - This one is more than just being there, but it's so helpful. Whether the program you're involved with requires you to be a helper, instructor or crowd participate, be there. Some libraries host summer reading events for kids, teen/youth events after school and during breaks, adult literacy classes, and even classes for random things like Microsoft Office Certification. (Really, my library does that!) Either find your library's website, or reach out to the Information Desk at your local branch, and find out what programs are available to you. It's great if you indulge in it for yourself, but finding ones you can help run with/for staff is just as important. Have an idea for a great one not listed? Find out what it takes to be the host of that event in your community! 
  4. Work outside of the library. - Not every straying wanderer will find their way into a library on their own. Sometimes you have to be an influence for bringing others there. There is a magic to books and reading, and if you share that with people you know (or not), and also recommend copies of stories you love - hinting that they will be at the library to check out - you are more than likely going to casually bring people to the library better than any poster can. 
  5. Donate. - As a patron, your monetary donations matter and your books matter. Many libraries will have programs where they sell your slightly worn books, or repackage your well-kept books you're done using in laminate covers to add to their shelves for patrons to borrow. Got a slew of books you want to donate? Try there first. The more you can offer their selection, the more there will be for others to enjoy when they do come by. And outside of that, if you see the opportunity to donate to build a library/school, help build it yourself, or help fund an event for a library in need, don't turn a shy eye away. The government won't always save it for you. (I mean, we're having to do a lot of work just to save libraries as we speak.)
There are more ways to divide up what I've listed here into really granular steps and details, but I wanted to help you see the basis for what you can do for your local library. It's there to serve you and your community. Treat libraries with care! 

Need more help understanding what you can do that is more specific? I'm always willing to reply to your comments below about whatever questions you have. And don't be afraid to ask your librarians the next time you're there. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Ariel Is In Town

Ariel is here with me, and I'm so happy! Also, we might be working on a project together...