happy halloween...ish

I don't have a costume, I don't have any candy corn, I haven't made any pumpkin baked goods or even cake pops. I haven't had a single pumpkin ale or pumpkin seed. in fact, we only have one teeny-tiny pumpkin. [ok, and the one I drew on our chalkboard wall.]

but whether I'm ready or not, today is halloween.

and [for a change] the weather here is feeling a little like it should. it's rainy and cooler. by cooler, I mean 68F... but since it's been in the low 80s that counts as cooler. and there's a crockpot of chili simmering away for dinner. my latest incarnation of the recipe has no beans, 1 beer, and a few healthy shakes of worcester. [it may be my best chili, ever.]

and. Husband rented Hocus Pocus. my most favorite halloween movie of all time.

not so bad, halloween.


I also want to say I'm thinking of everyone impacted by Hurricane Sandy. I'm thankful that most of my friends who were in the storm path are doing fine, though some were evacuated or lost power. I hope that you and all your loved ones are safe and dry, even those who are getting the fringes of the storm now in the midwest. it's been surreal watching it all unfold from the other side of the world. I remember what a mess it was when Irene rolled through, I can't imagine how long it's going to take to get things back in order. I hope that for all those affected, that it will be soon...


the sound and the fury [1]

one night, over scotch + euchre with our neighbors, Husband mentioned that in the teacher's office at school there is a shelf full of books that you can borrow and read. the content of this shelf ranges from Shakespeare to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and I think maybe a few trashy romance novels. as teachers come and go at the school [especially "western" teachers who are moving internationally and trying to save on shipping fees] books are taken and books are added.

at the time, I had been re-reading books I already had loaded on my kindle app, and was in need of some fresh material. as Husband was listing off titles he had seen, I expressed my interest in Faulkner's the sound and the fury. being the thoughtful guy he is, he brought it home for me a few days later. it was something I had heard about but never read. I don't think I was fully prepared for what I was about to encounter...

I was so excited the day I started reading. the first section of the book is a bit tricky, and it takes a while to get used to the stream-of-consciousness writing. I thought I was doing a good job of deciphering the story, until I started the second section. written from a different person's viewpoint, 18 years before the first section, and by a man who I had just convinced myself was a woman.

after reading the first two "sections" of the book I was thoroughly confused and slightly discouraged. these sections are from the viewpoint of persons mentally handicapped [Benjamin] and/or unstable [Quentin], and constantly switch from present to past events without warning.

I took a little break from the book. it was right after the scooter crash and I needed to rest my brain as well as my leg. I read some light + fluffy stuff, and watched a whole lot of West Wing. when I came back to it [after writing my 13 by 2013 list] I was determined I would get through this crazy book.

and then, the third section. thank you, Jason, for being mostly sane if not completely rational. that's when things finally start to make sense. I won't give away the story [in case you want to read it] but please if you pick this book up, stick with it until you get to the third section. it doesn't fill in all the blanks, but it pulls together the first two sections into something semi-coherent. the fourth section is much easier to get through. my book was also an edition with Faulker's appendix... I would recommend finding it online if your book doesn't come with, as it helped to round out the whole story.

the plot is intriguing, but what really makes this book is the style of writing. it is completely unlike anything I've ever read before. [I have read Faulkner's as I lay dying, but I don't remember it being this wild]. I'm glad I was able to tough it out and finish it, and cross it off my 13 by 2013 list!


scheming and dreaming [and doing]

I've been struggling a lot lately with some big questions. mainly: what am I doing with my life?

society [or at least the one I grew up in] places a lot of value on careers, money, and busy-ness. I sortof gave up my career when we moved to Taiwan. and honestly, I'm glad I did. the were things I loved about my job but mostly I felt over-stressed and like my cubicle was slowly sucking away my soul. [would I consider doing some consulting work in Asia to pick up extra cash? yes, but I don't think my future lies in returning to that path full time.]

money is almost synonymous with success... and right now I'm not really raking it in. do I need to make money? no. but I do want to make money. and more importantly- I want to make money doing something I want to do. but figuring out how to take something you love and making it profitable is a lot harder than you'd think.

I actually have good ideas quite often. I'm struck by a lightning bolt of inspiration and fly off in a frenzy of scheming and research. and I take the idea and I work on it, and I plan and revise... and spend so much time trying to perfect it that it never comes to fruition. that's usually when I pause, pour a bucket of self-doubt over the idea, and place it firmly on the shelf of "well maybe someday if...". I have a very full shelf of ideas that could be great. but they are just sitting there, gathering dust, waiting for the right moment which [let's be honest] will probably never arrive.

I'm scared of failing, so I talk myself out of even starting. I hate saying that, but it's true.

but in all of my thinking, I've started to realize that now is the time for me to start trying doing these things. I'm not sure yet which -if any- of these ideas will manifest themselves into something sustainable. but it's time to start finding out. and so, I've started. I'm taking a risk, doing what I love, and hoping that with a little sweat I can turn it into success.

you'll be hearing more about these things, but for now I have 3 major schemes: photography [I have a family shoot booked for November 4th!], an Etsy shop and a self-published book for kindle [both of which have a lot of tax intricacies I am trying to work through] the last two may never get of the ground, but I'm doing what I can not to kill them before they have the chance.

wish me luck, and stay tuned... whether I succeed or fail, this should be interesting!


yehliu, part two

more from our trip to Yehliu Geopark. I could wax poetic about more petrified sand dollars. or tell you the tale of how 8 travelers made their way to the northeast tip of the island by scooter, train + bus. I could even spout off a funny little anecdote about starting a new trend in famous rock photography. but spending hours going through pictures of rocks has me feeling like my head is full of them.

 so I will simply say... it weirds me out that the Pacific Ocean is now on my east coast.


thirteen by 2013

last year around this time, I stumbled onto a new blog through something I pinned. and on that blog I found something that she had found through another blog that I wanted to try: making a list of 12 things to accomplish by 2012. it didn't take me long to come up with a list of things I had been meaning to finish or wanting to try. [plus, we all know that list-making is one of my favorite activities.] I gave it a good effort, and wound up finishing 10 of 12 items on my list.

I've been thinking for a while that I should do a 13 by 2013 list this year. maybe it's all this sitting around with my leg up that makes me itch to be productive? opening my reader this morning to find a 13 by 13 list by August Empress gave me the push to finally sit down and hash through my ideas.

with a little deliberation, I narrowed my list down to 13 things I think I can manage in the next 10 weeks.

thirteen by 2013

1. finish reading the sound and the fury done + posted 10.28
2. hold a paleo challenge with husband
3. paint + hang the 3 big canvases sitting in my office
4. heal my knee enough to go for a run
5. post on the blog at least twice each week
6. complete level 1 of Rosetta Stone Mandarin
7. find a local shop to print photos for hanging
8. create a better storage solution for my nailpolish collection
9. finish the roll of film in my Holga  complete + posted 11.15
10. implement a well-planned blog redesign "tour" posted 11.11
11. organize my closet/wardrobe [including shoes + belts] posted 11.28
12. plan a photo project to start next year
13. take a trip to the "17 km of splendid coastline"

I'll be posting photos of things as I complete them, and coming back to update this list here. [hoping that having to report things will keep me motivated!]

I learned a few things from last year's attempt. the key [for me at least] is to set concrete goals, nothing too abstract. "exercise more" or "practice photography" are not really measurable achievements. "run a 5k" and "shoot a roll of film" are. a good goal is something closer to a true/false or yes/no question than a short answer or essay.

feel free to join up in setting some goals to achieve by the end of the year. hopefully, by joining forces we can all be a little more productive! leave a comment below with a link to your list, and use this code below if you'd like to borrow my graphic.

good luck!

copy code for graphic: <a href="http://inkandadventure.blogspot.tw/2012/10/thirteen-by-2013.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8oAcOgaDrp8/UIEdftPd7aI/AAAAAAAABaQ/KDdH8UWe3Lk/s1600/13x13.png" border="0" alt="13x13" /></a>



recovering: from a little spill on [or would what be off?] the scooter that Husband and I took friday night. mostly just scrapes and bruises, save my left knee. it's bruised and swollen and doesn't want to be straightened all the way or take too much weight. it's improved since the crash, but I'm going to be taking it easy for a while. the heels of my hands [which inconveniently rest on my computer while typing] are fairly sore too, so it may be a slow news week around here folks!

reading: the sound and the fury. still. I'm finding the stream-of-consciousness writing to be very... dense. and the plot difficult to discern [though I believe that was intentional] I have to admit in my "recovery" I picked up something a little lighter to read so my brain didn't have to work so hard. but I know I'll get through it eventually.

watching: West Wing season 5 and Game of Thrones season 1. I've been switching back and forth every few episodes to keep things interesting while I'm interred on the couch. WW season 5 isn't my favorite, but that's where I'm at in my current re-watch of the series. [for some reason I don't like skipping ahead]

editing: pictures from our Yehliu trip. and a few other things, though it's slow going [again] due to the hand/keyboard situation.

contemplating: a blog redesign. if you haven't picked up on it by now, I tend to get antsy every few months and want to try out some new font or clip art or photoshop trick and change things up around here. I'm trying to restrain myself and plan carefully so the next design can have a little more longevity. maybe it's my forced inactivity that has me itching for a change. then again... variety is the spice of life, right?

loving: my new chalkboard wall! with the help of a friendly English-familiar local, I avoided purchasing toxic paint with which I intended to DIY some chalkboard paint. it was pure luck that I found the local Home Depot - ish store carried actual chalkboard paint. I got one coat up before the scooter spill, and hoping later this week I'll be mobile enough to finish painting and start chalking!

well, that's all the news that's fit to type. feel free to share what's going on with you "currently",  as I could use some fresh entertainment :) happy monday and enjoy your week!

["currently" post inspired by Danielle at Sometimes Sweet


petrified sand dollars on the moon

yesterday we went to Yehliu Geopark for a day of exploring [and obviously, photo-taking.] it was kindof like a visit to the moon, only with more petrified sand dollars and camera-toting tourists. oh, and oxygen. we hiked all day and got back late, and not only my legs but my brain is tired.

my head has been swirling all afternoon. painting, writing, editing, organizing. gathering blog redesign inspiration. contemplating various opportunities. washing dishes + laundry. there is a lot I want to share but having trouble sorting out how and when [and getting all the photos edited.] 

more of this and other things, soon.


our city

the other day I was scooting around running errands, and at some point of the inner monologue that constantly runs through my head I referred to Hsinchu as "our city".

I honestly can't remember what it was I was thinking, because once I realized what I had done my train of thought was completely derailed. I tested the phrase a couple of times. our city. our city.

and it really hit me that Hsinchu has made its mark on our life. and will always be a part of who we are now. we are growing, changing, writing a new chapter in our history. it crept up on me slowly... forming habits, getting lost, adapting to lifestyle changes, overcoming fears, and finding beauty in the everyday. it's been exciting, exhausting, incredible, terrifying, and amazing. everything. all at once. but now, this is our city.

our city with it's dragon-covered temples that pop up out of nowhere. our city that has "mountains" and then actual mountains, all within 10 kilometers. our city that has a downtown shaped like a wagon wheel, that can only be reached by mysterious scooter tunnels. our city that is so clean, yet has random corners that smell like outhouse. our city where we are stared at wherever we go [one friend suggested pretending to be a celebrity.] our city where driving down guang fu in rush hour is like navigating black friday shopping. our city where the covered electrical boxes on the street are painted in murals of mountains and the sea. our city that I'm finally comfortable navigating. our city. our Thai place, our karaoke hotel, our starbucks, our costco, our ice cream milk tea, our stray parking lot kitten, our lakeside park, our roof deck, our friends, our city.

of course I still miss the states. the people who are my people. gluten-free food that is easily obtainable. my fluffy kittens. my East Lansing. my New York. those things will never leave my heart.

but now this place has found it's way into being mine, ours. and I kindof like it.

our city.


DIY wall art: basic bunting

basic bunting. also known as: the easiest wall art project ever. it took me 5 minutes to make and hang, and I already had all the materials on hand. and it's so cute!

[please disregard that weird little pink bunny on our tv stand. he came free with a pack of duracell batteries and I completely did not see him in these photos until I started writing this post. so he stays.]

I've been a little slow to decorate our apartment here in Taiwan, but the living room walls have really been bugging me. they're just so big, and white, and blank. I bought some canvases but haven't made the commitment to painting them yet. I wanted to do something that was fall-ish but not overly so, since it still feels a bit like summer out. I also wanted to keep if neutral, since our living room furniture is pretty bright.

this project was so simple to make. hang a length of twine on the wall. cut out triangles from brown kraft paper [or use colored paper if you like] and attach to the twine. you can glue the paper on, or just use little clips or pins. I had these mini clothespins on hand and I think they go right with the neutral color scheme.

and that's it! I thought of painting the triangles or adding letters to spell something, but for now I like it plain. something very simple that brings in just a touch of whimsy and fun. and it makes me smile every time I look at the wall.

speaking of the wall, I'm going to give away a big secret here. my wall actually does not look like the above photo. I did a little photoshop to make it look better, but I'm going to be honest with you.

the wall really looks like this. one of the joys of living in a school-owned apartment overseas? cement walls, fun wires and light switches in random places. [on the plus side, the nails I hung the bunting on were already in the wall.] I think that's another reason why I've been slow to decorate...but at least the bunting is a start!


weekend walk

scenes from our walk through the gardens near lake placid this past weekend. 
[if you look really hard, you might find fall starting to creep in a little bit. just a little.]


din tai fung [dumplings!]

dumplings. delicious little packets of juicy, salty, spicy, goodness.

hands down, the dumplings from Din Tai Fung are best dumplings we've had in Taiwan. [so good that once they land on the table they disappear faster than my lens can capture] obviously that puts it on our "must-do" list for any visitors that may roll through.

so this past weekend, we headed there with our first visitor and a group of friends. since they don't do reservations on weekends, we spent our waiting time planning out what we wanted to order for our feast. [and of course taking pictures]

there are literally a dozen of these guys working in the kitchen, all day long, just to make and enough dumplings for the day. they mix the dough, portion it and roll it and stuff it and pinch it, and then the dumplings are steamed to order.

some of the things we ordered: vegetable dumplings with pork, soup dumplings, fried shrimp dumplings, wonton dumplings in spicy sauce, sauteed spinach, sauteed cabbage with garlic, pork buns, green beans with pork, sour melon, and fried rice.

I was disappointed that they were sold out of spicy pickled cucumbers for the day, but the green beans with pork [basically BACON] were phenomenal. I also thoroughly enjoyed my other "gluten-less" options of pork fried rice and cabbage with garlic. and... one dumpling.

I was also excited that they had REAL DIET COKE!  and though I know diet coke gives you cancer and has all sorts of icky things in it but it just tastes soooo good. most places here only serve regular coke or coke zero, so it's not like I drink it every day. in fact this is the first time I've had a diet coke since moving to Taiwan. crazy.

overall it was an awesome meal... good conversation and lots of great food. seriously, someone else needs to come visit soon so we have an excuse to go back!

[by the way... our first visit to Din Tai Fung was a stop at Taipei branch for dinner on our way back from Hualien and Taroko Gorge. they have a few other branches in Taiwan, including Hsinchu, and also around Asia. they actually have 3 branches in the states: two in LA and one in Seattle. if you happen to live nearby or find yourself in that neck of the woods, I highly recommend stopping by.]



editing: I finally finished the pictures from summer vacation, so now I'm on to pictures from this weekend - including the above. a friend was in town and we took a long walk through the science park, down guang fu, and went to eat at a famous dumpling restaurant. more to come.

sweating: yoga class. some of the teachers arranged for a yoga teacher to come in once a week to give a class. I'm so glad I signed up! it's definitely a workout, but I love how strong and limber it makes me feel. I also signed up to run a half marathon in December, and I think the class will really help with flexibility and strength building.

creating: sunday I went to an event called "drink + draw" which is a small drawing class held at a local tea house / bar called Titty Tea. [not joking.] we all took turns drawing each other, and I discovered that sitting still and not laughing while everyone is staring at you is harder than it looks!

learning: Mandarin. [at least a little] I started Rosetta Stone last week and right now all I can remember is "water", but it's one more word than I knew before. hopefully I can work doing the activities more frequently and they will start to stick.

trying: substitute teaching! I taught 5 english lit classes for a friend today, and it sure was interesting to be on the other side of the desk. I started the first class of the day completely drenched in sweat [have I mentioned my fear of public speaking?] but the kids were very well behaved. I might be brave enough to try subbing again, but I am SO not entering a career as a teacher. I'll leave that to Husband and all the other incredible teacher friends and relatives of mine.

reading: I'm still working on writing at the kitchen table [a biography on Elizabeth David] but Husband brought me home the sound and the fury which might be my next read. I remember it was an option for my AP english class final project, but I opted for wuthering heights instead.

...speaking of Husband, I should tell you that he has started his own blog. I also should tell you to go check it out for a peek at his side of our life here :)

feel free to share what's going on currently in your neck of the woods... happy monday!

["currently" post inspired by Danielle at Sometimes Sweet]
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