Monday, September 29, 2014


(This is part of our Germany trip last June!):  I'm not a particularly religious person, and when I heard we were camping for a weekend in a religious community in the French countryside, I felt a little nervous!  Taize attracts people from all over the world looking for a spiritual retreat and to my (happy) surprise it was a very peaceful place.  I didn't feel any religious pressures, and I was certainly able to have a meditative experience in such a beautiful location.  Also, there was a mass every evening that we all attended (Raf's whole family and his brother's partner, who organized the trip).  It was actually really pretty magical.  The mass was held in a large open building (kind of church-like, kind of not).  Everyone sat on the floor, and it was lit by candles.  There were song books passed out, and the songs were arranged by the brothers who lived there.  The songs were short, repeated verses, and they were in many different languages.  They ended up being meditative and chant-like since they were so short and the verses were just repeated over and over again for about 5-10 minutes per song.  And it was cool to be chanting/singing in different languages.  There was no sermon, just singing and 15 minutes of quiet for peaceful meditation and prayer.  It was unlike any mass I've ever attended and I found myself looking forward to going, just to clear my mind and have a peaceful hour.  People from all over the world were there with us.  The other lovely things about the Taize community was that it was a very simple place and it was in a beautiful location with old buildings. The climate felt a lot like California: dry and hot during the day and cool at night.  It was nice to sleep in a tent and to see stars every night.  Our meals were all vegetarian and extremely simple (bread, water, a simple meal --such as a stew with a grain and peas or pasta, and sometimes fruit or yogurt) although by the end of it, I was craving some serious vegetables/salad!  Overall, it ended up being a very unique and pleasant experience.

The pond.  There was a really pretty trail from our campsite through a forest to get to this area.  This is an area for meditation, no talking allowed.  (You can see tiny Raf leaning up against the tree near the water).

The tiny village of Taize.  Some of the brothers lived in these buildings.

I liked this carved relief sculpture.

The tiny chapel in the village.  It was really pretty and simple inside, only lit by the light from the windows and candles.  Outside of it, brothers were buried in a small cemetery.

On our drive back to Freiburg, we passed this impressive French manor below, Chateaux de Bourgogne Sercy.  It was beautiful!  The drive home was really nice, this part of France is so scenic.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Brooklyn Flea.
Well, we no longer dwell in New York City.  Sniff, sniff.  We lived in a wonderful neighborhood in Brooklyn and made some amazing friends in our brief year there.  Now we live in the Boston area (also for one year, I know --> crazy) before we move next summer to a hopefully more permanent place!  So far, so good in our new home (it's been about three weeks), and a lot of special little places I have discovered so far...but I have a feeling it's gonna be cold this winter!  Anyway, here is a little ode to NYC, in photos through the seasons:

Prospect Park, last fall.
Our street!
My darling Spanish friend Aurora visited last October.  She was an exchange student when we were juniors in high school and we stayed in touch all these years!  (I visited with her in Spain in 2010)
Our brownstone.
Our kitchen, and my favorite I have ever cooked in before :-).
One of my favorite views from the subway in Brooklyn.
Winter time,  Mr. Fuzz in all his fuzzy glory.

Little punks.  We miss them!

Winter time work party fun.
Stacking bracelets I made in a metalsmithing class I took over the winter.
Chelsea market, holiday time.
 Spring time dinner at Hangawi, my favorite restaurant in Manhattan (vegan, Korean).
This sweet lady!  I was super lucky to find some amazing women at Raf's work, she is one of them!
Spring!  Val is awesome, I met her in my metalsmithing class.  Her son is the cutest and SUCH a charmer!
Discovering a cool new-to-me park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on our way to No Lights No Lycra.
Another part of the park.
This little weirdo.  Whenever we would put out fresh water, Tubbers would sit in it.  :-)
My sweet pal Peggy.  We had a donut date.  
The time I was in an elevator and took this photo to send to Raf with some mooshy caption, but then accidentally sent it to our neighbor.  Sigh.  So embarrassing.  The neighbor is awesome and he was a very good sport!
Awesome artwork by one of my students (age 8, a Georgia O'Keefe study).
Summertime at Brooklyn Bridge Park.  
This adorable, feisty Brit.  We love her!  (Another lady friend from Raf's work)
There she is again!  Celebrating her birthday at the park with some yummy vegan cupcakes and cinnamon rolls before heading to the vegan restaurant MOB.  I miss obsessing over which vegan place to try next with her!
Summer visit from a bestie and her little lady!  Yes!
AM in the big city for the first time!  What a cutie.
My growing (Brooklyn bodega purchased) succulent collection.
Manhattan hidden garden discovery (beautiful!).  Elizabeth Street Garden in Nolita.
Stoop sale-ing it up with our awesome/hilarious neighbors!  We got rid of a lot of stuff before the move.
Really lovely picnic/hang out in Prospect Park with our friend Jake.
Prospect Park.
Apparently the new hipster sport in Brooklyn is shuffleboard.  Look out world!
Found this ridiculously delicious donut shop in Manhattan.  (same place from the above donut date)  The creme brulee?   So good.
Raf singing on the High Line with the Renaissance Street Singers.
High line walk with my sweetie.
So many lovely plants on the high line.  These were extra soft.
Coney Island day.  Old school freak show banners.
beach/ferris wheel.
Midway view.
Beach people.
Old roller coaster...the Cyclone!  I almost went on, but chickened out.
New/late discovery, Kalustyan's!  Awesome spice/specialty food shop in Manhattan.  This was just a small portion of the different curry powders!
More spices.
Another new/late/awesome discovery: Mexican-style corn (cotija cheese, chili pepper and lime!!!) at Habana Outpost in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  This place has a seriously awesome outdoor atmosphere.  I went by myself that day after the flea market but wished I was there drinking margaritas with buddies!
View of the Brooklyn Bridge from the promenade in Brooklyn Heights.
More kiddo artwork.  Wayne Thiebaud studies.
Playing tourist for the day with Raf's family.
One of our favorite veg restaurants in the city.  Super nourishing.
Little artist.
Sunflowers in our backyard!
Oh man.  Buffalo seitan at the cafe above our Brooklyn Whole Foods.  Yum!
Last cab ride together!  
Our sweet Australian friends (and their 2 young daughters) stayed in our neighborhood for a month.  It was so special to spend time with them!

We miss New York already!  <3