Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Here I Am...

Oi! The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. Travel has picked right up and I've been leaving the city nearly every week this month. After my trip to San Antonio for the city's Fiesta celebration, I visited Gulf Shores in Alabama to learn more about the nature scene in the area and eat way too much seafood (I think I ate enough shrimp, crabs, and deep fried whatever to last me a lifetime). A few highlights:

- Taking a golf cart tour through 12 miles of the Hugh Branyon Back Country Trail. It was such a relaxing early morning trek through sunshine and shade that I wanted a nap right after.

- Feeding a Bengal tiger with a baby bottle before playing with White Bengal tiger cubs Yeti and Kolkata at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. I took tons of photos, but my favorite are the ones freelance writer Cheré Dastugue Coen took of me when one of the cubs finally shed his shyness and ran right up to play with me and my camera. They were like big kittens and left all of us wanting to take one home.

- As if playing with adorable baby tigers weren't enough, during a nature cruise our group witnessed quite a few dolphins including an expected a maternity pod with a newborn.

Fun Facts: Fires can actually be beneficial and rangers will produce controlled fires every couple of years to promote growth. Also, new dolphin moms get an instant nanny once their baby is born and this "aunty" is able to lactate along with her.

Must Eat: If you ever do find yourself in Gulf Shores, you must try the Royal Red shrimp at King Neptune's Seafood Restaurant. It is unbelievable and hands down the best shrimp I've ever tasted (and the Amaretto Orange Blossom Daiquiri tasted like a yummy kimalito cocktail). And Al and Diane are real down-to-earth owners.

This weekend, I took a last-minute trip to Miami to catch the six teams (but mainly Abu Dhabi) in the Volvo Ocean Race during their North American stop-over. It would've been a fairly laid-back trip, but numerous speedboat thrills and a terrifying two-hour experience chasing racing sailboats through choppy waters on a small dingy while holding on for dear life brought us home with plenty of stories to tell.

Fun Fact: Abu Dhabi means "father of the gazelle" after one led tribe hunters to a spring and the island's discovery. In Greek, Dorcas means "doe, gazelle."

Must Eat: If you're ever hungry and waiting for your flight in Miami International Airport, you have to try the delicious Cuban food at Ku-Va Restaurant and Bar in North Terminal D19.

And still the traveling is not over as I have a road trip with the girls to Virginia Beach in the coming days immediately followed by a trip to Los Angeles with A. to visit the family. No joke, I've been living out of my suitcase for weeks, unpacking, washing clothes, and packing them right back in. I feel so displaced! So follow my tweets to keep up with currently hectic life and to catch pics and notes about my travels.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Would You Ever Get Inked?

Would you ever get a tattoo? I've come across some really beautiful artwork lately, but I could never commit to getting my skin inked. For one, needles freak me out and there's no way I'd willingly go through pain like that. Then there's the side of me who worries that I'll get bored with my tattoo just a few months in though I don't know why; I've had the same textiles and decor in my house for years and haven't had a real desire to change it all up (due to laziness really). Plus, I like to keep my body fairly untouched. I've never dyed my hair, don't play around with wild makeup colors, and if my mom didn't have my ears pierced when I was a baby I'd probably never wear earrings at all. Pretty tame, huh?

But would you ever get a tattoo? Do you have one already? If I ever dared to get one I think mine would be nature-inspired or perhaps tiny and whimsical. A. loves science so much he got an atom tattooed over his heart when he was 18!

P.S. If you're a curious scaredy-cat like me, Tattly makes designer temporary tattoos that are quite adorable. I'm loving this enamorado chap and this cartoony taxi cab.

Images: and

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tea Bag Cookies Dipped in Chocolate

This will have to be the next baking project I try. Just cut a tea bag shape out of wax paper or cardstock and use it to cut into the shortbread cookie dough. Punch a tiny hole through the dough with a round frosting tip. Once the cookies have baked and cooled, thread a tag through the hole, dip in chocolate, and voilà! A recipe for some instant best friends. Now what would you dunk these into? I'm not a fan of cookies, but I love love love Petit Écolier milk chocolate biscuits and think I'd slowly swirl these into a mug of warm milk...


Monday, May 14, 2012

{Monday Inspiration} Jada Pinkett-Smith's Red Table Talks

During today's shift for, I had to watch the first episode of Jada Pinkett-Smith's new web series Red Table Talks. In it, the actress sat down with her mom, Adrienne Banfield Jones, and daughter Willow to talk candidly about good parenting, Adrienne's past drug abuse, and how Willow feels about fame. Despite the serious themes, it was a really motivational segment and I like how the three chatted so candidly about the topics above. When Willow asked her mom how she juggles being a wife and a mother (about 8:40 mins in), Jada went into a long but really insightful response about the need to take care of yourself and staying balanced, communicating your needs, and how pushing aside your own dreams only leads you towards resentment and relying on others for your happiness.

"Every day when I wake up in the morning, I go into meditation and I ask for guidance from the powers, the intangible powers and I get focused. I think what does Willow need to do today? Okay, let me check that off, let me handle that. What does Jaden need today? What does daddy need today? And okay, Jada, before the day is done, you better make sure that you take care of yourself. And that's a new thing for me…

The reason why you always have to be in communication, especially with me, your family, your grandmother, your father, your brothers, your friends, the people you love you, you have to understand that life is a journey. Communication creates partnerships, that we are here to assist you, that we can't make your life for you, and we can't help you with the things that we don't know, and that you always have to remember to take care of you first and foremost because when you stop taking care of yourself, you get out of balance and you really forget how to take care of others. And I think that we've been taught that taking care of yourself is a problem."

"Each year and each day I get more and more in balance and more alignment and you know what? I get more and more happy...The more happy I am and the more fulfilled I am, it works for the family."

Watch the full episode below and tell me, do you ever find yourself putting everyone else's needs before your own and feeling guilty about saying no to other's requests? I know I have a hard time slotting in some me time or putting my foot down when something truly matters to me and it's true, then I point fingers when I'm not happy or frustrated with how things are going when it's all under my control to change. How do you find balance in your life?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

{Wanderlust} Time is Nothing

Stories like Kien Lam's make me happy. After quitting his job, he bought a one-way ticket to London and proceeded to photograph and record all the places and people he came across during his 343-day journey around the world. The result: Time is Nothing, a beautiful time lapse made from 6237 photographs taken through 17 different countries.

Usually back-to-back travels leave me feeling weary and it takes me a bit to recuperate from early morning flights and dragging around luggage through airport labyrinths, but during lunch after my arrival from Alabama on Sunday, I found myself asking A. if he'd move to Paris with me in the next year or so. (The answer is yes, but contingent on us being able to financially sustain our life out there and get our long stay visas approved. I could continue freelancing, but he'd need a job.) We'll see if this actually happens (fingers crossed!), but I've already checked the requirements and am working to save up for that goal.

I like to have all my duckies in a row and take my time mulling over every detail before pulling the trigger, which could very well have me shooting for Paris 2014. A., on the other hand, is very much the "F--k it, let's do it now!" type. I mean the man did visit NYC on an August and then wound up deciding to move, sell his car, pack his things, and move to the city (without a job or a place to live) in just four months. I'm not that crazy, but there's definitely an appeal to living life that boldly.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Oh My! Handmade Guide to Businessy Goodness

I totally understand the value of hard work, sweat, and tears it takes to get a creative business off the ground, but raise your hand if you agree it'd be so much nicer if someone who knew the ropes pointed us in the right direction? Well a whole group of entrepreneurs who've paved their way to biz success have been gathered in the Oh My! Handmade Guide to Businessy Goodness. The 68-page digital book features articles on marketing, building a brand, and navigating obstacles along with links, printables, and motivational quotes. There are also relevant resources and advertisers to look into once you're ready to launch. I bought my copy last week (you can name your own price!) and though I wish there were more worksheets and planners included, I quickly dove into the list of companies that provide web development, printing and design services, and business coaching. So helpful!


Author/Illustrator Maurice Sendak Dies at 83

I admit I didn't read Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are until I was 27 when the movie came out, but Little Bear and Chicken Soup with Rice? Oh I loved reading all about their curious adventures when I was a child. In fact, I still remember borrowing the Really Rosie VHS tape from my library and playing it over and over until I learned the lyrics to all the songs. Now with the news that the Brooklyn-born author/illustrator passed away Tuesday at the age of 83, I've been taking a nostalgic trip through those fun songs and stories of my childhood. (Skip to 5:30 in the video below to listen to "Chicken Soup with Rice.") Funny how I still know the words to these tunes. Some things just never leave you, I guess.

In an interview with NPR in September 2011, Sendak talked about his work, children's literature, life, and loss:

"I’m not unhappy about becoming old . . .[it's] what must be. I only cry when I see my friends go before me. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I do expect to see my brother again . . . like a dream life . . . but I am in love with the world. I look right now out the window of my studio--I see my trees, these beautiful beautiful maples. It is a blessing to get old, to find the time to do the things, to read the books, to listen to the music. I don’t think I’m rationalizing . . . this is all inevitable, I have no control over it. The wondrous feeling of coming into my own—it took a very long time. You could be talking to a crazy person."

"I have heart trouble. I’m very sick. I have nothing but praise now really for my life. . . I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more. I’m in a very soft mood, you gather, because new people have died. It’s what I dread more than my isolation. . . . [young people] if they only knew how little I know. Oh, God, there are so many beautiful things in the world that I will have to leave when I die, but I am ready, I am ready, I am ready."

"Although certainly I’ll go before you’ll go, so I won’t have to miss you. But I will cry my way all the way to the grave. . . . I wish you all good things. Live your life, live your life, live your life."

P.S. You have to watch Stephen Colbert's interview with Sendak (part 1 and part 2) from this January and Colbert's attempt to create a children's book of his own!

Image: and

Monday, May 7, 2012

{Monday Inspiration} Spring Forth from the Ashes

I just wanted to give you guys a huge hug and thanks for the thoughtful comments and messages about my previous post. I was freaking out during and after publishing my last post so it's incredibly comforting to know that it fell on encouraging eyes and ears. Not that I'd expect any less from you kind-hearted monkeybutts :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Things I'm Afraid to Tell You

When Ez Pudewa of the blog Creature Comforts tweeted a call out for bloggers willing to reveal something personally difficult to their readers, I jumped in. I didn't know all the rules, but I knew it'd be a good push for me to be more authentic with you guys while also helping me push past some of my own fears and boundaries. When I dove into Dry As Toast after my breakup in 2008, I was a ball of emotions, struggling, and dealing with so many issues that needed to burst out. Some of you saw me through those dark days until I slowly came out of it smiling, more optimistic, and a bit more sure-footed, but I've also felt myself fall into this trap of solely blogging quick and happy snippets instead of sharing thoughts and ideas that would truly allow you to connect with me. I admit, Dry As Toast had turned into a "lovely little blog."

Inspired by Jess Constable's post about the things she's afraid to tell her readers, Ez has gathered up a group of bloggers who've decided to the same with theirs (check out the growing list here). It's a bit scary to remove the mask you've come to build for yourself. A part of me wants people to think I no longer get depressed, that I've gained back all the weight I lost years ago, that I'm healthy, that I no longer hurt myself, and that everything's A-OK, but that would be a lie. I still get incredibly anxious in social situations (and just life in general), I still get dizzy spells because I don't eat enough, and I haven't been able to stop the scratching. So I welcomed this push to share a few more things I've been afraid to tell you.

I'm afraid of how strongly the wish to have a child has suddenly swept in. For so long it'd been "not me, not now" and then whoosh! I might have gotten emotional about it a few times and find myself talking about raising kids with A. fairly often - too often perhaps. And even though I'm in a relationship that's fun as is and know I should take my time because I'm just not prepared for that responsibility quite yet, I still feel a tinge of jealousy when yet another person shares their engagement or pregnancy on Facebook. It almost makes my heart hurt how much I want those things, too, because I'm scared that it might not happen for me.

I worry that I'm not a good enough writer and that everyone else around me is infinitely more talented than I am. When it comes to this field, comparing yourself to your colleagues is pointless because everyone takes such different routes, but it happens. I'm also unsure when it comes to my financial future, am so not prepared for an emergency, and am a little insecure about my income being drastically less than my boyfriend's. I say it isn't an issue and it really isn't when it comes to the day-to-day, but when I let my mind go to future stuff, it bugs me to think that I might not ever bring in as much as he would or be able to save enough to buy a house and feel financially stable. At 30, I'm still terrible at managing my money and haven't been able to get my only debt, that damn Sallie Mae, off my back.

And here's the one that has me hyperventilating and second-guessing my wanting to share this at all, but also one I've gone back and forth on ever revealing for over a year now. Over the last five years, and more so in the last couple, I've found myself attracted to some women. It's a curiosity that has been exciting to explore with A. but also scary to admit around certain people. I've been guarding that side out of fear of being judged, talked about, or worse, have girlfriends feeling like I'm going to start hitting on them out of the blue. I wish I could be the liberated and open-minded woman that lurks inside no matter what circle of friends these topics come up in and have it not matter, but off-putting comments by those who don't know have made me think twice about ever being that honest when it comes to sex - even if I'm secretly offended by the things they say.

I've shunned the label "bisexual" opting for the softer "bicurious" instead and still get uncomfortable when A. casually throws it my way. Maybe because I don't want to attach anything permanent to who I am or perhaps because I'm still figuring out my own comforts and prejudices against the title. If I only want and seek relationships with men, but get turned on by women and full-on girl crushes that have me gushing about her to A., then what does that make me? Does it even matter? All I know is that curiosity and intrigue is definitely there and I only wish I were brave enough to embrace that this is just a part of who I am. Take me or leave me.

Now go on and read all the bravery floating through today. Maybe you'll also want to share the things you've been keeping to yourself, too. It might be terrifying at first (I just spent more than an hour "editing" this post just to talk myself into publishing it), but hopefully you'll feel lighter and a bit more genuine once you do.

Image: courtesy of Ez Pudewa

And She's Off!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I have a hard time slowing down and allowing myself to play with the possibility of boredom. On Tuesday, I was busy working a morning shift from home, conducting two interviews, making calls for a side project, and doing laundry when mid-afternoon rolled in and I felt like busting out. I was getting stir crazy from being in the house doing nothing but work! And even though I just wanted to walk without the attachment of computers, Internet, books, and cameras to keep me entertained on a much-needed walk, it was hard to leave all that stuff behind. What if I get to my destination - some cafe near A.'s job where I could pop in for a breather after an hour-long walk - and I'm just sitting there doing nothing?

Ultimately, I was able to part with my heavy laptop and set off, but I still brought stuff to do. Why is it so hard for us to stop running around like mad and feeding our brain more fodder to toy around with? Working from home is a blessing in that I wake up at the office, but it also makes it hard to set boundaries on your time. I could work all day on one thing or another and barely pause to eat a meal away from the computer. It can get quite draining when I let it.

I guess the good part in Tuesday's exercise was telling myself that even though I had edits to work on, interviews to transcribe, and packing to do for an early morning flight the next day, my mind really needed a break for a few hours. Everything else would just have to wait. Besides, the world won't collapse if it doesn't get done instantly.

Now, I wish I could say that then I went home and had a relaxing evening and full night's sleep, but no. I slept for three hours before needing to get up and out of the house by 3:30 a.m. to catch a flight to Alabama's Gulf Shores where I'll be spending the remainder of the week. It's days like these that make me wish I drank coffee.