I'm Jess, a grad student and food photographer obsessed with chocolate. I love things made of sugar, lasers strapped to helicopters, and silly hats.
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Monthly Archives: April 2013
Something I’ve learned to love since getting married is attending wedding shows.
I once sent Chris to scout one with a friend, back when I entered wedding contests regularly and won two tickets to one in NYC. I couldn’t attend it as I was in Seattle, but he returned with tales of horror and cake. I was more than fearful, and avoided them for the rest of our wedding planning.
After we married and I settled into grad school and being a food writer, I started sending myself to wedding shows. Voluntarily. Often I was the only writer available, and so I took it with a grain of salt, but then I started enjoying them.
Here’s what I learned: If you’re engaged or with a bridal party, the staff know you’re on a massive deadline and they’re focused on selling that dream, and fast. But if you’re not in a wedding crunch, it’s a completely different experience.
The first one I attended, Weddings on the Waterfront, was a blast, and I’m pretty certain I had the most fun out of any of the people who weren’t vendors.
I hung out with Maureen of Posh Flowers, who gave me one of her bouquets at the show’s end. (I later brought it to my massage therapist, who actually cared for it so I got to see the flowers live much longer.) I photographed and ate cake. Seattle Sweets Co. was there, so I left with a bag of gorgeous vegan caramel which was coveted by the caramel addicts in my house. Walking around with my camera bag and goody bag slung on one side, the pale pink bouquet cascading down the other, I was practically beaming.
I even got a ride home from a lip reader, who was a blast to talk to. I still owe a few vendors a drunken crafting night.
This year, I went to the Seattle Wedding Show. It was more crowded and thus harder to talk to people, but I still ate cake and hung out with this really awesome guy who gave me a couple pounds of ridiculously aromatic garlic. It was fun.
I’m not saying this is for everyone – and it’s not always a great deal if you’re just out to try cake. (Weddings on the Waterfront was $30 per person.) Here’s how I look at it: hunting down new places to try cake and food from is a lot of work, and wedding events and similar shows do a lot of the legwork for you. Yes, they’re for weddings, but barbecue can apply to a birthday just as well as it can to a wedding. Just expect weird looks when you say you’re not the bride or groom.
I’d actually love to see more of these events for general amusement – I mean, could we have a birthday show with cards and cake and pie? What about barbecue party festivals?
If you have to go to one because you’re engaged or with the bridal party, or even if you’re curious, just try to remember that it’s not a competition. (Unless you make it one – cake bingo, maybe?) The vendors are there to help you, there’s cake, and you don’t have to agree to anything. Even if I was engaged, a lot of these are two day events, and I’d spend a day just wandering, exploring, and thinking, then spend the next coordinating.
Still, it’s so the last kind of place I expected to be excited to go to. Maybe I’ll see you there when the next wedding event hits my docket.
I like to think of myself as existing in a social ecosystem. (I’m an ecologist by training; work with me.) Everyone has different levels of social time they need, and amounts of time to spend on others to keep relationships working. Some people, like my significant other, are pretty content just hanging out with a small handful of people every so often. My roommate and I, while not social butterflies, love to see our friends as often as possible. And this is made far, far more challenging when you’re ill.
I’ve basically had the flu or a virus of some form, with occasional recovery breaks, since mid-January. I don’t talk about it too much outside of twitter, where a comment can get hidden incredibly fast, but it’s wearing on my patience at this point. I’ve stayed home when my temperature spikes, I’ve seen doctors, I’ve rested, and all that has really happened in its wake is a sea of cancelled appointments and rescheduled meetings.
That so does not mean I’m off the hook in my friendships.
There’s a rule in behavioral ecology called the zero-one rule – basically, as long as we help each other, we continue to help each other. Once someone stops, the cycle can either restart, or both sides stop helping.
While that’s really simple and might sound harsh, it’s useful for considering the care and feeding of friendships. You give and you take; it’s not one person’s job to keep things going. And if you’re not around to talk to or see your friends, it’s really, really hard to keep a friendship in perfect shape. Yes, IM and Skype are great, but phone and in person are better.
So, what can you do if you’re in a position like mine?
Be proactive. You missed the last gathering? Set up the next when you’re healthy. Invite everyone you know to hang out. Don’t wait for them to call you, send out an announcement that you’re interested in seeing them – and include dates. Check in, say hi, even if it’s to say you’re still super sick.
Value their time – even when you have to cancel. If you’re sick again, that happens, but let them know as early as you can. Most likely, if your fever is maintaining strength tonight, going out on a canoe tomorrow is a really, really bad idea.
Use that time to rest and, if you’re up for it, reflect. You’re sick, working to recover is your highest priority. But if you’re semi-functional like I’ve been just sleeping all day can get frustrating. Use the time to think about who you really want to see when you’re better, or what you’ve missed doing recently. Have you gone out to eat, or want to hit a local park? Maybe you can’t plan a day out yet, but you can make a list of ideas to use for when you’re healthy.
Know your limits. If you’re not up for any of that yet, it’s still okay, but find your limits and respect them while you recover. I learned early on that in this illness reading papers for school would exhaust me, but I could talk out complex ideas for an hour or so before being as tired. (I’m also doing fine in stats, so there has been much code going on.) Still, you should not feel pressured to do anything, even if this article bothers you to action. Your friends want to see you get better, not rushed towards poor health.
This is mainly a reminder for me, in all honesty. I get so caught up in just catching up on tasks that I’ll forget that my emotional needs and those of my friends need regular support.
Know yourself, know what you need to recover later, and, for now, rest. That advice goes for me as well, though I’m mainly stocking up on homemade chicken noodle soup.
I’ve been off mainly trying really hard to get healthy. I mean, I’ve been ridiculously sick for 2+ weeks before, but in some ways being only mildly ill is worse. You have just enough conviction that you really want to go outside, and your body can’t quite take it. So, you wake up and lay about the house.
Yeah, that was the last two weeks of my life. Stay healthy, people!
Things I’m thinking about: weekend of April 5, 2013
Did you know there’s a Japanese Tea Garden on Capitol Hill? I found it by accident while on Google Maps, tucked in the buildings of Seattle University. I’m going to check it out once I have a free moment.
Why aren’t you on a canoe yet? For me it’s field season, which means canoe season, so I’ll be out on the water looking for nutria damage as much as I can until June. But now that the weather’s great that doesn’t mean I should hog all the fun. (Though I admit I’d rather not have my favorite spots flooded with people, even if the places are awesome.)
I have no clue where this trail goes, and I intend to fix that.
Feral Feasts is returning to Queen Anne. They’re taking over Grub yet again on the 15th, and at $45 for a pop-up, it’s a screaming deal. I think people should try pop-ups and experimental restaurants, if only to get out of a dining funk, and this could be ridiculously fun.
Coming up on Ricochet: A weekend trek to Bainbridge Island. I spent a day last week on Bainbridge, so there’s a post coming up on that shortly. Given how the weather shifted towards the side of gorgeous, I’d really recommend going out this weekend and getting some sunshine.
So I’m making a Rose Crown. Out of duct tape. It’s for my birthday, mainly because it sounds funny. I’d be more fancy, but I wanted something I could make using crafting supplies I already had in the house. Tutorial and awkward progress photos to come.
Once I’m home, I generally have trouble convincing myself to go out again. This eases up during the summer, when you can relax in the sunshine until 8 pm or later, but with it still getting dark by 6 I tend to go straight home, maybe bake cookies, and study or read until I go to sleep. Not the most exciting, but I am one of those people whose motivation goes down exponentially after sunset.
Now, I don’t have a car. I have a few routes home – I can take this one bus, with a half mile walk home and the shortest overall commute. (There’s another semi-direct option, but the way back is all uphill.) I can go through downtown and catch a connecting bus. Or I can catch a bus to the nearest neighborhood hub and walk about twenty minutes to get home.
Most of the time, I take one route to school and another route back. Fairly uneventful.
Now that there’s some sunshine and I’m less inclined to get out of the cold as fast as possible, I’m starting mixing it up again – whatever bus arrives first is the one I take, no waiting to see what else shows up, no checking One Bus Away.
I know each route well enough to know there are things I want to do via each path. A new pancake truck just opened up that sounds fantastic. Happy hours to check out. Kitchen sales, window shopping, maybe picking up extra groceries.
I was early for a meeting the other day, so I decided to wander about the neighborhood first. There were some ridiculously cute puppies, like an overeager German Shepherd and a gorgeous Australian Collie. I wandered into a shop I had been meaning to visit for weeks. They didn’t have the soap I wanted, but there were pretty chairs, meat cleaver necklaces, and huge owl statues.
That sucker watched you. It’s bigger than it looks.
Then I got a chance to check out Von Trapp’s, that new German-themed bar on the hill. I’m not going to give a review here, but it was a lot of food and I’m still not sure why there were people with babies in that place. It’s more than a bit loud.
So, I loaded up on carbs, stared at puppies, and generally had a decent dinner. Much better than staying home all night.
I don’t think this should be limited to bus-bound people. Drive a car or in a carpool? Bike? Try a new route. If you can’t change your route because there’s only one path that works, can you add a new destination?
The sun is back, the cherry blossoms are out, and there are pretzels, people. Go get them.
While this isn’t an adventure, it’s something that has been weirding me out for a while: the current trend in wedding dresses is to make things look like nudibranch eggs.
You’re probably wondering what on earth a nudibranch is, so let’s cover that first. (If you know what they are, awesome! Skip down a bit.)
Nudibranchs are adorable aquatic gastropods. They’re often called sea slugs (though there are sea slugs that are not nudibranchs; ignore that for now) and they eat sponges or photosynthesize or do other awesome things. Most are 5-6” long, and they’re strikingly beautiful. We have Dirona albolineata here in Seattle, with gills that look like a french manicure hit them on the way out; and bright orange nudibranchs with white, puffy gills.
(Dirona albolineata by Dan Hershman, a dude I’d like to try diving with.)
And not only are they neat animals, but their egg cases, or egg ribbons, are incredible. They’re spirals, curves, waves; delicate in appearance but strong enough to hold young in minor currents.
(Credit: Richard Ling, another awesome diver.)
So when all the really popular Vera Wang dresses came out, all I could think was “nudibranch egg cases!”
Try looking at that now and unseeing it. Or here:
(Via Monique Lhuillier.)
And that is freaking awesome. I mean, using nature to inspire fashion and design is great – I just wish people didn’t give me weird looks when I compared “Their One Dress” to a rather amazing marvel of evolutionary engineering.
It’s a compliment. The nudibranchs figured wavy spirals out before humans existed, and we’re mimicking their forms. We can at least give them some of the credit.
And if you can’t, I am still going to think they’re all cute.