Messy Meringues

The mess I made in my kitchen!
The tasty finished product!
I was reading one of my favorite cooking magazines the other day (Eating Well) and ran across a recipe for meringues. In an odd mood, I decided on a whim I was going to make a batch of vanilla meringues, and while some were a little burnt most of them were delicious and were described as "yummy toasty crispy marshmallows." The next day I bought more eggs, and made a batch of chocolate cinnamon meringues (the vanilla ones remained the taste favorites). 80 meringues later I realized I might have a new baking addiction, but I was just so surprised at how easy and yummy they are (and at 8 calories each they're a pretty awesome snack!). It's okay though, I can stop making meringues any time I want to, really, I can stop.... I just don't want to!

Holy Moly! What's in the bathroom?!?

It's officially gardening season in our bathroom! We have grow lights going, and all our seedlings started. This is the first time we've started them in the bathroom, but this way the hibiscus that's in the other room doesn't end up getting bugs from being by the seedlings and grow lights. Plus going to the bathroom is now like going on a tropical vacation since it's a good 15 degrees warmer in there! So who cares if we now only have one shower in the house?



Fun facts to know and share: some people who were born on this day are Harper Lee (a favorite author of mine), Jessica Alba, Saddam Hussein, Edward IV (the King of England at one point, kind of an important man), Yves Klein, Jay Leno, former President James Monroe, Terry Pratchett (I was so excited when I found this out) turned a day older today. Why do I know this? Because it's my birthday today too!

Some other important things that happened on my natal day:
1788- Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the U.S. Constitution
1952- War with Japan officially ended
1967- Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the army



These are the last two stationary ideas I have kicking around at the moment. The one below is more the direction I think I'll go in initially since it was this concept that made me want to play around with note cards in the first place (the banner at the top of the blog is another example of this theme). And now, since I spent nine and a half hours driving today, I am going to make a quesadilla, pour a glass of wine, and become a zombie!



Note card Image: Peacock 1
Note card Image: Peacock 2
These images from Prague have great potential and I love the graphic look of these but I don't know if they're perfect yet.

Floral Stationary

Notecard Image: India
This is one of my favorites so far. A picture taken of the "Christ Flower" in Kerala, India, I then altered the photo in photo shop, much like what I did with the other photos. For the original picture go here.

Notecard Image: Lupine

This would have to be my second favorite in the floral theme, something about this and the photo before it just had a better quality and a simpler composition. The original photo can be found at this post.

Notecard Image: Hydrangea

This image is of a hydrangea in our yard but I had a hard time working with it and am not yet completely satisfied with the result.

Notecard Image: Brno

Taken at an art exhibit in Brno that also had an inside greenhouse, this image is very different than anything else I've created and I'm not yet sure what to think about it.

Since I'm just starting with this and toying with the idea of turning these into stationary, any and all feedback is greatly welcomed!


Oh ocean, how I miss you

Growing up in a two hundred year old house perched on a hill overlooking the dock in Southwest Harbor, I was never too far from the ocean. Climbing up to the third story, we could look out to see it snowing in the harbor, or a lobster man unloading his catch. The best though was sitting on the back porch on an early summer morning and smelling the ocean as the breeze wafted up from the water. Smell always carries such strong memories with it and the smell of the ocean is no different for me. Since I now live inland I miss out on that crisp, salty scent every morning and I relish it whenever I get to be near it again. As someone who grew up so close to the sea (and often in it as well) I am always dumbfounded when I find out that a friend or acquaintance of mine has never dipped a toe in the Atlantic, or even seen it! I guess all my time spent looking out at the ocean should help make up for all the poor people born inland or in the Midwest who aren't lucky enough to grow up with the ocean in their backyard.

Rhodes Park

Like the earlier picture of the lupine, this photo was taken at Rhodes Park in Southwest Harbor. The garden is maintained primarily by volunteers and also functions as a butterfly refuge. With a gorgeous view of the causeway and huge marble slabs to sit on it makes an ideal picnic spot.



Right near where this photo was taken is the site of an iconic MDI image, the little white footbridge that goes over a small pond there. For whatever reason that bridge graces about a third of the postcards that I see from MDI. I find it a little funny that it's so popular because if you turn your back to the bridge you get to see this view instead, which I find to be much more lovely!


Tutu Tuesday... oh shoot, it's Monday!

I know the image quality isn't great, but it's the only picture I have of me in this gorgeous Spanish themed Russian tutu (Russian means it's the shorter style as opposed to the longer ones that are called romantic tutus, this could also be called a classical "pancake" tutu although the layers are a little heavier than is traditional) that I helped make. My first three years of undergrad I worked in the costume shop at my university so I got to make lots of costumes (I'm apparently a wiz at sewing glitter on and constructing the bodices). I just found this picture on my computer and got all nostalgic about how much fun it is to construct a gorgeous tutu!

A little lupine to start your day

This photo was taken at the Rhodes Park butterfly garden in Southwest Harbor. Lupines forever remind me of one of my favorite children's books (and I've read a lot of them so it's hard to choose!) Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. The story follows a young girl, Alice, who decides that she wants to do three things in her life 1. travel the world 2. live in a house by the sea and 3. she must do something to make the world a more beautiful place. After travelling to all kinds of exotic locations, working as a librarian (can you see why this book resonates with me?) and retiring in her little house by the sea, she still needs to find something to make the world a more beautiful place. After having to spend a winter in bed due to a back injury, she looks out her window to see lupines that have self started around her house. Inspired by the joy she feels at seeing the flowers she decides to make her town more beautiful by spreading lupine seeds all throughout the town and she becomes "the Lupine Lady." The story ends with Alice telling a young child that they too must do something to make the world a more beautiful place. Does it get better than that for children's books?


Sunday in the garden or at the beach

A beautiful window box at an estate that my mom, older sister and I used to do gardening and landscaping for.

Fitting for a beautiful spring day in Maine... a trip to the beach and a beautiful window basket. Does it matter that it's still WAY too cold in the ocean? Or that this window box is a mid-summer photo? No, of course it doesn't matter, gives us something to look forward to! Now I must go and enjoy this beautiful weather by going for a run (before I lose motivation and decide to enjoy the weather by lounging outside).

Photo from Bass Harbor.


Meme tag (like flashlight tag but better!)

First let me thank Nicole from Art and Aioli for tagging me for a meme. Definitely check out her blog but I should warn you that it will make you very hungry and you'll want to play hookie from work or school to spend the whole day trying out some of her recipes (don't say I didn't warn you)!

Rules (please notice my utmost compliance!)
1. Write your own six-word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post.
4. Tag five or six (choice is yours) more blogs with links.
5. Remember to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

Here are my six words, and since I am a very visual person, I'm including some photos that I enjoy or that show a different side of me.
Optimistic An example of creativity, this also illustrates what I spent most of my free time on during my undergrad years. While dance and photography are my primary artistic endeavors I also have one painting that I did a year ago that my mother keeps trying to steal (she moved it out of my room and into the living room when I was gone one day).
My boyfriend definitely brings out my silly quirky side and we have whole folders worth of pictures of us acting like fools (in case you were wondering I am actually fairly tall, my boyfriend just happens to be 6'4" which makes me a shrimp in comparison).

And here are some things that you might not know from reading my posts...
1. I am amazingly good at doing imitations and accents (maybe I should work on some modesty, hehe). While I greatly enjoy talking in silly voices to amuse friends and family, sometimes I find myself picking up other peoples accents while talking to them, this is not always well received.
2. My voice apparently sounds like the character Phoebe on Friends (a show I am obsessed with, along with Grey's Anatomy where I would have to say I have the most in common with Izzie).
3. I am a dancer (mostly ballet although the photo above is from a lyrical piece I choreographed) and my Mom is working on converting me to running. We're training for the Beach to Beacon 10k in August.
4. I'm a major foodie although my dreams of culinary achievements far outweigh my successes so far.
5. In the fall I will be going to grad school for a double masters program in Archives and Library Science.
Now that you have all the info you could need about me... check out these great blogs that I love
People Reading (I am an avid reader and I love this whole concept)
The Winger (great story, great photos, great blog)
Daily Puppy (get your daily dose of cute in puppy form)
Orangette (more gorgeous food and amazing food writing)
Paris Daily Photo (I love this blog and how it reveals little pieces of the city one photo at a time)

Lighthouse Friday anyone?

Happy Friday! This is the Bass Harbor Head light, the picture from yesterday shows the cliffs that it overlooks. Growing up we had some wonderful neighbors including an older woman named Ginny who would let my sister and I come over and just sit and eat candy with her. My father even built a little bridge to go over the creek between the two houses because of how often I would toddle over there. I also apparently used to just sit and chatter away to her husband Al while he harvested dandelion greens (my father teases me saying he was the only person who could stand all my talking since he was almost completely deaf). I'm remembering Ginny in this post however because when she was a little girl her family was stationed on one of the small island lighthouses. Unlike some of the beacons that are on the coast and accessible all year round, she and her sisters grew up on an island the size of a large house that would become very treacherous to reach during the winter and storms. Sitting and listening to her stories my eyes would get wide and I would be so caught up in the narrative that I would even forget whatever sweet was in my hand.


MDI is being brought to you a day early!

Photo taken on the "Quiet side" of the Island at Bass Harbor lighthouse, taken in the summer of 2002.

I got up early this morning to take my Mom to the airport (she is going to Greece by way of Vienna and yes, I am burning with jealousy!) and decided that since my schedule of upcoming events is completely arbitrary I am going to start the Mount Desert Island goodness early.
For a little background information on the island...
My family and I moved to MDI when I was two and lived in Southwest Harbor which is in the "Quiet side" of the island. During high school my Mom and I moved to southern Maine at the same time that my older sister went to college. The pictures I'll be sharing on the blog were taken during my junior year of high school when I drove back to the island to do a photography assignment.
Now to set some things straight:
1. While it is spelt D-e-s-e-r-t it is pronounced like D-e-s-s-e-r-t (visitors who try to correct natives on how it is pronounced will not be well received!)
2. The national park that has a great deal of land on the island is Acadia, not Arcadia
3. If you are visiting Mount Desert Island, know that's where you are going (you would be surprised the number of times people have told me that they have not visited the island but they have stayed in Bar Harbor, since Bar Harbor happens to be ON Mount Desert Island this just makes them sound a little ignorant)
4. Under no circumstances should you attempt to speak in a horrendous Maine accent, nor should you insist on calling it "Bah Hahbah" (no one will find this amusing, except for perhaps you and it is guaranteed to get you bad service and icy looks wherever you go)
5. If you make it to MDI, enjoy it because you will be in one of the most beautiful places in America!!


Goodbye Peaks!

Photo credit goes to my grandfather, Boppo, who took this picture from the deck of Jones' Landing where Mom and Tom had their wedding reception.
Every year we have to say goodbye to Peaks, pack up all our stuff, load up the truck, and drive down to the dock (getting the truck there nice and early so it's in line to make it on the ferry). While we wait we may take one last bike ride around the island, get one last milkshake or hot dog, or just go stand on the dock for one last time that summer. While other travel makes me happy to go back home, Peaks already feels like home except much more carefree and relaxing; having to leave such a beautiful place is always difficult, but luckily we keep going back each year.


How we pack...

Tom in the truck all loaded up to go out to Peaks. Last year we also had to pack formal wear for the weddin reception!

Peaks is a big excursion for us, and it requires a level of planning akin to landing a space shuttle on the moon. The truck is loaded up the night before with luggage, bikes, outdoor games and other essentials. The morning of we load up the cat and all her food and items (this year will be a little more difficult since we also now have a dog to bring, she at least can walk on the ferry with one of my sisters). Once the truck is loaded with household and recreational items, an advance team is sent out to the grocery store (the store on Peaks is small so we bring our groceries for the week out with us) and the struggles to find room for the food among the crab trap and lawn chairs. The whole group reconvenes at the ferry terminal where the truck is waiting in line. After an enjoyable ride out to the island, the truck drives to the top of the hill and we get out bikes so that everyone who doesn't fit in the truck (which is all but one or two people) can bike up to the house. Once everything is unloaded, the lawn chairs are set up in the back of the truck as seating and the rest of the week is spent with people riding in the back of the truck or biking anywhere they need to go.

A Peaks state of mind

So no story for you this morning. I'm just going to let you sit and enjoy this picture, that's probably the best way to experience Peaks without getting to go there. Happy Monday!


One... Two... Three... GO!

Me jumping into the ocean last year, I tried to play it casual and cool to coax my cousins to take the plunge!

Jumping off the dock has become a ritual for us and a right of passage for any new friends or family we bring along (if they're really nervous we bring them down at high tide when it's less of a drop). While I am proud to say I have done the leap many times, even some at a level approximating low tide, I am Captain Wussy Pants compared to some of the younger Peaks residents. Our first year on the island we were just lounging in the sun on the floating dock when we suddenly saw a whole mass of teenagers and pre-teens race down the hill to the ferry terminal and start to swarm around. As quickly as they had come, they began climbing and leaping off any tall surface they could get to; the wooden pilings, the shed on the dock, and some even climbed up to the top of the Peaks Island sign (see my first Peaks post) and as we screamed in shock they seemed to float down to the frigid water before popping back up with a triumphant yelp (or a "Good god this water is freeeeezing" yelp, they often sound the same). With as much frantic momentum as they arrived they would soon depart to avoid getting in trouble with the one police officer stationed on the island during the day. Whether it's your first jump and your heart is pounding in your chest, or you're a veteran who casually leaps in to cool off, or you're a thrill seeker who raises their nose at the pitiful distance of a 20 foot jump at low tide, the dock has something to thrill, excite, (and sometimes scare) everyone.


Is there anything prettier?

While the view from Peaks is gorgeous in all different directions, I love watching the tide come in by the Cairn Beach and seeing the waves crash up. Also wonderful is the beach that's through the woods behind our house. Getting there requires a trek through poison ivy (which I am either immune to like my two sisters, or have managed to avoid thus far). During one amusing trip last summer to the beach to see the starfish pools we decided it would be best to get back to the house a different way rather than to risk going past poison ivy again. In the group was my mother and Tom, my uncle and aunt and their two children, and my older sister. Everything started off well with a little light bouldering and climbing, however we soon came to a spot that looked a little precarious, especially when you consider that two of the people in our group had much shorter legs and patience than the rest of us. My uncle and I started planning out a route to cut across a narrow ledge but our hand holds turned out to be full of broken glass. We managed to get all of us through with only minor casualties (a couple of pieces of glass in my hand and some in my cousins as well). From here it was a big jump down, luckily Tom is tall and was able to help us find ways to shimmy down or give us the reassurance that if we jumped there was a good chance he would catch us/break our fall.

It seemed like we had made it past most of the adventure when my cousin lost her flip flop down a crevasse. My mom and I were all set with leaving it since it was fifteen feet down in a narrow tunnel, but somehow my uncle managed to get down to the bottom of it, and throw it out. On we went, now all with shoes on and had a relaxing stroll across the beach before we came to a dock that would bring us back to the road the house was on. We were in the process of climbing up the side of the dock and half of us were on the beach and half were on the dock when we realized there was a hornet nest that we were disturbing with all our climbing and jostling. Those still on the beach climbed up very gingerly and then standing at the opposite end of the dock we sprinted up to the top and to the woods but were not quite fast enough. So in our efforts to avoid possible poison ivy, we encountered very real broken glass and irate hornets, and yet, we all fondly look back at that as one of the best parts of the trip!



A favorite pastime during Peak week is to go to "Cairn Beach" (the name is one we've made up but it's an accurate description). Whether we attempt to build massive cairns and then jump out of their way as they come crashing down, or lecture children we don't know about how it is disrespectful and mean to destroy cairns that people have worked hard on (I must get this trait from my mother who has no qualms about parenting other people's children) we can usually be amused here for several hours at a time. Since the beach is on the backside of the island we often bike past it on our way to or from the house when we're taking the long way and it's so touching to see families working on them together or just seeing what new crazy creation someone has attempted. I am proud to say that the cairn pictured is one of the few successful ones I have ever created; Mom is more of a stone maven than me so I usually watch her work with interest rather than making my own.

Welcome to Peaks

For the last three or four years, my family and I have been lucky enough to spend one week each summer on Peaks Island. Located off the coast of Portland, it is an approximately 25 minute ferry ride to get to the small and charming island. We've had a lot of great memories there whether it be spending all day on the dock crab fishing, biking down to the store in the morning to get coffee and the newspaper, jumping off the dock, rock climbing to avoid a path with poison ivy, and most recently the wedding reception for my Mom and Tom.

Both my Mom and Tom are avid runners and they first discovered this picturesque place when they ran a 5K there. The island is only four miles around so longer runs or races take a little creativity. We have as a family ran a very amusing clam shell relay race that takes place on the fourth of July. Going to Peaks is very different than any other vacations or traveling for us since there's no frantic scheduling or sightseeing tours. Each day is spent in a laid back manner with a nice combination of bike riding, swimming, reading, eating, and marshmallow toasting. I think it's the best family tradition we have so far!

Computer and scheduling issues

So my four year old lap top is dying, it's a slow and painful death where the cord thinks that it is coming unplugged every 7 seconds (I actually timed it and it now consistently shuts itself off at 7 seconds). Besides the frustration of this, I am no longer able to turn it on (the battery is dead and since it keeps thinking it is unplugged there's no power to start it up) which means all my photos are trapped in the sad little dying laptop. I have some photos on Facebook from Peaks so I will be sharing those now while I try to figure out how to recover my other photos. I have some beautiful ones saved on my Mom's computer, but the motherboard on that has crashed because the cat kept taking naps on it. So in conclusion, I will try to keep providing pictures from beautiful travel destinations even though all the technology seems to be conspiring against me!


How to say goodbye to Ireland?

With Guinness of course! Mmm, delicious, heavy beer. After touring the factory and learning more about the history of Guinness and the brewing process, we made our way up to the bar at the top which offered a great view of Dublin and a complimentary Guinness. Each cup was poured to only the most exacting standards and any pint that had sat for even a few seconds too long was poured down the drain. To top it off, the bartenders finished pouring the last foamy drops while moving the glass so as to create a four-leaf clover design in the top of the drink. By far the freshest and most delicious Guinness you will find anywhere!

St. Patrick's Cathedral

While in Dublin we found a great way to get around the city. The tourist buses are cheap and you can ride them around all day. They stop at major monuments and tourist destinations so while you won't get off the beaten path, you will get to visit all those sites on your "to see" list and then be able to hop on the next bus that comes by. St. Patrick's was great although the light made it a little difficult to photograph. Going to Dublin was a side trip I managed to squeeze in and it was way to short. While I'm glad I was able to see some incredible things I need to make it back to Dublin some day and tour it at a more leisurely pace!

Book of Kells

Getting to see the Book of Kells in Dublin was an amazing experience for me. If it was up to me I would have spent hours walking in the library and examining all the history on how the book was made. I think it was this experience more than anything that made me realize how much I love literature, books, and the history of bookmaking. Several months later I began looking into getting my masters in Library Science and am happy to say I will soon be embarking on a double masters program in Archives and History. To illustrate just what a dork I am, I saw a job the other day working on book preservation and conservation in the Harvard Library and I may have started to drool.


Lulu Abroad

I'm sure some of you have noticed that my blog is now located at luluabroad.blogspot.com rather than czechdreams.blogspot.com. This was done in part because my blog has changed since it started from something I did to keep my family updated about my time in the Czech Republic, to a forum for me to share all my travel experiences and photography. I am also working on creating some stationary that I would distribute under the name Lulu Abroad and it makes more sense to have blog name, address, and stationary all be under the same name. I'm sorry for any confusion this may have caused, it was just an attempt to have the blog address more adequately reflect my current goals and ideas for the blog.

Trail Ride

Look at his stumpy little legs!! Definitely a big change from some of the great horses I've had the privilege of riding.

I started riding when I was five or six, and did it competitively for a couple years (while I love horses I was a bit too spacey for competitions and never did very well, especially in dressage). After we moved when I was younger though there was no longer a good place to go riding that was nearby and it became too expensive (in high school one of my friends had horses but they were pretty much unride-able, she had me help train some of them which consisted of a lot of me jumping on and quickly jumping or getting thrown off). While I was in Ireland though I jumped at the chance to go on a trail ride. Once we arrived at the stables however I was sorely disappointed since the horses were sad, sad looking creatures. I felt bad even riding there since I questioned how well the horses were cared for however since I came with a large group I wasn't able to just leave. I was placed with a tiny nightmare of a horse who's pace alternated between stopping and breaking into an uneven and jolting trot/canter. By the end of the three hour ride I was sore all over; my butt, my arms, and my legs were killing me. On top of all of that my knees which are used to being turned out for ballet had spent the whole ride somewhat turned in and were incredibly painful and I had a performance two weeks after I got back to school (the performance went great though so don't worry). Still it was great to go through some of the countryside and see Ireland in a new way.

Around the castle

The towers looked quite mysterious and lovely, especially since more than half of them were in various states of disrepair.
The gardens surrounding the castle were actually more interesting than the castle itself. Not only were they better maintained but there was more information on the history of various statues or rocks.

This rock is popular because it appears to be the figure of a gnarled witch, and to the left of her is her hat, see it?

Blarney Stone

On our way into the castle this little guy was keeping one of the gardeners company.

I don't feel this picture fully captures the scariness. My friend snapped the image in the adjustment process. To kiss the stone I had to arch back more and was upside down.



One day there was a field trip to the Blarney Castle. Climbing up to the top was quite the adventure since it is an old castle and the spiral staircases are narrow and steep. Some rooms remained somewhat intact but the real appeal was the Blarney stone at the top. There's a man who's job is to hold people while they are somewhat upside down so they can inch out into position to kiss the Blarney stone for good luck. There will be more on the castle and stone kissing soon, but for now I have to go to an interview, eek!


St. Mary's Cathedral

I have very few pictures of Killarney itself but this is St. Mary's Cathedral. The town wasn't a bad place to be stationed, it was a three hour train ride to Dublin, right near the Ring of Kerry, and had a lively night life. There were some great bands that played in the pubs at night, whether locals playing more traditional Irish music, or rock bands playing covers of Franz Ferdinand, there was a lot of variety to chose from for night-time entertainment.

Ross Castle

Ross Castle is located near Killarney and we actually visited it several times during our trip. Built in the late 1400's the castle was much more of a fortification than a pleasure palace. The castle is located on the Ring of Kerry which is a scenic driving route, and a hiking path. The second time we visited the castle was as part of a trail ride.