31 July 2009

17 Reasons Why Iceland Roxxors my Boxxors

17. Iceland Ponies--super cute, hardy, and fun to ride; bred to be loyal and soft on the move.

16. Geologic activity--tons of volcanoes, hot springs, earthquakes. Plus, it is one of the "youngest" lands on Earth and one of the only places where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rises out of the ocean, making it integral to geologic historians.

15. Tundra Climate--not only stunningly beautiful (think cold, Northern Tolkeinian Middle Earth) but also surprisingly mild, dipping only barely below freezing during winter in capital Reykjavík. Despite its chilly name, the climate is often described as similar to that in Northern Scotland, mostly because of an ocean current which heats the West coast of the island.

14. The Sagas and Eddas--some of the most important works of Scandinavian folkloric literature, these histories were written in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, describing the earlier histories and mythologies of Iceland.

13. Turf Houses--houses covered in grass or built into hills for better insulation. Tell me these aren't the most charming things you've ever seen!
12. Birches--once the most commom native Icelandic tree, and appropriately pale and delicate.

11. Reykjavík--this beautiful capital city (and the most populous in the nation) has fewer inhabitants than Modesto, CA.

10. Arctic Foxes and Puffins--two of the cutest animal on Earth, which just happen to coexist in this magical place.
9. Scandinavian Sweaters--they keep you warm stylishly.

8. Fjords--okay, so you can find these all over Scandinavia, but tell me they aren't that much cooler in Iceland!

7. Environmental Concerns--Icelanders as a people tend to be very environmentally concerned. When you live in a place that is so directly affected by global warming, you have to be. A majority of the manufacturing processes use geothermal energy, wind power, and even tidal energy to operate.

6. Quality of Life--although it has made the news in the last year for a minor financial crisis, Iceland has, for the last five years, overall been rated in the top ten nations for quality of life in the world.

5. Reindeer--not originally native to Iceland, they were brought to the island in the 1800's, and are the largest land mammals in Iceland.

4. Jónsi and Alex--mostly the cutest couple who has ever lived, the lead singer of phenomenal band Sigur Rós and the artist who does much of the band's record design.

3. Vikings--Iceland's first settlers. Enough said.

2. Icelandic--the most beautiful language in the world, full of whimsical rolled R's and reminiscent of epic poetry, Icelandic is the closest "living" language to Old Norse. While incredibly difficult for English speakers to learn (especially if they are incapable of rolling their R's), this language imparts on its native speakers a most charming accent. Check out my earlier video of Cute Couple Jónsi and Alex to hear Jónsi's.

1. Music--Okay, just in case those who know me didn't see this one coming, let me enlighten my readers as to the magic and beauty of the Music of the North. Icelandic music tends to be all at once poetic, melancholy, epic, delicate, sacred, and fanciful, orchestrally full and climactic, yet intensel personal and quiet. Some amazing performers, the reasons why music is the number one reason Iceland roxxors my boxxors, are: Sigur Rós, Björk, Emiliana Torrini, the Sugarcubes, Bang Gang, Amiina, Ampop, and múm. Check them out--you will not be sorry!

29 July 2009

You Can't Tell Me that Iceland Isn't Perfect....

When they give us images like this. These are some beautiful Iceland Ponies in the beautiful Iceland wind...

Some more on Iceland soon, I think. <3<3<3

26 July 2009

P.S. A Little Inspiration

Here's a video of the lead singer of Sigur Rós, Jónsi, and his boyfriend, Alex, preparing a delicious raw foodie treat. They have a cookbook--the link to the PDF is embedded below as well:

Jónsi & Alex Recipe Show - Macadamia Monster Mash from Jónsi & Alex on Vimeo.

Their cookbook, The Good Heart Cookbook, is located at http://jonsiandalex.com/media/recipebook/.

Enjoy their cuteness and good recipes! We sure have already!

Two Fantastic New Concoctions

Michael Benjamin spent most of the week here, and I am still swooning over the phenomenal chicken dish we concocted on his last evening here. We winged it, but here's an after-the-fact recipe with estimated quantities:

Pâtes avec Poulet, Poivron, et Vinaigrette

1 package angel hair pasta
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into little-ish pieces
1 coloured pepper cut into bite-sized strips
1 handful fresh cress
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup feta cheese
1-1 1/2 cups vinaigrette
1 small clove garlic, minced

1. Boil pasta according to package directions.
2. Sautée chicken pieces, pepper pieces, and garlic with generous salt and lemon pepper, until beginning to carmelize.
3. At the Last minute, add 1/2 of the chopped cress and 1/4 cup of dressing to chicken mixture.
4. Toss pasta with dressing, rest of the cress, feta, chicken mixture, and walnuts.


Mix together in a small bowl:
Juice and zest of one lemon
2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic,, minced
2 tbsp. chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. honey
salt and pepper
1 scant cup of olive oil

With the leftovers of this dish, I created a new one this evening:

Deconstructed Tzatziki Salad

1 cucumber, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch of radishes, chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2-3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, minced
2-4 tbsp. chopped herbs (mint, cilantro, parsley, and cilantro all taste nice)
1/2 tsp. honey
juice of one small lemon
pepper to taste

1. Toss together radishes, cucumber, and shallot.
2. Mix together remaining ingredients into a thick sauce and toss with veggies until lightly coated/
3. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts and chopped watercress on top.

18 July 2009

Comme le Livre "Rebecca"

Michael Benjamin returns from his tour of art schools tomorrow, which indicates his nearing a visit to Modesto, as well. I feel rather confident after all the positive feedback from his various portfolio reviews that he should get into whichever school he desires. He has visited these schools, in their corresponding locations:

Pratt Institute; New York, NY
Parsons the New School for Design; New York, NY
School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
Rhode Island School of Design; Providence, RI
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Boston, MA
Maine College of Art; Portland, ME
Art Institute of Chicago; Chicago, IL

The ones which are italicized are his top three choices, in this order: SVA, AIC, and SMFA. I hope he chooses SVA, although I must say that the source of my bias is the school's location in Chelsea, only about a half an hour away from Bronxville and, therefore, Sarah Lawrence College and me.

In any case, while my dove has been away visiting schools, I have taken two jobs which have ended up really only being the same job, in a way. First of all, I am tutoring a thirteen-year-old Parisian girl in English while she is visiting Modesto for several weeks. Her name is Estelle, and she knows very, very little English, although she is learning quickly.

The second job I've taken is an odd jobs, housework, and paperwork helper for my Auntie Cathleen. Today, I washed all the woodwork inside her downtown Modesto home with TSP in preparation for painting this week. Despite the seeming dissimilarity of these jobs, they've really just turned into the same thing for these two people; I'm mostly serving as a companion for both of them. I take Estelle out for giant American ice cream cones and teach her the corresponding vocabulary--I also follow Cathleen around with a notebook, jotting down all of her thoughts and helping her make decisions about her remodel.

In the book Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier, the main character gets her start with a companionship job to wealthy old woman. I can see similarities between her job and mine--and being as the idea of "companionship" is a terribly romantic one, I'm raw-ther happy with that.

17 July 2009

Of the Lovely DeVotchKa, from the High Sierra Music Festival

It occurred to me today that I never posted photos of the DeVotchKa show I saw in Quincy on the weekend of the Fourth of July. It was a fun concert, although I must say I could see why they call it, fondly, the Hippie Fest up there. Here are the incomparable Nick Urata, Tom Hagerman, Jeanie Schroder, and Shawn King:

(DeVotchKa on stage as a group)

(The ever-plaintive Nick Urata)

(The multi-talented Tom Hagerman)

(Lovely--and bad-ass!--Jeanie Schroder)

(The finale: Nick plays the bouzouki with his half-empty wine bottle!)

So, there's a little bit of a peek at a live show with Gypsy-mariachi-old-world-romantic-ecstatic DeVotchKa!

16 July 2009

MacCracken 9!

Housing assignments for my First Year at Sarah Lawrence are in, and I've been assigned to the MacCracken Dormitory, one of the old dorms, and supposedly the nicest on campus (if you disregard rumors of infrequent centipede infestation, which fascinate and excite me more than creep me out!) I'm still trying to contact my new roomie, with no luck so far. I am excited, however, that we will share a suite-style bathroom with only one other dormitory, which means fewer people tromping through our space!

Here's a picture of the old dorms, but I don't know if this is MacCracken, in particular:

One has to love the beautiful bricks and Tudor-style woodwork, courtesy of the 1920's revival!

13 July 2009

Endeavouring to Find New Passions

As I have not been feeling entirely up to par this weekend, I spent much of it sprawled on the couch with a stack of graphic novels and manhwa (Korean comics) lent to me by Amina, all of which were fantastic. So far this summer I've read:

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way, art by Gabriel Ba

Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham, art by Mark Buckingham

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Niko Henrichon

The Bride of the Water God: 1 & 2
by Yun Mi-kyung