Going to new places means breaking your routine: Literally leaving your comfort zone behind for fresh scenery and experiences. It means facing challenges and the unexpected. It's almost synonymous, then, with bravery.
Standing before a broken, dilapidated chalk board, a perfect-skinned brunette with stiletto heels holds a nub of chalk. Even though it's a photoshopped image, with her static expression and impossible body shape, it's one that's all too real—and, if you've ever volunteered abroad, probably all too familiar. This is Barbie Saviour, who, as she puts it, is "called by God to save the country of Africa'" with no formal education, just "some chalk and some optimism"—the only tools she thinks she needs. Hilarious? Yes. Crying-worthy? Absolutely. But more than that, it's a fake, plastic face of a very real problem in today's tourism industry.
When we arrived on the island of Caye Caulker, Belize, I needed a vacation. I was in the midst of uprooting my current life, trying to separate the seeds of what I wanted next from the dirt surrounding them. And man, was there a lot of dirt.
So, it seemed fitting to go somewhere where there wasn't dirt but sand. Sparkling white sand, pure as snow, stretching out before me like a blank slate I could wiggle my toes into.
When I think of January in my hometown, a vivid and beautiful image comes to mind. There’s frost on the windows, drawing patterns that look like lace. There’s snow everywhere, glittering like sequins. The gorgeous snowscapes turn the slightest shade of blush at dawn, reflecting the sky.
I feel like my first recipe of the new year should be a salad. The determination and fitness frenzy that is January has me thinking about tearing kale and whisking vinaigrettes while pretending to be sorry for all the treats I ate in December.
Only, I'm not sorry. Not even close.
Do you have a particular treat that instantly makes you feel at home? I'll be honest- I have a few. But, if I had to pick just one, it'd be cinnamon rolls.
Weekend visits to my Grandparent's house almost always involved baking a batch of these simple sweets, filling the house with the smell of cinnamon. As children, my older brother's job was to line the rolls with brown sugar, while I was the one responsible for adding cinnamon. I took this task very seriously, blackening the dough with rapid shakes of the cinnamon shaker.
I'm often told I'm a bit over the top. It's no surprise, see: I laugh loudly. I wear cherry red lipstick in the afternoon. I have deliriously big dreams.
For eleven months of the year, there are very few of us who live in this category. We're the bold ones, never stopping to ask 'How much is too much?'. And I wouldn't trade it for anything, even if it isn't always understood by others.
There's nothing better than a good carrot cake, is there? My grandma used to make it often; the perfect after-school snack for when I arrived off the bus. She'd have tea, I'd have milk, and we'd discuss the day's events, from what I was learning in science class to my french homework.
These days, the bus doesn't drop me off at Grandma's anymore. But, I still crave a slice of carrot cake at the end of a long day.
China's capitol city is also it's hardest to define. In parts, Beijing is towering grey, chock-a-block high rise apartments that all look the same- like a grim set for 1984 that never went to film. Then, you round a corner and find parks, fountains, shopping complexes that would make Manhattan blush, with restaurants spilling international music and cuisine into the street.
They say smell is the sense closest associated to memory, and I definitely agree- especially when it comes to pumpkin! Fresh pumpkin or pumpkin pie unlocks a flood of childhood thanksgivings for me.
Of course, there's another pumpkin something that is all over the place every fall: Pumpkin Spice Lattes. The smell of the artificial pumpkin syrup used by many coffee chains has me remembering other things than the warmth of my Mom's kitchen with maple leaves falling near the window.