All posts in personal

  • portland

    (via thelittlecanoe on etsy)

    Greetings from the Sea of Cardboard Boxes and Bubble Wrap.

    We recently moved from Michigan to Portland, Oregon. The original plan was to move to a new city or state every year for the foreseeable future. As it happens, moving is expensive and takes up too way much time (duh, right?). So when our year in Michigan drew to an end, we had to pick a spot that we thought we’d be happy living in for a few years. Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Portland were the top contenders based on things like affordability, culture, walkability… and well, Ye Olde Polar Vortex scared us off from enduring another Midwestern winter, so off to Portland we went.

    Moving was a little bit easier this time around, but it always feels brutal. We purged a lot of our belongings back in San Francisco. Got rid of our bed, couch, microwave, both dressers, more clothing than I can remember, and at least 100 books. Now we sleep on a Japanese-style futon, I miss the couch, but do not miss the microwave and wonder why we even had one in the first place. More purging this time too, but I still have plenty of little tchotchkes and rarely used kitchenware that are sure to stick around for years.

    Portland is ridiculously pretty. Neither of us had been to Portland or Oregon before the move. Our cab driver from the airport asked if we were returning from our honeymoon because we seemed to be so excited to be coming to home. There was a bit of a tangle in that honeymoon phase when we walked into our apartment for the first time and discovered it was smaller than we expected. About 100 square feet smaller, we later measured. That’s pretty significant when you already know you’re moving somewhere small. The lack of storage space in the kitchen is the biggest disappointment. In the end, I’m thankful that Cory and I really like each other. I wouldn’t want to share this shoebox with anyone else. We’ll be happy enough here, but we are planning to pack up our things again in a year to move to a place that’s a little bit bigger. Moving within the city will certainly be less stressful than across the country.

    Everything has been unpacked, but the apartment is still littered with boxes and bubble wrap. I still stumble into the bathroom in the dark forgetting where the light switch is, but I’m cooking again. I’ve returned to meal planning, washing, drying and storing large batches of greens, canning, freezing small batches of herbs, drying herbs, freezing scraps for vegetable stock, and that’s how I know I’m at home again. In Ann Arbor, I had a backlog of recipes to share and that backlog keeps piling up. Hopefully I’ll have something posted in a few days, but first I have 10 pounds of berries and 25 pounds of tomatoes to can.

    See you soon!

  • 29th birthday

    I recently had a birthday. A 29th one, at that. It’s a little weird to think I am now the age I thought my mom was until I was 7 or 8, because you know, I believed every thing my mama told me (hi mom, love you). Cory and I celebrated the day of my birth with an overnight trip to Detroit, to spend hours and hours at the Detroit Institute of Arts and in typical Sponseller fashion, to stuff our faces with food. An overnight trip was much needed, since I’ve been feeling a bit burned out in the work department. Balancing my time and knowing when to say “no” to taking on additional projects is still something I’m clumsily fumbling my way through. There are certainly worse problems to have, but a brain break was much needed.

    First stop in Deh-twa was Motor City Brewing Works. Here’s Cory’s sausage pizza and beer because it was way more handsome than my artichoke pizza and cherry soda:

    motorcity brewing works

    Motor City Brewing Works is next to Nest and City Bird. I’m a sucker for cutesy home decor shops.

    You know, staying the night at someone else’s place always gets me excited about decorating my own apartment. Our move is only less than 2 months away now! Eep. We don’t have a new apartment lined up yet, but I’m totally gonna steal some ideas from this cute little studio. First up, definitely going to order a set of these Kikkerland maze coasters. And that floral chair too, if I can ever find it!

    detroit apartment

    Breakfast was at Midtown Zef’s, a new-ish coney island next to the historic Majestic Theater. I have a soft spot for coney islands because for most of my life, going to a restaurant meant going to a coney island. It wasn’t until adulthood that I learned that they’re primarily a Michigan thing. Coney islands serve up typical American fare like burgers and fries, but are usually owned by Greeks and Arabs so you’ll often find things like gyros (or pita sandwiches), spanakopita, baklava, and rice pudding on menus. Of course, they also serve coney dogs. Hot dogs topped with beanless chili, mustard, chopped onions, served in a bun. Anyway! As far as Midtown Zef’s goes, super cheap and tasty breakfast fare that serves up ridiculously huge portions.

    midtown zef's detroit

    We also stopped at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, which involved me making a fool of myself by spilling my coffee several times. I am not a graceful human. I also made a quick stop at The Peacock Room and picked up a new dress and jewelry. San Francisco’s Haight street used to be my go-to for shopping destination for clothing (I miss you, Ambiance!!) and Peacock Room hit the spot.

    Did a bit more walking around. Oh hello, Danish consulate. You’re somethin’ else. And for sale, too. Anyone wanna buy a mansion??

    detroit 2

    Then, finally! To the Detroit Institute of Arts.

    detroit 4

    Camel leg bones! Well, replicas of them. And a Portuguese man feeding a puppy, painted by Reza Abbasi in 1634, the last great master of the Persian miniature.

    bones and reza abbasi

    Officer of the Hussars by Kehinde Wiley. I want this on my wall.

    detroit 3

    In fleeting moments, I want to live in Detroit. No, not to buy a $1,000 dilapidated house and spend all my savings rehabbing it while fending off squatters. A downtown loft and a rooftop garden is more my style. There is a lot of beauty in Detroit and reminders of its former glory are everywhere. Then I walk down block after block, without ever passing another soul or cross the 6 lane Woodward Avenue and I realize that the Motor City is not an ideal place to live if you’re not interested in owning a car… and it doesn’t have the kind of population density I look for in a city. Oh well. Detroit is unlikely to ever be a place I call home, but I’ll always be excited to visit.


    Our visit was short, about 24 hours. By the end of of the trip, I was really missing my little booger. I think I’m strong enough to go a blog post without posting a photo of my cat. You’re spared this time.

  • one year of marriage

    What do you do when you’re in love with your best friend?

    I spent many nights agonizing about what would happen to our friendship if my feelings weren’t reciprocated. When I finally mustered up the courage, I was an ocean away in Cairo. I wrote a jetlagged and melodramatic e-mail confession in the wee of hours of the night, then cried myself to sleep, trying not to think about the response waiting in my inbox in the morning. Much to my relief, Cory felt the same way. The next couple months were a whirlwind and in the midst of that Cory received a job offer in San Francisco. I still had another year of college to finish up, but that was it. We were going to be together and I was moving to San Francisco.

    It is weird to think that I married some cute guy who commented on my blog on this day 12 years ago. He introduced himself and told me that I seemed like “a special person, a unique person”. The blog post he responded to was something I had written about the first Lord of the Rings movie and a quiz result for “Which Final Fantasy X character are you?” (I got Lulu, by the way). Special person, indeed. We soon swapped AIM names, which was followed by sharing book recommendations and funny internet videos. After a couple years, we were best friends. He became my closest confidant and the keeper of my secrets. I loved him then, but it was never discussed. What was the point? A relationship between us just didn’t seem geographically possible, so I tried to forge my own path that didn’t involve us being together romantically. It another four years until that e-mail confession.

    wedding at san francisco city hall ice cream at ice cream bar cole valley

    Our life together is not a difficult one. We align on most things — sense of humor, diet, how money should be spent, politics, lack of religion, human rights, type of city in which we want to live, type of dwelling we want to share, places we want to travel, and so forth. While we agree how the cat should be fed, I have a much more difficult time resisting Izzy’s pathetic begging. We have our daily routines down. We prefer each other’s companies above anyone else’s. We communicate with each other in a secret language containing a decade’s worth of inside jokes. We annoy each other, but seldom get angry. We share a 380 square foot studio apartment in relative harmony. He eats almost everything I cook. If he has an extra piece of pizza, he usually lets me have it, or at least shares it. Neither of us have overbearing parents. I love his parents and he loves mine. We are partners in all things. We are still best friends. It is a good life and I am stupidly lucky.

    trueselvesOur true selves

    April 2nd is no longer just the day we met, but also the day we married. This day last year, we skipped work to eat french fries, pizza, milkshakes, and make it legal at San Francisco City Hall. Our wedding was on our own terms, with two close friends in attendance to serve as our witnesses, share a meal with us, and take 800+ photos. Continuing the tradition of enjoying the finer things in life (pizza, french fries, ice cream, etc.), we spent today on a gluttonous eating fest.

    We started off at Cafe Zola. I had every intention of ordering a waffle, but I couldn’t resist “deep fried sandwich” and got a Monte Cristo instead. Cory ordered a frittata and let me have most of the avocado. Aww.

    cafe zola ann arbor

    As we were walking home, we saw a large procession of unmarked cars and I jokingly said that it was Barack Obama on his way to Zingerman’s Deli, an Ann Arbor institution. After mentioning Zingerman’s, I suggested we pick up a hot drink there since we’re still rolling in gift card dough from Christmas. Turns out, it was Obama and he stopped there for lunch. Zingerman’s was closed off, so we picked up a tea latte from a nearby cafe and waited to catch a glimpse of the president. I knew it was a long shot, but I was hoping I’d get the chance to ask Obama to bless my marriage because that is totally something presidents do, right? They shake hands and kiss babies, so why not bless marriages? Didn’t happen though, and we didn’t even get a good glimpse of him. Oh well! We still get to say we saw Obama on our first wedding anniversary.

    For dinner, we headed over to Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales for pizza and french fries:

    jollypumpkinOld timey mustachioed man looks a bit like Cory

    Then we finished the night off at Blue Tractor to split a chocolate milkshake:

    izzygooNot a milkshake, but I couldn’t bring myself to post another dimly lit restaurant photo

    Here’s to many more years of pizza, french fries, and milkshakes. <3

  • a day in detroit: marche du nain rouge

    marche du rouge detroit 2014 02

    Did you know that Detroit is haunted by a red dwarf? Sightings of the Nain Rouge in Detroit go back as far as 1701, first as a protector of the city and then as the harbinger of doom. The urban legend of the Nain has survived the centuries, but has seen a revival in the last few years with an annual parade to banish him from the city for another year.

    marche du rouge 2014 03

    The Marche Du Nain Rouge was yesterday, the Nain riled us all up with taunts (taking credit for the Polar Vortex and telling us that oh sure, we can fight poverty in Detroit with artisinal cheeses and launching Kickstarter campaigns for gluten free energy bars), then we paraded through the city while the Nain rode a fire breathing dragon.

    marche du rouge 2014 05

    Friends told me that in previous years, an effigy of the Nain was burned to banish him from the city for another year, but this year he got a parking ticket for illegally parking his dragon and had to leave. I think we succeeded in banishing him. Good and creepy fun either way.

    marche du rouge 2014 04

    Attendees are encouraged to dress up, preferably in masks so the Nain won’t recognize you next year. My friend Cristina is the giraffe on the right.

    marche du rouge detroit 2014 06

    My favorite part of the parade? Dogs, of course. So many dogs in silly costumes.

    marche du rouge detroit 2014 01

    The basement entrance of the Masonic Temple made for some really creepy/cool photo ops. There was an after party held in the basement, though before you think we’re party animals, we were just there to use the bathroom. Incredible building and I’d love go back there an explore some more. As our time in Michigan draws to a close, we’ll need to make a couple more trips to Detroit.

    marche du rouge detroit 2014 07.

    We ended the day at Neehee’s Indian Vegetarian Street Food in nearby Canton. That’s fig, pistachio saffron, and fennel ice cream. Without a doubt some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. They serve more than just ice cream and I would love to try their puri and dosas.

    A+++ fun day would do again

  • link lovin’ – january 2014


    – It was something like minus -37 degrees a few nights ago, but instead of complaining I’ll just say that Cory and I had a lot of fun sword fighting with icicles.

    – Three family members bestowed us with Zingerman’s gift cards for Christmas. I’m thankful to have people in my life who understand that we are too snobby for Applebee’s. This week’s trip included acquiring a cinnamon bun larger than my face.

    – My creepy mousepad from BENWINEWIN makes me absurdly happy. I swear, one part of my brain is swimming around in pastels and pretty things and the other part is obsessed with skulls.

    – I haven’t been big on New Year’s resolutions in the past, but I sure have a lot of them this year. Now that I’ve ventured into the scary world of self-employment, I’ve set an awful lot of goals for myself. I haven’t been on top of blogging as I’d like to be, but that’s OK because I have new a best friend and her name is

    – Armed with a lovely new cookbook, I’ll be sharing some Turkish recipes in the coming weeks. Until then, here’s what I’ve been reading on the web:

    // Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet – I grew up on the internet. It’s where discovered a world outside of my hometown, made countless friends, and met the man who became my husband. I’ve been sharing parts of my life online for almost 20 years, from the days of Geocities and g*URLpages (shout out to anyone who remembers that) to this blog. I’m sadly all too familiar with the experiences the women in this piece had.

    // My friend Coco recently launched a beauty and makeup blog. I’ve missed her writing so much: “Listen, my face is already slathered in bee venom, snail secretions, and fermented soybeans. If you think something is going to stop me from putting donkey milk all over my hands, you’d have to wait until they’re cold and dead to pry it away from them.”

    // Current desktop wallpaper courtesy of Sarah Hearts.

    // I hope this is Siberian bear-hunting armor is real.

    // When a client asks, “what’s your rate?” I am totally guilty of the sweet old lady response.

    // XO Sarah’s excellent tips on how to work from home through the winter.

    // Next time I go to Trader Joe’s, I need to stock up on cashews to make An Edible Mosaic’s coconut and vanilla cashew mix.

    // We have been making soups and stews to keep us warm on chilly nights. Holey Moley Veggie and Rice Soup from the taste space is on my to-make list.

    // Lamb Rendang from the Crepes of Wrath is making me long for the Asian supermarkets of San Francisco.

    // For some reason I bought four pounds of coconut flour last year. I still have a bunch of it and this breakfast cake from So… Let’s Hang Out looks like a delicious way to use some of it up.

    // Cory made these dreamy scones to snack on with our afternoon tea. Yeah, afternoon tea. We’re fancy.