Where's Allie?

Lend me your eyes, I can change what you see

1 Comment

Photo essay: Ukraine

I just got back from Ukraine. Though I still don’t feel like writing, I figured I could at least share some pictures with you all ūüôā¬†ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage


On making your favorite foreign dishes at home (don’t)

Hypothesis: I can make Mole Poblano at home

In 2003, I spent three months in Mexico, where one of the traditional dishes is Mole. When I first had it, I thought it was the worst thing ever, but it wasn’t long before¬†it became my favourite meal. I’ve only ever had the real things once since coming back, when a friend brought some back from a trip to Mexico, so I decided that now was the time to make it myself. I made it once in Mexico, in preparation for the day of the dead festivities (it was a three day, multi-ingredient process), so I figured that I could fumble my way through making it here. I browsed the internet, used four different recipes to put together an ingredient list that resembled my days in Mexico, and got to work. Mole is not easy work!

This is what the mole looked like about half way through blending all the ingredients.


Thank god I had made it before, otherwise I would have been REALLY concerned.

Anyway! I put it all through the food processor (if any of you ever attempt to make this at home, don’t believe them when they say that a blender will do. It won’t, and you’ll just have to wash extra dishes), and put it in the Crock Pot, as per Martha‘s instructions.


– It’s only the second time I’ve used my slow cooker, so maybe I just don’t know it well, but the edges kept burning, so my mole has an (unintentional) burny taste to it

– It’s lumpy – as fine a job as the food processor did, it can’t break up the nuts as well as a good old fashioned Mexican mill can

– It’s really sweet

– It’s not spicy enough (even though I used 12 peppers, of 4 different varieties)

– There’s a large pot of slightly off mole sitting in my fridge that I will likely not eat

Conclusion: I ain’t never making it again

Take it from me: if you want genuine, delicious Oaxacan mole, go to Oaxaca, or go to this website РPhil has offered me the BEST customer service that I have ever received, and I will be getting a few containers of genuine Oaxacan Mole Soledad in the mail in 2-4 weeks.



Life at home

Since being in this job, I’ve spent most of my time on the road. The thing is, though, that when I’m on the road, it’s hard to keep track of office things – I get to spend time in person with my staff, and get to know the communities that my program works in, but then I don’t really spend time at the computer. This month is my busiest work month, so I’d already decided to stay home for a few weeks. I’m really lucky that I get to work from home, but I’ve been working most days for about 9 hours, and all on the computer. The work isn’t hard, and I don’t mind the hours, but it’s fiddly and annoying and makes my head hurt. I can’t wait until next month, when my job is to travel and hang out with kids all summer!


This morning, I was woken up by a phone call at 7, and I stared at a computer screen until 5pm. By the time everything was under control, my first thought was to go to bed, but I was feeling too restless. Based on the state of my kitchen, I knew that I wanted to get pizza for dinner, so I forced myself to get out of the house and go to the beach on the way to the pizza place. That’s right, I had to force myself out of the house. I’ve been inside for five days, and I always feel like the longer I spend time inside, the less I want to do anything.


This is what happens when I bake while I work at home.

Well, I’m happy that I went out – a sunny day and the sound of the waves reset my brain to a more restful place, and I know what I’m doing tomorrow – more beach!

Here are some pictures of the place that I’m lucky to call home. I can’t believe that I forgot how nice it is to get out there.









1 Comment

Travel Photo Tuesday

You know that awkward travel photo that didn’t work out the way you wanted it, but it ends up being one of your faves? Well, here’s one of mine.

This was on my last day in Mali – I was walking through the city with a friend when we saw these giant cows lying around, and I decided to pose next to them. Just as I was getting close, one got up, and scared the shit out of me! Look at how huge they are! Anyway – as it got up, I jumped and sort of ran away, and a couple of men behind me started laughing and teasing me about it. What you see in this picture is my reaction to them, and it always reminds me of how much people in Mali love to joke around and have fun.

This also gives you a good idea of what many street corners look like in downtown Bamako!



Travel Photo Tuesday

I was just on a Gogobot Twitter chat yesterday, talking to Jenny¬†about her upcoming RTW trip. Her first stop is the Inca Trail, which had me looking back through my pictures of Peru. I thought I’d make you smile today with this picture. There are llamas in so many pictures and postcards of Peru, and especially Machu Picchu. However, Marina and I weren’t able to frame a shot of a llama in front of Huayna Picchu, so we took matters into our own hands.


1 Comment

San Francisco in pictures, part 7 – Muir Woods

To be honest, I didn’t really get it. We rented a car for the day to drive down to Big Sur, and my travel buddy Matt said that he wanted to first drive up to Muir Woods. It’s only about 40 minutes north of SF, so we went ahead with his plan. We got there, looked at some trees for about half an hour, and then we were done. Maybe we didn’t look up enough – I think that the deal is that they’re really tall. Maybe because I live on the West Coast, I wasn’t excited to see more big trees. All this to say that we should have done more research before coming here – it was nice, but we weren’t blown away by any of it. Anyone who’s travelled with me knows that when I’m bored with something, I’m over it, and I’m happy to just move on.


1 Comment

San Francisco in pictures, part 6 – Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a must see. We chose to take the bus all the way to the bridge, and then walk across. We kind of forgot to plan for the other side of the bridge, except to say ‘We’ll take the ferry back form Sausalito’

It’s pretty straightforward to get from the bridge to Sausalito, but it’s about 3 miles away, so be prepared! The walk across the bridge was crowded, but worth it, at least one way. Sausalito is a beautiful, if very commercial, little village, and it’s much warmer there than in San Francisco. We were happy to enjoy delicious burgers and ice cream in the sun for a while, and then take the ferry back ($9.00) to the city. A great day out!


San Francisco in pictures, part 5 – Chinatown

Chinatown is a great neighbourhood to visit, but I would definitely recommend going off the beaten path – look through your guidebook for some routes, or talk to the staff at either of the¬†HI Downtown Hostels¬†(these awesome hostels offer free tours of different parts of SF… every day!)¬†On the main road, you’ll find a lot of touristy shops that sell the same thing over and over, and on the side roads, you’ll find a bunch of little stores that sell things you don’t recognize… and owners who don’t speak enough English to tell you what they are! There are many teashops, make sure to stop in one for some tea tasting.¬†Vital Tea¬†has great service, and Uncle Gee will give you advice like no other! It’s also worth it to figure out how to get to the Golden Gate Cookie Factory, where you can watch women handmake fortune cookies. You can pay $0.50 to take a picture of them, and $1.00 for a custom fortune cookie.



San Francisco in pictures, part 4 – Haight Ashbury

Oh, beautiful Haight Ashbury. First of all, it’s pronounced Hate. Fun fact!

This neighbourhood is well known for its eclectic mix of old hippies and young… well… hippies! Where in and around the Tenderloin district you’re bound to encounter hundreds of panhandlers, here you’ll find a bit of a different kind. There are tons of young folk sitting on sidewalks with dogs and musical instruments, asking for money but also wishing you a great day and trying to make you laugh. It’s a great place to walk around. As I mentioned before, walking down side streets in The Mission will lead you to some amazing graffiti. Sure, Haight Ashbury has it’s share of graffiti, but what you’ll mostly find are AMAZING houses. Look at those colours! I couldn’t even handle it.

You’ll also find a few opportunities for some good shopping – make sure to check out¬†Buyer’s Best Friend, a tiny store that sells TONS of hand made products. The staff know everything about the products and their makers.

Walk to the end of Haight Street, and you’ll end up at Golden Gate Park (not to be confused with The Presidio, where the Golden Gate Bridge is actually located) In this park, you’ll find the California Academy of Sciences, where¬†every Thursday night¬†they run an event called Nightlife, where¬†music, creatures and cocktails come together. Seriously, guys. This is one of the best things that I did in San Francisco. They have bars everywhere, DJs in front of crazy fish and jellyfish tanks, and really cool subject specific exhibits.


Leave a comment

Travel Tuesday Photo

Here we are again! I swear, I don’t even see the time go by. I’ve been posting a lot about San Francisco this week, so I decided to bring us home with this picture of Nova Scotia. I love how so many houses are decorated with these things. Now, if someone could tell me what these things are, I would love that too!