Better Vegetables

Iceland hasn’t been hit by the pandemic quite like most other countries have. Few permanent residents, very few tourists, vast space and clean, crisp air meant that the virus had little chance to spread up here in the North of Iceland. Travel cancellations are the one noticeable sacrifice which meant we had to stay in our little safe, but chilly and remote place.

However, there is something that I generally really really miss in our remote part of the world – pandemic or not: a variety in fresh produce. Continue reading

The Author is In

child's hands coloring

Cover page of “The Fairies and Ballerinas”

It’s been nearly 10 months since my kids went to school, slept over a friend’s house (let alone went into a friend’s house), stayed with a babysitter or grandparents, and lived in pre-covid normalcy. That also means it’s been 10 months of no childcare and a glaring lack of productivity in my own work. Since March, my writing practice and research agenda has taken an abrupt backseat to managing the daily flaming hellscape of remote learning for my two elementary school kids while also teaching full-time. This is fine.

Back in the early days of lockdown, my daughter began watching Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, two weeks of daily drawing and writing activities that inspired her, a kindergartener whose first year of “real” school was cut short, to begin making books. If Mo Willems, an award-winning illustrator and author, can do it, why can’t she?

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After the Fall

You glow in the dark while gleaming in the light, spilling countless crystals like tiny diamonds glittering on a fluffy carpet.

You transform hills from rich black earth and vibrant green grass to shiny, slippery slopes. You sing a siren’s song to eager children envisioning endless days of downhill delights, pleading for their sleds to be taken out of storage.

Tranquil ponds and lazy lakes are no match for your awesome power. They render solid at your touch, inviting skaters to etch designs into their now-glassy surfaces. You do battle with the mighty falls and its fierce flowing river, seeking to still fast-running waters with your magnificent icy fists.
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Making Marmalade

I grew up with a mother who loved orange marmalade. In her travels as a young, adventurous and untethered Japanese woman in the 1970s, a short stint traveling through Europe cemented her curiosity and love for croissants, marmalades and pastries. She sought the jams that were slightly less sweet and a touch more tart, a criteria that seemed elusive in the American grocery store shelves of my youth.

While my mother cooked many things, we always got store-bought marmalade and bread. For example, baking a loaf of bread was not something I grew up with — we were more of a rice household. I didn’t even try much baking at all until my late 20’s. And now, here in 2020 in the midst of this extended shared quarantine, all the no-knead bread recipes circulating inspired a new round of experiments. Eight months in, I’m baking a loaf or two a week. Fresh bread is ::heart emoji::. Continue reading

Two starfish

It was December, many years ago, when my partner and I were out holiday shopping. We stopped at a bookstore to buy a present and were greeted by a retired racing greyhound. An odd combination to be sure — books and greyhounds. But the dog was there as an ambassador, accompanied by his guardian, to introduce the public to the special and gentle nature of the retired racing greyhound. And this one was a pro. We were smitten with greyhounds from then on.

Flash forward to the start of the pandemic, some 20 years later, and we were still keeping up with greyhounds and following rescue groups on social media even though we’d never had one as a pet. With tracks closing due to covid, the need to find permanent homes for racing greyhounds was more urgent than ever. We applied to become a foster family through GPA-MN, a rescue group that finds homes for greyhounds in need, particularly retired racers. The foster family is a greyhound’s first brush with their new life, helping them transition from working dog to companion animal while they wait to be matched with their forever family and home. Continue reading

The Mischievous Santa

You know you have been spending way too much time at home when you start naming the squirrels. Yes, you read correctly, naming squirrels; So far, I have White Ears, Delta, Fatso, and Stubs. But, that’s not why I’m here, and nor are you. 

The one time I did leave my home, it was the middle of June, and I was opening a dusty drawer in an antique store; here is what I found: A box with mold flecks and gold flecks. 

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Let’s share a meal

The idea of food as purely sustenance has always been foreign to me. For me, food has been a reason to gather, a way to explore the world through different ingredients, a way to remember people and moments in my life—most importantly, food has always been the most nourishing when shared with others.

When the lockdown began I was living in Reading, UK completing the MATD programme. I was set to fly home to Toronto at the end of March, but made the decision to cancel my flight for the safety of my family (imagine if I knew just how bad it was actually going to get). I was almost 6000 km from home, living five hours ahead of everyone I cared about, and attempting to navigate a pandemic alone. The future felt uncertain and my only social interaction was through a screen. Cooking became my only solace. Food has always played a significant role in my life and culture; growing up, the kitchen was where we gathered when people visited. And cooking for someone was, and remains for me, the ultimate act of showing you care about them. Continue reading

Written in Stone(ware)

There’s nothing quite like the beauty and diversity of letter forms carved in stone. The level of craft that went into making the forms is evident, even if the product has been eroded by years of exposure. My passion for the many eclectic shapes and styles that glyphs can take was first ignited by my participation in ‘Urban Lettering Walks’ with design historian and writer Paul Shaw. The vernacular typography that I observed during these walks became the inspiration for two digital typeface designs, Bowery and Bequeath. Both were designed with the intention to create distinctive digital typefaces for use in contemporary design contexts, with reverence to their historical roots.
Bowery was based on letter forms carved into a stone plaque from the late 19th century, located in the Bowery Mission meeting room on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Bequeath was based on 18th century gravestone inscriptions found in the cemeteries of New York City. Continue reading

Virtual Calligraphy Classes

It was Saturday evening in middle of the dark Finnish November. I found myself digging deeper into what fun activity I could do. Virtual hangouts have been an effective activity for staying connected with my family and friends in Amman and around the world. One virtual hangout that is always of particular importance is a call with my calligraphy teacher in Amman, Master Riad Tabbal. Continue reading

Tea Madness ☕️

So the pandemic hit me hard. I am not saying I was fully sane before the pandemic but remote MATD workshops, spacing my typeface in solitude, and dissertation writing affected my judgment and I just went crazy with tea. Some people spent their money on toilet rolls during isolation but I spent (yes, I still do it today —sorry, not sorry—) my savings on tea. That majestic hot beverage commonly prepared by pouring boiling water over some fresh or dry leaves. Continue reading