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Lullatone’s new winter album would make the perfect soundtrack to walking outside in the snow while your boots make a squeaky crunching sound or staying in and drinking cocoa wrapped in a blanket. But since it’s 60 degrees in San Francisco, instead I’m listening to it while looking through all the snow photos that I’ve taken in the past few years.

Posted by amy on Mon 17 Feb n 2014 | 1 Comment »

Labels: Uncategorized

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Scenes from holidays spent in New Orleans.  Wishing you joy and delicious food this holiday season!  xoxo

Posted by amy on Mon 30 Dec n 2013 | No Comments »

Labels: food, holidays, travels

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Going on the theme of darkness and despair, this episode of Iron Maiden Chef covers cooking squid ink risotto from scratch, to background music of Iron Maiden’s The Duelists. Thanks to the lovely Ellen Kyle of Found & Created for filming!

Posted by amy on Wed 25 Dec n 2013 | No Comments »

Labels: food, iron maiden chef

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Why Paris will always be the most magical city in the world to me

It’s not the lights, or the Eiffel Tower, the smell of baguettes, or the fact that every single bakery on every single corner sells the most amazing tarte aux fraise. Being serenaded by accordion on my train ride into the city, Laduree macarons, and late night escapades at the Jardin des Tuileries and metro station photo booths were all also contenders! But the thing that will always make me think of Paris as the most magical city in the world is: its magical rollerblading policemen.

It was summer last year, early July. I had been in France for a week and a half and on my last night in Paris, I was biking parallel to the Seine on my mint green bike, on the Rue de Rivoli, hoping to get some last minute shopping in at Colette before they closed for the night. I had my phone in my pocket and was checking my location on the map every few blocks. The bike lane along the Rue de Rivoli is a little bit scary because it is shared by impatient buses. At a stoplight, i was checking my position, when a bus behind honked at me, really loudly because the light had turned green, and i hurriedly shoved my phone into my pocket and resumed pedaling. A few blocks later, I went to check my position again and realized: my phone was gone.

My heart sank. It had surely fallen out of my pocket, and dropped onto the busy street, it had been probably crushed into a bajillion pieces by a car or bus. But in the super slim chance it hadn’t, or perhaps to give myself closure by seeing its tiny crushed body, I walked my bike back to where I remember having my phone last, keeping an eye out for shattered glass on the street.

After I walked a block, I was approached by two French policemen. In shorts. On rollerblades. “Can we help you?” they asked. I told them the sad story of my phone falling out of my pocket while biking, and that I was looking for it, but not very hopefully. One of the two policemen held out his hand, empty. “Is this your phone?” he asked, in a super heavy (charming) French accent. He waved his free hand ceremoniously over his empty palm, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, my phone was there in his palm. He grinned, proud of his sleight of hand trick.

“Omg yes, that’s my phone! How did you know?” I exclaimed. I was so flustered.

“But of course we know. We are psychic. We are ze police!” he replied in his once again super heavy (charming) French accent.

“No no no, just joking”, the other policeman explained (in an equally charming accent). “A stranger handed this phone to us. They saw you drop it. ‘Please look for a girl on a mint green bike and give this back to her’, they told us. So, here we are!”

“Omg thank you so much. You are so amazing! You don’t know how thankful I am to you two, and the person who found it too!” I was blushing and stammering at this point.

“But of course! Have a nice evening!” the replied and skated away.

What other city could possibly compete with literally magical rollerblading policemen? I rest my case.

Posted by amy on Wed 11 Dec n 2013 | No Comments »

Labels: exploring

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peppermint patty, assemble!

bike hands, so glamorous!

A few friends have told me that they think the pictures of biking and camping in the Finnish countryside are super picturesque, but that they wonder if it actually is that idyllic when it is happening.  ”Aren’t you struggling and sweating?”  ”Isn’t it super hard to bring your bike?” “Did you really bike 100 miles in a dress or are those just for the pictures?”

There is definitely a less glamorous side to international bike camping, which I’m more than happy to talk about!  I’m happy to talk about the logistics for anyone interested in trying it themselves, and to hear tips from other people who’ve done it.  But to be honest, I love that side just as much!  I love taking my bike apart and putting it back together.  I love getting my hands dirty with bike grease.  Building things with my hands is a thing I don’t get to do often and it’s so satisfying.  Building something and then riding off on it?  Incredibly satisfying.  (And the answer to do I bike 100 miles/camp/assemble/disassemble bikes in a dress?  Of course I do, doing things just for pictures is silly!)


Getting your bike there by plane

Some people purchase an actual hard case for their bike, but when you arrive at your destination what will you do with that case?  That’s why I’ve found it easiest to pack my bike up in a cardboard box, which i can dispose of and not worry about.  You can pick one up from any bike store, for free– it’s what the bikes come shipped in, and they’d just throw them away anyway.  Just call ahead and ask them to save one for you.  In all the places I’ve traveled to, I’ve never had a problem getting a cardboard box for the return trip.  Depending on the size of the box, you might have to disassemble part of your bike– most likely it will be turning the handlebars, removing the seat and pedals.  I bubble wrap and tape any sharp-ish metal edges.  You might also have to remove the front wheel.  You probably want to practice ahead of time and not follow my example– I learned to disassemble a bike 2am the night before a flight to Paris (using these guides from Public Bikes).  No matter your type of bike there is probably a guide for assembling/disassembling it on youtube if you don’t know how!  Since tools can’t be brought as carry-ons, I put bike tools, pedals and any screws/bolts in a ziplock bag, and tape them to the inside of the bike box.  And tape up the bike box well with duct tape.  Also, might as well pack some tape in your luggage for the return trip.

Is it worth bringing your own bike vs. renting one?  Well, how attached are you to your bike?  I’m incredibly attached!  I love my bike and don’t have much experience riding other bikes.  If I’m going to ride long distances in a bike, I would rather it be one I’m super familiar with.  Also I get really attached to things and Peppermint Patty is something of a best friend!  I want her to see the world, too.  I’ve personally had bad experiences with rentals, so for me, if I am going to be riding it more than a week, and riding long distances, it is absolutely worth the hassle, which is not so much a hassle as a logistical puzzle that I find fun!

Will it cost anything to bring it on a plane?  You can check it in as oversized luggage, and in some cases, (Scandinavian Airlines for instance) the airline requests to know in advance that you’re checking in a bike.  Airline websites vary how much they say they’ll charge for bikes, but often, if you pack light and only have a backpack besides your bike (which I do!) the staff will just wave off the bike as your checked in luggage and not charge.  (Thank you airline staff!  You’re so sweet!)

I’d love to hear about other people’s tips getting bikes to another country if they have any!


What to do when you land

If you’ve packed your bike, after you pick it up from oversized luggage, the best thing to do next next depends on how far you are from your final destination, whether public transport allows bikes or bikes in boxes, and whether your final destination has a bike-friendly route.  Airports are usually far from city center, and most public transportation is more friendly towards boxed than unboxed bikes, so I find myself most often dragging my bike box to the nearest public transport station, riding public transport a reasonable distance into town, getting off and assembling my bike at the station, and riding the bike to my lodging.  As an aside, it’s kind of amazing what being in a slightly precarious situation can show you about the country you’re visiting.  While dragging my bike, I’ve never not had super kind people offering to help me.  That said, it’s still important to me for my plan to be self-sufficient– I would never plan on getting help on anything and would make sure that I could carry out my entire plan without help in the worst case, but I’ve never had to.

Find an empty space to cut open your box and put your bike back together!  The great thing about large train stations is that you have so much privacy!  People are so busy going on about their busy daily lives they do that they’ll ignore you for the most part (which I bring up because the first time I assembled my bike in a train station I felt suuuper self conscious about it.  But for naught.)  Some random strangers might come along and be really nice and point out that you’ve accidentally installed a part backwards (this has happened) or run up to you with wet wipes when they see your grease-covered hands, telling you that they’ve noticed you’ve been working so hard (this has also happened)!

Check the pressure in your tires, and ride off!  There’s an indescribably amazing feeling from landing and immediately assembling your bike and riding off to explore this brand new city on it!


Reasons to bike in a foreign country (whether you rent or bring!)

Taking public transport is fun, but on a bike you’ll get to see so much more above ground (compared to a subway) and not behind a window (compared to a bus or train)!

You can stop whenever to take pictures!

You’ll feel so much safer traveling around at night and you don’t have to worry about the last train/bus/subway of the night.

If you get lost super easily like I do, it’s comforting to be able to get back on track faster and have wasted less time than if you walked the wrong way.

Instant fun!  Pick a random direction to go riding and you’re bound to see something interesting.  Minimum planning required!

Feel like not a tourist!

Day/multiple day trips to the countryside

This also all of course depends on what foreign country, and I have only experience bringing my bike to Europe.  I would like to take biking trips in Korean and Japan some time though!

I’ll write more about the logistics of international bike camping next time!

Posted by amy on Wed 27 Nov n 2013 | No Comments »

Labels: exploring, peppermint patty diaries, travels

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This year for Halloween, I dressed up as Bee from Bee and Puppycat, completely with handsewn puppycat!

Also, great news!!  The bee and puppycat kickstarter got funded and there will be new episodes!!!

Posted by amy on Thu 07 Nov n 2013 | No Comments »

Labels: art, fashion, photos

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