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August 2015

Monthly Inspirations

1. Moon Pebbles 
I visited my family in Buffalo, NY and we went to a small pebble beach on Lake Erie. The pebbles all came from a nearby quarry and were completely smoothed by the waves, with magical colors: blood red, tiger striped, translucent flecked. We celebrated the blue moon by collecting a special stone and letting it soak up the moonlight overnight and the morning sun. I carry this stone with me in my purse as a good luck charm. 
2. Ning Chi Old Beijing Bean Sauce
I bought this in NY Chinatown because the jar was so pretty. In this case, judging a book (Or jar of bean sauce) by its cover worked. This stuff is TASTY. Earthy, umami, a hint of sweetness and heat. I am obsessed with it now. I use it to make a Sichuan meat sauce for noodles and veggies. It tastes kind of like a magical, complex, fermented version of pasta bolognese. 
Here is my formula for knock-your-socks-off fried bean/meat sauce: 
Fry some ginger medallions in hot oil. Add ground meat marinated with white pepper and potato/corn starch and a generous splash of Chinese cooking wine. (Garlic is yummy but optional.) 
Add dried chilis and a generous spoonful of dried shrimp, fry for a few minutes
Dollop on the bean sauce, add a splash of soy and a cup of chicken broth. You can also sprinkle some sugar. simmer until the sauce turns thick, glossy and dark- the meat should soak it up. 
3. Photos: Pavel Wolberg Photography
If I am going to be completely honest, I don't remember how I encountered Pavel Wolberg's work. He has a really beautiful website, which can be visited here
I especially love his series REALTY, IDENTITY, ILUSSION. He has a striking sense of composition that feels very natural, not forced at all, as if it just happened by accident. This series consists of photos of scenery and people, both black and white and color. The images are often gritty, not of the highest resolution or most pristine quality. They are intimate and raw and make me feel as if I am going on a trip through the photographer's eyes. This is what I feel I am trying to strive for with my street portraits. Deceptive simplicity that imparts a strong sense of presence in one moment. 
4. Music: Gimme a Chance by Azealia Banks
I have been absolutely swept away this month by Azealia Banks. I didn't really love her music, and then all of a sudden a switch went off and it's all I can listen to. It vaguely reminds me of Missy Elliott, but it's really it's own thing completely. She raps at the speed of light and her lyrics are raunchy, sometimes hilarious and extremely witty. Her music makes me feel energetic and invincible, as if I don't need to take life too seriously. She's also from Harlem and spent a lot of her childhood in Washington Heights, two neighborhoods close to my heart!  
Yes, I'm aware she has kind of a strange "battle" going on with social media, especially on twitter. But I don't really care. Her music speaks for itself. You can listen to Gimme a Chance  here. 
5. Danish Mid Century Modern
You know how sometimes you just fantasize: "what if I had the power to replace everything in my house and actually chose a unified style of furniture instead of the crazy mix-match I have now?" Maybe I'm just crazy. 
But anyways, I started to think about this style of furniture while having a redecorating fantasy on a hot, lazy August Sunday. And I really love it. I love its simplicity, elegance and distinctness. I love how it is clean without feeling sterile and that it can involve natural or synthetic materials. Maybe someday I will have a fabulous home filled with Danish mid century modern style furniture. 
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