Brand New Somewhere

Figuring out travel, food, life & exploring Brussels whenever I'm there


Daily Photo 12.08.12: Kittens & Doppelgangers

2012-12-08 Dottie

Dottie in bed

2012-12-08 Gilbert + Adrian

Gilbert + Adrian at the Santa’s Whiskey Workshop party

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Much Belated Picture Notes from BlogHer 12 – Day 1

So, I attended BlogHer 2012 Friday and Saturday, August 3rd – 4th. For those folks who’ve never heard of it, BlogHer is a blogging conference centered around women bloggers and was created by the online blogging community / site of the same name. A majority of the attendees are mom bloggers, some are activist bloggers. Some are travel bloggers, photo bloggers, fashion bloggers or are blogging for mental health reasons. Some are sexy sex bloggers. And, some are folks who just like to write to get their thoughts out of their heads. I fall into the last category. There really is something for everyone especially considering the mini-workshops they hold as well. Here are a few pros and cons of attending:



  • I missed the iPhoneography session but the live blog of it lives here.
  • It felt like more advanced sessions were needed, especially about pricing one’s services. I would have preferred to hear concrete numbers instead of, “price what you’re worth”.
  • There were a lot of brands there but I mostly ignored them as they were in the Expo area.
  • Some of the panelists hogged the mic or the panel moderators didn’t moderate (the over talking panelists or the audience).
  • I would love to see more actual sessions focused on the craft of writing and not necessarily relegated to short 45 minute workshops.
  • The Geek Bar and Writing Workshops should have more than 6 spots available per workshop/mini-session. In a conference with almost 5,000 attendees, only about 200 – 300 available spots over two days seems insane.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be pouring over the BlogHer ’12 Virtual Conference section. In there, you’ll find live blogs, video, audio and photos of any sessions you/I may have missed, especially if you couldn’t make it NYC this year.

If you’re looking for a reason to go, I highly recommend it, especially if you are just going to learn or meet up with people you know online. Next year BlogHer 2013 will be in Chicago July 25th – 27th. On to the Day 1 photos; the Sparklecorn 2012 Party shots will be in another photo post later tomorrow…

The creepy Lorax guy.

A Lorax...or something.

The woman in the Kikkoman bottle. I asked my (Indian) coworker if I should be slightly hilariously offended they picked a brown woman to be in a brown bottle costume. Laughing ensued.

The poor Kikkoman bottle lady.

Jamba Juice guy knows how to get down.

The Jamba Juice banana in full effect.

Oh, Martha Stewart, I heart you. (from the lunchtime keynote)

Oh @MarthaStewart, I heart you #BlogHer12

If you want Martha Stewart’s elves to consider to be featured on the site, tweet her with this hashtag below or email them. 

If you want Martha Stewart & her magic elves to consider featuring you...

Panel for Strategic Content Development Across Multiple Media: Onstage, Onscreen, and Online

Issa Rae of @awkwardblkgrl, Franchesca Ramsey @chescaleigh of Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls, @Luvvie & @DrGoddess #BlogHer12

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Kimberley Avenue in Peckham, London

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London in June 2012 – Day 3: Toddling around Peckham – English Breakfast and Galway Oysters

Missed the previous two posts in this series?  Catch up on Day 1 and Day 2.

Our last day in London was a gorgeous and temperate Saturday after all the humidity during the two previous days. After lounging in bed listening to BBC and their funny  myriad of accents for a few hours, we finally rose and decided on breakfast. Gilbert and Ev wanted to show me a proper cheap English breakfast at their favourite old diner, The Crossways Cafe. It’s one of those places where you get greasy food to soak up the drunk after a long night. My own plate cost £5, I think and it tasted like it cost about £1.50 to make it, including labour. Thankfully, they didn’t bother with the fried tomato. That said, I could see myself going there every couple of weeks for novelty reasons. We all need greasy diner food in our lives; it’s comfort food especially when paired with memories. It’s like the love that’s bad for you that just keeps on loving you anyway. Let the heart burn begin…

Fried egg, (cold canned) beans, hash browns (under the egg), black sausage, regular sausage and bacon so salty it squeaked. Oh, and that sausage was bready. 

Ohhh, a painful attempt at English breakfast at The Crossways Cafe

Ev had eggs, chips and (unintentionally) mushy green peas.

Ev had eggs, chips and (unintentionally) mushy green peas.

Gilbert had fried hash browns, beans, eggs and a side of cardiac arrest

The Crossways Cafe - Gilbert had fried hash browns, canned beans, eggs and a side of cardiac arrest

The Crossways Cafe in Peckham, London. Delightfully greasy.

The Crossways Cafe in Peckham, London. Delightfully greasy.

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Traveling / Changing Bag at Sophia & Matt in Greenwich, London

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London in June 2012 – Day 2: Teaching at General Assembly, Shopping at Sophia & Matt and Peckham

Now, on to Day 2 with more interesting tidbits such as shopping in Greenwich and wandering around Peckham…

Teaching at General Assembly, London

My core purpose for going to London end of June was to teach two courses at General Assembly London, a tech-incubator and knowledge space. They’re located down on Back Hill Rd in the Clerkenwell section of London.

Students at my UX Basics Workshop at General Assembly London

06.29.12 Students at my UX Basics Workshop at General Assembly London

The Bank of group

Bank of America group - 06.29.12 Students at my UX Basics Workshop at General Assembly London

Bank of America group's features list - 06.29.12 Students at my UX Basics Workshop at General Assembly London

Shopping in Greenwich, London at Sophia & Matt

After wrapping up the course at General Assembly, we headed back to our hotel over in Greenwich and stopped by a curious store I spotted the previous night. The store is called Sophia & Matt and I fell in love with absolutely everything in it and wanted to buy it all. Really. Their origin story is a great one, as told by their lovely shop attendant. The two started making the bags all by hand and selling them in the stalls of the famed Greenwich Market. More about them and my bag lust after the jump…

Love this travel/changing bag at Sophia & Matt’s in Greenwich, London. Only £85! Tell them how you’ll use it and they’ll thrown in a free interior bag.

Love this travel/changing bag at Sophia & Matt's in Greenwich, London. Only £85!

Pencil cases at Sophia & Matt in Greenwich, London

The company story on the wall at Sophia & Matt in Greenwich, London

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Just a heads up: I’m playing catch up.

I let this blog stay dormant for the last 9 months especially during my Fall 2011 trip to Europe for a few months. I’m in the process of creating new posts for my recent June/July trip to London and Brussels. After that, I’ll start creating new posts for all my photos from last Summer and Fall. After all, it’s been almost a year since I left last September. In the meantime, please browse around and click through to my Flickr feed or Twitter page on the sidebar.

Also, let me know if the advertising is slightly off-putting. This is currently hosted on and am open to eventually switching to a self-hosted instance. Thanks, folks.

London in June 2012 - Day 1...DIAMONDS.


London in June 2012 – Day 1: Arriving in London & The Barbican Centre

So far, this has been my second trip to Europe this year. My earlier trip was in February to visit my other long distance half in Brussels, Belgium. By the way, the lovely man’s name is Gilbert. Yes, Gilbert. It fits him well. This late June/early July trip had two reasons: to once again visit for Gilbert’s birthday on July 5th and to teach two courses at General Assembly in London. General Assembly is a sort of tech incubator space that started in NYC and has so far spread to San Francisco, London and Berlin (opening in September 2012). The two courses I taught at GA London were a Basic Branding course and a UX (user experience) Basics Workshop.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to head to London again for the first time since August 2002, so almost 10 years later. The last time, a few friends and I stayed for about a day and a a half in Whitechapel before heading off to Lisbon and to do a road trip through Spain. This time around I had Gilbert with me to show me around his old haunts since he lived there for 13 years after finishing university.

So yeah, the trip. I first flew into Brussels via a layover in London’s Heathrow airport. Don’t get me started on the irony of having to return less than 24 hours later, really. When searching for flights, I considered flying directly into LHR but the time wasted of getting the Eurostart to and from Brussels on each end of the trip would have cut into our time together.

I touched down in Brussels late afternoon, June 27 from JFK, had dinner, slept and then we were off on the Eurostar train the next morning to London. The tickets cost about £190 total, roundtrip but that’s because we got them a little late. With some more planning and flexibility, we could get them for about £200 total. The exchange rate at the time was 1.5 dollars to a pound. So, £190 ≈ $285. The ride itself is extremely quick from Brussels’ Gare du Midi station to London’s St. Pancras train station at about 2 hours.

Below are a few highlights from the first Day or so of the trip, at JFK, in Brussels and in London the first night.

Photographing travelers and the sunset, while waiting for the Airtrain at JFK.

Photographing travelers and the sunset, while waiting for the Airtrain at JFK.

Dinner upon arriving in Brussels: Hanger steak with shallots braised in wine for hours at Le Saint-Hubert in Schaerbeek

Hanger steak with shallots braised in wine for hours at Le Saint-Hubert in Schaerbeek

The Queen doesn’t play. She lets you know she has way more money than you…DIAMONDS.

The Queen doesn't play. She lets you know...DIAMONDS.

After teaching the Branding course at General Assembly, Gilbert took me walking around The Barbican Centre, which is a theatre and arts complex equivalent to New York City’s Lincoln Centre.

It was about 7pm and the light was gorgeous everywhere.

Sunset at The Barbican Centre, London

Gilbert and me being silly, of course. 

Gilbert and me at The Barbican Centre, London, UK

More after the jump…

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Organic & Seasonal Food Shopping in Brussels: Market at Place Sainte-Catherine

Within the weekend of landing back in Brussels at the end of September, I immediately sought out a farmers market to stock up on food for the week. Cooking roots me down in a place, making it feel like home. Last week I visited the organic market at Les Atelier des Tanneurs. A post on my goodies will come up later this evening including ridiculously delicious yet inexpensive olive oil.

This week, I’m skipping over to the organic farmers market only a few blocks from where I’m staying. Thankfully an acquaintance I met at dinner last Friday night clued me into it. The market is located at Place Ste. Catherine, an old cathedral that borders the area called The Fishmarket. Location and details are at the bottom of this post.

The second issue I finally tackled was actually looking up food is seasonal in Brussels in October. Finding the answer was surprisingly easy as the very first entry in my Google search was to a site called which calls itself  “An English guide to a sustainable lifestyle in Brussels”. I’m sold. The seasonal produce entry is from March 2011 and is excitingly extensive. There’s even a downloadable PDF English Guide to Seasonal and Local Produce by tebiki that I’m going to put on my phone before venturing out.

Downloadable PDF of English Guide to Seasonal and Local Produce by tebiki

So What’s Seasonal in Brussels in October?

According to Tebiki’s guide, damn near everything. I’m craving eggplant and tomato-based dishes, so I’ll grab some of each while at the market. Mushrooms, chicory, endive, kohlrabi, horseradish, zucchini and a host of other vegetables are also fresh right now. I’ll probably pick up some mushrooms and one other vegetable I’ve never used before to try this week. I still have a bunch of leeks left over from last week and am thinking about making a leek and onion tart with some puff pastry. Supposedly there are meat and vendors at the market as well, so I’m looking forward to getting some of those delights too.

I have €36.50 in cash with me but would like to spend only €20.00 max. In American dollars, €20.00 ≈ $30.00 (I use 1.50 as the exchange rate after you count fees, etc). What do you think I could make?

English Guide to Seasonal and Local Produce by tebiki

Info for Market at Place Sainte-Catherine

Place Sainte-Catherine
All year round (Only on: Wednesday) – Wednesday : 07:30-15:00
MAPS: Google Maps

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Working on the balcony in Brussels with my laptop. Thank you please.

Working on the balcony in Brussels with my laptop. Thank you please | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

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Ugh, please don’t tell me I’m getting sick just when I got to Lisbon, Portugal.

The view outside my window on Rua do Boavista, Lisboa, Portugal

The view outside my window on Rua do Boavista, Lisboa, Portugal

This is absolutely one of my favourite cities in the world and I’m glad I’m back. However, I think all the gorging I did in Paris with very little vegetable intake is coming back to haunt me. That and stress recovery. Time to switch back to constant vegetables, fruits, fish and breathing in some salty Atlantic Ocean air at the beach to cure me of this.