art

Art Auction: Art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas

I hadn’t recently posted about any auctions (partially because I’ve been working on a juicy post all about auctions just for you all!) but I came across this one and I had to share.

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Some of the lots offered at Sotheby’s upcoming auction

Sotheby’s is auctioning off some extraordinary art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas (specifically, ancient Mesoamerica and North America). These lots are not just decorative objects: they are ancient artifacts that bridge the collector to faraway (both in the sense of time and distance) worlds.

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This totem pole from southeast Alaska is estimated to command up to $350,000 at auction

The auction features 90 lots, expected to fetch from $2,000 on the lower end to upwards of $350,000. This wide range of estimated selling prices guarantees that this auction will attract a variety of collectors.

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 A Maori nephrite pendant is estimated to command a price upwards of $50,000

My favorite piece of the auction is the Yoruba Altar Emblem from Nigeria. It isn’t the most expensive piece of this auction, but the colorful detailing, as well as the connection to the orishas, fascinates me.

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Yoruba Altar Emblem for Oko, Nigeria

The event will be held on May 14 at 10:30 AM, at Sotheby’s New York location (1334 York Avenue, New York, NY). All items can be viewed prior to the sale (10 AM to 5 PM Monday – Saturday, 1 PM to 5 PM on Sunday) so that you can experience these artifacts in person.

art · international

That One Time in Beijing . . .

I mentioned my China travels in passing since I’ve had this blog, but since it’s almost the two year anniversary of that trip, I wanted to take a stroll down memory lane.

In Spring 2016, I spent two weeks doing a tour of China as a graduation gift to myself. I visited Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. I fell head over heels for Hangzhou: I loved idyllic West Lake and all of the luxury experiences you could have in the city. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Beijing or Shanghai: I loved them, too! But there was something so tranquil about Hangzhou: it was a relaxing location.

Anyhoo, Beijing was full of history (yes, I visited the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City) and I enjoyed touring around and going to different shopping “hubs” here and there. Shanghai is great for shopping and had a fast-paced city feel that I found thrilling.

Here are some of my favorite photos from my China adventure. I can’t wait to return!

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Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

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The Great Wall of China

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Beijing National Stadium

Hangzhou

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West Lake – Lin Ying Temple and Buddha statues

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Hefang Old Street

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Tea plantation (I bought longjing tea there)

Shanghai

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culture · international · music

A Little Something for International Dance Day

Happy Sunday friends! It’s been a while since I posted videos about music or dance, so it’s only fitting that I share something with you all for International Dance Day!

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I’m adding some videos demonstrating traditional African dances from several countries. I’ve discussed kizomba before, but Africa is a tremendously diverse continent and every country has something different to offer when it comes to dance. Here’s just a taste of African dance:

Angolan Kizomba and Semba: this mashup of clips gives you a glimpse into traditional Angolan dance. Fun, exuberant and flirty: what’s not to love?

Ethiopian/Eritrean Eskista: I don’t know what I love most about this video – the gorgeous hair, the joyful expressions or the fact that this reminds me of something that my friends and I would do when we get together. They’re not professionals, but they’re having fun!

Burundian/Rwandan Umushagiriro/Umushayayo: this is so graceful and elegant. I want to learn the dance and wear the traditional outfits daily. This dance is breathtakingly beautiful.

And just for fun, Ivorian Zaouli: this dance has been made into countless memes, but the truth is, it takes a LOT of stamina to do this. Enjoy!

What is your favorite international dance? Let me know in the comments below!

food · international

Review: Absolute Thai Restaurant

A few days ago, I went out for lunch because, well, I needed a break from the office LOL! I decided to try Absolute Thai restaurant (which is different from Absolute Noodle, which I’ve reviewed previously). I figured I would treat myself, since I hadn’t gone there in years and I remember that I enjoyed their food before.

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The restaurant is conveniently located right behind the Verizon Center, at the corner of 6th and G Streets NW. It’s a 3 minute walk from the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop to the restaurant’s front door. Like many of the restaurant in this area, there isn’t a lot of interior space but the restaurant does a good job of maximizing what’s there.

The first issue was the time it took to be acknowledged by the staff. I waited at the door for at least 3 or more minutes while 3 waitstaff members were milling around and not looking toward the door. 3 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, except standard restaurant procedure is to acknowledge guests within 30 seconds of arrival (that’s why most restaurants have a designated host/ess that spends the majority of the time at the door). The hostess was nowhere to be seen during the 12 o’clock hour (crazy, right?) I received no assurance that I would be helped momentarily, nor any other acknowledgement. I wasn’t acknowledged until two gentlemen arrived and, as they waited behind me, the staff must have assumed that we were all together, and then someone spoke to us.

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Gilded artwork in the restaurant

I ordered the Thai tea lemonade (basically, a Thai version of the Arnold Palmer or, if you’re from DC, a half-and-half),  tom yum goong soup and the “Jungle” entree, a mix of bamboo, eggplant, peppers, basil and green beans. I asked to reduce the heat of the entree from the standard “hot” level to “medium”.

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My yummy Thai tea lemonade

My tea lemonade arrived quickly. It was a little sweeter than I expected, but very good. Kudos to the restaurant for adding a moderate amount of ice – I really feel like I got a lot for the cost. The beverage was ample and tasty.

I then got my soup. It looked a little creamier than I anticipated, so I tasted it. I order tom yum but the server delivered tom kha (a coconut based soup). I actually like tom kha but I’m unable to eat a full-sized bowl because the coconut milk is a bit too rich for me. It took a moment, but the server returned and when I pointed out the error, she was pleasant and immediately returned it to the kitchen. My new soup arrived several minutes later, and it didn’t disappoint.

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The Jungle entree: this is where things started going downhill

Next was my entree which, I’ll admit, is when I realized that I may have to give my first negative restaurant review (I know, I’m shocked that I have to do it, too). The dish was far too spicy to be “medium”. I’ve eaten Thai food regularly for about 15 years, and I’ve eaten at a variety of Thai restaurants – including this one in the past! – so I have a good handle on spice levels. This dish had not been adjusted to medium-spicy level. When I pointed this out to the server, she didn’t seem to comprehend what I was saying, though she repeated my order back to me at the beginning of the meal. I could only take a few bites before I told her that I would take the entree back to my office and rinse off the spice, which is what I did. It was still a little hotter than my normal but at least the heat was tolerable after the rinsing.

Overall, the experience was just okay. The food was good and fresh, and the order arrived in a reasonable amount of time. But the time it took just to have a staff member acknowledge that I was there, and having two big food mistakes in one meal was a bit more than I’m willing to overlook. I don’t think I’ll be returning to Absolute Thai any time soon. After all, there are several other Thai restaurants in the area – and an overall plethora of them in DC – that will get my order correct on the first go round.

festivals · international

It’s Officially Festival Season!

April is such a bittersweet month for me. It’s when spring really starts to kick into gear, and my allergies get assaulted to the nth degree. It’s also still cold and rainy enough to make quite a few days less than ideal.

However, there is a lot to love about April. For starters, it isn’t as cold as the winter months! And, it signals the beginning of festival season in Richmond and DC. And there’s nothing I love more than to be able to pick and choose the festivals that I want to attend!

There are so many festivals that have caught my eye: I’m having a hard time picking a few to mention here. But, as best I can, here are some of the events I look forward to attending during the first two months of this festival season:

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Richmond French Food Festival – Food, wine, music, and supporting a good cause: the French Food Festival has to be one of my favorite hometown events to attend. I went several years ago and enjoyed the dishes, the can-can dancers, and the vendors offering all sorts of delightful objets d’art. This one will be a lot of fun!

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Strawberry and Wine Festival – this festival combines two of my favorite things: wine and strawberries! It’s wholesome fun for the entire family, with treats, music and activities for all. This year will be my first time going, and I’m really excited to experience this festival!

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Passport DC – various embassies in Washington, DC open their doors for a once-a-year event that allows visitors to tour the embassy offices and ambassador residences. I wrote about my visit to the Haitian embassy during Passport DC last year. Visitors can talk to embassy staff and get to experience a slice of the countries participating. This free event draws a lot of people, but if you are willing to brave the crowds, you will be rewarded!

Do you have any festivals that you love to attend? Let me know in the comments below: I’d love to hear about them!

life curation

2018 Goals – An Update

Back in January, I outlined 3 goals that I have for this year. As a point of accountability, I want to share how things have been going with those goals, as well as the next steps to take in the upcoming weeks.

Goal 1: Publish some of my writing

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Technically, this blog is a way of publishing my writing, but I don’t heavily edit anything that goes on here, and I want to have a consolidated work (like a book). I mentioned previously that editing and publishing are tests of my discipline and focus, as I tremendously enjoy getting the thoughts on paper but don’t really enjoying reviewing what I’ve written. Here are the actions I intend to take before the end of the month:

  • Start on the 2nd round of edits for my novel
  • Complete 1st round of edits for my how-to book
  • Purchase a MasterClass membership to get additional writing assistance

Goal 2: More travel

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I’ve done one of my major trips – Nairobi, Kenya – but I’ve been eyeing a short trip to London sometime this summer (this ties into Goal 3). I also have a family cruise planned in October, and maybe (hopefully!) one more London trip in December. I’ve also been taking more roadtrips over the past several months, and next month will have me taking a trip almost every weekend! Anyway, here are the actions I intend to take over the next couple of weeks:

  • Make a decision on my London travel: whether I will do one or two trips this year
  • Start pricing my London and New York airfare and hotel stays
  • Reserve rooms for weekend trips in May

Goal 3: Dabble in an art career

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I’m not an artist, but I aspire to work in the art world, as either a consultant or a curator. I’ve researched a few opportunities to help me get a feel for the museum/auction world, but other than listing out those resources, I haven’t taken any other actions. That stops this month. These are the actions I intend to take in support of my future art career:

  • Reserve my space in the Christie’s course(s) I plan to take in New York this summer
  • Begin another online art course
  • Narrow down the opportunities I’ve listed to those most advantageous for the path I’m pursuing.

That’s all for my 2018 goals update. I’ll try to remember to post again at the beginning of June, to let you all know how much progress I’ve made. Talk to you all soon!

 

food

Recipe: Easy Naan Pizza

Sometimes, when I work from home, I have lunch delivered to me. One of my favorite cuisines to eat is Indian food (but based on my Anokha review, that shouldn’t surprise you!). At the end of my meal, I always find that I have a lot of naan (Indian flatbread) left over.

I adore naan, but I usually can’t eat rice, naan and pappadam (lentil wafers) in one setting: it’s too many carbs and I feel physically uncomfortable after overindulging. Trust me, I’ve done this enough to know the routine. I have to limit it to one carb serving per meal: 1 pappadam and half the rice serving; half the rice and half a piece of naan, or the full serving of rice.

That being said, I hate waste, so I wanted to find a new way to enjoy my naan.

Enter naan pizza.

As it turns out, naan makes an excellent pizza crust. It’s buttery, perfectly suited for pairing with sauces, and reheats beautifully. I sprinkle the leftover naan with a little water (so that it doesn’t dry out during the reheating process) then I make my pizza: I add sauce, cheese and toppings.

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Plain piece of naan bread, cut in half. This is perfectly sized for making two slice of pizza.

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Usually I spread one tablespoon of pizza sauce on half of a piece of naan.

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I then add about 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese (I LOVE cheese!) and a little bit of parmesan mixed in.

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Next, I add the toppings (in this case, mushrooms). I always sprinkle some extra herbs for additional flavor (my Sicilian Bread Dipping blend). Yum!

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I toast the pizza in my toaster oven for 6-8 minutes at 375 degrees, until the cheese is melted in the center. I make sure that the oven was preheated.

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Here is the finished product, with some sprout salad on the side. So tasty!

 

Have any of you ever used naan to make pizzas? Let me know in the comments below!