January 27, 2016


Lunch Valentina D 1 Lunch Valentina D 2

how to eat more fish

Another round of food pictures. Most of these things I ate in Barcelona back in November... Every day it seems I ate some kind of fish. Not a bad deal, you know, since I'm a pescatarian. A salad with teriyaki salmon and asparagus, a salad with persimmon, tuna and dried cranberries, a delicious lemon-feta salad that takes me back to when I was a child in California, and that little round blob of purple (thanks iphone) is actually octopus – pulpo a la gallega – which is my favorite thing ever, really. Then the unmistakable patatas bravas with a gigantic plate of all the different tapas 'salads'. Finally lightly fried seafood at a great little place in Barcelona (the name escapes me).

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The other day, we had some defrosted salmon that we needed to use up before it went bad and I did my usual kitchen dance where I looked up a few recipes, wrote the main things down and then did something completely different. We live near a few amazing asian markets, so I keep going to the store and getting more kitchen staples. The other day I bought some lemongrass, chili, tamarind concentrate, red curry paste, coconut milk... I thought we had soy sauce but it seems we don't so I guess another trip to the asian store is in order (yay!!!). I left the salmon marinating and prepared a huge batch of thai peanut sauce. Full can of peanut butter, full can of coconut milk... oh man guys, it is so addictive and so damn delicious! I then cooked some veggies – courgette, onion and red pepper – to put on the side and served the salmon on a bed of lettuce. We used peanut sauce as the dressing. It turned out pretty great seeing as I had no idea what my next move was the whole time.

Yesterday we went to the very end of the market, around 2pm. All the vendors are packing up and just trying to get rid of everything they have. They'll sell crates of fruit for 50 cents or 1 euro. We got about 2 kilos of very, very, very ripe bananas (which is the best thing to use for my sugarless banana cake) for 50 cents. Peter got a box of tomatoes for 1 euro but then saw another vendor selling an even bigger box for the same and felt slightly cheated. It is a bit funny though to feel cheated at that time, seeing as the box probably would have been twice or three times the price a few hours earlier. Really, we were super lucky. For less than 8 euro, Peter and I went back to the loft with a box of apples, a box of tomatoes, two aubergines, two courgettes, a head of cauliflower, a head of broccoli, two kilos of bananas, a pear, two pomegranates, a box of red peppers and probably a couple things I'm forgetting. Ha! I love it. I can't wait to go again on friday. I'm definitely making loads of sugarless banana bread and apple compote and apple cake and smoothies – so many smoooothies!

What else can I do with my two kilos of bananas? ideas, guys? 

January 24, 2016


Xmas Cali 17

how to become a vegetarian

Not too long ago (October) I decided to become a pescatarian. It's hard to explain sometimes (why pescatarian instead of vegetarian, or to people who just aren't accustomed to meeting that many non-meat eaters), but I wrote about the transition here. Yesterday I was with some people I just met, and we talked about how sometimes vegans/vegetarians can be too judgmental and pushy and downright mean. It's like religion, you want to respect it but you don't want people trying to pull you into anything. This said, it's always great to learn about it. It, everything. The more you know, the better you understand the world. Should you want to become a vegetarian, now that's up to you. After watching some documentaries and listening to some podcasts and reading some books, well, it all just clicked for me. But again, I'm a pescatarian. Here are some links I hope you will check out and enjoy. If you've found some good articles, feel free to share them with me too!

Food for Thought

zen habits: why become a vegetarian?

the evolution of vegetarianism

ocean conservancy share the deadliest trash in the ocean

things that might happen to your body if you cut out meat

49 reasons to consider becoming a vegetarian

or even vegan, if you are so inclined

history of vegetarianism in the U.S


post punk kitchen website

homemade oat drink

homemade almond drink

vegan pumpkin spice latte

sunflower seed butter

a book on non-dairy cuisine

vegan mozzarella whaaat

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January 21, 2016


read books

I wish I could sit down and read a book for three hours. 

I have an image of myself when I was twelve. It is such a clear memory. I remember the bed under the window, and getting all this wonderful natural light in the afternoon; I remember the pink sheets and the silence. I would get home from school to an empty apartment and lay on my bed and read. Read, read, read until it was time for dinner, or homework. And I could get into any book, like a sort of meditation. I could finish a book in a week, sometimes a couple days. One time I started a book at 11pm and stayed up until 7am to finish it. These days I only pick up my bedside book at 11:30pm and after two sentences I am fast asleep. This, of course, is done after I've checked instagram, and maybe twitter, and hey, who knows, maybe I got an email. I read this article and see that I am not alone.

Maybe we are a generation of addicts. 

Addicted to television. Addicted to the internet. Most days, my computer is open. I am either on the computer, or doing something else while I... a) watch a tv show, b) listen to a podcast, or c) listen to music. But I'm not an addict! What about the times I go up to our farm in Colombia? We don't have internet up on the farm. And I don't ever miss it. Not while I am there. But at home? It's weird to not have the computer open. Cleaning my room in silence? "But I could be listening to This American Life right now!" So there's that. 

When is the last time I didn't have a to-do list?

I am always busy. Even when I'm wasting time on the internet, clicking link after link, going down the dark never-ending rabbit hole that is the internet, I am busy. But I'm engaged enough that I can forget about all the things I want/need to do. But god forbid I sit down with a book at 3PM in the afternoon. Who do you think you are, the queen of the world? Get back to that to-do list right now. When I want to read, I remember all the little things I'd like to do. And the weird part is that somehow, they don't really ever get done. 

All I want is less. I want to be on the internet less (she says while writing a blog post on the internet). I want to be less busy. Is this going to be that hard? How do you guys do it?

Latest books I've actually been able to finish: Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, Sugar Nation by Jeff O'Connell.

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January 19, 2016


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There seems to be an order to these pictures... I don't remember copying them chronologically but I guess I did. The first few (quite a few, really) are from my time in Ireland in November. Then the last five or so are from Christmas in Colombia. Two very different climates. I remember that one night in Cali, when it was boiling hot and I couldn't sleep. I couldn't even wear pjs I was so uncomfortably warm, and I couldn't take off my skin. I had a bottle of water at my bedside table and packs of ice on my body, rotating position until melted. 

I have the memory but I cannot feel it in the slightest. I cannot because Paris weather today – January 19th 2016 for the records of really really really annoying weather in France – is damn cold. My body is fighting the tingling and literal pain of the biting chill of winter. My gloves (that I wear inside the loft as well as out) are incredibly useless. I look at people with no hat and judge them from a distance. I also wear hats indoors. What is going on? I cannot get a single thing done. It's as if I was put in an icebox and lulled to sleep. Every inch of me hibernating until spring. Especially the tips of my fingers. They feel constantly raw and frostbit-y. How can I play guitar like so! 

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Paris, Paris, Paris... How funny to be talking about Paris when not one of these pictures relates. Well, Ireland then. The weather was just as dreadful over there. And again, to go back to my body not physically remembering the weather in which it is not... Right before going to Ireland, I was in Colombia for a month. And the weather at the beginning of November was particularly good in Paris. So when I came back from Colombia, and packed for a week in Barcelona and a month in Dublin, I couldn't physically remember winter weather. The intensity of it, the need for layers, nothing. I can't explain why I thought taking a trench coat to Dublin would suffice, but I guess that's just it: I didn't think. So off I went to Paris with a trench coat. And once I arrived, I went for a week without a real coat. Then, I was at the Dublin flea market with my friend Massi and we said Enough is enough! and decided to find me something – anything – to cover me up. Now Massi, like myself, isn't too fond of shopping so I felt a bit of pressure. By this, I mean I bought the first faux-fur I tried on. With the gentle help from Massi: "Yes, yes, it looks great, darling. It fits, buy it! Just buy it!" You can see it in the photo above. It's actually quite lovely, even though the shoulders might be a bit broad. It makes me feel glamorous, like. And hell, it kept me relatively warm... though nothing keeps me warm in the winter, so let me put it this way: it made me feel less not-freezing. 

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But if we move onto Colombia... oh Colombia, and the equally lazy qualities of the heat. If I can't get anything done in the cold, I really can't get anything done in the heat. It's all about extremes, man. I can't deal with the extremes! 

This always makes me think of those "would you rather" situational questions. For some reason, I always ask myself "would you rather weather that is too cold or too hot?" and in the past I always have said that at least you can pile on the layers when it is cold, and you can't get naked or rip off your skin when it's too hot. But it's an impossible question. If it's too cold, and you pile on the layers, you can hardly get a thing done. Look at me, I have spent countless hours under the covers over the past few days back in Paris. 

What I now realize is that even after asking myself this question for the millionth time – in Colombia, not two weeks ago, I was convinced extreme cold was better than the unbearable heat – I will never find the answer... and it's ok. Nobody is ever going to force me to be in one or the other. So why do I continuously torture myself over this silly question! Oh Val, you fool. 

So here we are, folks. This was my first post back in Paris. As for traveling, all I know is Colombia is planned for July so I can attend my mother's wedding [insert image of me jumping up and down with excitement]. 

I hope you're having a great week. 

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January 15, 2016


Xmas Cali 1 Xmas Cali 2

I wanted to share some pictures from my recent trip to Colombia! Pictures of dogs, and then some other stuff too. I got back to Paris last night and what do I see on FB this morning but an article about Colombia being the #1 happiest country on earth haha! It's true – Colombia is magical. Oh and hey, I know I have many pet peeves (whistling, people who chew too loudly, poking me, when people "jokingly" ask me why I'm so angry when I'm not smiling – I was fine, like, but now you made me angry, and worst of all when we are at a red light and the driver does that thing where he puts his foot on the break again and again so the car moves to that rhythm, you know that one? I have never said anything because it's such a strange thing to get angry about but it drives me insane) but let's just add another one to the list... So guys, I am Colombian. From Colombia. COLOMBIA not "Columbia"! I swear to God. Phew, ok rant over.

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One tradition is to go to my uncle's farm and make manjar blanco and natilla from scratch. It takes hours and hours but the whole family gets together and there's dancing and food and fun. Oh and dogs. Always dogs. This time around there were five little puppies that all the kids (and I) played with the whole afternoon. 

I also spent a few days at our farm in the mountains. I did some gardening and played with the dogs. The first night, my cousin and I were sitting by the fire, talking and having a grand time, when all of a sudden his eyes went wide with noticeable fear. He smiled and and laughed and in a seemingly calm voice said: "Don't be scared but..." and I jumped up knowing exactly what it was. My fear of spiders is known. This was a fucking tarantula that was crawling not 10 inches from my legs. I won't go on about it though. It was a horrific two minutes. It is dead now. 

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My puppy Scott is doing really well. He's happy and loving and such friendly dog. He has a little skin condition that hasn't gotten better yet. You can see it in these two pictures, some of his hair has fallen off. Poor little puppy! But it doesn't seem to bother him. He eats and drinks well and plays around with Sargento all the time. He makes me happy. 

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Meeting new family members! This is Matias, my cousin's three month old son (with my cousin and his daughter). Like me, Matias was also born in California. I like that we have that in common... He was sleeping in this picture, but he is such a happy baby. 

It was so great to be with the family again. I won't be back for quite a few months now, and I have some excitement ahead of me here in Paris, but honestly, time is going to fly by and before I know it, I'll be on a plane back to warm Cali...

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January 12, 2016


2016 Instagram Val D 1
best pictures of instagram
These past few weeks in Colombia just FLEW by! It started with a very, very, very early flight to Madrid on December 22. Ok, so the flight was at 8:30am but I always need to be at the airport early. I get anxiety over there being traffic or something. Plus I always sleep horribly the night before a morning flight. Like, what if I don't hear one of the 5 alarms I set? What if my mom forgets to call me? (6th alarm) What if my iphone stops working? So I have nightmares over missing flights, and wake up every half hour. I made it to the airport after a 70 euro taxi ride (GULP. WTF) and I was obviously one of the first to arrive. I walked around the small area where my gate was. I ate half of the bagel breakfast sandwich I made. I read. I listened to podcasts. I yearned to do some squats and planks, something physical, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, fearing the weird looks I would get. I made it to Madrid where I walked 10000 steps (hell yeah, 10000 steps of the day, man) during my 5 hour layover. I looked for something to buy for lunch. I looked for something that was high in protein and low in carbs and cheap-ish (because 70 euro taxi ride) but everything was expensive and had bread. So smoked salmon with cream cheese and capers on focaccia was my final choice. It was a good one. I was really hungry.

After some more long walks, two water bottle refills (still in love with my Smith College water bottle), three trips to the bathroom, four episodes of This American Life, RadioLab, Reply All and Here's the Thing, I'm finally on board to Cali... After some movies and really bad airplane food, hello Colombiaaaa. 

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Most of these instagram pictures are rather old. Some from September in Paris and Ireland, some from October in Colombia, some from November in Dublin and Barcelona, some from the past week. I've definitely had the most amazingly adventurous time these past few months. 

Christmas in Colombia is family time. Everyone gets together at my grandmother's house and we open our secret santa gifts (the little kids open all the presents) on December 24, in the evening. One or two people are in charge of handing out presents, one by one, each family member getting three chances to guess their secret santa. It's always a mess. I was that person last year and it was a stressful job to say the least. This year, I had another stressful job – I did all the cooking – but once we were all together, I was able to relax. 

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This year, my cousin Luisfer was my secret santa and he got me just what I asked for... a giftcard to the most amazing japanese restaurant in Cali (and one of the best I've ever tried), Sansai! We finally went on Saturday evening. I originally imagined just two or three of us going for a quiet meal, but we ended up calling up my other cousins and we were eight! My giftcard did not cover all of us haha. 
My mom got me a lovely present too (as moms usually do) even though she's given me more than enough. She gave me a beautiful emerald necklace. It's so beautiful! She knows me well, I love emeralds. 
Christmas in Colombia is strange. I always imagine Christmas as ho-ho-ho Santa, snow, eggnog and mulled wine. Warm nights by the fire. Heavy meals. Leggings and coats and boots. But not in Cali! You don't wake up on December 25 to unwrap the presents santa left you. You don't wear anything furry or drink anything warm. It's hot in Cali. And lately it's been getting even hotter. So it's like a summer Christmas, and it feels weird. But I like being with the fam. 

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Now I'm in Madrid again. And I walked over 11000 steps this time because of the (stupid) 5 hour layover. The flight from Cali to Madrid was pretty bumpy at times and I was more anxious than usual. At one point I fell asleep while watching a movie and then I suddenly heard a fire alarm. Loud. Obnoxious. Like the ones at Smith whenever there was a drill. I jumped in my seat and my heart starting pounding SO FAST. I took my earphones out and realized the alarm was in the movie. JESUS CHRIST. I didn't recover from the scare for an hour. Then I had dreams about landing after some rough turbulence. And then in the dream, I "woke up" and realized I was still on the plane, so I was disappointed. But then we landed again. And then I actually woke up and there were 4 hours left. So yeah, that felt cruel. 

But tonight I'll be back in Paris. Starting a new adventure... See you soon on the other side. 

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