This girl loves…words.

Emotional words

Emotional words

Lately I’ve been struck by the beauty in the world.  In a world where there is so much ugliness, I feel this is a rare feat.

This search for beauty started when I began taking pictures.  Once started, I couldn’t stop.  I saw beauty in the new bloom of a flower, the red and yellow hues striking against the brown landscape beyond it.  I saw how the lines of an old door made patterns in the wood which had to be captured.  The beauty of the world through the camera lens lent itself to seeing the beauty in other places, books.  No longer was beauty confined to what my eyes could see; it was in the emotions that words would evoke in my mind.

I remember despising reading as a child for there were no pictures.  So much like Alice, was I.  It was not until later in my life, after having a little more life experience under my belt, that I was able to create these pictures, on my own, in my head.

The first experience I can remember having with words was while reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.  Her words touched my soul.  After having lost her father, Francie Nolan cannot even imagine feeling happiness once again, as the man who brought life into her world and made her feel special, was now gone.  Her graduation was fraught with despair as she returned to her classroom to collect her final papers.  Unexpectedly sitting upon her desk were flowers, flowers from a man she knew to be dead.  Eyes welling with tears, I wondered if his death was a cruel joke and that he was actually alive, that the author had not left me in despair.  Alas, he was gone and I, for the first time, cried alongside Francie.

I was only twelve years old, but I understood this loss.  I had felt this loss.  It was at this point when words started to take shape and form.  This was to be the beginning of a lifelong affair with the written word.

As of late, I have been reading and analyzing Shakespeare’s words.  I discovered the beauty of his words after taking a class on medieval literature.  It began with studying Petrarch’s sonnets and ended with Shakespeare’s sonnets.  From there I started to see how the words from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet were truly poetic.

I have found meaning mostly in words having to do with love, loss, and lessons.  As I look back at that twelve-year-old girl reading emotions for the first time, I understand how this thirty-four-year-old woman is consistently struck by words.  In a quote from one of the greatest writers of 21st century, J.K. Rowling, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”  Cheers to all of the lovers of the written word.

 

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This girl loves…eating local.

Local AZ eats

Local AZ eats

About a year ago I read an article in Phoenix Magazine about eating locally.  It provided me with a task that would eventually help me through a difficult emotional time, giving me something unique to discuss over, you guessed it, a meal.

I decided that I needed a healthy task and made it my mission to visit as many locally owned restaurants possible.  The result was a tasty journey through historic and hipster neighborhoods, searching for the perfect bite.  Taking pictures along the way helped fuel this newest passion.

I started with a trip to Postino’s in Arcadia. which then led to dining at Windsor and Federal Pizza.  Postino’s has the best bruschetta board this side of Italy and pairing it with a glass of their finest full-bodied wine makes for an evening not soon forgotten.  Windsor’s hall of cassette tapes provides the most hipster of hip ambiances when you’re eating a burger and drinking a pint of beer.  Federal Pizza just has the best margarita pizza I’ve ever tasted.  The tomatoes are large, juicy, and just the right amount of sweet, complimenting the saltiness of the cheese perfectly.  Pizzeria Bianco and Italian Restaurant also top the list of the greatest little local places for atmosphere, as it feels like you’re being transported to a different place in the world when you dine there.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two great little British pubs I’ve found.  The Rose and Crown, located across the street from Pizzeria Bianco in Copper Square, takes me back to the pubs I frequented in England.  It is as if the hops from the beer have been absorbed into the wood flooring creating the exact smell from The Granta in Cambridge, England.  For the smell factor, The Rose and Crown tops my list of pubs.  The George and Dragon is the pub I choose for watching a proper game of football (for my American friends, soccer).  The camaraderie present during a match, when England is involved, is breathtaking.  High-fiving and cheering alongside my fellow England fans is an experience I look forward to during championships and tournaments.

Next, with breakfast being the most important meal of the day, I’ll mention a few favorite spots of mine.  The first is Matt’s Big Breakfast.  Though they have moved from their original spot, the flavors and level of service have remained top notch.  What I love is that their eggs are cage-free, their meat is grain fed, and the breads are all local.  My favorite thing to eat is their pancakes-so light and fluffy-dipped in fresh maple syrup.  My latest favorite, though, is The Breakfast Club.  The portions are no laughing matter, that’s for sure.  My veggie omelet was filled to capacity with tasty mushrooms and fresh basil.  I left feeling full and completely satisfied for an entire day.

Finally, the search for the perfect bakery has been a personal quest.  One of my good friends makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.  Unfortunately, she lives over 2,000 miles away and tasting one of her cookies is a little pricey-a $200 plane ticket.  Therefore, I’ve had to search high and low for one a little more in my price range.  I was pleased to find Urban Cookies this past weekend.  They were perfectly suited for my particular tastes-crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  My personal favorite was the pineapple coconut, followed by the milk chocolate chip, as both were flavorful and retained their freshness even days after I bought them.

Eating local just makes me feel good.  I can feel good about the food I am choosing to put inside my body because I know it is grown without the use of pesticides and chemicals.  I can also feel good that my choice to dine locally is helping out a small business.  Hopefully my patronage will keep these restaurants in business, providing delicious foods and impeccable service at a reasonable price.

These were just a few of my favorite places, though there are many more I’ve not mentioned and more that I have yet to try.  I am lucky that I live in this terrific city, where new places are popping up all of the time, just waiting for me to take a bite.