Sketchbook #7


The last month has mostly been about sorting through and editing the Montréal photos. I think I’m just about done—I’ve got to do a final pass on a few, and I need to go through the entire collection once more to make sure I haven’t missed any gems, but I think that’s it. (Of course, I’ve still got a bunch of photos from the summer that I haven’t tackled yet, so… nowhere near done, really.)

It’s probably a good thing that I’m so close to the finish line on this particular project. I’ve already started to feel the end of the year creeping up on me, which means I’m thinking about new goals I want to set and new projects I want to tackle.

First off is the site redesign. I am working on it, and I’m determined to have it up and running by the new year. (1 January launch? Probably over-ambitious, given how busy I’m going to be the last two weeks of the year, but that might not be a bad thing.) I’m really excited about it, and can’t wait to share it with you.

Second, I’ve started planning two long-term photo projects I want to work on in 2016. I’ll be announcing the first one officially on 15 December, and I plan to share my progress (here and on Instagram) as I go. The second one is a little more personal; I’ll talk about it a bit (I’ll probably explain it sometime in mid-January—though I do plan to start on 1 January), and occasionally share photos from it, but not constantly.

Something to look forward to while I’m dealing with all the December insanity.

Snapshot #38 | 10 Things for 22 November 2015



1. realizing… how close we are to the end of the year. Eek.
2. watching… (or listening to…) new Bowie! ♥ ★
3. committing… small acts of bravery.
4. making… the chocolate-chip cookies I’ve been thinking about since September.
5. thinking… about making some changes to the site. (In addition to the redesign that is absolutely coming before the end of the year.)
6. wondering… if I’m going to get the balcony cleaned up before winter kicks in.
7. cutting… my hair. Finally.
8. feeling… baffled. People are weird.
9. trying… to use my time well. Not sure I’m succeeding.
10. finishing… just under the wire…

3 Days in Montréal |

Three Days in Montréal | October 2015

Personal, Photography

I didn’t exactly intend to go to Montréal this year.

I’d been thinking about travel a lot. I decided early in the year that I’d been limiting myself to day trips for too long and had to make real travel a priority, but none of the trips I was planning were quite feasible yet.

But the summer brought a bit of an existential and creative crisis, and the wanderlust that’s always buzzing in the back of my mind got overwhelming. I really needed to be someplace else, preferably someplace unfamiliar, utterly on my own, for just a few days. Montréal seemed ideal—affordable, just different enough to get me out of my rut, and close enough that a weekend trip made sense.

It was perfect.

Hôtel de Ville, Montréal 2015-10-24

Yeah, I had one or two moments when my introversion got the better of me and all I wanted to do was sit in the hotel room and watch tv. I didn’t get through half of the things on my wishlist. And, apparently, I’m terrible at buying souvenirs. (I tried. Really. But all I came home with were photographs. Which isn’t a bad thing, but still feels a bit absurd.)

But I spent three days wandering around a new city, all alone. I got a little bit lost looking for an ATM. I took a bunch of photos, and I drank amazing coffee. I got mistaken for a local at least once. I struggled with my French, but not as badly as I’d feared. I confirmed my long-held belief that I really need more than three days in a city (a week might be ok, but I doubt it). I remembered why I take photos, and why I want to make cool things.

A few days before I left, I mentioned to someone that I was a little worried that the trip wouldn’t actually take the edge off the wanderlust I’ve been feeling, that it would amplify it instead. And, yeah… that kind of happened. It reminded me, on a real, visceral, level, that it is actually travelling I’m in love with, and that I wasn’t just feeling a vague sense of nostalgia for other trips I’ve taken.

Which means it’s time to start building up my travel fund again.

Le Fleuve Saint-Laurent, Montréal 2015-10-24
Old Montréal 2015-10-24

Montréal | 23-26 October 2015

(I’m still going through my photos, and will be adding more to the Flickr gallery.)

Where I Stayed: Le Relais Lyonnais is a tiny, comfortable hotel, perfectly located on rue Saint-Denis—reasonably close to Old Montréal, surrounded by dozens of cafés and restaurants, and an easy walk to major transit lines (including the airport shuttle). I loved it—crisp, modern rooms in a cozy, Victorian building—though for a longer stay I might choose a place with more on-site amenities. I do wish I’d been there just a few weeks earlier; I was upgraded to a third-floor suite overlooking the street, and the balcony would have been amazing on less autumnal mornings.

What I Ate: It’s weird. Montréal is a foodie’s dream. And I really wanted to take advantage of that fact. But I didn’t, not really. I almost had too much choice—on the rare occasions when it actually occurred to me to eat something (it turns out that, if I’m not at least a little bored, I have to be really hungry before I notice), I got overwhelmed by my options and resisted making any kind of decision. And it doesn’t help that I don’t actually like poutine or smoked meat, so those ‘must-try’ options weren’t on my to-do list.

Old Montréal 2015-10-24

However, I do like bagels, particularly Montréal-style bagels, and that definitely was on my list. (If you’re expecting New York-style bagels, you’ll be disappointed, but I’ve always preferred Montréal-style, on the rare occasions I can get them fresh.) Thankfully, Hinnawi Bros. Bagel & Café was only a short walk from my hotel, and it turns out to be a busy and comfortable little café with a great view of the street for people-watching. I probably should have felt a little guilty about the amount of Nutella on my breakfast bagel, but… I really didn’t. It was delicious and absolutely worth the mess.

For coffee, I loved Saint-Henri Micro-Torréfacteur. The cappuccino was smaller and stronger than I’m used to—which is a good thing (seriously, this was one of the top five cups of coffee I’ve ever had)—and I really wish my French was good enough to figure out what, exactly, was in the muffin I ordered. (By pointing at it. The barista was very nice about my terrible, terrible French. Everyone I dealt with was.) There was chocolate. And oats. And some molasses. Like a really good bran muffin, but I’m not entirely sure there was bran in it. And it was So. Good.

Montréal 2015-10-25

And while I might not like poutine, I do like fries, and the Belgian-style frites at Frite Alors! might be the best fries I’ve ever had. (I’d never actually had an opportunity to try Belgian-style fries until this trip, though I’d wanted to for at least a decade.) The grilled chicken burger was fantastic, too. Yes, it’s a chain, and I have no idea what locals think about it. But one of my favourite things to do in a new city is try fast-food places and chain restaurants that don’t exist back home. (That, and wander around supermarkets. Which I also did.) Fine dining’s great, but not something I’m interested in doing all the time, even on vacation. Plus I feel slightly less awkward sitting alone and playing with my phone while I eat in a casual restaurant than in a fancier place.

Snapshot #37 | 10 Things for 8 November 2015



1. starting… fresh.
2. watching… The Lunchbox
3. trying… to settle on my Christmas baking plans. I have too many recipes saved in too many places.
4. editing… so many photos.
5. feeling… refreshed and motivated and ready.
6. making… big plans for 2016.
7. searching… for the song in that Shiseido commercial that’s been making the rounds (and deservedly so). Does anyone know what it is? Someone has to know what it is. I’m obsessed.
8. working… on the site redesign. It’s almost ready. I think. Unless I change my mind again. I probably won’t change my mind again.
9. wondering… why the cat throws a tantrum every time I do the dishes. Obviously, the solution is to just never do dishes, but it’s still odd.
10. hoping… that I’ll finally get around to making a batch of plain old chocolate chip cookies this week. I keep getting sidetracked by fancy holiday baking.