Pantree Restaurant

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On of my favorite restaurants in Taipei, Oh Cha Cha recently opened up a new venue called Pantree, which boasted a completely gluten free menu. A gluten free restaurant in Taiwan?! I was cautiously hopeful. Josh and I met our friend Carrie, who took this cute pic of us, for lunch on opening day.

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The menu is bilingual and indeed completely gluten free. Their kombucha, which is rare to find for sale in Taiwan, was flavorful and slightly fizzy. I jumped at the chance to try GF pizza and was very happy with the doughy crust. So tasty and I didn’t have to cook it myself.

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Yummy snickerdoodle cookies for dessert! Pantree was giving out free mini GF muffins for opening day but we ate ours too quickly for a pic.

It is such a luxury to eat at a restaurant where I can safely eat everything on the menu. An allergy to gluten is not very common in Taiwan and is often misunderstood. I have gotten sick a handful of times eating out so am hesitant to try new places without Josh to translate my diet restrictions. Finding a restaurant that both understands and caters to GF eating is gratifying.

Thank you Pantree! Everything was scrumptious and I’ll definitely be back.

Home cooking

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Life is getting busy now that grad school has started. But despite my full days I’ve managed to squeeze in some home cooking. The above pic is my latest batch of kombucha. I left this one in for a full two weeks and it turned out delicious. I think my scoby mothers have fully matured as these last few batches have turned out very well.

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I have an early morning class so these biscottis were great breakfast meals. They are made with almond flour so are naturally gluten free. I definitely need to make more. Our friend Li Chun brought us some homemade coconut chocolate as a housewarming present and it made a great topping.

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Josh and I were hanging in Dihua, one of my fave neighborhoods, when we found a vendor selling black garlic. Black garlic! I’ve been meaning to try this for months but hadn’t found any.

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At first I thought it was fermented but some sources say it’s carmalized. Black garlic is incredibly distinct and has a taste reminiscent of figs. There was a moment when I thought “I should make my own” but my pile of reading for school tells me otherwise. It pairs well with so many foods I definitely recommend trying some.

More Superheroes, more art

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I’m really happy to be drawing again. After drawing female figures I’m now working on the male form. The above is Thor from the Avengers movie and below is Captain America.

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Last month Josh and I got to hang with fashion blogger Jonathan Waiching Ho while he’s here Living Like A Local. We went to the Bamboo Curtain Studio and got to experience this beautiful art installation:

This is the My Womb My Mother Earth Art Project by artist Lin Xiuping. Volunteers helped her create knitted, crocheted and woven pieces for the installation. I wish I would have known as I would have jumped at the chance to contribute. Next time! These fiber art bird was such an inspiration.

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Our friend Shraddha Borawake had invited us to the studio and showed us her work as an artist in residence.

Our new friend Ivan not only showed us Taiwanese musical instruments used during puppet shows but gave us a demonstration.

It was a delight to spend an afternoon with fellow artists. Looking forward to my next visit to this wonderful studio.

Sewing machine and cover

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I finally got a sewing machine! After two failed attempts with second hand machines I decided to buy a new one. Costco not only had my trusty Singer brand but one with flowers.

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Dihua neighborhood has fabric galore and after a shopping visit I set about making a cover for my new machine. It’s so wonderful to be working with fabric again!

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This is my first sewing project since leaving Portland. Not only does it fit great, the fabric is a cheerful print.

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I finished it off with a blind hem stitch for practice and it turned out great.

Speaking of new additions

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Hazel is welcoming the puppets’ newest roommate to Casa Twosh.

And speaking of puppets, I managed a couple more visits to the Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum before school started. I got to hang out with my friend Rosie before she leaves Taiwan and work on more pillow supports for puppet costumes. This internship has taught me so much!

Back to the drawing board

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Now that Formosa Moon has been turned into the publisher I have time to sew again. In preparation for designing new costumes I’ve also been practicing drawing. The above is Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. I always liked her patchwork dress.

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Next up is Wonder Woman from the summer blockbuster. Linda Carter’s Wonder Woman was my first crush and my hero as a little girl. Seeing this new version of Wonder Woman was incredible and I sobbed through all the action scenes.

Grad school is starting next week so I’ve been getting more sightseeing in before I’m in class every week.

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Taipei has great public art. This whimsical piece is in a park by Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.

Last week I got to go to the Keelong Ghost Festival with Josh and travel blogger Chelsea Pearl who’s here Living Like A Local. You can read his recap here.

Lost In Taipei

What should have been a ten minute bus ride ended up being a two and a half hour misadventure. My language exchange partner Albert had brought me to a polyglot meeting across town. It was fun meeting new people and when we parted ways at the MRT station I was positive I could get home. All of the MRT’s signs and maps are translated into English so is easily navigated.

My subway trip was uneventful. At the bus top I hopped on a bus that I regularly ride to school, certain it would pass our apartment on its route to campus. It was after nine, quite dark and I was tired from a night of socializing. By the time I realized I wasn’t on the road to my house the bus was in another neighborhood. I still recognized landmarks and soon we were pulling into a familiar MRT/bus station.

Perhaps the bus was making a loop before heading to campus? It made sense at the time so I stayed seated. Familiar landmarks soon disappeared as the bus traveled further into the outer stretches of Taipei. Buildings become smaller and large stretches of bare land appeared. By this point most of the passengers had departed and there were only two other people on board. As traffic dramatically thinned I doubted I could hop off and easily hail a taxi.

I asked the bus driver in Mandarin if he was going to my road. He didn’t understand me so I tried in English hoping he’d understand. “Oh God,” he replied in English which I took as a bad sign. He held up a finger and thought for a moment. A few minutes later he pulled over and gestured towards a bus stop, telling me which bus to get on next. I pulled out my MRT card to pay but he shook his head telling me “bu, bu”. I thanked him and walked to the bus stop. The driver drove up a small hill into a parking lot lined with buses. Apparently I had ridden to the end of its route.

My new stop was pretty remote and dark. The area had lots of trees but only a few lights on the main road. The side road to the parking lot was lined with tall metal fencing, piles of random metal and chunks of cement. A stone table and bench was nestled in the shadows but I didn’t dare sit down, worried the new driver wouldn’t see me and would drive on past. A lone bulb shone down on the actual bus sign. The big city noises I have grown accustomed to were conspicuously absent. Across the street three dogs sat in their driveway which was lined by a metal sheeting fence, obscuring any structure behind. The dogs paced and took turns barking in my direciton. Was I still in Taipei? Google Maps told me no.

A man soon came jogging down the hill. It was my bus driver and he came to tell me the bus I wanted was coming in 45. It was 10:34pm. Was it coming at 10:45 or in another 45 minutes? I tried to ask in Mandarin and he nodded, saying “45, you wait here” in English. I was grateful for his help. Determined not to whine to Josh that I was lost yet again I had avoided texting him. He guessed though and after I sent him a screenshot of the map told me I was pretty far outside the city and would be lucky to get home by midnight.

I had been so sure of how to get home! But a bus was coming in either 10 or 45 minutes. I just had to be patient. The dogs across the street started creeping closer, their barks taking on a menacing tone. I hissed back and they slowly went back to their side of the street. They sprang back into action when a motorcycle drove out of the parking lot, chasing it down the hill until it turned onto the main road. As the bike drove out of sight the dogs turned and ran straight towards me.

Taipei is a safe city and while this bus mix up was frustrating I hadn’t felt scared despite being stranded in the countryside. But as there dogs came rushing towards me I felt a surge of fear. They were growling and suddenly their teeth seemed quite large. I didn’t dare try to outrun them in an unknown neighborhood. Plus my bus was due any minute!

Years ago I lived in a notoriously rough neighborhood in Northern New Mexico. (The Mesa has such a reputation that it boasts it’s own disturbing documentary that features some of my ex-neighbors.) My Mesa years were grueling ones and I spent many hours walking remote dirt roads where a stray dog could jump you any moment. Despite my fear, I knew just what to do.

The dogs surrounded me growling. One chomped its jaws menacingly. Growling bark I swung my purse around widely. It had my phone, wallet and a bottle of water-if they got any closer they’d get smacked with enough weight to sting. Then I started jumping in the air while swinging my arms to appear as large as possible. I screamed barked at the dogs until they backed down. They slowly made their way across the street as we barked at each other. I continued jumping and swinging my purse until they were back in their driveway. The three continued to growl but kept their distance.

But what if another motorcycle drove by? Would my strategy work a second time? I was mulling over defense strategies when two headlights appeared at the top of the hill. My bus! It had only been ten minutes but if felt like an hour. The other driver waved me aboard and as I sat down a wave of exhaustion hit me. The ride home was long but uneventful. The new driver even told me when to get off which I appreciated though by then I recognized our neighborhood. Safely back home I sank into bed next to Josh a few minutes before midnight. Taiwan has excellent public transportation but clearly I need to spend some more time learning the bus system.

Two Shirts, Two Skirts

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I had two other pieces of ill fitting clothes from a Taiwan shopping trip. This tank top looked like it would fit but had ruffles that ended up being too scratchy to wear and elastic that made the fabric bunch up at an unflattering angle. My trusty seam ripper soon fixed things.

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Now I have a lightweight skirt that’s great to wear in this hot weather. Next up was this blue top:

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The fabric is a soft t-shirt material but off the shoulder sleeves with tight elastic made wearing it quite uncomfortable. I turned the sleeves inside out, sewed the bottom edge to create two pockets.

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This skirt is one of my new faves-soft, comfortable and light enough for summer wear.

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Selfie skirt pic

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Clothing mods are now done. Now it’s time to buy a sewing machine to make some new clothes!