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One summer night with cicada’s humming in the warm lit air, it was time for me to begin the words of this journey. Starting the journey had crossed my mind a few times previously, but I never was certain of what it was I could or would say or how to even say it on a platform.

Fast forward almost three years and there have been more adventures than I can count, more meals that have left me reeling with their full flavors and the discovery of more dishes than I could have ever imagined possible before pressing ‘post.’

On the front of foreign cuisine, however, the list of things to make grows ever longer with each new country I’m able to visit within my radius. German Black forest cake, Dutch Pancakes, Spanish Paella and French Macaroons all things that will be attempted at some point in the forthcoming future and hopefully before the four hundredth post.

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There is endless to say about New York, more specifically the Manhattan I know and love endlessly. To the world it’s a harsh cold city, but all that stands out when you are there on the concrete streets are the people who look you in the eye and recognize your presence with the nod of a head. Of course, telling someone who lived there this very thing makes them ask “where did you visit in New York?!”

This comes from being a Londoner, a city known for the coldest air of all in the form of it’s residents. Yes the game of ‘look people in the eye’ is just a regular thing people do in New York. In London it’s seen as a come on or something rather ridiculous (ridiculous because humans have always looked each other in the eye).

The streets of the ‘Big Apple’ rumble with car horns and honest conversations of locals lives and it’s easy to disappear underneath the towering skyline of grays and windows that light up in yellows as dusk sets in. Public spaces are where locals hang out playing chess games or sitting on steps. There is endless to do in this city whether you want to go shopping, sightseeing, visit an art gallery or see a concert on a pier. If there’s something to do, you can find it in the five boroughs. None of the boroughs rumble with as many people or as much to do in such a small space as Manhattan.

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Dusk with the lights on

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Chocolate chip cookies are so apart of our psyche that they aren’t even considered a treat – they are apart of life in the way we need air to breathe and the internet to keep living. They are left on pillows in some hotel chains and gifted as thank yous. They are made just to have around the house when you need to snack.

The dough alone is sold so people can eat spoonfuls in one hand while spooning them onto trays with the other hand. Yes, chocolate chip cookies will always be the ‘new black’ and they come in a variety of different recipes. You can have hard ones, shortbread ones, soft chewy ones and that is why they have never before appeared on this blog.

Amongst the French Tartiflette, Costa Rican Orange Pudding and Canadian Butter Tarts these little cookies had slipped through my fingers…until now. With a belly full of chocolate chip cookies, the wait was definitely worth it.

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With my three hundredth post coming up there is not one brownie recipe to be found. Yes, in the past almost three years of blogging here I have never once posted a brownie recipe, it’s not that they’ve not been made in some of the many kitchens I’ve baked in. It’s just that brownies and I have never bonded enough to succeed.

Since my teens I have tried and failed endlessly to make brownies. I’ve tried vegan ones and super buttery ones. Ones that required cocoa powder and chocolate. There have been recipes with walnuts or hazelnuts or completely without. Ones that were fail proof to others. I’ve heard the words “an idiot can make brownies” and “brownies are one of the easiest things to make.”

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Philadelphia is the quiet city that I imagine would make you comfortable enough to never want to leave. Sure when it’s light out there are parts of the city full of tourists lining up around the corner to get a glimpse at the history that was made here at the beginning of a new nation, a nation that would be greater and stronger from the nation who ‘found’ it.

If you look beyond those crowds though it’s a city with friendly people who’s passion for their home brims to the top. Just walking down the street leads to conversations with locals about the love they have for their city and around almost every corner there is something to be seen, more than historically, but ever presently.

Philadelphia with it’s brick draped soul is a historical landmark alive with tourists and rather quiet in the evenings. In fact, basking in the warm summer air with barely a soul about in this square with no convenience you can’t predict the crowds that come with daybreak when walking past the Liberty Bell center or through the empty President’s House.

Reflection of the Liberty Bell/Swann Memorial Fountain

Reflection of the Liberty Bell/Swann Memorial Fountain

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On Friday night I walked inside the doors of the restored Globe theater that sits next to the Thames and in view of St Paul’s cathedral, yes this is a trifecta of London importance. It was the final night of the play my friend and I were there to see and it was poignant with the story of a World War I soldier and a doctor who repaired facial injuries.

England’s role in that war was pivotal and that ‘Great war’ changed the world forever, even as we reflect back on one hundred years since. Seeing the play was to be put face-to-face with the harsh realities of those people who went out and those who were left behind. It was also full of humor and laughing through horrors surely was how many stayed sane.

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This weekend was a perfect mix of meeting new people and finding common ground where the conversation flowed beyond “we are strangers”.  Getting to know people I have only met once and actually connecting is a constant in this city where people are coming and going on a regular basis. And last night was one of pre-goodbyes with two ladies setting off to other sides of the globe and now my lovely Renee is returning to home shores (let’s not mention in time for summer, so much jelly!). Lots of people squished into a pub with new faces to meet and older faces to get to know better.

When you begin asking people questions, you realize one day that eventually we all have at least one thing in common with each person who crosses our path. Even if they seem like a polar opposite person with enough personal interest a person’s outward layers can fade and the things you have in common.

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There comes a point after putting your bags down and seeing people a few times where an adventure can feel like a blur and you pause and say “did that really happen.” Yes, that’s where I was at before collating my September for this month’s post and wow, there were just so many photos to share of which I’ve not been back in London two weeks so most of my month was spent on fairer shores carrying my bags between destinations.

There was a lot to see, eat, do and live.

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I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks and somehow the words still escape me. Life is busy, hectic and stressful all at the same time as being exciting. I suppose that its kind of ordinary though as I’m a temp worker so starting a new job for a short time is regular and sorting my life out seems a constant work in progress kind of job.

I’m about to move into a proper home with some friends if all goes well (fingers crossed) and I’m hoping unlike the last few times that things will work out and feel smoother. Living with others can be hard work if you come from differing cultures and were raised differently and I’m hoping the rest of my stay in London will be in a quieter neighborhood with a little more grounding.

So those are the inconsequential words that it took me two weeks to say.

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Chicago streets rumble with people and trains that roll over the streets, it rumbles with wind that comes off a lake so large you cannot see land on the other side. It’s a city with an accent not all unlike New York or Boston and it’s soul is the third largest in America. Yes, its Gotham roots are evident when you walk downtown, dwarfed by the skyscrapers with the wind whistling down the streets with a  proverbial color of gray, until the skyscrapers clear and the path leads to the wide lake and you turn around to see the skyline that isn’t so dark or dreary or even gray after all.

Founded in 1833, the history of Chicago (and it’s name!) stems back to a time when Native American’s called this area home and it was known for the wild garlic that grew. In fact the name is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word ‘shikaakwa’ for ‘wild onion,’ ‘wild garlic’. The French explorer Henri Joutel first encountered the word Chicagoua between 1684 and 1688 when he investigated the flora and fauna of the region. Needless to say, it was a winding road from shikaakwa to Chicago and history is kinda fuzzy on how they got to it’s final name.

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My feet have hit the ground again in London and the weekend was a mixed bag, but it has been great seeing some friends and having the opportunity to spend time in other parts of the city.

London can be tough, probably tougher than any other world city (yes, tougher than New York) and a simple smile is seen as a come on to people so for the last year-and-a-half it felt like I was sailing against a storm just living here. Everyone who moves here agrees this is a fact of being apart of this huge and historic place.

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The secret is out, Oregon is scenic, beautiful and it’s beaches are far more stunning than their reputation allows. Known for it’s douglas fir’s and variety of greens this state has something to offer to anyone – cities, culture, forests and an abundance of beautiful beaches.

The land where the green meets the blue has to be considered Oregon, you just feel it in the air in there, maybe it’s the months of rain it gets that washes everything away although it only showed me sunny days and the clean and uncrowded beaches, even on a long weekend. Maybe it’s the haze that settles on the landscape and blurs where the sea ends and the hills begin.

In 1859 Oregon became the 33rd state on Valentines Day and it’s hard not to fall in love with this state. Entering Portland through thick clouds on a Sunday morning we broke through the clouds to find hills of smothered in green trees. Coming into land a thought that ‘I was home’ had crossed my mind. Yes, Oregon felt very familiar from where I come from, the people are friendly and so welcoming that it’s no wonder that Portland’s population is rising.

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Oceanside village/Along the coast/Rockaway Beach riders

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Being present, ever present no matter what’s going on around you is an art form in this world where we are taught from an early age to look and live in the future. That mindfulness of what tomorrow brings instead of how to enjoy today is something that we all have to deal with.

One of the best things about travel is that reality is suspended, being present is one of the most natural results of being out of your normal environment. All troubles and worries of everyday life are kept somewhere else and going back home usually involves returning to whatever you were dealing with when you stepped on board that train, plane or automobile.

Leaving, is so much easier that it’s something society has dealt with for thousands of years. People dream of it every day and books revolving travelers help people in regular lives escape for as much time as pages are read.

Returning has been on my mind, maybe because three weeks isn’t a very long time to be away adventuring. Living in a fictional world of complete freedom and lack of fear to travel alone has meant that most of my trips in my twenties have been for about a month or more at a time without thought of tomorrow’s worries.

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Let’s talk about Brooklyn.

The last time I was in New York I met and spent a little time with another blogger Crepes of Wrath and she gave me a little advice on where to stay next time I’m in the city and it was over the Hudson. Having been to New York a handful of times and while nothing and no one trumps Manhattan for me it was good advice to step into a place I’d actually only spent a few hours in previously.

Brooklyn is the cooler cousin across the Hudson attached by a few rather cool and separate identities of culture also known as bridges (search for Williamsburg bridge under Instagram and you’ll see what I mean). If it were a family member it would be the quieter one who wouldn’t tell you much until you got to know it and that is what makes it a perfect place to visit. You have to really get on the ground and walk through the borough.

Areas of Brooklyn have exploded in cool factor over the last decade thanks to gentrification and people moving across the river to a more suburban neighborhood feel that is so welcome in the city that never sleeps. Locals sit on their steps saying “good morning” or “hello” to whomever crosses past their stoop. There is a sense of community in Brooklyn, despite it’s vast size and different cultures. It feels more compact than it is and the people feel more welcoming than across the river.

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The almighty Brooklyn Bridge

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