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Archive for October, 2012

I have been meaning to do this for a while now but for some reason, it keeps slipping my mind.

Before I left for Scotland, I decided to invest in a bag (or two!) that would be able to hold up against the wet and stormy weather of Scotland and the possible amount of books and miscellaneous crap that most girls carry around. I stumbled upon Saddleback Leather and immediately fell in with the bags, the story of the company, and its customer and product policies. Every bag comes with a 100 year warranty! I finally saved up enough to make my first purchase, a large tobacco brown satchel and so far, it has held up pretty well! I use it as a carry-all bag and took it with me on a weekend trip to Inverness. It was able to hold my wallet, my camera (it’s a small portable one), a change of clothes, a pair of pajyamas, my organizer, and a few pens and miscellaneous stuff I picked up along the way. And despite being hit by rain, mist, sun, and my own neglect, all within 48 hrs, it still looks amazing.

But, the main thing I wanted to address was the conditioning of the bag. Because it is full grain leather, it can withstand a beating but I didn’t want to risk it too much because I know that it will be in the rain quite a lot and the tobacco brown colour does show rain and water splashes more than its other dyed counterparts. So, here’s my experiment on conditioning the bag.

I have read that others have used Kiwi mink oil for boots with pretty good results but I was hesitant to try it because I personally thought it might ruin the nature of the leather. On one of my trips down to Seattle, I managed to find a conditioner made by Frye, the shoe company. I thought it would be a good candidate to try since it is used primarily on boots that are made of a similar calibre of leather.

Frye conditioner

I was pretty impressed when I opened it. While it looks more yellow in the picture, it’s actually a more milk clear whitish colour. Even more impressive is that there’s no distinguishable smell. I used an old black t-shirt (hence what looked like black pieces of lint in the conditioner pot) to rub the conditioner in. So here are the results of my experiment:

Before conditioning: Front

Before conditioning: Back (You can see where it has stained a bit, darkening the leather where the back of the bag rubs against my jeans)

During conditioning: I started with the back. You can see how the colour has changed a little bit where I had rubbed the conditioner in. It’s definitely developing a nice patina!

During conditioning: it’s a bad photo but the top flap hasn’t been touched by the bottom has so you can see the difference.

The completed conditioned front!

The completed bag in another light.

All in all, I am pretty happy with this conditioner. I didn’t want to darken the bag drastically. I personally find the tobacco brown colour has its own unique character and to hide that would ruin it. And while after the initial conditioning, it looks darker, after a few days, it did lighten a bit and looked more like its original colour the first time I received it. There wasn’t a huge difference in colour and I am exceedingly happy with the results. Now, apart from the normal scratches from wear and tear, it’s still that same beautiful tobacco colour!

I also have a medium chestut satchel from Saddleback Leather but I have yet to conditioner it because it hasn’t shown much signs of needing it yet!

I hope that helps with anybody who’s looking around at conditioning their leather. Just be careful that you know what type of leather it is. There are quite a few good sites out there that explains the different types of leather and the ways to go about conditioning it or to help develop a nice patina. I don’t claim to be a leather expert so here’s a couple of sites that really helped me out:

Saddleback Leather: Leather 101 : Saddleback Leather’s own page about the different types of leather

LeatherHelp : Really good resource where he talks about different types of leather in different uses and how to care for them

Anyways, since I’m in Scotland and all, here’s a picture of the bag, post conditioning and a bit beat up from my weekend trip to Inverness.

In front of a statue of Flora MacDonald, the lass who helped smuggle Bonnie Prince Charlie out of Scotland and into France.

Note: Because there’s been some issues that has come up from other sites but this is a non-endorsed post and is based on my personal opinion. I’m in no way affiliated with Saddleback Leather or Frye. If I was, I wouldn’t be in Scotland trying to finish my Masters so that I can get a “real” job.

~JGM

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Home-stomach-sickness?

It has been approximately three or so weeks since I have traded the beautiful coastline of Vancouver for the equally beautiful coastline of Scotland. Perhaps it is still a bit too soon to tell but I have not experienced the tell-tale signs of homesickness in the same way that my flatmates have. Do I miss home? A little bit but there is just so many things to do and see and people to meet that occupies quite a bit of my attention. And with the help of facebook, I keep in touch with all my friends, family, and significant other back home.

So why this post?

I really have no idea what to call it other than “Home-stomach-sickness”. Not quite like being homesick because it is not the people I miss but the food. Oh, the glorious, glorious foods. Vancouver is definitely a city without compare when it comes to restaurants and cuisines. So here’s a sampling so you know just exactly what I am missing out on in Scotland.

First off, Korean food. Through my previous job as an English conversation teacher, I have met and befriended many of my Korean students. Over the course of three or so years, I have went from knowing nothing about Korean food to being obsessed with it. Sweet, spicy, salty, whatever your taste buds desire! And sadly, there is nothing that I have found so far that has come close. In fact, I haven’t found any Korean restaurants or Korean places this far up north (yet) [so if there’s anybody out there who has suggestions, please throw them my way]. One thing I miss most? Korean BBQ.

But in Vancouver, it doesn’t just stop there! There are a few places that I would recommend to people, especially tourists and one of them is Meat and Bread on Cambie street. They were recently featured in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network. They offer a choice of four sandwiches, one of them usually being a special, every day and the menu is simple and fast. What’s more is that the pop (or cola, or fizzy drinks) that they offer are all organic and they have some pretty interesting flavours! I managed to finally get myself in through the door one day (there’s normally a line out the door and onto the street everyday at lunch) and ordered a Prochetta sandwich. It was… heaven. The pork was juicy and in between were pieces of crispy crackling. On top of that was some of their own homemade mustard. I HATE mustard but this tasted divine together with the sandwich. I basically polished off my board!

Yes, I said it right. My board. There are no plates in this here establishment. All the sandwiches are served on small wooden boards.

If great fresh local food is what you’re after or if you’re looking for some inspiration on what to make for a special night, I’d recommend heading down to Granville Island. The local market there might always be filled with tourists and art students but it is definitely a place to visit when you want to fill with eyes and belly!

There’s a small local bakery situated inside that I always stop by called Stuart’s. The pastries and cakes and freshly baked bread on display draws quite a bit of customers (myself included). And every time, with no fail, I order one sort of fruit tart or the other (I always go for strawberry though).

It really doesn’t get any better than that!

There’s another place that I introduce to people who are looking for authentic BC food called Pair Bistro on 10th ave in Kitsilano. Sadly, the last fancy meal I had with my significant other was also one of their last dinner services as the owner and the chef are moving on to another city due to family reasons. But wherever they move to, that city better watch out! They believe in using local ingredients and local foods. Even the beers and wines on tap are from local breweries. But the best feature of this place is the elk. This is the first place I have ever tried elk and after that, I never looked back. But here is a cruel tease of what they used to offer.

Elk medallion on a bed of roasted potatoes

Wild boar BBQ ribs with a side of coleslaw and cornbread

 

Can’t remember but I think apple turnover a la mode

Blueberry creme brulee

That’s it for my food-related post for Vancouver. Once I go discover enough places around Aberdeen, I’ll do a food post as well.

~JGM

 

 

 

 

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