Monday, April 17, 2017

Podcasts and Pictures

I've been chugging along on the book. I have made the time each evening, about 4 nights a week, to sit down at the library to write for a few hours. The library was chosen as it's quiet, there are plenty of tables, outlets, and free wifi. I like to work at coffee shops but I always feel, and rightly so, that I have to buy a tea to pay for my time there. Budgetary wise, it isn't the wisest way to spend my shekels.

Now I'm finished with the travel stories and am now working on the recipe development. I've called upon a few friends and family to try out the recipes as we go along. Incredibly grateful for their help. In that vein, I've decided to move forward on a few things to market the book and myself.
I'll be renting a house in Boulder CO for a few months this summer. After selling all my stuff to travel the world I don't have any furnishings, so I rented a vacation residence. It's got a killer kitchen that I'll be using to produce the recipes and take photos of them for the book.
Leftovers will be abundant, and that means I'll have a way to get folks to come by for dinner. Via text message, I'll send out a menu and the first come first served.
It also gives me a place to put up friends and family who will be coming to town this summer. And I love to have people around. I really do, even though I'm solitary most of my time. The people I like, I like. So come on by, people I like!
Podcasting was mentioned to me by She Who Must Not Be Tagged, my friend KB, as a way to market myself and the book. After doing some preliminary research, listening, and crowdsourcing, I've decided to go ahead with it! I'm hiring a consultant to tutor me in the ins and outs, taking improv classes to sharpen my instincts and starting to compile my production team. Stay tuned for episodes, hopefully by the beginning of June? Don't quote me on that.

And lastly, I've been ingredient testing, ie. eating noodles, all the noodles, give them all to me!
More lunches and dinners with friends and getting my runs in.  All good, and here we go dammit!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Writing and Crowd Sourcing

It's been a bit of time since my last blog post I know. I've been putting my concentration into the book I'm writing about my travels (and dying my hair silver-blonde, because why not?). And as this is my first real foray into the writing realm, I wanted to put my attention there.

Finding a comfortable place to write, the time to write and figuring out what enables me to be my most creative have taken up most of that time. Also, I'm relying on the incredible kindness of friends and family for my living accommodations right now. It may happen that I will have to self-publish, and if so I want to ensure I have the money to do so.

In a perfect world, I'll find a literary agent who will be blown away by what I've written and they will, in turn, find me a publisher who will make all my dreams come true. But the world ain't perfect, as we all know.
This is where, perhaps, you, oh gentle readers, come in. Having never written a book before I would like to crowdsource to all of you for publishing contacts. Googling Literary Agents and sending off query letters to them only gets you so far.
Right now I'm all but done with the travel stories portion of the book. There will be tweaking there, I am sure, but for the most part Done! Now it's on to recipe writing and testing. Some of you may be the recipients of the food made.
My hope and I have many of them as you can see, is that by the end of summer this book will be heading off to be published. Then I'll go on another whirlwind cross-country tour to promote it.
In the mean time, as I write and wander about here in Colorado I'm still eating my face off with family and friends. Once a month I try to get a gang together to try restaurants that offer up a world of different foods, literally. So far we've done Chinese Dim Sum and Japanese Ramen. Next on the list is Ethiopian.
Lastly, I wanted to let you all know that I've been featured on a mini-blog over at Feastly!  Their #GirlsWithKnives stories showcase some of the strong and creative female forces in the food biz. And I'm one of them. Check it out here!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Be Better

12 years ago, probably to the day, but I don't really remember, I woke up on my bathroom floor after a 12 margarita night and said to myself, I can't do this anymore.
Delving deep with therapy, self reflection, laughter, trial and error through the years has been a weird, exciting and painful journey. That journey has brought me closer to my family, deepened the connection to my tribe and gotten me around the world.
I didn't go the 12 step program route when the chill of the bathroom tile woke me, I quit cold turkey. It's not for everyone, but it was my way. And every day since then I try to Be Better. It isn't always a day where I am up with the sun to run miles through the woods, center myself with yoga and write for hours. Perhaps it is a day where I stay in my PJ's and binge watch X Files while eating cake.
There are times that I meet up with sweet success. I dated a seemingly perfect guy a few short months after my moment of clarity. And there are times I fail, like when this first stab at that "normal" relationship, fizzled out after only 6 weeks. Or when I successfully completed 64 miles at an endurance trail run, and then ran increasingly less mileage in the 3 subsequent 24 hour trail races.
In September of this year, our family suffered a life-sized loss. These last few months have been some of our hardest times. We will have moments where we will think we are adrift, our anchor is gone. There is no denying that this grief will forever be a part of my "normal", as painful as that is to realize. Growing up, we were taught that life does that, knocks you around, and you keep moving, no matter how slowly.
All I know for sure, from the years of trying, failing and then trying again, is that moving forward, to me, is the best that I can do. Even that day of cake and PJ's is ok, if I own it and use it to recharge myself and feel it. Because over 12 years ago, any feeling I had was muted and stomped down by my own fears, insecurities and a whole lot of margaritas.
I don't have the answer for anyone but myself. When I am at my lowest I think "What can I do?" and when I answer "Be Better." I do just that.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Work It, Then Sell It

When I decided to write a travel/cookbook I did it because since I was very little I wanted to be a writer and all the tales of my journey and wonderful things I ate were filling and overflowing my brain. It seemed a natural extension to just put it all down, get it printed and then...well then conquer the world!!

Ok, I know I won't conquer the world, but I do hope there are people out there in the universe who will want to read what I wrote and share in the journey.
So that is what I'm working on right now. I'm holed up here in the family home I grew up in, in the hometown I left 20 years ago to find my way. Part of me feels as if I slipped back, but most of me is relieved to be somewhere safe where family and friends check in on me.
The more I write and research and learn about this book thing the more I realize that I have to start selling myself too. I hate that. I really do.
I know there are many of you who think I love to talk about myself, but I what I really love to talk about is food. It's a package deal though, food and I are very intertwined.

This is me then, starting to sell myself, which sounds bad and probably is but is a necessary evil if I want to do what I want to do, which is have people buy my book and read what I wrote.
There is now a Facebook page for J'eat? where I can post pics of food and all food related things that strike my fancy, without overwhelming the majority of people who just want to see an occasional "Yeehaw doesn't this taste great?" moment.
I'll also be trying to post more here to the blog to build the traffic (again a necessary evil for publishers to see that you can sell yourself) and share how things are going.
And lastly there is the Share request. I promise you I won't be doing this often, as I know it can be very overwhelming, but I am going to ask that you share the blog URL here, , with those you think would like it, as well as the Facebook page URL here, .
With your help and my tentative but growing social media abilities maybe, just maybe, we can do this thing.
Thank you everyone and let's get something to eat soon? Yeah?
Like maybe this magnificent thing here?
This magnificent creature came about when I found myself with way more cauliflower than I could eat at one sitting. So I roasted some curried cauliflower slabs with red onions. Then I put a slab on some cranberry walnut toast with some of those crispy onion bits, a leaf of escarole and some vegan mayo. Slam, bam, thank you ma'm!
Here is what I started with...

And here is all that it begat...

Curried slabs, steamed florets and slow roasted cauliflower heads.
And that, as we say, is that.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Round the World Travel Tips

Life has been busy lately, so I haven't had time to post. Working on my travel/cook book about my trip and getting my self situated in Upstate NY for the time being.
"How did you do it?" some of you have been asking, so here is how I managed to travel around the world for a year. (I did not receive any compensation for any of the recommendations here.)

Networking-Social Media is a great way to network and put it out there that I was headed out into the world. I posted on Facebook that I was going with a link to my blog, with a list on the blog of all the places I wanted to visit. And then Social Media did the rest. Friends who live the ex-pat life, friends of friends, and the family members of friends all either got into contact or were put into contact with me. This gave me safe places to land with incredibly generous hosts and hospitality. I offered to and loved cooking with/for them as a way to repay their kindness'.

Country Choices-Countries were chosen for several reasons. Because of places I have always wanted to visit (Singapore, Naples and Ireland), countries where I had friends or friends of friends (New Zealand, Australia  and Tanzania). After a US State Department update told of troubles on the east coast of Malaysia I, instead, traveled to Thailand and Cambodia. Some countries were chosen because of The Schengen Agreement (Morocco and Andorra) as I only had 90 days in six months to visit Europe and Iceland. A few were countries that intrigued me (Turkey and Iceland). Others were because of the food (India, Spain, Greece and France).

Plane Ticket-My good friend Sara mentioned that there was something she had heard of, a Round the World (RTW) Ticket. So I did the research and lo and behold found it. It's through Star Alliance. They are a Lufthansa company. This gave me a ticket, going in the same direction (east for me) all the way around the world. Once I landed in each place, say Singapore or Malaga Spain, I was on my own to get around the area. From there I purchased trips on planes, trains and automobiles to get me exploring. The RTW ticket specifies that you have almost a year to use it for travel, for the amount of mileage (30,000 miles) that I purchased. Away we go!

Phone-I am a long time T-Mobile user. I did my research, and read a bunch of blogs from other travelers on the subject. Phone charges outside the states can be astronomical! All that research showed me that T-Mobile has the best plan out there. There are no up-charges, so my bill was exactly the same as when I was in the states (phone calls were 20 cents a minute). And the data was unlimited! I used WiFi whenever I could, and most restaurants, coffee/tea shops and cafe's had it. My Nexus 5 took great pictures and kept me connected no matter where I was. I had better reception out in the world than I do in my hometown here in Upstate NY! The only two places I could not connect to a T-Mobile partner were Tanzania/Zanzibar and Morocco. I bought a $1 SIM card in Tanz and just used WiFi in Morocco.

Banking-Again digging in and researching helped a lot here. I found a CapitalOne360 Debit Card. No international or ATM fees. I carried another card as well, hidden away, in case anything was stolen, Each of the banks was informed ahead of time of the countries I would be visiting and approximately when I would be there. That way they wouldn't flag my card unnecessarily, and conversely would flag it if something odd showed up.  I downloaded their banking apps and all my banking was done right from my phone. Super convenient. I made sure to Photo Copy the front and back of all my cards, my license and my passport. Again in case of theft. These were kept on The Cloud so I could access them from any computer if need be.

Budgeting-Researching blogs brought me to A Little Adrift and her experiences traveling the world. She posted a wonderful budget spreadsheet here that I utilized every day to stay on budget. I sold my condo and much of my stuff to finance my trip (after paying off some loans and things) but wanted to have some $$ left over to help me once my trip was done. Volunteering in some places helped with the budget as well, as I got room and board for 4-5 hours of work a day for 5 days a week.  Some were WWOOF placements (working on Organic Farms and Sanctuaries) and the rest were WorkAway. Two weeks house-sitting in France came about from

Health-I didn't get really sick anywhere. A little cold in Tanzania and a recurrance of it in Morrocco were all that I had to deal with. Hot tea and rest were the perfect cure for that. A SteriPen came in handy in SE Asia where the water was suspect. Before I left the states I went to a Travel Clinic to see what shots I needed. Some I had to have before I left the US, but others I could get in other countries, where they are less expensive. Perth Australia and Kuala Lampur both had wonderful clinics where I saved myself well over $300 getting the last of my shots and malaria pills (for India).

Luggage-The different countries I was visiting, varied modes of transportation and general vagaboundness meant I needed luggage that would work in many different ways. My buddy Elizabeth handed off her favorite Go-Lite bag (no longer in business). It has wheels and straps so when needed I could carry it on my back. It worked perfectly. I also purchased a theft proof bag for every day use, to carry my passport, money, a book to read, sunglasses et al. That and an easily tucked away grocery bag to carry boots and books on to planes and I was ready.

Clothes and Shoes-Four seasons, 17 different countries, oceans, mountains, seas, plains, cobblestone streets, African savannas, beaches of white, black and tan sands, snow, rain, insane humidity, heat, chilly days, gale force winds.... you're getting the idea of what I needed to pack for. I lost some things on the way, some replaced, some just left behind. I did not bring a dress. Why? Because I don't wear dresses, ever. So why bring something I won't wear?
Here is what I packed:

  • 1 pair of blue jeans (which had to be replaced in SE Asia, they wore out!)
  • 1 pair of 3 way convertible pants from Prahna (they can be pants, capris and then the legs zip off into shorts)
  • 1 pair of long shorts (they can roll down to cover the knees, which was a politeness in some cultures)
  • 1 pair of running shorts
  • 2 everyday tanks
  • 2 running tanks
  • 1 long sleeved rash guard shirt
  • 1 long sleeved athletic top
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 1 Sweater (at the end of my trip I was ready to burn this damm thing. I loved having it, and I'm no real clothes horse, but even I was sick and tired of the fucking thing.)
  • 1 Jacket
  • 1 Waterproof Jacket (which I lost in India, so bought a winter worthy jacket in Tanzania, which kept me warm in Turkey!)
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 warm hat
  • 1 Baseball cap
  • 4 pairs of running socks
  • 1 pair of tall warm socks
  • 2 Athletic bras
  • 2 Bras/underwear
  • 1 Bikini with 2 tops
  • 1 pair of PJ bottoms
  • 1 pair of Hiking Boots, waterproof
  • 1 pair of Running Shoes (walked everywhere in them, had to buy new ones once I got to Europe)
  • 1 pair of Chuck Taylors (I lost my favorite Lucky Chucks, black plaid, in Marrakesh, but found a white pair of mock brand in Europe to get me through)
  • 1 pair of Flip Flops
  • 1 pair of Walking Sandals (not my favorite look for myself, but they really came in handy in the extremely hot and humid countries)
  • 2 Scarves (very handy for warmth and covering your head when it's polite culturally)

Lodging-I mentioned the wonderfully warm hosts who were friends, friends and family of friends who put me up as well as my volunteering in exchange for accommodations. I also found AirBnB ,, and to be the perfect resources for finding a roof over my head. Again, done all over the phone, including payments.

Take Aways-

  • Do your research. Where you want to go, what you want to do, and who do you know. The months I had to do so before my trip were invaluable. 
  • Public transportation around the world is much better and easier than here in the states. Subways, trains, buses, and domestic flights were all easily done, even last minute. I took very few city buses or taxis. And only the occasional Uber. And I walked A LOT. (Which made my pastry explorations much easier to justify.)
  • Leave yourself open to meeting new folks for new adventures and experiences. Chatting over breakfast with a gal in a Singapore hostel got me to Cambodia. Talking with a fellow hostel guest in Madrid about his travel writing career gave me more impetus to write a book about my own travels. And saying "Ok" when asked "Do you want to go with us?" in Bilbao Spain not only got me to see Semana Santa Easter Parades, but in depth knowledge of the food in San Sebastian and a place to stay in Dublin Ireland!
  • Be adventurous with food but be smart too. I eat mostly vegan and I am very sure that is what helped me NOT get sick in India. Use your instincts here. If it looks or smells unappetizing, it probably is for you. 
  • Know that not every day is going to be wonderful and exciting. Once a week I took an admin day where I researched where I would be going next or soon, did laundry and sometimes I just took a day to be lazy and do nothing.
  • And lastly, the world is a truly wonderful kind place. Yes bad things do happen, but they can happen no matter where you are.
Send me a message or comment if you have any questions about it all.
I'll be working on my book now and hopefully I'll have some updates on that soon,

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sweet Ireland

Sorry it's taken me so long to post this. Life happens and then you find yourself behind.
Let me tell you about Ireland. The folks I met and stayed with were some of the sweetest I've met on my travels. Hospitable and kind. It's culturally in their DNA I believe.
I spent some time in Dublin, wandering about.

 There were hikes and Traditional Music festivals that my pal D took me on and to. I'm so grateful that she was able to give me a true experience.
I had a 13 hour layover in London before I headed to Iceland, so I spent the day wandering there as well.

 After Iceland it was back to Dublin before heading out to Ennis, where Erin (friend of a friend) and her husband Feargal gave me the grand tour.
 Went for a hike along the Burren. Gorgeous landscape and views.
 And we mustn't forget the foggy, misty, windy Cliffs of Mohr.
I did mention windy did I not?
Galway was next, where I wandered for a day or so.
 Made my way to the Nora Barnacle House, which was closed as it was Bloomsday, of course.
I then hooked up with a hostel friend to hit the Aran Islands. One in particular, Inishmore

We rented bikes and spent the day riding around the island. It was a rainy day, but we avoided the rain drops and enjoyed the views.
Next stop Donegal.

A couple of days wandering about here, but no Clarke sightings anywhere. Even in the cemetery.
So off to Malin Head, the northern most spot in Ireland, I went for two days.
I should have spent more time here. It is absolutely amazing.

I am pretty sure I will head back to Ireland one day. I only took in a tiny bit of the place, and I want more.
I'm heading back to Upstate NY now, to spend time with family and work on my book.
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Iceland- Nei Orð

No words (nei orð), no pictures can really capture the Icelandic experience. I'll try. But I will fail. I can only say again, that beyond belief is Iceland.
My buddy from Boulder did the majority of planning for our camping excursion on the Ring Road, basically going all around the perimeter of the country. Not planned was finding a hot springs tub tucked behind a hillock with an unparalleled view of the ocean.
One of her Icelandic requirements was puffins. These fucking puffins, as we dubbed them, were too cute to eat. Though I suppose, back in the day when the settlers were subsisting on whatever they could find, they kept many a Viking alive.
The weather and landscapes were subdued sometimes, and then a burst of color or sunshine would cause you to have to readjust your expectations.
I even made it to a museum. Learned that the sod house dwellers of yore didn't use a fireplace or furnace to heat their homes. They used body heat. Wool clothes, fatty foods and sleeping two to a bed were all that was required to keep you warm.
I took pictures but the camera couldn't capture how awe inspiring the vistas are. Around every corner my mind would be blown. To the point of exhaustion. We were seriously tired out from how amazing the landscape is.

We met kindness at every stop. Wether it was the gals at the hot dog stand in a small fishing village gesturing to the countless bins of candy and exclaiming "Welcome to Iceland!" Or the family we chatted with in what may be the most northern hot springs pool on the planet. The wonderful pastry baking witch who served us veggie burgers and cake at her cafe. And the fellow traveler Kevin from Ottawa who whole heartedly joined us for a bit of wandering.
Iceland ain't cheap to visit and it's almost impossible to move there. I will go back. I want to explore, learn more and maybe, just maybe, meet The Mountain. If nature can dream up Iceland, then I can surely dream too.