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Re: Wanderfood Wednesday: Epicurean despot (by mark at 5/09 2:16 PM)
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24 June 2010
Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to TBEX we go

TBEX '10

Tomorrow morning, Mark and I will be hopping the Chinatown bus for the Big Apple. We're spending the weekend there to attend The Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX '10). We'll actually, I'm attending the conference during the day, and Mark will be catching up with friends and hopefully not getting into too much trouble. We'll regroup at night to compare notes. We haven't been to NYC since hitting the Fancy Foods show in 2008, which I didn't even write about because Mark's car died on the way up and the whole weekend was fairly traumatic. Let's hope the bus proves to be a better transportation option!

TBEX will have lots of interesting sessions about how to improve your writing and monetize your blog and work with PR folk. Not to mention lots of free schwag from a dizzying array of sponsors. But the real reason I'm going is to finally meet, face to face, so many of the travel soopastars whose blogs/podcasts/Twitter streams I've been following for years. What will they be like in person? And what will they think of me? I think Sherry of Ottsworld said it best: "What if the physical me isn’t as interesting and likeable as the virtual me? ...What if they expect me to be funny... smarter... younger... taller?" It's a relief to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. But I'm bringing my platform flip-flops just in case.

There are so many people I'm looking forward to meeting that I can't even begin to list them here. I'm also psyched to meet up with some of my fellow Meet Plan Go hosts, to continue the fantastic online brainstorming and amp up the excitement for our September event. It's gonna be like a reunion, except for the most part we've never even met the first time. Stay tuned for updates on what promises to be a redonkulously good time, no matter your elevation.

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment


23 June 2010
WanderFood Wednesday: beer & cheese, who knew?
DC Foodies Do Good's May Tweetup

beer and cheese and sausages, oh my!

In honor of DC Foodies Do Good's June tweetup this evening (Macarons & Moscato, yum!) I thought I'd post a few pics from last month's event.

DC Foodies Do Good at Red White & Bleu

The group gathered in May at my favorite local wine & gourmet foods shop, Red White & Bleu, for a tasting of artisan beers and a sampling of cheese and sausage. I have to admit that I'm not normally a big beer drinker, but I am a steadfast admirer of passion and craftsmanship. And this saucy lineup of beers was something else!

om nom nom!

Especially paired with pungent cheeses and melt-in-ya-mouth cinghale sausage. Om nom nom.

Edward loves his beer

The good folks at Red White & Bleu may have made a convert out of me yet. I still have some catching up to do if I want to get to Edward's level though.


Hop on over to Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering travel foodie posts.


And be sure to visit the DC Foodies Do Good site to see what tasty treats and feel-good-do-good events are lined up!


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment


20 June 2010
Sweet green sublimation
the garden experiment continues

wildflowers blooming
wildflowers blooming

The #1 question I get these days is "When's the next big trip?" Unfortunately, the way this year has turned out, it looks like we won't be doing any extended international travel. I know, it's killing me! My passport is highly offended to be sitting in the closet collecting dust. We've got some fun US trips coming up, but it's not the same.

So what's a Global Grrl to do when faced with a travel hiatus? Transfer that impulse into something more homebound, namely gardening. I took some of the lessons learned from last year's experimentation with the Special Olympics Victory Garden, and decided I was going to crank it up a notch this year. Notably:

* Move the veggies out to the front yard, where there's a whole lot more sun!

* Start seedlings inside with a proper grow light in more stable conditions.

* You can just never, ever have enough compost.

* Start early and plant late; cool weather crops like brassicas and root veggies can go out much earlier than other crops. I'm also planning to re-plant a bunch in the fall.

not nearly as illicit as it looks starting tomatoes indoors is fun! every container has the potential to become a pot

I got a set of cheap plastic shelves from Home Depot, hooked up some fluorescent lights on a timer, and gathered a handful of leftover pots and recycled plastic packaging. Suddenly every container that passed through the kitchen was a potential planter! I got pretty handy with the drill, too, to make sure each vessel had the appropriate drainage. Add in some free seeds from excellent sources like Wintersown and Washington Gardener Magazine's seed swap, and we were in business! After a few weeks, our basement looked as though something highly illicit was going on. I don't watch the show "Weeds," but I began to feel a strange kinship with Mary-Louise Parker, even though it really was just boring stuff like parsley and kale being grown down there.

hardening off plants by setting them out on the deck for a few hours a day
hardening off plants by setting them out on the deck for a few hours a day

Soon enough, it was time to start moving the plants outside. I struggled once again with having to create a garden plot from scratch, and wasted some time dithering over materials. This time it wouldn't be enough to nail some boards together in an odd corner of the backyard. We were moving into front yard territory, where the stakes are higher! I spent some time ripping out scraggly evergreen bushes (backbreaking work) and layering compost and shredded newspaper in their place. And I eventually decidd to buy some pre-made raised beds from Gardener's Supply, in conjunction with some cheap border material from Home Depot. No point spending time and money building expensive permanent structures when I didn't even know if this latest experiment was going to work any better than last year!

front yard in mid-February much better without all that nasty snow | mailbox view, mid-February mailbox view, mid-June

It was pretty funny to see an area that had been covered in three feet of snow not that long ago transformed into an edible landscape. And 'twas so subversive to rip up patches of grass, that sacred symbol of The American Dream! Moo hoo ha ha haaaa.

my spanky new Grow a Row sign
my spanky new Grow a Row sign

ahhhhh, brassicas!bolted broccoli, actually quite a lovely bouquetI ended up with four raised beds in the front yard. There's actually a considerable amount of shade from nearby trees, but I'm hoping there's enough sun to produce lots of delicious veggies. In fact, this year I've decided to participate in the Grow a Row program, where the Capital Area Food Bank pairs gardeners with food banks and other nonprofits that feed the hungry. Mark thinks the whole concept is pretty funny. I don't think I grew an entire row of anything all season last year, and now we're going to give stuff away? We'll see. So far I've had a profusion of leafy greens, and a few radishes. I didn't get the brassicas in the ground early enough, and while the broccoli and bok choi plants got huge, some started to bolt (flower and go to seed) before I was able to harvest anything edible. But, the experiment continues!

lush purple bush beans
lush purple bush beans

Three Sisters Garden: corn, squash, beans Mother Nature is fascinating up close! makeshift bean trellis squasharific

I decided to try a "Three Sisters" patch with corn, several types of squash, and beans. Almost all  plants were grown from seeds I got for free! Gotta love that.

tomaters a-comin'
tomaters a-comin'

tomato/cuke/pepper bed, in mid Maytomato/cuke/pepper bed, in early JuneI started a *ton* of tomato plants from seeds this year. The seeds came from a variety of places: saved from last year's few tomatoes, obtained for free, or in a few specialty cases actually purchased. These mostly-heirloom tomatoes have fun & funky names like "Razzleberry," "Black Cherry," and "Woodle." We'll see what kinds of 'maters start showing up! So far I've spotted a few flowers, which is a good sign, but most of the plants are still too small to produce anything so early in the season.



Cherokee lettuce, my new fave!
Cherokee lettuce, my new fave!

At the end of the day, no matter how many veggies get eaten in our kitchen or donated to charity, I still enjoy this pursuit. There's something zen about digging in the dirt and communing with earthworms. (They sure don't talk back or complain that your project is behind schedule or ask where your updated budget figures are!) It's a connection to my mom and grandmother, who taught me to appreciate the magic of popping a seed in some dirt and coming back to find a living plant. OK, it's not as much fun as spending a month in Italy, but if we're gonna be stuck at the homestead it's not a bad way to pass the time.

insect-attracting perennial wildflower mix
perennial wildflower mix

RELATED LINKS:
* read all garden-related blog posts

* browse all garden pics
* our upcoming travel schedule
* support the Capital Area Food Bank
* more info about Three Sisters Gardens

* Wintersown - learn to sow seeds outdoors!
* Washington Gardener Magazine


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment


14 June 2010
Meet, Plan, Go!
join us in a nationwide movement to realize your travel dreams

Meet, Plan, Go! on September 14

The movie version of Eat, Pray, Love is coming out later this summer, amidst great hoopla. Fans of the book are excited. Fans of Julia Roberts are excited. Fans of chick flicks are just about beside themselves. And the travel community is psyched for an entirely different reason: yet another mainstream outlet is helping legitimize the concept of a career break.

Back in 2007 when I quit my job to travel through Central America, I didn't realize I was taking a "career break." I just knew it was time for a change! Inspired by superstars Rolf Potts and Rita Golden Gelman as much as "real" travel bloggers out there living the dream like Christine Gilbert of Almost Fearless and Sherry Ott of Ottsworld, I was able to find lots of support and inspiration among the online travel community. And I was fortunate to have been raised in a family where international travel was always highly valued. So while it wasn't all that tough for me to make the leap, it was still a pretty big leap to make. Knowing in your heart that you can do something, and convincing your rational brain that it's a good idea, are two totally different things!

Which is why I was so jazzed to hear that the folks at Briefcase to Backpack are planning an event this fall to connect future cubicle escapees with the resources and encouragement to make it happen. Meet, Plan, Go! is a nationwide event happening simultaneously in a dozen locations on the evening of September 14. Despite being common in Europe and Australia, taking a break for extended travel is still anathema to our workaholic US culture. This is a chance to make the leap from "I wish I could do that!" by MEETing with like-minded travelers so you can PLAN to make that dream trip a reality and get out there and GO! Speakers will discuss practical topics like how to financially plan for a big trip, share inspirational stories about how they made the leap, and provide helpful advice on how to capitalize on your experience when you return to the job market.

sign up for the MPG newsletter by June 18 to win a copy of The Big TripInterested in learning more? Sign up for the Meet, Plan, Go! newsletter by June 18 for a chance to win Lonely Planet's "The Big Trip," a guide to career breaks. Event registration will be up and running soon. This event is free and will be held in cities around the US and Canada, so check the site to see if it's coming to a location near you. One lucky attendee will win a trip from Gap Adventures. I'm honored to be hosting the DC event and am working on lining up speakers and sponsors. If you're interested in helping out, drop me a line.

So, let's review:

    * You get to come to a free event and learn about traveling the world
    * You get to network with other people who have traveled the world
    * You get the chance to win a free trip somewhere in the world

What are YOU waiting for???


RELATED LINKS:
* Meet, Plan, Go!
* MPG Facebook fan page
* MPG Twitter feed
* Gap Adventures
* Eat, Pray, Love [the book]
* Eat, Pray, Love [the movie]
* Rita Golden Gelman's site
* Rolf Potts's site
[for other great travel blogs, check out our blogroll at right]

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
04 June 2010
Photo Friday: another view of colonial Williamsburg

On a last-minute whim, we spent Memorial Weekend with our friends Mat & Jen in Williamsburg, VA. None of us are particularly history buffs, so we wound up visiting slightly more alternative sights. (Are you the least bit surprised? I thought not.)

brewery tour of Williamsburg Ale Werks
brewery tour of Williamsburg Ale Werks

lunch and tour at Williamsburg Winery
lunch and tour at Williamsburg Winery

grapes and sunshine... a happy place
grapes and sunshine... a happy place

this MY United States of Whatever!
this MY United States of Whatever!

one if by land, two if by beer
one if by land, two if by beer

obligatory colonial building shot
obligatory colonial building shot,
just to prove we were there


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all Williamsburg pics
* check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments