Monday, January 28, 2013

Things You Can Only Say The Week You Get Back

One of the travel blogs I follow is Everything Everywhere.    Over the weekend, the blog author, Gary, posted a real winner:   Help Prevent Travel Douchebag Syndrome

Please click over and read it for yourself, but know that the moral of the story is that as travelers, we like to talk about our travel. PTDS (because constantly writing douchebag is exhausting) is when travelers talk constantly about where they've been and how it's better wherever they were.   

There is a limited window where people want to hear about your travels.  
It's about one week.

And it goes like this:

      Friend:   How was your vacation?
      You:   Great!   I loved _________ (verb ending in -ing) ________ (place you went).
      Friend:  Glad to hear that.  Welcome back.

And that's about it.   

If your friend has been to _________ (place you went) then they might want to share a few more stories about your favorite ________ (place you ate) and the amazingness of the __________ (famous site you saw).    

If your friend has not been to _________ (place you went), but is planning to go there soon, they may ask you for a couple travel tips.

Last spring, I went to a bridal shower the weekend after I returned from Greece and Turkey.   Most of my friends knew I had been on vacation, even if they didn't know where I went or what I was doing.   I had a limited opportunity to talk about my trip without it sounding like PTDS.   The week you get back is that window of opportunity.   Talking about your vacation is fair game when people ask how you're doing or where you've been the past week   The best phrase I was able to use was "Last weekend in Istanbul....". 

I only had one week to use that phrase.  Had to make it count.   A friend was wearing a scarf around her neck.   Somehow in the course of my last weekend in Istanbul conversation, I talked about how a shopkeeper made fun of how I was wearing my scarf and showed me how to tie it.   Ever since then, if I've worn a scarf that way, I call it the Istanbul style.    Of course, she asked me to tie her scarf that way.

(time passes)

The bride to be gets the gift of a scarf.   From across the room, one of the other guests looks at my friend and says "oooh, I love how you tied your scarf" and she in turn says "Jenni learned how to do this last weekend when she was in Istanbul."    And now the bride to be also has her scarf tied in the Istanbul style.

And that's it.   For the most part, you enjoy the memories of your trip by yourself or with your travel companions.   You post a picture in your office.   Wear a piece of jewelry that you brought back.

You don't say out loud:  the dates are better in Israel, the baklava is better in Greece, or the Irish Coffee is better when served table side at a little Italian restaurant in southern Mexico.    You just hold that inside.    The truth of travel is your little secret.      

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Resolutions, Turkish Carpets and a Little Black Box

It's hard to believe that January is almost over.   The first month of the year and it's pretty much skated right past you.   Did you have any resolutions or goals for the new year?   Any progress?  I wrote about my goals here at the end of December.  
Part of my approach was to use a calendar, just for the month, to highlight goals, to do items and to track my days of fitness (this is working - my goal was 15 days, and I hit #14 yesterday, so I should exceed my least in this area).
One of my goals for January was to get an external hard drive (aka, the little black box).    I've been meaning to do it for a while.  Since 2010.   Why?  I love travel.  That's obvious.    My primary memories are my pictures.   Long after the tan fades,  you have pictures.    Long after your friends want to hear about your trip, you have pictures.   Not backing them up is asking to have your memories taken away.   
It's small.  It's black.  It's the size of my passport, and not much thicker.   
And right now, it is backing up the 33, 617 items in my pictures file.  
And now, on to the land of magic carpets....
I went to Turkey for the first time about 10 years ago.   I decided to splurge and buy myself a small Turkish carpet.   I brought it home and put it down in front of my couch.
And my dog chewed off the corner.  
Lesson learned?  Less things, more experiences.  
When I went to Turkey last year, I felt no desire to buy a carpet.   
I enjoyed the apple tea and the sales spiel.   And I took pictures.  
I can still enjoy my recent Turkish carpet experience.
Without losing a single thread. 


Friday, January 25, 2013

It Came and Went (Again)

This week's Five Minute Friday prompt is Again. 

Do you know what came and went again this week?   My birthday.

It sneaks up, every year, within a month of Christmas.   As a little girl, I struggled with the proximity of Christmas and my birthday.   I had to go a whole eleven months without presents.

Mom, being Mom, solved my jealousy problem.   And it really was my problem.   My sister's birthday is in June.   Nicely spaced half way through the year. 

She decided that my sister and I would each get a present on the other birthday.    Brilliant.   Once we got to college and afterwards (as grown up professionals and all that), we would give each other a small gift on our own birthday.  

For a few years here in Denver, my friends and I would go to the Samba Room to celebrate my birthday.  And then it closed.   Today I went out to breakfast at the restaurant that took it's place on the corner of Larimer Square.  Tom's Urban Diner.   They make grown up pop tarts!   It's a little like the breakfast version of the mojitos that I would have at Samba after work on my birthday.

Larimer Square at 6:30am this morning
Your birthday should be celebrated (again each year) for days on end - maybe an entire month.  


Five Minute Friday is a feature on Lisa Jo's blog encouraging people to write for 5 minutes completely unscripted or unplanned on a particular word.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sweet Potato and Chipotle Soup

It's almost too warm in Denver today for soup.    Mid 40s and brightly sunny today.  I spent the weekend up in the mountains.   No new snow, but beautiful weather for skiing and socializing at Keystone. 
The work week will be sneaking up before I know it, and I want an easy go-to for dinner later this week.   Hello delicious soup (with only 156 calories per serving!). 
What You Need
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
4 medium sweet potatoes (2lbs), peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, chopped (this gave my soup quite a kick, so if you aren't sure how much chipotle love you want, start with 1/3 to 1/2 of a pepper)
7 cups low sodium chicken broth (I used bouillon powder and 7 cups of water)
reduced fat sour cream or goat cheese crumbles for garnish
tortilla chips for garnish
What You Do
In a large heavy pot/dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high.  Add chopped onion and season with salt and pepper.   Cook until onions begin to brown around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.   Add cumin and garlic and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.   Stir in sweet potatoes, chipotle chile, and broth.   Bring to a boil and then reduce to a rapid simmer.   Cook, partially covered, until sweet potatoes can be mashed easily with a spoon.  For me that was about 25 minutes.
Let the soup cool slightly.    You can use either a large food processor or your blender for this next step.   You'll work in batches, putting soup in your processor or blender (max half full) and processing until smooth.   Return the soup to the pot and puree another batch.  You'll know you're done when your entire pot of soup is smooth and creamy.
Season with additional salt and/or pepper to taste.  
Recipe Source:  Everyday Food Light (courtesy of my local library)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Silver Dollar Sammies

The pancake is more versatile than you think.  It's good for breakfast.  It's good for dinner.   You can use sweet ingredients, savory ingredients or both.   
If you're ever looking for a vehicle to serve Biscoff spread, peanut butter, Nutella, or jelly (other than a spoon), a pancake is the way to go.
If it's just a snack for you, make a very small serving of pancake mix.   For these little sammies, I used a half cup of dry pancake mix (Krusteaz Honey Wheat), and mixed with water until I had a nice, thin, smooth batter.    It made 10 silver dollar pancakes - for 5 perfect little pancake sandwiches.
Heat up your griddle.    Pour the batter using a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon.   Grill until the pancake bubbles then flip it over.    Once you take your little pancakes off the griddle, it's time to dress them up.    I made mine using Biscoff spread and Lingonberry preserves.   
They are delicious hot off the grill or the next morning for breakfast.    And next time?   I think they'll be delicious with some bacon.   A PBB&J, if you will.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Where on a Wednesday?

Budget Travel has a feature on their called "10 Places You Would Rather Be on a Wednesday."

It's fun to see what locations and pictures they post and why that particular contributor from the BT community picked that particular place.    This week, probably because we're in the heart of winter, a lot of the locations are tropical:  Hawaii, Guam, Sri Lanka.    And then there's that one, in their layers of cold weather wear, who wants to see the Northern Lights.

This week, I would consider it a toss up between:  a hot tub up in the mountains here in Colorado after a day of skiing or a hammock on a tropical Caribbean isle.  

Where would you rather be this week?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Next Time, Santorini

Most of the time, I write and post pictures of the places I have been.   
In fact, it's hard to have your own pictures of a place you've never been.

And then there is Santorini.  

Today I saw this picture in my news feed.   
Imagine.    48 Hours in Santorini. 

Photo Credit:  G Adventures

Santorini is a big deal for such a small island.   35 square miles small, to be
exact.     The blue domed churches on the island are some of the most photographed in the world.   Everyone who has been to Greece says "Don't miss Santorini."

Here's one of my pictures from a place I've never been:  Santorini

We were close.    We could see the idyllic villages and churches.   A glass of wine while watching the sun set over the Aegean Sea was almost within reach.
It was a beautiful sunny day in the Greek Isles.   Nothing would stand in the way of our entire ship enjoying the magical beauty of Santorini.
Except high winds.    Winds closed the cable car.   Winds stopped the tender boats from coming to get us.   High winds caused passengers to cry when the voice came over the loudspeaker telling us that we would not be disembarking on Santorini.   That we were, in fact, going to turn away and head back to the port of Pireaus in Athens.  
Next time, Santorini.  
Next time.  


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