Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Botswana Baked Polenta

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Botswana is not only known for it abundance of elephants but their many fabulous chefs.  While we were traveling on safari this summer we were treated to some delicious locals foods. They are tasty and inexpensive.This baked polenta recipe is from Kwetsani Camp in the Okawango Delta, part of the Wilderness Safari group. Since it’s a water based camp, the staff needs to plan their meals carefully and load up on pantry items.  This recipe uses instant polenta and a jarred relish (but I’ll include a homemade relish too).Botswana Baked Polenta

Chef Olivia and her trusted assistant

Serve the polenta hot with a green leafy salad and ginger lemonade. Simple and delicious!

Fall Foliage Trips

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

It’s almost here, the most incredible time of year.  The leaves are just beginning to change, by the end of this month, they’ll be in full color and probably peaking around mid- October, so start making your plans now.  In Vermont, the season is short, but, spectacular.  I’ve had many friends ask why? Why move to Vermont?  The answer, spring, summer and FALL.  Many of my friends visit this time of year, and I have found that having trips on tap is not a bad idea.  In the past, we’ve done walking trips in Jamaica State Park, visited the Southern Vermont Arts Center, Northshire Bookstore, (the best in the country), and driven Route 100 to Weston and  The Vermont Country Store. This year, I’m ready to venture a little farther.

Jamaica State Park

My friend, Kathy, had a wonderful suggestion, visit the diners!  She sent me a link to the diners in Southern Vt. that serve up local produce, what a wonderful, inexpensive way to tour the state.  I’ve only eaten at the Blue Benn, but I can assure you that if this is a sample of the diners on this tour, you are in for a treat.

Northshire Bookstore

If you visit Quechee, stop by Simon Pearce,   Have you seen “Sweet Home Alabama”? Simon Pearce did the glass products that are showcased in “Jake’s” store.  They also have a wonderful restaurant.  Call ahead, they were hit by Irene.

Woodstock, Near Quechee

If Brattleboro is where you end up, shop the vintage shops, Twice Upon A Time for furniture, and Boomerang for clothes.  Brattleboro also has Amy’s Bakery and multiple ethnic restaurants that are great. If  you are a mystery lover, there is Mystery on Main, a bookstore that specializes.

near Brattleboro

If you decide to visit Birdseye Diner in Castleton, and have the time and the money, keep heading north, up 7, to the Shelburne Museum. I’m so in love with this place, I’ve written a couple of blogs already. You won’t be disappointed. You will want to stay overnight, So look for lodging in the area, The Shelburne is, at least, an all day adventure.

The Shelburne

Don’t miss this,time of year in Vermont, it’s Mother Nature at her best.

Summer Olympics… Inspiring

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

The opening ceremonies were full of tradition and surprises… Countryside scenes, traditional, historical music, British humor, British legends, and Royals. I thought the filmed scenes of the queen with the James Bond character was sensational. What fun and whimsy! Good for her to allow that and be part of a fun joke at her royal highness’ expense! Good show! Thank you Danny Boyle and England!

London is a fabulous city. It looks as though it was well planned. Good job! What was Mitt Romney so concerned about anyway? A city that moves people and a central location for all events. I have heard that they didn’t have the crowds of people they were hoping for. Evidently that is a recurring problem with the recent, past 10, 15 years of Olympiads. They plan for hoards of people to attend, even building new hotels and restaurants hoping for boosts in business and hiring more staff in anticipation and in the end the people stay away and the locals leave town fearing the discomfort and inconvenience. I guess now is the time to go. After the Olympics are done and everyone is leaving and the rush of the excitement is still present. Rooms are discounted and air fares are also low to encourage the end of summer travelers.

I miss the Olympics. It was great to have so many choices for entertainment in the evening. I love my Tivo and recorded the daily events and could go back to anything. The swimming and the gymnastics were exciting. The track held me amazed at the incredible feets in just second… A flash of time and records are broken. The human being at a physical peak takes their body to the edge… and then does it again…

The Beach Volley Ball….

To think that Beach Volley ball is an Olympic sport! This speaks to present times not the past. It was introduced at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, a demonstration event, and has been an official Olympic sport since 1996. We, the USA teams, have won gold in either men’s or women’s since 1996. Right on team.

I personally find the uniforms rather revealing, almost sexually exploitive for media purposes. I am sure there are those at home watching for reasons other than athletic interest now. They do look very containing, and supportive. I would say that of all the sports now. The athletic attire has become rather like extreme costuming. They were joking on TV about a man’s penis and whether he was aroused for the medal ceremony… Well so what if he was, or perhaps he just has a larger one… just like women’s breasts, they come in different sizes and shapes and these things are hard to hide in the skin tight minimal clothing specially designed for the teams… It was an exciting moment for him and with all the men and women in such evocative attire how could he help it in that moment, and with the snug fitting, form revealing uniforms how was he to hide it. Where? Really!

But then the Olympics of ancient Greece and Rome were done naked! The human body being celebrated and the athletic prowess rewarded.

Of course, I love to watch the sports that I have enjoyed doing myself. As a young girl in gymnastic class, didn’t we all imagine ourselves at the Olympics… Remembering Nadia, Kathy Rigby…

Cathy Rigby went on  to acting and you could find her guest staring in a role on a TV series for a while. Then she really blew up on stage with her teaching Peter and Wendy to FLY on Broadway in Peter Pan.

On the diving board when a child is asking her mom or brother and sister to rate their dive, we play at our own little competition with ourselves, wanting to do our best. The crazy fun I had with my sister when we would attempt the synchronized swimmers upside down movements or the apparent lack of above the water as they hold a pose gracefully never showing the manic paddling that it takes to keep a leg poised upward and then jut it up suddenly in synchronicity with others on the team. Wow! Remembering the old movies with the swimmer movie star, Esther Williams! I haven’t been to any of the Sea or Ocean amusement parks since I was young.. Oh no I forget the bay area Marine World  Africa USA in Vallejo, California. I think they call it something else now. Surely there is an ocean theme park that employs these amazing anonymous athletes that spend much of there performance time holding their breath. I am thinking in Florida.

While we play at our sports, some are taking the play seriously and making it a life passion, direction, and later profession. I do miss the days when the Olympic athletes could not be professionals. that when they would only become endorsed or advertised after they decided to leave the amateur status and that had to be a big decision whether to pursue another 4 years of intense Olympic aspiration driven training with out the financial backing of any large business. In history many Olympic athletes were working a day or night job while striving to find time to train. I am sure there are still many who do, but so many of the athletes today are supported by the sporting companies.  The rock stars of the Olympic games are able to support their training and have major contracts with their sponsors well ahead. I wonder what the past athletes would have accomplished if they were able to have an extra 3 to 4 hours in the pool, while their mother looked on, free to drive them and spectate because she didn’t have to take a job to support her gifted child’s pursuit of the coveted Gold, Silver, and Bronze. I am sure families still have a challenge to deal with the intensity and demands of supporting and encouraging the gifted athlete, but the ability to now have the financial support of commercial sponsors is powerful.

I do miss the simpler times of the amateur athlete at the Olympics. It seemed to be a more pure sense of competition. Just the athletes without the business and money behind the advertising. Many would retire from Olympic pursuits just so they could cash in while the offers were still there for them. Now we have Olympians who return for 3 even more games. Amazing that you can, but also wonderful to stand back and feel your success and open the door for others to experience the opportunity after you, the same glory.

I would list the names of all the US Olympians, but that would take more time and we know so many and we just watched them. I was amazed daily with the athletes from all over the world…. The swimmers, runners, vaulters, jumpers, racquet swinging, shot put hurling….You know who you are inspired by.

I imagine the work and skills that are developed by these athletes and in some way covet their incredible abilities… Their natural ability was a gift of birth and their dedication and perseverance to perfect their moves and pursue an excellence such that few will ever achieve at anything in life. Bravo… I admire and applaud you.

Alembic, Restaurant in San Francisco’s Haight

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Alembic Bar. Small and sweet… Short luscious menu… Long intricate cocktail list… So much to tempt with the libations and yet I went for the Pisco Sour and a bowl of grilled, salted peppers. Similar in essence to the bowl of edamame at a sushi restaurant. The bowl of popcorn that they bring out with your cocktail was savory. Herbed, spiced, and I am debating if it was cooked in olive oil then buttered or if it was just butter? Even some seaweed as seasoning. I wanted a bag to go. I enjoyed it so much last night that I had to return again tonight.

I am in San Francisco taking a perfumery class from the infamous Jeanne Rose, renown herbalist and aromatherapist extraordinaire. Staying at a modest hotel at the edge of the Haight, the Stanyan Park is a few blocks from my class.

Stanyan Hotel then

and now

Jeanne had listed Alembic in an email. I noticed it because that is the name of the distilling apparatus for producing essential oils and also for distilling liquors and liqueurs.

There is a woman in my class from Chile and that made me feel sentimental about the Pisco Sour on the cocktail menu. I firts had a pisco sour in Santiago, Chile and then I had a pisco sour wherever I went in South America( Terra del Paine I had the calafate sour, calafate being a local berry growing wild in the high rugged mountains) and was so excited about my pisco discovery that I carried 4 bottles of the grape distillation home with me. I was happily surprised to find that the Pisco cocktail was already discovered and being reproduced  in bars and restaurants in the states already. In Vermont I was so excited to find a pisco cocktail at my favorite restaurant in South Londonderry, Solo, Farm and Table.

Here they created something very summery and unique with a house made rhubarb syrup.

A Woman of Character, or Just a Character? Shelburne Museum

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

This weekend, I fell in love.  I fell in love with The Shelburne Museum, another Vermont gem that I had never taken the time to visit until now, but, more importantly, I fell in love with the woman who created the museum, Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960). Electra  grew up, in a NYC mansion on Fifth Avenue, surrounded by priceless works of art, many by the French Impressionists, she traveled the world with her wealthy parents who collected treasures from Europe and the Orient.  Imagine her mother’s chagrin when at age 19, Electra purchased her first piece of artwork, a wooden Indian from outside a cigar store in Connecticut.  ” I wanted to collect something that nobody else was collecting,”  Electra explained.

Electra was a true non-conformist, while her peers were establishing those huge marble summer homes in Newport, RI, Electra and her husband chose to summer in Vermont, where his family lived. She hunted bear and caribou, travelled to Alaska and the Canadian Rockies, often the only woman on the expeditions.  In WWI, she volunteered to drive an ambulance in NYC.  Nutsy, gutsy, fun loving and intelligent, Electra was passionate about everything she did.

When her collections threatened to take over her homes in Vt. and NY, Electra combined them with a collection of wagons , carriages and sleighs belonging to her husbands family , purchased a small piece of land in Vt, and began collecting buildings.  The Shelburne Museum was born. She collected a railroad station, a covered bridge, a lighthouse, general store and one room schoolhouse. Perhaps most impressive, the steamship, Ticonderoga, is now happily docked on the lawn at Shelburne.  Talk about re-cycling!

Truthfully, this woman has captured my imagination, she easily travelled among the crowned heads of Europe and the farmers, carpenters and blacksmiths of Vermont.  She respected the work of ordinary people and saw their creations as extraordinary works of art. Electra did what made her happy.  She defied convention and created a living monument to American Creativity.Don’t miss the Shelburne when you’re in Vermont.

Jack Mitrani’s 5 Reasons to Attend the 2012 Frendly Gathering

Friday, May 25th, 2012

By: Heather Hendricks

The third annual Frendly Gathering in Windham, Vermont, is less than three weeks away and the anticipation for the event is ramping up.

The three-day grassroots music festival will take place June 14-16 and is the brainchild of the Frends Crew. With over 40 bands and DJ’s slated to perform, this year’s event is bound to be the biggest to date.

We spoke with Jack Mitrani, a member of the Frends Crew who’s spearheading the event, and he gave us five reasons why he thinks you should attend this year’s festivities.

Take it away Jack!

1. The Frendly Gathering wouldn’t be a Frendly Gathering unless you and your Frends were there… Obviously that’s el numero uno.

2.There will be 40 Bands/DJ’s, 5 stages, one stage in the trees, a skate ramp, drumming workshops, dance parties, and everything else you could ever imagine to have the best time possible.

3It’s a perfect event and reason to get all of your Frends together in the same place at the same time to enjoy the outdoors, camping, music, yoga, hiking, dancing and whatever else you like to do with your Frends.

4. Ben and Jerry’s is giving away free ice cream everyday.

5.Why not? You only live once so come out and have a good time with your Frends!

Check out the official Frendly Gathering video and head to to get in on this year’s fun!

Learn a language and get out of your comfort zone

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

I love to talk! Yes, I know that’s a shocking admission. Nothing shuts me up faster then not knowing the language of the places I travel. You know, the deer in the headlight expression you get when someone speaks quickly in their native dialect. Our world is getting smaller everyday.

courtesy of cvageography.blogspot

We’re talking to internet specialists in India and ordering items from fair trade companies in South America. So I guess if I could give you all any advise, I’d say learn another language.  This past spring I took a four week intensive Spanish class.

It was only 2 hours a day but my head would be spinning by the end.  And once I got out of my comfort zone of being embarrassed by my pronunciation and started speaking in my slow “Tonto” voice, the small world of Sayulita, Mexico opened up.  Usually they would smile and correct me but I found the more I spoke, the more confident I got and the more conversations I was able to have. Beside being able to read road signs, I could read the menu and order.

courtesy of

Everyone learns differently. For me, I need a classroom situation that enables me to ask questions. You might want to check the local high school, community college or adult learning center to see about available courses in your neighborhood.  There are plenty of free (or inexpensive) programs for download or more structured computer classes like the Rosetta Stone. I found these programs very valuable when going over pronunciation and phrases. So if you’re a little intimidated (which I really understand) start with a simple, hello! A nice greeting with, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak your language” in their dialect will help you more than you know.  And the world will get a little smaller.

In and Around Portland Oregon

Monday, May 14th, 2012

My family became acquainted with this beautiful area of the country years ago because of the opportunity to go snowboarding in summer at Mount Hood.  My daughter Liza ended up in college in Portland with her boyfriend Jared, and now Portland has become their home.  Their wedding is planned for July and I prepared this list of things to do when visiting the area for my family and friends.  A spectacular part of the country that is worth exploring  if you have the chance!


ROSE GARDEN Portland is the rose city.  The gardens are beautiful with countless rose varieties. You just stroll around. Close to Japanese gardens.

Garden Hours

7:30 am to 9:00 PM daily

Free Admission and parking

JAPANESE GARDENS– Located directly above Rose Gardens in Washington Park, so do both if you can.  611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland. Admission 9.50 adults, 6.75 kids 6-17.  Take the tour.  The tea house is fun for a spot of tea when you are done.

CHINESE GARDENS Very pretty.  NW 3rd and Everett 9.50 adults.  I have yet to find a good restaurant in Portland’s Chinatown

PITTOCK Great views.  The Pittock Mansion is located two miles of downtown, off West Burnside at 3229 NW Pittock Dr. You will need the car to get here.  8.50 adults, 5.50 kids 6-18. Hours 10-5.  Figure 1/2 hour to an hour to see. Fun to do even without going for the tour.  Great view and walking around the grounds.

THE NINES HOTEL BAR Great BAR Departure’s bar showcases exotic cocktails, a global wine list and the city’s largest sake list. The saké and shochu list represents many hand-crafted, artisan producers. Departure boasts the design skills of Jeff Kovel of Skylab Architecture, one of Portland’s leading architectural firms. The 9,000 square-foot space added a new full-level 15th floor to the original 1908 Meier & Frank building and two new rooftop patios with views overlooking downtown Portland, the Willamette River, Mt. Hood and Mount St. Helens.

Powells Book Store A Portland landmark, downtown. Browse forever.  Close to Jake’s restaurant.

Mother’s Restaurant The perfect breakfast brunch spot.  Warning there is often a line!

Jakes 401 SW 12th Ave (SW Stark cross st) My favorite Portland restaurant, classic seafood, near Powells Books.  Make a reservation now. Hard to park but have valet.  Have oysters at the bar while admiring the art work.

Hawthorne – Liza and Jared’s neighborhood.  Funky and fun, full of small ethnic restaurants, tons of shops, good for strolling.  Grab a hot dog at Zach’s Shack, the best pizza ever try Pizza Scholls.   Impossible to get in opens at 5pm.

Mt Tabor Park–,_Portland,_Oregon Gorgeous views and not tremendous.  Views, trails, water, strange happenings in the woods.  It’s all here.  Don’t miss the volcano cone thingie.  Don’t miss the long-ass stairway on the north side and elsewhere.  The huge water reservoirs are quite interesting and pleasant to walk around.  It’s not everywhere that you can view your drinking water before it gets to your home.  This is where your dog wants you to take him.


Multmonah Falls A MUST…plan on walking around the grounds.  Also a beautiful delicious restaurant for lunch

McMenamins Edgefield Troutdale on the way to Mt Hood and Hood River.  This was a poor house back during the depression and you are free to walk around the building which is amazing and full of history and art work,  There is a winery and wine tasting room.  Gardens and restaurants, spa, and ampitheatre.


Town of Hood River– Wind surfing capital of the world!  Fun funky town loaded with shops restaurants and views.

The Waterfront Park is great for a picnic or to fly a kite, only about 0.8 miles from the Hood River Hotel, and while there is ample space for parking, it’s also a quick and easy walk. Whether you’re walking or driving, follow these directions: From the Hood River Hotel, head West on Oak Street toward 2nd Ave. Turn right onto 2nd Ave cross over the highway and proceed through the stoplight. Turn left at the second stop sign, and the Park is located just west of 8th Street along the river. It’s easy to find.

Fruit Loop– Take the 35 mile scenic drive through the valley’s orchards, forests, farmlands and friendly communities.

Lavendar Farm– A sight  to see that won’t take much time.

Lost Lake– This is the lake you have seen photographed over and over with the mountain reflected on it.  Very gorgeous.  There is camping and a perfect place for a picnic.


Timberline Lodge A MUST SEE.  Historic and beautiful on Mt Hood.  Take the free tour, it’s great!  Delicious food.  Hikes with wild flowers.  See where the kids all went to camp.  You can ski or snowboard if you dare. My sons Luke and Jack will have just completed giving a camp.

Government Camp This is the town for Mt Hood.  It is home to many of the snowboard and skateboard camps.  Loaded with kids from all over.  This is where you’ll find Luke skating at High Cascade. Have lunch at the Brew Pub.  They brew a great beer and serve the best fish taco and you can eat outside.


Mary Hill Winery A must while in Hood River.  Not far over the bridge into Washington State.  Great wine, great views, and an  outdoor theatre.


Canon Beach This is where you’ll want to go.  The gigantic rocks jut out of the ocean and star fish abound.  A Hamptons like town with shops and restaurants. An hour and a half from Portland…can easily be done in a day.   A sight  to see that won’t take much time.

Vermont Music Festival…The Frendly Gathering Official Video

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Get out the calendars for June 14th -16th, gather your music loving frends and family, dig out your tents, and buy your tickets for the time of your life at the Frendly gathering Music Festival in Timber Ridge, Vermont.  Watch the video for inspiration and details.

whatwouldPaulinaluasay? Moms talking to young professionals en Mexico

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Paulina at Entre Amigo Community Center

I recently caught up with mi maestra extraordinaria, Paulina Lua at her boyfriend’s restaurant, Atico in Sayulita, Mexico. Paulina is a psychology graduate of University of Guadalajara living and working in the San Pacho/Sayulita Mexico area. She has traveled extensively throughout South America and has visited Europe and the United States

Paulina, tell us a little about your jobs. I am the director of scholarship at the Entre Amigos, a cultural community center in San Pancho which provides financial and educational support for youths ages 7-19.  The financial support helps keeps youths in high school as well as providing assistance to their first ever college age female. I’m also a  Spanish emersion teacher at Costa Verde International School in Sayulita. Costa Verde is a small private primary school in town that gives the students a bilingual environmental conscious education.

What are the best and worst things about your jobs? Teaching Spanish enables me to meet internationals and learn about their culture. In exchange, I’m able to educate them on the Mexican way of life.  I find that people visiting Sayulita are looking for a relaxed outdoor way of life and once they become part of the community, learning Spanish helps them volunteer in local projects.  Costa Verde also provides classes to Mexican families wanting to learn English. I’m very proud of the work done at the community center and helping students get through school. It’s good to see that its working.  I guess the worst thing about my job, is the lack of funding for the kids. The other challenge is getting the parents to see that change is good.  For example, our female student going to college, applied without her parents permission.  They eventually saw the benefits to college and are very supportive now.

Stain glass made from recycled bottles

What are your passions? My job is my passion.  When I was working in Guadalajara, I felt I wasn’t making an impact.  Coming to Sayulita and living a simpler life has made my work more gratifying. The children here don’t have a lot of material things so they are very appreciate of the support.  It’s a small community, so we can change things a little at a time. Do what you love and the money will come later.

Who was the biggest influence on your life? My Dad, he always made me try something before I said no.  So I found that I liked more things than I thought I would.  Also, my college professor, who taught the importance of having a social conscience.

Where do you see yourself in the future? In the jungle, in small communities where there is work to be done.  I love nature and would like to travel some more.  You have quite of few National Parks in the US!

What advise to you have for young people looking for their first job? Don’t do anything unless its fun and if you have to do something, make it fun!

Paulina and Jacob at Atico, a delicious organic breakfast stop in Sayulita, MX

Please visit the entreamigos website to see a community project that is working! It’s teaching the kids art, language and the importance of recycling.  How lucky this community is to have such a fun and dedicated woman as Paulina!