Traveling Well

Travel quote

As everyone’s Summer travel winds down, these quotes seemed wonderfully apt.

Travel is a big part of my career, both as a communications consultant and as a writer/dreamer/observer of life. But it definitely took some time to wrap my head around the fact that life is unspooling all around me, whether I’m at home or not.

At first, traveling so frequently felt like a treat. Then, an exhausting interruption. Finally, I’ve decided the best way to travel both frequently and well is to simply embrace it as part and parcel of my everyday life. I can live my life – all book reading, coffee drinking, running, writing minute of it – whether I’m in my apartment in the San Francisco fog belt or in the heart of London…which, coincidentally, is also probably ensconced in fog. I guess I just love clouds that are low to the ground.

Champers on a plane

The trick is to develop some travel rules, especially for business travel. Here’s what I need to travel well:

1. Always find time to run. If that means at 10pm so I can tire myself out like a hamster on a wheel, or just getting up 20 minutes earlier in the morning, I always find my run.

2. Coffee is a must. Whether I’m in Dallas or Denmark, starting the morning with the ritual of coffee is a way to center myself for the day.

3. Write every day. I write every single day, no matter where in the world I am. Whether it’s a blog post, a snippet of a short story, or some hard hours of planning and research for my novel, writing brings me back to a state of internal-ness that is easy to lose when surroundings are unfamiliar or chaotic.

4. Indulge intelligently. At first, every work trip felt like vacation, and to me , vacation is a free-for-all. A little Tuesday-Thursday rumspringa to indulge in everything. A few headaches and extra LBs later… It’s not worth it. I continue to eat as I normally do (plus or minus a few delicious shared desserts) and instead, indulge by watching an episode of Scandal or going to be at 9pm because there’s no one there to judge. Ha!

What does traveling well mean to you?

PS – a great airplane playlist, and how to blend in while traveling.

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Europe Taught Me…

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If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I’ve been, well, everywhere in the past few weeks. Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Nashville! Oh the glamour. If you’ve been to Nashville, you know glamour, amirite?

I am so fortunate to have a job that sends me all over the world, and not just because I love to travel. The experience of seeing new things and checking the box on a new country is, to me, secondary to the things you learn from people in other countries. For example, in France two weeks ago, I learned that even though my French is “making progress” (which is nice person code for “still pretty bad”) I am still nowhere near fluent enough to be ordering things unsupervised. Especially not cocktails. Some cocktails are delicious, while others may or may not taste like mushroom. What is a martini rouge? Still don’t know, and also do not recommend that you order one yourself. Unless you like your drinks like you like your mushrooms: mushroom-esque.

Key learning #1: stick with wine. This is just a life learning, really.

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The other (and probably more important) takeaway from this trip was around spontaneity. I’m a major planner and I love checking things off a list and getting shit done. I haven’t always been this way, but that’s what we’re working with now. Traveling with a colleague who is the complete opposite of that was a wonderful exercise in letting go of planning and fully embracing a wander mentality. Shall we hop on a train to Milan and wander with gelato in hand? Yes. Shall we hop on a train to Zurich and spend hours touching soft things in their opulent department stores? Yes. Would that have made a daily agenda item? No. Am I extremely delighted it happened? YES. Always make time to wander.

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Other things I learned:

. Swiss people are the nicest people in the world. Courteous, friendly, and kind. And with its big city amenities, college town energy, and alpine air, Zurich is the most perfect city in the world. I’m moving.

. Tina Turner also lives in Zurich. This newfound knowledge neither persuades nor dissuades me.

. Fondue makes a great lunch. And snack. And dinner.

. Do not buy the large bottles of interesting beer at the beginning of the day. Rookie move all the way.

. Italians are too cool for you. They are also too cool to explain things to you, so if you want that panini you gotta throw some ‘bows and yell at somebody until you get it. But seriously, jump in there.

. It pays to leave extra room in your carry-on to bring back chocolate.

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Have you been anywhere recently? What did you learn? DO TELL!

Stereotypes

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Had to laugh when I overheard these snippets in my class in Switzerland:

“The key to life is good footwear” – a French woman

“You can go pretty much everywhere on your bike, no?” – a Swiss woman

“Where did all the lunch go? I would like more of those sandwiches.” – a German woman

Compost Cookies

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I love to compost. This is not a lie. It seems like it would be, I know, because who loves to compost? Really, who can get all excited about egg shells and coffee grounds and sad, squashed lemon wedges.  This hippie, that’s who. I LOOOOOVE it. When we got our new compost bucket from the city, I did a little dance of joy while boyfriend looked askancely on.

If one can look askancely, he most definitely did.

But my love of composting typically stops at the bucket. Old dairy product? Get away from me. Expired bread? Hit the road, jack. Dried out tortilla chips? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And take that weird smelling salsa with you.

However, inspiration struck today, in the form of cookies. I have made hundreds of batches of chocolate chip cookies in my lifetime. I could mix that biz in my sleep. But with or without nuts, with butterscotch chips added, or Maldon sea salt on top, no matter what I do, these cookies are boring me. Did you hear that chocolate chip? BORING. Stop resting on your cookie laurels and step aside, because there’s a new cookie in town. And new cookie, thy name is compost.

Behold – a truly incredible cookie. Inspired by the Momofuku Milk Bar compost cookie, though this isn’t the actual Momfuku recipe. Theirs called for a few things I didn’t have on hand, plus a whopping amount of “glucose” which sounded disgusting. I realize that glucose is just sugar, but I’d prefer my sugar to come in a recognizable form, like M’n’Ms or sprinkles. Help me lie to myself, won’t you?

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In fact, if I could indulge myself even further with lies and delusions of grandeur (which I obviously will) I will go out on a limb and say it’s better than the Momofuku cookie. Different, and better. That’s right David, you have awards out the wazoo and Bon Appetite in the palm of your hand and I have…myself. And this blog. And a really askance boyfriend.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And take that weird smelling salsa with you.

MOMOFUKU-INSPIRED COMPOST COOKIES

Ingredients:

. 2 cups all-purpose flour

. 1 teaspoon baking soda

. 2 sticks of butter, softened to room temp

. 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

. 3/4 cup granulated sugar (if you like things less sweet, you can make this a scanty 3/4 cup)

. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

. 2 large, organic eggs

. 1/2 cup chocolate chips

. 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

. 1/2 cup rolled oats

. 1 tsp crunchy peanut butter

. 1 tsp Nutella

. 1/2 tsp coffee grounds (Pumpkin Spice coffee from Trader Joe’s is in season and incredibly bomb in this recipe)

. 1/4 rainbow sprinkles

. small handful of pretzel sticks

. small handful of M’n’Ms (again, pumpkin spice M’n’Ms are in right now and they’re amazing, though plain will be equally good!)

Instructions:

*The base of this recipe is actually the classic Nestle Toll House more than it is Momofuku. Much of this recipe proceeds as normal, if you’re familiar with the Nestle recipe. The Momofuku twist is, of course, the salty/sweet combo, as well as the pumpkin-flavored ingredients. I had a pumpkin pie and salted pretzel frozen yogurt twist at Milk Bar two years ago that I still think about. Damn you, David Chang. The pretzels and pumpkin elements in this cookie are inspired by that dessert.*

1. Combine flour, coffee grounds and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, Nutella, and crunchy peanut butter until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in thoroughly.

3. Combine the two bowls and mix until the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated.

4. Add the fun stuff! The measurements above will help, but really, you can run riot. Throw stuff in, add nuts, potato chips, whatever. After your morsels are in there, I recommend mixing by hand with a spatula. The mixer will turn your pretzels into smithereens and then your dough will become an undesirable consistency. The pretzel sticks bake best when you chop them into thirds (ish).

5. Chill for a few hours. Or overnight, but a few hours will do.

6. Bake at 375, five minutes on the top rack, five minutes on the bottom. At least, in my oven that’s what works best.

Eat! These are GREAT hot out of the oven, but they’re also great when paired with fun ice cream. We stuck cookies in tiny scoops of pumpkin spice ice-cream last week and it was perfect.

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