30 December 2009

15% down. 85% to go. 53 days.

The Global Citizen Project is 15% funded with $3,081 in pledges as of tonight. Big thank you's to the latest backers, Alison Stein Wellner, Margarite Alvarez and Amanda Castleman for your support.

I've been wracking my brain to compile some kind of heartfelt year-end recap (because isn't that what all writers do?), but have been too overwhelmed and distracted by non-stop, keep-me-up-at-night creative forces to put it into a neat and tidy little blog post. Maybe if I give myself some distance from 2009, I'll be better able to make sense of it all and express it in a thoughful, unhurried fashion. One thing is certain: I am extremely grateful for a lot of people, places and things in my life/world. I'm also completely inspired by everyone who's shown support for The Global Citizen Project. I wouldn't be able to do this without you, and I appreciate every single suggestion, creative idea, and pledge you've shared with me. Hopefully, I can pull this project off and I'll be able to share the rewards of the volunteer experiences with you.

Here's wishing you a wonderful 2010 filled with lots of love, happiness and wanderlust. xo

tasty 2009 memories (plus a cocktail recipe)

We heart the Big Easy. Big time. Rock ‘n’ Bowl at Mid City Lanes, music at Donna’s Bar and Grill and famous drinking establishments with storied pasts make us swoon, but it’s the unforgettable meals we’ve had that makes New Orleans one of our all-time favorite dining destinations.

Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of dining at the Bar Chef Table at Café Adelaide & The Swizzle Stick Bar in Loews New Orleans Hotel with the grande dames of the Big Easy – cousins and co-authors, Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan.

To say it was a mere meal would be a huge understatement – it was a multi-hour, paired cocktail and culinary adventure woven with colorful stories and true Southern hospitality. Reigning over our escapades was Bar Chef Lu Brow and Executive Chef Chris Lusk, a creative tag team of taste that will make your mouth very, very happy.

Recently. Ms. Brow has been left to her own creative devices and just debuted a brand new wave of cocktails. According to the PR peeps:

“Each drink has some New Orleans whimsy or was created for a special New Orleans occasion – all have Lu’s love of her city and her profession crackling in the glass.”

And here are some of Brow’s latest cleverly-named concoctions:

Whoopsie Daisy, Oh What A Night!, Brandy, You’re A Fine Girl, Wild Magnolia (named for the famous Mardi Gras Indian tribe and made with Brow’s own housemade bitters), Sloe Gin Bliz (an homage to Brow’s favorite summer snoball stand) and Bewitched (has ingredients that hail from a local voodoo shop). The drinks start at $9 at Cafe Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar.

Lusk complements Brow’s menu with creative Louisiana-inspired Bar Bites divided into “Tastes,” “Nibbles,” and “Big Bites.” Our faves: Blue Crab Cake Pound Cake with Port Salut “Icing” & Truffled Crab Claws, Shrimp & Tasso “Corndogs” with Five Pepper Jelly, Pickled Okra, Chicory Greens and Crystal Hot Sauce and Beef Bourguignon Debris “Smashed” Po-Boy and Potato Crusted Onion Rings and Roasted Mushroom Aioli.

We know by now you can’t wait to taste Brow’s liquid handiwork, so here you have it:

Red-Headed Stepchild

Lots of redheads in the family– Adelaide was a redhead, and so are Dottie and Ti; and – coincidentally enough – so is Lu. The cayenne rim makes this drink a redhead, too.

Makes 1 cocktail

1 teaspoon super fine sugar
1 teaspoon finely ground cayenne pepper
1 lemon wedge
2 ounces peach brandy
1 ounce Calvados
1 ounce orange juice

Combine the sugar and cayenne on a saucer and mix well. Wet half the rim of a chilled martini glass with the lemon wedge and dip into the sugar-cayenne mixture. Set aside.

Combine the brandy, Calvados and orange juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the prepared glass and serve immediately. Makes one cocktail.

29 December 2009

aww, shucks. the global citizen project is a "top blog/organisation" on On UR Way Travel

Wow. (Blush.) The Global Citizen Project is mentioned as one of Sasha Peakall, Founder of On UR Way Travel's "Top Blogs and Organisations" in her Travel for Change post. I'm in mighty fine company with Volunteer Global, World Youth International, Inspired Adventures, and i-to-i Life Changing Travel. If you want to learn how to contribute when you travel, this article is a good reminder of that it isn't all that difficult to be part of positive change.

I'm also pleased as punch that Sasha will be featuring The Global Citizen Project in the debut issue of On UR Way Emag coming out in January 2010. Of course, I will be sure to post that link the second it's live. Thanks again Sasha and On UR Way Travel for your support of The Global Citizen Project. It really means a lot to me. xo

making commitments

I'm in end-of-the-year mode, trying to wrap up several projects, check off items still lingering on the "To Do" list and gear up for the final 54 days of fundraising for The Global Citizen Project. Planning this project has been a work in progress, evolving as I go along with your help, suggestions and insights. Thank you.

Since I'm guessing some people may not be keen to the idea of pledging to community volunteer projects to-be-determined, I'm trying to confirm and commit to which programs I most want to work with if The Global Citizen Project meets its $20K goal by February 22, 2010. I just broke the $3K mark, but still have a long way to go -- $16,944 to be exact. As of this moment, I've committed to three of the 12 volunteer projects and I'm currently in communcation with six others. Fingers crossed I can get details squared away with those organizations right after the new year. That leaves three projects left to nail down and I have a general idea of what and where I'd do and go for those blank spaces on my service dance card.

So far, here's what I have in mind for my 12 volunteer projects:

Project/program: Karikuy
Destination: Lima, Peru
Cause: blogging/social media for Perupedia

Project/program: Building a Future
Destination: Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Cause: educational and social development of underprivileged children

Project/program: GeoVisions
Destination: Costa Rica
Cause: teach English/tutor 9-14 year old children in underprivileged school/community

Project/program: Reef Care Curaçao
Destination: Curaçao, Netherland Antilles
Cause: marine conservation
(waiting to confirm)

Project/program: Refugio Infantil Santa Esperanza
Destination: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Cause: abandoned/abused children
(waiting to confirm)

Project/program: Cocoon House
Destination: Everett, Washington
Cause: guest chef/preparing meals for homeless youth
(waiting to confirm)

Project/program: Volunteer Las Tolas
Destination: Las Tolas, Ecuador
Cause: environmental conservation
(waiting to confirm)

Project/program: Sleeping Children Around the World
Destination: TBD
Cause: provide bed kits to needy children
(waiting to confirm)

Project/program: UNICEF
Destination: TBD
Cause: children’s health/outreach
(waiting to confirm)

Three projects TBD: Looking for one in Europe, one that is parks/public lands related, and one more that I'm hoping I'll learn of via word-of-mouth. If you have any ideas for volunteer projects that may fit the criteria bill (or not), I'm all ears. Please feel free to email me or comment.

guest blog post: OneTravel

The Global Citizen Project is featured today as the guest blog post today on OneTravel.com, which specializes in cheap flights. Read it here. Thank you, Aldo Singer for the opportunity!

how can you help?

A lot of people have asked me how they can help make The Global Citizen Project happen. Since time is of the essence – I must meet my funding goal of $20K by February 22, 2010 – right now, I’m primarily looking for two things:

Donations to offer as “Rewards.” “Backers” who pledge funds to my project are offered predetermined “Rewards” based on how much money they pledge. For example, if someone donates $100, I can offer a set number of a specific item as an incentive. Rewards would not have to be supplied until if/when I meet my funding goal of $20K in late February 2010. Also, they can be something small (like X amount of $10 gift cards or a singular bigger ticket item that would be offered for larger pledges).

Collaborations on volunteer projects. For example, I worked with Honduras the past few weeks on a promotion to determine my community project in Honduras. People were able to visit Visit Honduras’ Facebook Fan Page to suggest volunteer programs and opportunities. After one week, I whittled the projects down to five and the public voted on which program I will participate with if The Global Citizen Project is funded (Building a Future). The promotion drove a lot of traffic to Honduras’ Facebook Fan Page, as well as to my blog.

If you are interested in working with me in any capacity for The Global Citizen Project or donating an item as a backer “Reward” please let me know ASAP. I’m very committed to making this project happen and need all the help I can get, so if there is any way you are able to, my sincerest thanks in advance.

28 December 2009

new backer reward. let me woo you with food.

Inspired by Electranola/Earl Scioneux' gumbo success on Kickstarter (and since The Global Citizen Project's funding deadline falls in the dead of Seattle winter -- February 22, 2010 to be exact), I am offering to make my damn good chili in the comfort of my warm and cozy Fremont home for the first 40 people who donate $50 to The Global Citizen Project. Consider it a spicy soiree for a good cause.

Date: Sunday, March 21, 2010.
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Place: Fremont (a.k.a. "The Center of the Universe"), Seattle

P.S. I may even throw in some of my green onion, cilantro, and jalapeno cornbread.

where does the money go?

Why is The Global Citizen Project budgeted to cost $20,000 (or $1666 per month)? Good question. These funds will be used to cover the costs associated with my participation in 12 different volunteer projects in 12 different countries over a 12 month period of time, including:

• Air transportation (will use personal frequent flyer miles when possible)
• Ground transportation
• Room and meals (as necessary)
• Volunteer program fees (seeking low-cost/free opportunities whenever possible)
• Comprehensive travel insurance
• Comprehensive check-up with a travel doctor, plus required/recommended immunizations

This figure is about one third of my usual income (pre-recession), so it’s my intent to live as frugally as possible for the one year period. I plan to focus my energies solely on the 12 volunteer projects, instead of chasing down freelance assignments and filing unrelated deadlines from the road. Instead, I want to share my experiences via Twitter, Facebook and my blog, The Global Citizen Project (all non-paying forums).

Obviously, the volunteer projects expenses will vary, but I should have a better idea of firm monthly budgets once all 12 plane tickets are booked, program fees are paid and I account for room and meals costs. If excess funds are available, I will donate supplies as needed to each of the destinations. I typically take a suitcase of school supplies, peanut butter pouches and hats, socks and mittens when I travel to places in need, so this just means I can bring more : )

24 December 2009

merry merry/fa la la

Here's wishing everyone very happy holidays! Sending big thanks to everyone who has supported The Global Citizen Project. Without the help of my 27 dear backers, I wouldn't be 13% (or $2,226!) towards my $20K goal. I hope Santa is extra good to you all ; ) I have just 60 days left to reach my goal and look forward to making it happen in the new year. In the meantime, here's wishing you and yours very happy holidays!

(photo: snowy seattle, this time last year.)

23 December 2009

comforty corn pudding

Cooking preparations for Christmas Eve are at full-tilt frenzy in my kitchen. My main dish contribution has morphed into hors d'oeuvres, a side and whatever else may inspire me between now and when Ballard Market closes at 11 p.m. I've had a pork shoulder slow-cooking all day in beer, onions, garlic, brown sugar, crushed tomatoes and a spice blend worthy of a mad scientist. The sweet/spicy smell of the pig, coupled with melodic bubbling sounds has been intoxicating the past several hours. When I go whole hog in the kitchen (sorry, couldn't help myself), I tend to make Southern-inspired sides, like brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots, mashed sweet potatoes, garlicky steamed greens, or one my easy favorites, corn pudding. It's fancier than corn bread and its custardy consistency is deliciously decadent.

I've tried several recipes, but here's how I like to make it:

5 eggs
1/3 cup unsalted butter (melted)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk or half and half
4 Tbs cornstarch
2 16 oz. bags of frozen sweet corn (Use fresh when in season. The kernels from 4-5 ears of corn should be plenty.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease a 2 quart casserole dish. (I like to use an oversized ramekin style dish.)
In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs and sugar. Whisk in cornstarch.
Defrost sweet corn (one minute in the microwave will soften it) and place in food processor with melted butter and milk. Chop until it reaches a chunky consistency(you still want some corn texture here).
Stir this corn mixture in with the egg/sugar mixture.
Pour into prepared dish.
Bake for one hour, or until surface is slightly browned around edges and center is firm to the touch.

Optional: add finely chopped green onions, red pepper, cilantro or jalapeno for added flavor.

Flickr photo courtesy of flydime

22 December 2009

back from blog paradise

Blog Paradise at CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa was a blast. If you were following along on Twitter, I'm pretty sure I (and the eight other bloggers) kept you more than in the loop. Expect a few recaps/posts and photos in the coming days (the hotel is very involved with local community efforts, which really impressed me). A quickie trip south of the border was exactly the 72-hour respite this Vitamin D deficient gal needed right before the holidays.

In other news, The Global Citizen Project broke the $2,500 mark last night with a pledge from Matt Villano. Matt is a dear writer friend of mine, sometimes collaborator and constant source of friendship, laughs and inspiration. Thank you, MJV! So far, $2,506 (or 13% of the $20K goal) has been pledged. I still need your help to meet my goal by February 22, 2010. If the goal isn't met, The Global Citizen Project will not happen, and well, I simply can't imagine 2010 without embarking on this volunteer tour de force. Please pledge whatever you can -- every single dollar helps. I'm also in need to donations for backer rewards and open to any creative collaborations, so if you like what I'm trying to accomplish with The Global Citizen Project, let's talk and find a way to work with each other. I'm in total team-player mode.

Coming up on the media front: I just completed interviews with Lisa Rogak, New York Times bestseller author of Barack Obama in His Own Words and fave online travel magazine, Matador Network. I don't have confirmed run dates quite yet, but promise to post links upon cyber publication. Thanks in advance to Lisa and Julie for helping to spread the word about The Global Citizen Project.

I hope everyone is finding time to breathe this week. I rang the week/Winter Solstice with a most relaxing Monday afternoon filled with hot cocoa and conversation, followed by cocktails and sweeping Seattle city views from the 28th floor of Renaissance Seattle Hotel. Pretty much anything is possible after that.

18 December 2009

the greatest twitter hotel service story yet

(Blush.) So it goes: the Tweetiest wheel gets the please? Apparently so at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore in Santa Barbara, California. When I stayed there for Alaska Media Road Show this past October, I tweeted in jest and some of the best customer service I've ever experienced came into play. I covered the incident for HotelChatter.com, but Hotels picked up on it and deemed it, "The Greatest Twitter Hotel Service Story Yet." Yet of all time? We can't be certain, but for us personally (and we hotel hop like nobody's business - for business), it was bar none the best out-of-the-blue customer service experience we've ever had. Ever.

15 December 2009

three new backer rewards

I've been so caught up in the logistics and promotion of determining where I'd volunteer in Honduras (it's official -- Building a Future in Tegucigalpa won with 49%of the votes), that I've slacked on securing (and posting) new backer rewards. Well, I have three new rewards to add to the mix and must they, they're mighty nice: one night stays at each of the three Seattle Kimpton Hotel properties: Hotel Monaco, Alexis Hotel and Hotel Vintage Park. Maybe you live in the Pacific Northwest and need an urban getaway? Hello, perfect excuse to de-stress and decompress in the New Year! Or maybe an overnight stay at a fancy schmancy hotel is just the incentive you need for an inaugural visit to Emerald City. If that's the case, we can talk and I can help plan an fun-filled itinerary for any first-timers that would make Julie the Cruise Director blush.

Here's what's up for grabs with a $250 pledge:

One night stay at Hotel Monaco
This luxury Kimpton boutique hotel is located in the vibrant heart of downtown near Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square and the Washington State Trade & Convention Center. You can read more about the hotel's perks here in a column I wrote a few months ago.

One night stay at Hotel Vintage Park
This charming Kimpton hotel in the heart of downtown Seattle celebrates Washington's Wine Country by dedicating each room to a local winery and vineyard. Recently named to Travel + Leisure's "Best 500 Hotels in the World" list, this luxury property is located in the heart of downtown Seattle in the city's retail and financial center, near the Washington State Convention and Trade Center and the 5th Avenue Theatre. I love the hotel's nightly get-to-know-Washington wine hour and have had numerous out-of-town guests book rooms here.

One night stay at Alexis Hotel
"A work of art" in itself, Kimpton's recently renovated Seattle luxury hotel is committed to the arts community. Recently named to Travel + Leisure's "Best 500 Hotels in the World" list, the Alexis Hotel displays original pieces throughout the richly decorated guestrooms and public spaces. The 121-room boutique hotel is just steps from the Pike Place Market, the Waterfront and Pioneer Square. One word: Library Bistro & Bookstore Bar and its regular scotch tastings. Okay, maybe that's multiple words, but we love the high geek factor of this hotel bar and its regular booze-fueled, educational events.

The fine print: The gift certificate will be valid for one year from date of issue and some blackout dates may apply. Remember, rewards are not delivered unless The Global Citizen Project is fully funded by February 22, 2010.

Photo courtesy of .Bala

it's official. building a future is the honduran community project winner!

The results are in and after a week of voting for which community volunteer project I'll work with in Honduras, 49% of you voted for Building a Future!

Big thank yous to everyone who took the time to peek at the five final contenders and vote, Visit Honduras for playing along on this interactive adventure, and new friends I've met during the voting process via the fantastic world of social media.

Fingers (and toes) crossed that The Global Citizen Project gets fully funded by February 22, 2010 so I can go to Tegucigalpa and make this volunteer project a reality. Right now, I'm at $2,281 (11%) and have 69 days to go. So, please, if you want to help send me to Tegucigalpa, consider making a small donation. Every little bit counts. Thank you and have a great Tuesday!

14 December 2009

xo and high fives

There are some virtual high fives that need to go out this fine Monday night. But first, The Global Citizen Project is 11% funded with 69 days to go. In dollars and cents, that means $2,256 has been pledged as of this post. I still have a long way to go to reach the $20K goal by February 22, 2010, but am confident I can make it happen with your help. So, please, if you like what I'm doing, help spread the word.

Now, back to the thanks...

Thank you, Sasha Peakall of On UR Way Travel for donating advertising space on her site to help drive donations to The Global Citizen Project. That was awfully sweet of you! I appreciate your support and look forward to the January launch of On UR Way E-Magazine.

Thank you Susan and Sean G. for your pledge. Susan is interconnected into my world on several fronts: she's my former roommate from back in the Philly days (our Art Museum area apartment was nothing short of spectacular), BFF to my ex-high school sweetheart, and oddly enough, her husband also went to my high school (even though Sue grew up on Long Island). Even more Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is that Sean's sister, Liz is also a writer (young adult novels) and lives within spitting distance in Seattle. She's also one of the funniest human beings you will ever cross paths with. Ever.

Thank you Sarah and Matt A. for your pledge. I met Sarah, publicist extraordinaire, while living in Monterey, CA. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband made a move to the Bay Area and she's been singing San Francisco's praises ever since. (She also got a really cool job working for Blast Outdoors, a firm that's all about the outdoor lifestyle.)

Also, thanks to Tammy and Julie for making the schlep across the Canadian/U.S. border to come spend some time in Seattle this past weekend. It always blows my mind how as little as 24-hours in the company of good friends can have the restorative powers of a full-blown vacation. (Plus, I really love entertaining for houseguests and showing off Emerald City.) Thank you, Julie, for sharing your South Africa travel stories/experiences and for brainstorming possible collaborative efforts.

you have until midnight (est) tonight to vote

I hate to nag, but since it's for a really good cause -- which community project I'll volunteer for in Honduras (if The Global Citizen Project is fully funded by February 22, 2010)-- please accept my apologies in advance.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate everyone's input, suggestions and advice in helping to first identify a very long list of worthy volunteer programs in Honduras, but then to vote and and actually determine which project I'll serve. The clock's 'a tickin' and you have until midnight tonight (EST) to weigh in on where you think I should go. I posted some information and links on the five organizations a few days ago, but in case you need a refresher, click here. Please a moment and VOTE here.

Since we're on the topic of one of my favorite countries, I thought I'd share a very insightful written article written by Joanna Haugen of Matador Network that talks about the mixed-media messages surrounding the recent/current state of politics in Honduras, Should You Listen to the Travel Warnings about Honduras?

nine bloggers in paradise. follow me in mexico.

Even if I hadn’t been selected as one of “Nine Bloggers in Paradise” as part of Paradise by Marriott latest clever promotion, I’d still think it was a pretty brilliant concept. Right now, I’m so over ho hum press releases that any inkling of marketing creativity scores huge points with me.

Here’s how it works: Whisk nine bloggers who know how to work social media networks like a pro from their wintery hometowns to the sunny, warm environs of the Marriott’s nine properties in the Caribbean and Mexico and get them to spew all sorts of Vitamin D-fueled commentary for a 72-hour stint. Or as another writer friend of ours noted, Vitamin M – as in margaritas. Oh yes, tequila does warm our heart. Seriously though, I don’t care how I supplement the needs of my almost translucent Seattle winter skin, but will admit, it took all of 2.2 seconds to accept the invitation (it was 34˚F at actual time of inbox arrival).

In a period when publishing is so topsy-turvy and writer’s rates are in the crapper, it’s a creative way to get some instant online buzz in exchange for what is essentially a comped mini-vacation. Sure, it would be nice to get paid for my well-honed, professional insights (a suntan may look nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills), but right now, the thought of escaping holiday mayhem and sticking my toes in some sand is payment enough. So, thank you Marriott Resorts for thinking of me, your dear sun-deprived friend in Seattle.

If you’re thinking of booking travel to warm, sunny destinations this winter, you may want to pay attention to where the nine of us are headed this Wednesday through Saturday. It’s a top-notch group of writer pros who I'm certain will deliver the straight skinny on each of Paradise by Marriott’s properties.

Here’s a cheat sheet of the participating bloggers and where to find us:

Robin Locker of My Melange will tweet from Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.
Julie Schwietert Collazo of Collazo Projects and Matador Network will tweet from
Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas.
Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip will tweet from
J.W. Marriott Cancun Resort.
Lisa Overman of of Wanderlust and Lipstick will tweet from Aruba Renaissance Resort.
Aaron Hotfelder of Gadling will
tweet from Aruba Marriott Resort.
Chris Gray Faust of Chris Around The World will tweet from St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino.
Pam Mandel of Nerd’s Eye View will tweet
from CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort.
Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut will tweet
from Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino.
As for me, I'll be tweeting from CasaMagnaMarriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa.

If you’re a multi-tasker and want to follow everyone all at once, feel free to follow on Twitter here.

11 December 2009

next week: i'm a blogger in a paradise

TwI have some non-The Global Citizen Project related, but still very cool news. This past week, I was selected as one of “Nine Bloggers in Paradise,” thanks to the brilliant marketing minds behind Paradise by Marriott (@diamondpr). Paradise by Marriott has seven properties throughout the Caribbean and Mexico and effective Wednesday afternoon, I will swap my Smart Wool socks for warm, toasty sand and SPF (the high temperature today in Seattle was 38F˚) and blog from CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa. I haven’t received my itinerary quite yet, but have been told that my 3-night/4-day south of the border stay includes a tequila tasting guided by a sommelier-esque expert, early morning whale watching (‘tis the season), dinner at the chef’s table, a spa treatment at the hotel’s brand new 21,000 sq. ft. spa (I’m no size queen, but that is huge in spa speak) and oh yes, plenty of time to soak up some sorely missed Vitamin D. Big thanks to Marriott Resort for saving me, at least for a brief respite, from Seattle's wintery weather. Whew.

I promise I’ll continue to blog about every new development on The Global Citizen Project scene, but if you’re so inclined to play travel voyeur (or maybe just need some vicarious cyber sun), follow the adventures of all nine bloggers at #blogparadise on Twitter. Of course, you know where to find me on Twitter (@global_gourmet).

10 December 2009

thank you, sarah for the guest post on volunteering global

I'm very honored that Sarah Van Auken had me guest blog today on Volunteering Global. She started this website in 2005 as a way to educate prospective volunteers about international service trips. Van Auken researches every host organization she can find and gives readers the basic skinny every volunteer should know when considering a program, including the types of work, locations, trip length, accommodations, and more. Volunteering Global has grown to include networking opportunities for prospective, current, and former volunteers, as well as up-to-date information about global travel, current volunteer openings, and pressing issues. Thank you again, Sarah for including me and The Global Citizen Project on your site!

08 December 2009

the top five picks for my honduran community project are in. please vote.

Alright! Let the real fun begin. My top five picks for which community projects to volunteer with in Honduras as part of The Global Citizen Project are posted on the Visit Honduras Facebook Fan Page and it's up to you to vote which one I will participate in.

Since I know you probably don't have spare time play Nancy Drew and investigate what each of these organizations does, I've made it easy for you with a quick blurb about each one and link to its website (if you wish to learn more - I strongly encourage you to do so). Thank you again for all the project suggestions! I really appreciate your input and collaboration on this project. Each and everyone project suggested is a worthwhile endeavor and it was tricky to narrow it down to only five. I am confident that no matter which project you choose for me, that it will make a huge impact in the community it serves. So thank you, please vote, and if you feel inclined, pass the word along.

Here are the five Honduran community project contenders:

Building a Future
It is Building a Future's mission is to transform communities by promoting the educational and social development of underprivileged children in Honduras.

Honduras Outreach, Inc.
Honduras Outreach is a non-denomination, Christian organization dedicated to building life-changing relationships between the people of the Olancho department of Honduras and caring North Americans and other nationalities. The Honduran government had previously identified Olancho as an area with one of the highest concentrations of infant mortality, and poverty. The median rural family income is less than $400 and 68 of 1,000 children die before reaching age five.

Clinica Esperanza
Specializes in providing health care to the people of Sandy Bay and surrounding areas. They serve 1,000 patients per month; 60% are children. They rely on 150+ volunteers annually to help operate their 4,500 sq. ft. facility.

Hands to Honduras
The Hands to Honduras Tela Program is a partnership program bringing together North American and Honduran communities to provide educational, technical, cultural, and humanitarian assistance to the Atlántida coastal region.

Helping Honduras Kids
Helping Honduras Kids' mission is to improve the lives of orphaned, abandoned, abused and/or neglected children on the North Coast of Honduras.

07 December 2009

top five tuesday. vote for my honduras volunteer project tomorrow.

My apologies for being uncharacteristically quiet today. Monday’s are always tricky with deadlines and a late (but festive, fun and delicious) dinner soiree last evening didn’t help with the get-up-and-go efforts this morning.

It's been another great day for The Global Citizen Project (76 days to go!) and the positive feedback and generous pledges keep rolling in. Thank you so much to everyone who's pledged, passed the word along, or taken a few minutes to read my blog. I need all the collaborative love I can get to make this project happen and I appreciate every single contribution.

Here are some of the people who've helped today:

Gadling, one of my fave travel blogs, retweeted information about The Global Citizen Project today. I especially love getting online love from people, places and peers I resepct the heck out of. So, thanks!

I received a generous $100 pledge from Cathey, the writer gal and wanderluster behind the blog Mischief & Impermanent Bliss (thoughtful writing, music musings and beautiful travel pix). She has a Peruvian background, a penchant for Latin America, specifically Peru, and if she lived in the PacNW, I have a feeling we'd hang out and have all sorts of writerly fun. Just saying.

I was also contacted by Sasha Peakall, the founder of OnURWayTravel, a site geared towards encouraging young travelers to explore the world. She’s launching a new e-magazine in January 2010 and plans to feature an article on The Global Citizen Project. Thak you, Sasha! Looking forward to it. I am all about encouraging young minds to participate in the world wide classroom and embrace volunteer travel.

Lastly, do you know what tomorrow is? It's the day when my top five volunteer projects in Honduras are posted on the Visit Honduras Facebook Fan Page and you get to vote for which one I participate in. The winning project will be announced next week, so please take a second to learn about this worthwhile organizations and programs and tell me what you think. Once the projects are officially announced, I promise to Tweet information about each of the programs (so if you're not following me on Twitter, please do @global_gourmet). Thanks!

That wraps it up for this chilly Monday night. I'm going to make some tea, situate myself in front of the fireplace and write for the night. Here's hoping everybody's week is off to a good start!

06 December 2009

media kitty, karikuy and matador network (holy trinity of this weekend's good news)

Whew. A lot has happened in the past few days. The Global Citizen Project hasn’t seen much financial love since its last $1,000 pledge, but has been getting an abundance of feedback, suggestions and media interest. Thank you to everyone who has donated, visited my blog/Kickstarter site, or spread the word about the project. If this project happens, it's because of you.

Media Kitty, my go-to travel industry resource for connecting media with related business professionals, highlighted me in its Friday newsletter, as its “Member Shout Out.” It is a huge honor to be recognized amongst my travel media peers and I want to thank Morgan Sommerville for making it happen.

Late last week, I also got word from Julie Schwietert, managing editor of Matador Network, that a student in its travel writing school will be doing an article on The Global Citizen Project. I’m very much looking forward to the interview. Also, I wrote a blog post for Volunteering Travel, which should go live very soon. I’ll keep you posted of my (ahem)cyber media appearances and promise to post links when articles are live on the internet.

Lastly, I committed to volunteering for Karikuy, a tourism company geared towards humantitarian efforts in Lima, Peru for two-and-a-half weeks in July 2010. I’ll be part of a writing project to promote Peru and its culture (Perupedia). Airline tickets have been secured (thanks to an abundance of American Airlines’ frequent flyer miles). I have faith that The Global Citizen Project will get fully funded ($20K by February 22, 2010), but if for some reason it doesn’t, I’m 100% committed to this project on my own dime. (But it would be really nice if it did happen, so please donate whatever you are able.)

Sending big cyber hugs out into the universe...xo

04 December 2009

nailing details down

Since I'm all about details and organization (Julie the Cruise Director has nothing on me), here are the 12 areas of volunteer service that intrigue me most. Of course, if a community service opportunity comes up that is too good to pass up, I'll certainly consider it.

In the meantime, here are the 12 areas that have the most personal meaning to me:

Animal Rescue/Humane Shelter-related projects
Children/teen projects
Writing/Social Media/Marketing
Heath Education/Outreach
Outdoors/nature (i.e.; parks, forest, etc.)
Hunger-related projects
Reef/Ocean-related projects
Sustainable Agriculture/Farming
Women-related projects (especially if involves women with cancer)

Any thoughts? If you come up with a better idea, I'm all ears. Let's talk.

03 December 2009

the destinations

I sat down tonight and gave some serious thought to the 12 destinations I wanted to volunteer in for The Global Citizen Project. I successfully came up with nine and would love to hear where you think I should go for the other three. Obviously, I have a deep fondness for Central and South American countries, but ultimately the community volunteer projects will dictate the destinations. If something super fantastic presents itself elsewhere, and if it works within the budget, I will figure out a way to make it happen.

I'm committed to volunteering in these nine destinations:

Caribbean, Chile, Ecuador, Europe, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, USA, Canada, plus three destinations to be determined.

So, let's talk. Tell me where in the world you'd like me to lend a helping hand. I don't always like being told what to do, but I want you to.

what is kickstarter?

So, I realize most of you probably don't even know what Kickstarter is. I didn't know until a few weeks ago, either, but I'm not exactly the poster child for tech savviness. Before you part with your hard-earned money in the name of The Global Citizen Project, I encourage you to read more about this fantastic new resource to fund creative endeavors here.

I've done plenty of fundraising the old fashioned way (knocking on neighbors' doors, hitting up co-workers, and guilt-tripping the parents) but Kickstarter allows for far-reaching experience that can be as interactive as you want it to be. Plus, it's plain old fun to check the site every day to see what percentage I've reached toward my goal. There you have it. Check it out. It's very cool.

honduras community project suggestions (so far)

As you know, Visit Honduras is helping The Global Citizen Project figure out which Honduran community project to participate in in 2010. The way it works is between now and midnight on Monday, December 7th, fans of Honduras Institute of Tourism's Facebook Fan Page are chiming in on what programs and organizations they deem worthy. I'm going to do some research and whittle the list down to my top five contenders. Then, the fans will get to vote and choose which project I will serve. Everyone has a say in what I do, so please don't hold back -- I want to hear from you.

Right now, here are the organizations in Honduras that have been suggested so far. Click on any of these to link to their website. If you cross paths with a community project you like, please leave a comment on the Fan Page before Monday, and then check back to vote for the final project.

Thanks again for taking an interest in my project. I'm delighted that you made a quick cyber stop on my blog!

Here you go:

Building a Future
Clinica Esperanza
Club de Safio
Cristo Salva
Hands to Honduras
Honduras Outreach, Inc.
Robinell Mission Enterprises
SonLight Power, Inc.
The LAMB Institute

give thanks thursday

My apologies for taking so long to post all of this exciting news (believe me, I’ve been itching all day to tell you), but today was packed with the launch of my project with Honduras for the public to pick my community project, followed by several deadlines and an afternoon meeting. Now, I am all yours. I built a fire, pulled up a chair and I’m ready to chat.

Sit down for this bit of news – The Global Citizen Project has $2,030 in funds and is 10% funded. I have 80 days to go and the momentum is just starting. I have many people to thank for supporting this project – this is definitely not a solo project – but must thank the two latest backers, Jeanette and Meg.

Thank you to Meg for making a pledge to The Global Citizen Project. I met Meg while on a press trip in Maui with several outstanding ladies, plus Johnny Jet (globetrotter extraordinaire). Like myself, Meg’s an East Coaster transplanted in the Pacific Northwest. She writes about travel and shopping, is one helluva bridge player (her husband is pro) and has a wicked sense of humor.

I must also give thanks to Jeanette, my friend from Denver, CO for her very generous $1,000 pledge. I was speechless when I saw that in my inbox this morning post-shower and was so ecstatic, I didn’t even need a cup of coffee to start the day. I met Jeanette this past June while I was covering Barbecue University at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO. (If you love grill marks on your meat, this annual event is a must for you.) The event is hosted by Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible, and it’s a really interactive, intimate cooking event where you learn how to cook more than 30 different dishes -- from prep until fire-grilled final product -- over the course of a weekend. Jeanette was there with her family and we got talking about Facebook and cookbooks/all things culinary and travel. We stayed in touch via the almighty social media networking site, Facebook (amen) and I quickly learned that like myself, Jeanette lives life to its fullest. I am always tickled to hear what new adventure she’s up to, whether it’s taking flight lessons (in a plane) or taking flight (trapeze lessons are in the works), or heck, eating donuts for dinner, this is a gal after my own heart – always on-the-go. So, for that, I’m sending a big cyber head towards the Rockies for Jeanette and endless amounts of thanks.

While I’m smiling ear-to-ear and saying thanks, I’d also like to thank Off Track Planet, The Ultimate Backpackers Travel Guide, for helping to spread the word on Twitter about The Global Citizen Project. Also, vtravelled.com, Virgin Atlantic’s new social travel site (which I write for), has been generous in their Twitter love.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank all the folks who are commenting on Visit Honduras’ Facebook Fan Page pick on which community projects I should volunteer for. I cannot tell you how much your input means to me and I look forward to spending some time exploring the websites of each of the recommended organizations.

I think that about covers it. Whew. Got anything on your mind or have any questions about The Global Citizen Project? Leave me a comment and I'll get back to you in a jiff.

sf chronicle article on honduras

Since it's timely with my current Honduran community project promotion on Visit Honduras' Facebook Fan Page, I thought I'd share an article I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle after my 2007 visit.

Click here to read Copán Ruinas is a boon for eco-tourism and archaeology.

tell me where to volunteer in honduras

Alright, I won't keep you waiting any longer on the mystery volunteer project/destination for The Global Citizen Project. I know you couldn't sleep a wink last night in anticipation of where in the Latin American world I'd be volunteering.

Well, the wait is over - it's Honduras! And YOU get a say in which Honduran community project I serve.

Please go to the Visit Honduras Facebook Fan page to comment on what community volunteer project I should volunteer with by midnight on Monday, December 7th. Then, we'll decide the top five choices and YOU will vote to determine the winning community project. The result will be announced on Tuesday, December 15th.

Thanks in advance for your input and suggestions! Honduras 2010, here I come!

02 December 2009

big news tomorrow. here's a clue.

Drum roll, please and break out your pom poms if you got 'em. Tomorrow morning, I'll announce the details of a very cool collaborative effort I'm in cahoots with with one of my favorite Latin America countries (my first Latin Americam travel destination love, actually). The promotion will determine where I volunteer within this wonderful country and what project I'll particpate in.

I'm a fearless travel writer willing to take on pretty much any terrain, so if there's a specific cause that you feel needs some volunteer love, please let me know. I want The Global Citizen Project to be an interactive, community driven experience, and yes, I'm all ears for volunteer project and destination suggestions. I'm all about give and take, comments and feedback.

Hasta mañana, here's a visual clue about the country I'm talking about.

a toast to sarah doyle for putting me over $1K

Wow, wow, wow! I am beyond thrilled to have passed the $1K mark for The Global Citizen Project -- $1020 to be exact. I still have a long way to go to reach the $20K mark by February 22, 2010, but I'm completely committed and inspired to make it happen.

My world intersected with the latest backer, Sarah Doyle earlier this year on press trip to the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. We were there for the Maui Film Festival and our hotel was crawling with celebrities -- Eddie Murphy, Kristen Bell, Anna Faris, James Marsden, and Tori Spelling to name a few. The weekend was filled with non-stop film screenings, parties, and food-centric activities. Hello, Taste of Chocolate. Imagine the typical five star amenity-laden FS experience on steroids, plus a whole lotta star-spotting and incredible film and you've summed up what Maui Film Festival weekend is all about.

It just so happened this particular weekend was also Sarah's birthday. Since I am all about birthdays (ask my SO about the brightly colored signage and balloons I'd put all along Carmel Valley Rd. when we lived in California), we decided to celebrate and attend the screening of Cash Crop, since it had been getting a lot of media attention and buzz. Willie Nelson (appropriately enough) performed before the show, we brought a bottle of La Fée Absinthe, and well, let's just say, I had more fun than any new friend should be allowed ringing in a new year with Sarah.

Since then, we've commiserated our mutual loathing of United Airlines (her lost luggage story is the travel debaucle/how not to handle customer service story of 2009, IMO), crossed paths on a Google food group and have shared a lovely cyber comaraderie that I've often missed working as a freelancer. So, thank you Sarah for coming into my world this year, and thank you for putting my project over the $1K mark.

If you want to learn more about the world of food, wine, whiskey and travel, you can check out Sarah's blog, The Epicurean Scribe here.

01 December 2009

i'm $5 shy of $1K, oh my

Pledges were rockin' and rollin' right to my Kickstarter project today. The latest thanks, love, high fives and hugs go to Susan Kim LeComte (a dear, dear writer friend) and Thompson & Company Public Relations (the fabulous Anchorage firm that handles my latest travel weakness, Alaska, and specifically the Alaska Travel Industry Association. Thank you so much for being so darn sweet.

i heart my backers

I got this message today from one of my wonderful backers:

"You are so welcome. I'm jealous. I wish I had the courage to take on such an ambitious and inspiring journey. I hope it happens -- because I want to hear all about it."

Aww. (Wipe tear from eye.) I cannot tell everyone how much I appreciate their support for The Global Citizen Project. I am determined to make it happen and will make sure my dear backers, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, heck, anyone along for the ride gets informative, entertaining and hopefully, enlightening during-play reports from the volunteer field. Cross my heart and hope to die.

12 days of comfort, joy + cheer at hotel 1000 in seattle

Hello, Seattle! Thank you for bestowing us with blue skies, an abundance of Vitamin D and crystal clear views of snow-capped mountains from my deck. When the weather here is good, it's very, very good.

I will be soaking up all sorts of goodness at The Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, WA this afternoon and evening, but if you're around Seattle, think about swinging by Hotel 1000. 12 Days of Comfort, Joy & Cheer kicks off tonight with a grand celebration that includes a Five Golden Rings Fashion Show featuring the boutiques on the 12 Days Passport, holiday cocktails and bites, and auction. Tickets for the event are $40 and can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets. Read more about it here.

$5 away from $800. oh yeah.

What a way to start a Tuesday! I got two new backers for The Global Citizen Project - Gary from Anchorage, AK and Amanda. The total towards my $20K goal is now $795. Yay! Not bad considering I launched the project seven days ago I'm and just picking up steam in my outreach efforts. Please keep the pledge love coming!

In other news, Gregory Hubbs, the editor of TransitionsAbroad.com retweeted the details of The Global Citizen Project late last night. Thank you. I'm very flattered, since TransitionsAbroad.com is one the best resources for work and study abroad opportunities. It also fuels my fantasy to pack up and move to South America and live in an Airstream. (A girl can have simple dreams, right?)

Thanks again to everyone who's pledged The Global Citizen Project. I really appreciate it. And, P.S. even if you aren't able to pledge (I know times are tough and it's the holidays), if you like what I'm doing, please pass the word along. That would mean a lot to me. Thank you.

what is seattle sans elliott bay book co.?

The plot thickens for a legendary bookstore. The Elliott Bay Book Co., long a fixture in Seattle's Pioneer Square, may have to shut its doors. It's a long story with plenty of villains. Read about it in Los Angeles Times here.