26 May 2010

all volunteery eyed: inside the global citizen project

HotelChatter, Jaunted and VegasChatter contributor Globetrotting Gourmet aka one Charyn Pfeuffer will be leaving shortly to begin the biggest trip of her life--a year-long voluntourism adventure she's dubbed The Global Citizen Project. Here she explains what she's doing, how she's doing it and most importantly, why.

24 May 2010

a broad volunteers: say hello to this week's travelers night in host

Guess who is co-hosting Travelers Night In this week? Yours truly on behalf of Wanderlust and Lipstick, and man-o-Manischewitz this mistress of the Tweetdeck, manager of multiple search columns is excited. Read more about this week's topic: Best of YOUR Hometown Travel on 'A Broad Volunteers' on Wanderlust and Lipstick here.

19 May 2010

luck of the drew

Drew Stone launched AGS Custom Interiors in 2007 as a crafty solution for remodeling waste. Starting with waste-paint, Stone rethinks the traditional artist’s palette with repurposed interior and trim paint, packing paper and recycled Jute, hemp and burlap coffee bags from Caffé Vita.

Stone typically juggles between 10 paintings at a time, describing his style as abstract, “in an emotive way.” He enjoys doing landscapes in watercolor and carving Valentine cards out of linoleum. Other favorite recycled items that find their way into Stone’s work are: nautical charts, bus transfers, words and passages from discarded books and pamphlets, and discarded raffle tickets. He looks forward to doing a project with a beloved or nostalgic wallpaper design that is going to be removed for a remodel. “The piece would end up as a memento of how the house had been originally. I'm just waiting for some client to give me those conditions,” shares Stone.

He can accept donations of paint that is low or zero-VOC, but specifically seeks bright and unusual colors. Murals are a no no – “Traveling back and forth to a client's work site is not environmentally sensitive. I do work that can be hung and moved along with redecorating and changes to furniture placement,” says Stone.

Wanna Try?
AGS Custom Interiors, 802 6th Avenue South, Suite 8, Seattle; (206-310-2523). Small paintings starts at $50-70, custom work starts at a base rate of 4200 for a 1’x1’ piece. Gift certificates are available from $50-2000.

Stone’s work is also on display at:
Home Body, Eco-Luxe Living, 416 1/2 Washington Street SE, Olympia
thinkspace, 8201 164th Ave NE, Redmond
Roche Bobois, 1015 Western Avenue, Seattle
William Factory Small Business Incubator, 1423 East 29th Street, Tacoma
Juice It, 725 Pike Street, 16 A, Seattle, WA

a broad volunteers: loot, there it is

I’m usually good with issues of etiquette. Maybe it has something to do with a strict handwritten thank you note ethic that was ingrained in me at an early age by my mother. (I was also taught to send said thank you note to its recipient within 24-hours, but that’s a neurosis I’ll save for another post.) But, when it comes to gifting abroad, especially in a volunteer capacity, I’m stumped as to the ins and outs of what is and isn’t appropriate. Read "Loot, There It Is" at my A Broad Volunteers blog on Wanderlust and Lipstick here.

Photo courtesy of Jill Clardy via Flickr

13 May 2010

a broad volunteers: travelers night in

There was an interesting Twitter discussion today on Travelers Night In. In case you aren’t yet in-the-loop of this weekly tweet up, here’s how it works: 10 questions are thrown out via the hashtag #TNI pertaining to a particular travel-related theme over the course of 90 minutes (a new question is posted every 10 minutes). Each question sparks a flurry of responses, lively debate and discussion. I’ll admit it. TNI is my new guilty pleasure, and I find myself eagerly awaiting 12:30 p.m. PST each Thursday for the spirited cyber festivities to begin. Read more about this week's TNI discussion on Green Travel at "A Broad Volunteers" on Wanderlust and Lipstick here.

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks

media mention: the faster times

If you know anyone who works in the creative sphere—writers, photographers, designers, filmmakers, artists, what have you—you’ve probably heard of Kickstarter. Read more of Amy Westervelt's article "Help Fund a Travel Show that's Actually Good" here, which includes a nice mention of The Global Citizen Project. Thanks, Amy for your continued support of my project!

a broad volunteers: fly anxiety

Small confession: Until a few years ago, I used to be terrified of flying. Like Valium-required, grab my seatmate, shriek and break out in sweats scared of flying. Read my new blog post, "Fly Anxiety" on Wanderlust & Lipstick here.

12 May 2010

cloud nine

In need of a weekend escape, but don’t want to venture far? Hop aboard the Amtrak Cascades (Toot! Toot!) and descend upon our urban sister, Portland, in less than four glorious traffic-free hours.

Stay at The Nines, the hip new(ish) digs that takes up the top nine floors of the legendary landmark Meier & Frank Building. Located near Pioneer Courthouse Square (named one of the 10 Great Public Spaces in the USA by the American Planning Association) it’s easy to feel like a pampered princess at this modern eco-conscious urban oasis that somehow manages to still wax nostalgic. Low-flow faucets, “Green Seal” certified cleaning products, and 100% of energy from renewable sources, such as wind power and carbon offsets are all part of the property’s full court press to receive LEED Silver Certification.

The hotel’s pricey, but worth every penny restaurant, Urban Farmer supports Pacific Northwest artisan purveyors, as well as ranchers, farmers and fishermen, including Kookoolan Farms, Strawberry Mountain, and Painted Hills Farm.

The only thing better than exploring Portland on foot, is by bike. Brave mucky winter elements and participate in the annual Worst Day of the Year Ride in mid-February. The 18-mile asphalt adventure has become a bit of a cult tradition for a few thousand Rose City residents and guests.

Wanna Try
Amtrak Cascades, round-trip train service from Seattle to Portland, $56.
The Nines, 525 SW Morrison, Portland, (503-222-9996).
Urban Farmer, 8th Floor, Meier + Frank Building, (503-222-4900)
Worst Day of the Year Ride

Small Changes Add Up
If 10,000 Seattleites took the train to Portland instead of driving round-trip, it would keep the weight of nearly 29 rail cars (unloaded) out of the landfills

Photo courtesy of The Nines, A Luxury Collection Hotel

a broad volunteers

Good news! I'm over-the-moon excited to report that I'm officially blogging for Wanderlust & Lipstick, your destination for women's travel. I've taken over the reigns of the "A Broad Volunteers" column and will be posting several times weekly. Sign up to follow all the action here as I dish about my travels for The Global Citizen Project as well as volunteer travel and voluntourism opportunities. Cheers and thanks for joining me.

11 May 2010

sage of aquarius

Does your kitchen sink runneth over with après-party dishes? Your bathroom tile looking a bit dingy and brown? It’s officially time to put out an A.P.B. to the green gals at Sage Clean for the great post-holiday tidy-up. While attending University of Washington Business School, owner Stephanie Toller was called upon to help a housecleaning friend. She was shocked to see the toxic effects of typical under-the-sink staples, such as drying skin and burning eyes, and knew there had to be a better way. Her solution: Sage Clean, a local, earth-friendly cleaning service. Toller and her team use a range of products from baking soda and vinegar to Pink Solution (a product sourced from Canada) and Citrus Magic to make homes sparkle. Every product is natural and biodegradable and family and pet friendly. From bathrooms and kitchens to laundry, dishes and common living areas, no task is too daunting for these cleaning dynamos. Prices are on par with non-eco minded services – Toller tells me that a well-maintained home of up to 1200 sq ft typically that takes about 2 hours every 2 weeks to keep up will run approximately $70 per visit. Sage Clean typically needs 2 weeks notice to book services, but houses in need of immediate TLC can be placed on a waiting list for last minute cancellations.

Wanna try?
Sage Clean, (206-327-2255).

Small Changes Add Up
If 10,000 Seattleites used Dryerballs instead of liquid fabric softener for one year, it would keep the weight of 1757 washing machines out of our wastewater treatment facilities and ultimately our local rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

Photo courtesy of sinkdd

10 May 2010

non-profit spotlight: crooked trails

A trip to the Amazon a few years ago sparked our l-u-v affair with South America. Crooked Trails’ travel programs to Peru, India, Nepal, Kenya, Ecuador, Thailand and China, along with its community development efforts, like the Seis Vacas Para Peru program (6 Cows for Peru), sealed the deal and had us running to the alter. The Seattle-based non-profit, community-based travel organization strives to teach the ethics of responsible travel. Crooked Trails Co-founder and Executive Director, Christine Mackay, dishes with me on her commitment to change the way people travel.

CP:  What does Crooked Trails do?
CM: “Crooked Trails is a non-profit travel organization based in Seattle. We take people to live and work with communities around the world. Our focus is cultural immersion and responsible travel. I like to say it’s like a mini peace corp. experience that is in the hands of the communities we visit. We broaden people’s horizons and change lives. At least that is what our participants say.”

CP:  Why do you think this work is important?
CM: “Responsible travel is important because tourism is the largest industry in the world and the impacts on the economies, cultures and environments of people around the world is often negatively impacted because of tourists. It doesn’t have to be that way. Tourism can happen with host communities not to them if they have control over it. So we want to show travelers as well as host communities that tourism can be beneficial and a lot of fun to boot.”

CP:  What’s your favorite place to travel to?
CM: “I was thinking about this in December while I was traveling in Thailand. I had been to Thailand easily a dozen times and spent about 6 months there in total but this visit in December was the first in 5 years. I fell in love with it all over again and I realized that my favorite country is usually the one I am traveling in at the moment. I seem to appreciate wherever I am at any given time the most. It sure makes it easy to pick a place. But I just got back from Bhutan it was an amazing place – very fresh, fragile and traditional.”

CP:  What's your eco-confession?
CM: “I like sound of spa resorts, although I have yet to visit one.”

CP:  What's your eco pet peeve?
CM: “Seeing tourists using plastic water bottles when they could easily filter their own saving themselves money and time as well as the host countries environment.”

CP:  What's the eco thing you can't live without?
CM: “My steriPEN which cleans water in 60 seconds by using ultraviolet light.”

CP:  Name one place you gotta see or one thing you want to do before you die?
CM: “It was Bhutan but I just ticked that off the list, so now it’s Antarctica.”

CP:  Which type of transportation do you prefer: biking, walking, busing, train riding, or driving an eco-automobile?
CM: “I actually like mixing it up. It’s great to combine modes of transport to spice up the travel. I do love trekking though and have done it around the world.”

CP:  Are you more likely to vermicompost or put a bucket in the shower?
CM: “You got me. The only thing I have done close to combining a bucket and a shower is a sponge bath.”

CP:  If you were a character in a movie, who would you be?
CM: “Xena, the warrior princess.”

CP:  Fill in the blank: If I weren't a Travel director, I’d be…a travel writer for National Geographic.

CP:  Which do you prefer, crunchy or creamy peanut butter?
CM: “Now that depends on the bread. Smooth for whole grain bread with seeds, but crunchy for finer breads and crackers.”

Wanna Try?
Crooked Trails, www.crookedtrails.com or (206-383-9828)

Small Changes Add Up
If 10,000 Seattleites sent their kids to school with a reusable water bottle instead of a disposable water bottle each day, it would keep the weight of nearly 130 milking Holstein cows out of the landfill.

Photo courtesy of Crooked Trails

09 May 2010

recipe: toasted hazelnut romesco dip

Everytime I make this simple dip, it garners recipe requests and tasty praise (like last night at Amanda's dinner soiree), so I thought I'd pass it along. It's kinda like a cross between hummus and a pesto, but far more flavorful, especially if you increase the amounts of cayenne and vinegar added. I like to smear this dip on crusty bread, but it's also delish with carrots, cherry tomatoes and baby radishes.

Toasted Hazelnut Romesco Dip

1 medium-size dried ancho chile, stemmed, seeded, torn into small pieces
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 ½ tablespoons toasted bread crumbs
1 small ripe plum tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon sweet (not smoked) paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)

1. Place the ancho pepper in a small bowl, add ½ cup very hot water and soak until softened (about 30 minutes). Drain.
2. Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until they are ground medium-fine. Add the ancho pepper, garlic, bread crumbs, tomato, paprika, and cayenne, and process until fairly smooth (but still has some texture from the nuts). Drizzle in the olive oil until it’s completely incorporated.
3. Scrape the sauce into a bowl, stir in the vinegar, season with salt to taste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Taste sauce before serving and add more vinegar and cayenne to taste. The dip will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to one week. Makes about ½ cups.

Note: For stronger hazelnut flavor, you can fry the toasted/skinned nuts in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until golden.

Recipe adapted from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen

07 May 2010

ground control

Want more from your cuppa joe than a caffeine buzz? Buy your beans from Grounds for Change, a locally-owned coffee biz that sells Certified Organic, Certified Fair Trade, Shade Grown Coffee.

Taking sustainability seriously, they teamed up with Carbonfund.org to tally up their carbon footprint and became the first coffee roaster to offset 100% of their global warming emissions produced in the roasting, shipping, marketing, bagging and processing their coffee. Coffee beans don’t exactly grow near the Pacific Northwest, and wrack up some serious mileage on the production and distribution process.

To make their beans even more supreme, Grounds for Change is planting trees for all of the non-renewable energy they use, and opting for renewable energy for the rest. They also participate in 1% For the Planet, giving back 1% of their sales to environmental causes around the globe. My fave blend? Solstice Blend – a sexy dark, dramatic, medium-bodied combo of Latin American, South American and East African beans. Now that’s coffee with a conscience and no bitter aftertaste.

Wanna Try?
Buy online here.
Coyote Coffee, 16174 State Hy 305 NE, Suquamish, (360-394-1800)
Pizza Fusion, 1412 12th Ave, Seattle, (206-709-8400)

Small Changes Add Up
If 10,000 Seattleites bought a carbon offset on a round-trip flight from Sea-Tac to Brazil, the largest coffee producer in the world, it would offset 2.29 tons of CO2.

Photo courtesy of Datenhamster.org

06 May 2010

june project: building a future/tegucigalpa, honduras

Time's 'a tickin' as the June 2nd kick-off for The Global Citizen Project grows near. (Insert loud squeal of excitement here.) First stop will be with Building a Future in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and I'll be working with them in a variety of capacities for nearly three weeks. Of course, I'll blog, tweet and post about the experience as much as possible. I also have my Sharpies ready to send postcards to the 25 pledge recipients, which span six countries, and at least six decades. Cool, right?

Here's a sneak peek of where in the world I'll be in June and a little bit about the organization I'm volunteering with. Twenty-seven days until the volunteerting adventures begin!

Where is this? Tegucigalpa is the capital city of Honduras and is also the country's largest city. It is located in a basin surrounded by several mountains, at an elevation of 3,250 ft. According to 2005 estimates, the city of Tegucigalpa has approximately 1.25 million people.

About Building a Future: Building a Future’s (BAF) mission is to transform communities by promoting the educational and social development of underprivileged children in Honduras.

Sundry stuff:  BAF hosts an annual trip to Honduras with Texas A&M University Aggie Men’s Club (AMC). This year’s trip took place in March and the group built a home for a family of four, as well as interacted with children from orphanages and support centers managed by Jorge Mahomar. BAF also distributed over 75 soccer balls and over 100 tee-shirts to deserving children. If you’d like to get a better sense of the work BAF does, take a few minutes to check out this video created by AMC’s Andrew Paton documenting the recent trip (the editing is way cool). Also on this trip, I will find a happy home for the XO Laptop that Foodista.com so generously donated. Thank you again, Barnaby for spreading the worldwide tech/educational love. And thanks again to everyone who played a part in making TGCP happen. It's hard to believe that an idea I conceived just seven short months ago (a) got funded within 90 days, and (b) is actually happening within the next 30 days. It's overwhelming and exciting and I'm humbled every day that I have this opportunity ahead of me to make a difference in so many lives around the world. Thank you.

article: hot honeymoon hotels: steals and splurges for brides-to-be

For brides and grooms-to-be, love in the time of recession often means sacrificing the dream wedding extras (i.e., a band AND a DJ, classic car to and from the church, maybe the chocolate fountain) but not necessarily sacrificing the dream wedding itself. After all, you only get married once. Hmmm...ok, maybe you only have the big wedding once. (If you aren't Donald Trump, that is.)

But love in the time of recession also means putting a cap on the honeymoon budget. While everyone fantasizes about seven days in an overwater bungalow in Tahiti, the reality is that not everyone has 15 grand to spend on the honeymoon. But with proper planning and a little compromise, smart couples can still have the honeymoon of their dreams.

HotelChatter has picked five of our favorite Honeymoon Hotel Steals for folks on a budget but who don't want to sacrifice style and comfort. We've also picked out our favorite Honeymoon Hotel Splurges because well, if you elope on the cheap in Vegas, you'll have more money to spend on the honeymoon.

Check out our Steals and Splurges for Brides-to-Be here.

Photo coutresy of Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel Allende, Mexico

the breakfast club

Whether you want a Sunday drive or a hangover helper, a quick one hour trip from Seattle will land you at Farm Kitchen, an 18-acre organic farm and lovely old fashioned farm style building for the Puget Sound’s very best brekky. On the first Saturday of every month, 300-400 morning meal lovin’ folks gather for farm-made Brioche French Toast stuffed with Citrus Cream Cheese, Rosemary Apple Sausage (made on site) and co-owner Hollis Fay’s Original 8-Grain Pullapart – a carb-o-riffic delight that was created on Bainbridge Island in the 1980’s. Customers have even gone so far to write poems singing this particular baked good’s praises. Apples are sourced onsite or from other local organic farms, ditto for the herbs and greens. In 2009, potatoes will be supplied by Leap Frog Farm and Laughing Crow Farm, and organic flowers courtesy of Butler Green Farms and Leap Frog Farm. During the summer months, Farm Kitchen also offers outdoor seating on the Lavender Lawn looking out at the Butler Green Farm’s beautiful dahlias and other flowers. They also offer cooking classes and lodging for those who want to make a mini-getaway of their Poulsbo adventure.

Wanna Try?
Farm Kitchen, 24309 PT Gamble Road NE, Poulsbo; (360-297-6615)
First Saturday of each month (year-round), 8 a.m. – noon, no reservations needed. Featured breakfast costs $9.75, side dishes cost $3-5.

Small Changes Add Up
If 10,000 Seattleites rode their bike to Poulsbo via the ferry versus driving, it would keep the weight of 1072 pigs primed for bacon making out of the landfill.

05 May 2010

something old, something new, something borrowed…

…Something from Blue Sky Bridal. Couples who’ve adopted a “something old, nothing new” mantra, might consider snagging a secondhand dress for their big day. The idea stemmed from a few friends kvetching about the huge amount of waste that goes into a worn-once gown. Jen Akin scoured Craigslist for her own wedding dress, but was uninspired by the lack of choices, so she set up shop. Dresses are sold on consignment and are typically priced at 50% or less than what they’d cost new. Prices vary from $250 to $2500, although most hover around $750. Gowns must be less than 5 years old (with the exception of a few vintage keepers) so styles are pretty up-to-date. The store tries to stock at least 100 selections at any given time, and designers have run the gamut from David’s Bridal to Vera Wang. They also carry a wide assortment of veils, as well as shoes, wraps, ring pillows, and jewelry. Blue Sky Bridal aims to make the whole operation as green as possible, using bamboo hangers, tree-free tags, carrying organic hemp/silk gowns by Conscious Clothing, and offering a 5% discount with a metro pass. Akin advises, “Don’t buy a used gown without seeing it and trying it on. “Like new” can mean a lot of different things and every dress fits differently.”

Wanna Try?
4556 University Way NE, Suite 203, Seattle; (206-783-8700)
Stop by Tuesday – Thursday, 3 – 7 p.m. or schedule a private viewing Friday – Sunday by appointment.

Small Changes Add Up
If 10,000 Seattleites offset the greenhouse emissions from their wedding (based on an 80 person event) it would save an amount of CO2 that would fill 1.1 billion garbage cans.

Photo courtesy of killrbeez

01 May 2010

article: may issue of the costco connection

Thinking Vitamin D-filled thoughts of a south of the border vacation? Read my article "Something's Cooking in Cabo" here.