Feeling Wanderlusty

I’m firmly afflicted with the travel bug again, much to my chagrin. I have consciously not traveled much since moving to Boulder because I want to put down roots, make friends,  know the area and etc., etc., etc. You know – actually LIVE somewhere. I’m committed to Colorado, and therefore it has been a year since I have been overseas. I’m starting to feel a little as though the metaphorical walls are closing in and I might have to hop on a plane without thinking it through clearly.

Truthfully, I shouldn’t travel right now. I don’t have the time or the money, and I’m blissfully happy in my life here. It’s not that I want to leave. It’s more that I want an adventure of relatively short duration, and then to happily come home again. I desperately want to visit a wonderful friend in Zurich, and I haven’t been to Europe in forever, and I also have started missing Oxford terribly so maybe I should stop in there on the way, and can I take a few weeks this summer to go live somewhere different just for a change of scenery? It’s such a good feeling to come home after the disconcerting-ness of living somewhere strange.


Of course, I also really want to go HERE:

Everest Base Camp. My current dream trip, which realistically will take a month to do properly. First, a week to fly somewhere relatively nearby and adjust to the time change (Hong Kong or Shanghai? Maybe get lucky and get into Bhutan?). I don’t want to have trouble sleeping from altitude and jet leg at the same time, and I know the altitude will get to me. Plus, if I’m going to fly halfway around the world, I’d like to see some of it. Then, about 14 days for the roundtrip trek to a place you can only get to under your own power. Isn’t that amazing? There are still places on this earth that one can literally only get to on foot. If you meet someone who has been to Everest Base Camp, they literally walked there for two weeks. I think that’s incredible. It is also going to change – there are already rescue helicopters that will take some charter flights up to Base Camp – but for now, it stays a special place.

I’ve already seen quite a bit of Kathmandu, and I predict that I won’t escape this trip without some bodily harm, so I’m happy to quickly hightail it out of Nepal as soon as the trek is over for some first world/first class pampering in Dubai. Then take the fabulous nonstop Dubai-Atlanta flight, stop in to see my dad and stepmom, then finally home to Denver. See? It’s all planned. I just need a free month and a generous allowance. But it WILL happen.

In the meantime . . . I’ve been thinking of throwing a proper Pimm’s and strawberries and cream party to bring a little Oxford to Colorado.

Tomayto Tomahto (with a very good Pimm's recipe)

If I don’t just hop on the BA Denver-London flight over Memorial Day weekend and then jaunt to Zurich.

Addendum: I just noticed that in my last post one month ago, I wrote that my wanderlust itch had been scratched. Well. Um. I guess mostly? I don’t want to LIVE anywhere new. For me, that’s progress.

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Easter One Year Ago

I was in Oman. Michael was visiting, and we went to the sunrise service because I had been told that was the service everyone goes to. It was so full that they held it outside, in a dusty field between two churches in the “Christian Complex”. Oman allows the practice of religions other than Islam, but they designate where churches can be placed. In Muscat, they are all stuck in a cluster together a little outside the city. So we drove out there and sat outside while the sun came up behind the mountains and went from freezing cold in the darkness to the warmth of early summer in the Middle East. Afterwards the ladies put out cookies and Dixie cups with juice and we had some and I felt kind of awkward in a crowd of people probably a lot more religious than I am. We probably went home and took a nap after that, I can’t remember.

Soon after Michael and I went on our amazing trip to India and Nepal, I came back to Oman horribly ill with something mysterious, and I went home two weeks later still too sick to fly, but I did it anyway, and I was happy to be leaving Oman. It was the right adventure at the right time, and taught me for the first time in my life that living a full 24 hours of flying time away from my family is just too far. It finally scratched that wanderlust itch that I’ve always had to just go off and do something/anything, as long as it’s different and interesting. It implanted a major bug in my ear (is that an expression? I think?) to trek to Everest Base Camp, which I am determined to do, though probably not this year. It made me realize the kind of work I want to do and put me on the path that I’m on now, which feels 100% right all the time, which makes a huge difference when I’m tired and/or feeling burnt out. It confirmed my long-held suspicion that following my instincts and excitement level is the best way to find my path – even when people I love think I’m being crazy and irresponsible and short-sighted.

So to whatever that is that leads me around by the nose and tells me what to do when the path is foggy: I love you. Life is good. Thanks for putting me in Colorado.

Yes, this is a real Omani sign.

New Home, New Life, New Grill

I’m in Boulder! I live somewhere again. It’s so nice to live in my own space with my own friendly things around me.

I’ve been here a few weeks and so far so good, though unpacking boxes and furniture that were in storage for a year was like opening up a wrinkled dust bowl. Which doesn’t even make sense, but there was dust. And wrinkled everything. And I didn’t have internet for a week and a half. I realized that I’ve never moved from one house to another like normal people do – I’ve always flitted off to somewhere random and left everything at my parents’ house for months, or gave all the furniture to Goodwill because it wasn’t worth keeping and then just bought new stuff. Does having nice furniture that deserves storage space mean I’m a real grownup now? So I had to do things like buy a lightbulb for every single lamp, and discover all the shoes and coats I stored for a year and forgot about, and buy so many clothes hangers and organization bins I think I’ve kept Target in business for at least another month. Normal moving has got to be simpler, right? You just put everything in a truck, and then it comes out of the truck an hour or a day later and everything is just the way it was when you put it in? That sounds so lovely.

In the spirit of a new place and new things – and also of being out of New York City and therefore in a normal place where there is, amazingly, outdoor space – I have a tiny patio and I love it! So I bought a gorgeous outdoor grill for it. When I lived in New York, I moaned a lot about how so many recipes require grills and my grill pan was just not getting it done, and grilling is just not practical for anyone in NYC who isn’t Bobby Flay? I’ve joined the ranks of all those annoying people with space for grills. Sorry guys. But IT’S AWESOME.

When I was debating whether or not the grill was worth the money, I remembered that my Aunt Loren told me she uses her grill all the time, even in the winter, because it cooks things quickly, easily, and there are no pots and pans to clean. I figured, ok, if I use it year-round, it’ll be a good investment. So far, I’ve not cooked anything on the stove in five days, and it really does clean up in 5 seconds flat. This will be a wintertime staple, I do believe.

I’ve been making homemade turkey burgers like its my job, and I’ll put the recipe up one of these days but I think its a fairly standard recipe that no one is going to flip out over. And so is the following one, really, but it blew my mind so I’m sharing it. Grilled peaches.

Everything you’ve heard is true. They are GOOD.

Turn the grill on to medium-high heat (mine went up to about 400 degrees with the lid down). Wash the peach, dry it, cut it into quarters. Spray or brush high heat canola oil on them so they don’t stick to the grill or burn. I hear butter works too.

Sprinkle a liberal amount of cinnamon on them, and then a dash of nutmeg and/or cloves, and a dash of salt.

Grill for 4-5 minutes on one side and 3-4 minutes on the other side.


I can imagine all sorts of variations on the theme – balsamic syrup, vanilla beans, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, cognac whipped cream, cinnamon cognac whipped cream…..

No Kitchen = No Fun

I have been pondering why I haven’t been writing here since I got to Oman. I haven’t particularly wanted to write. I have the strange sense that a part of me has been cut off and left in America, and I’ve somehow lost the dinner party part of my life without intending to.

At least it's pretty here

I hardly cook here. I love cooking for dinner parties because I love thinking about fancy recipes, who I will serve them to and in what atmosphere, and then actually making the fancy meal I’ve concocted in my head. I can’t do that here because I’m staying in someone else’s house, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to take over her kitchen. Unfortunately, domestic peace means limiting my cooking to heating up pasta sauce from a jar or making a quick stir-fry. I hate this reason, but it is what it is.

So, I’ve been thinking up ways to inspire myself without being able to actually create any of my ideas. I don’t know how to overcome this little problem except to come up with ways the ideas can be useful eventually.

A friend sent me a gorgeous meditation on creating for the sake of creating, and I highly recommend reading it for anyone who struggles with their creativity – which is all of us, right?  How to Steal Like an Artist

Luckily for me and my need for a purpose before I feel like coming up with fun dinner party ideas, my friend Kamala Nair is coming out with her debut novel, The Girl in the Garden, quite soon. I have already written about it here and here, as I’m sure you’ll all remember and I’m also sure you have all pre-ordered it so you can have it in your hot little hands earlier than than the non-pre-order slackers. Well done. You’re all bi-winning. [Oh what? Charlie Sheen jokes are already old? Nerds!] The Girl in the Garden will be in bookstores June 15, and will be positioned at the front of Barnes & Noble stores starting June 21, which is a VERY big deal, by the way! It will also be featured on the Bookishreadingclub.com site on the Starbucks Digital Network from 6/28-7/12. There won’t even be any books available by June 29! Aren’t you glad you pre-ordered?

Look at how gorgeous her website is: www.kamalanair.com

Parties simply must be thrown around the theme of her book! I’m going to be writing about some gorgeous ideas I have. Well, to be honest, this book is so evocative, parties can’t help but be gorgeous. Book clubs will particularly find these ideas useful, but anyone can use them – you don’t even need to tell your guests about the fictional inspiration if you don’t want to (but DO, because her book is really really good).

I am also getting excited about going to visit my dad and stepmom and stepbrothers soon, and having people to cook for and a kitchen to cook in! So expect some menus related to family home cooking, with a little gourmet thrown in of course.

So there you go. For the next month or so, look out for Girl in the Garden-themed recipes and party ideas. I can’t wait for you to all read it, and then you’ll really understand the ideas and all be desperate to throw gorgeous parties full of glamour and mystery and definitely some romance for good measure.

Life Temporarily Taking Over


Extremely accurate rendering of my desk

My life is becoming crazy busy for the next few weeks, so unfortunately there’s an equal and opposite reaction on BB&B and posting will be slow for a little while. I promise to come back with a lot of interesting new ideas and adventures, as I will be traveling soon and am so excited to tell you all about it!

In the meantime, I’ll be thinking of more elaborate ways to celebrate Kamala Nair’s debut novel, Girl in the Garden, and will have menus, recipes and design ideas coming soon. {See my original ideas here}

Girl in the Garden just got a glowing blurb from the amazing author Thrity Umrigar:

Kamala Nair has crafted an evocative, passionate, tragic novel about love, loss and the terrible cost of family secrets. An impressive debut.
–Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Space Between Us

Did I mention Girl in the Garden is coming out June 15? Did I mention that it has a Kindle edition, if you’re into that sort of space age technology thing? Did I mention you should pre-order it at its amazingly low pre-order price?

You should. Click here.

No Cookie Swap Cookie Making



My mom just told me the cookie swap is the evening that I arrive back home. Which means that I’ll be traveling the day of, rather than making cookie after beautiful cookie! I was so excited about this opportunity to make cookies and then have people to give them all away to. For me, having too many cookies leftover in the house is always the one problem with cookie making.

I really want to make the ginger and cream cheese cookies – what for, though? Christmas morning? I’ll find some occasion when people will be around to eat them.

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