Life in the slow lane: 37 states in 48 days

I’m not good with numbers. But this is what I do know…

I’ve been home for a little over 2 weeks.

I just downloaded 2 memory cards containing 2,655 pictures.

I just transferred 114 pictures from my phone to my computer.

I managed to tick off 37 states in 48 days on The CSA Cookbook Road Trip. That’s 76 percent of the continental US, seen from at least 80 percent back roads, farm roads, ferry routes, state scenic byways, National Scenic Byways, All-American Roads, and National Parkways.

That’s quite a feat considering the speed limit on most of these smaller roads is no more than 45 mph. It was slow. And wonderful. And if you’re going to complete a loop around the country, it’s the best way to experience the incredible diversity of landscapes and cultures in the grand old US of A.

From the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi to the Amish Buggy Byway in Minnesota, Will and I discovered more about this country than we ever thought we would, simply by veering off major interstates when we had the opportunity. Taking the scenic route (sometimes by accident… and also known as getting lost, in a good way) also allowed us to document every single stateline crossing, rain or shine, upon entry or upon exit.

We found welcome signs at visitors’ centers. In the middle of medians. On the sides of highways. Big or small, we managed to find signs in places where we could safely pull over in all 37 states.

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July 21 2015      54 comments     Linda Ly
Libros   Viajes

How to trim your chicken's nails

If you never knew a chicken’s nails could grow so long, and if you’ve never seen a grown man cradle a chicken like a baby, well… I’m here to change all that.

While it might sound like I’m being an overly doting chicken-keeper, making sure your chickens’ nails are trim is actually a part of managing a healthy flock. Not only is it good practice to check out your chickens’ feet from time to time (for signs of scaly mites and other ailments), but a quick glance-over can help prevent other injuries.

This is because chickens with overgrown nails may have trouble walking and holding a natural foot position, or they may inadvertently scratch their eyes and cause an infection. Overgrown nails start to curl and become a nuisance to an otherwise healthy hen.

Overgrown chicken nails

The issue normally occurs in chickens that are raised in runs with softer bedding, or chickens that tend to be broody and sit on a nest for weeks on end. Sometimes, chickens simply don’t scratch enough against a rough surface to properly “file” down their nails, and over time, they grow quicker than they can be worn down.

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July 16 2015      25 comments     Linda Ly
Gallinas

Hanging out with the owners of Urban Garden Center in East Harlem, New York

(Urban Garden Center in New York City is an inspiring force in their East Harlem community. I’m honored to be standing with the second and third generations of the Gatanas family, who literally built this business from the ground up. The first generation, Mama Gatanas, took this picture for us!)

One of the most rewarding experiences of being an author is meeting the actual people who are selling your book. I think it’s an underrated opportunity, as authors tend to focus on relationships with readers and journalists, but booksellers have just as much impact on the success of a title.

And independent booksellers, in particular, work incredibly hard to market new books to their customers, plan meaningful events for their communities, and bring in authors to foster the type of camaraderie you can’t find online.

A well-curated bookshop is truly a gem if you’re lucky to have one in your neighborhood. And while it’s easy to hop online, browse for a book, and have it shipped to your house for less than the list price, there’s something to be said about wandering the aisles of a brick-and-mortar. Meeting the proprietor behind it. Even asking a real person a question, a basic interaction that all too often involves Google or Siri these days.

My book tour gave me the rare opportunity to connect with a small (but undeniably important) segment of the wonderful people involved in getting my book into the world. Being able to chat with the owners, buyers, and sales folks on the retail end really made me appreciate what they do for their communities. I occasionally hear babble that books are a dying breed, but I don’t believe that’s true. There will always be a part of human nature that craves a tangible connection with a printed page. But as time moves on, that in-person experience may just be harder to find nearby.

The CSA Cookbook on display at BookBar in Denver, Colorado

(BookBar in Denver not only has the nicest people working there, it’s also a novel concept for a business: an independent bookshop and wine bar in one!)

If you’ve been meaning to buy a copy of The CSA Cookbook (or you want to buy another as a gift), may I suggest you support a small business in your town? In fact, all independent bookstores are able to order my book from their distributors, even if they don’t currently stock it. It’s a win on many levels!

And if you live in or near one of the areas below, I’d be deeply grateful if you supported your closest retailer. Many of them carry signed copies of my book, but if they’re out, I’m happy to send you a signed bookplate as a thank you for shopping local. (Just email me your receipt.)

All of these retailers have hosted events for my book, and I’m thankful for their support. I hope you’ll consider buying a book the old-fashioned way, and possibly discover a local business you haven’t seen before.

If you’re aware of an independent shop carrying The CSA Cookbook in your town (but is not listed), please add them in the comments so other people may find them. (And who knows… they could very likely be part of my next book tour!)

Greater Los Angeles Area
The Book Frog (signed copies)
25357 Crenshaw Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
(424) 263-5344

Special note: The Book Frog is my local bookshop, so if you would like your book inscribed with a personal message, please let them know when you place your order.

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July 14 2015      17 comments     Linda Ly
Libros

There’s a strange feeling after you step foot in a garden again after seven weeks away. All the seeds have seemingly sprouted overnight. Plants that were only seedlings are suddenly bearing fruit. The volunteer squash (which came up over winter) is already ripe and curing in the sun.

It’s like seeing a long-lost friend after several years (which is what it feels like in garden time) and though you haven’t interacted since then, you easily fall in stride again.

Coming home to an edible garden is such a treat after many days and nights of eating out. It’s the thing I missed most about being away from home (aside from our animals, of course) and thanks to a reliable drip system and a healthy dose of compost tea before we left, our plants have been happy and productive. We have tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, cucumbers, beans, beets, carrots, squash, and all kinds of leafy greens still going strong, and I’ve picked out stacks of seed packets for plants I want to put in the ground soon.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to digging my hands in the dirt again this weekend!

Here were the five little things (out of many!) that made my week…

Savoy cabbage

1. This beautiful head of savoy cabbage hung on through some hot weather.

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July 10 2015      44 comments     Linda Ly
Diversión   Jardín

I almost can’t believe that we’re over 5 weeks and nearly 10,000 miles in to The CSA Cookbook Road Trip (by the time you read this, we will have hit that 10,000-mile mark on the Lost Coast of California).

When Will and I first set out on this adventure in May, we weren’t sure how we’d feel after all this time on the road… Would we miss our bed? Tire of driving? Yearn for a little routine in our schedule? But now that we’re in the final stretch with less than a week of travel left, we can honestly say that we’re a little sad to be coming home so soon.

Sure, we miss our house, our garden, and most especially our pugs and chickens, but we have absolutely loved being on the move, discovering this beautiful country, meeting the most inspiring people and reuniting with friends we haven’t seen in moons. This trip has truly opened our eyes to a few possibilities for the future, and I have a feeling our life path will be veering off in a new direction in the years to come. Where that path will lead, we’ve yet to figure out…

This week, we started down the west coast and finished the book tour with an event at Grass Roots Books and Music in Corvallis, Oregon. It was the sweetest end to a chapter I will never, ever forget, and I can’t thank Grass Roots enough (as well as the 13 other venues which so kindly hosted my book tour) for welcoming me into their tribe.

What else made my week this week?

Sunset on the summer solstice in Olympic National Park

1. Scoring a last-minute campsite in Olympic National Park, and oceanfront, no less. After taking in a stunning 9:30 pm sunset and 10:20 pm dusk on the bluffs at South Beach, I think I need to start spending all my summer solstice holidays up in these northern states!

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June 26 2015      11 comments     Linda Ly
Diversión   Libros   Viajes

As of yesterday, I’ve wrapped up my eleventh event of The CSA Cookbook Road Trip and have three more to go, all down the west coast. (I’m coming for you, Washington and Oregon!)

But before Will and I head to Bainbridge Island, we’ll be meandering across the northern Great Plains, eventually landing in Yellowstone to celebrate my birthday!

Here’s a Roadtrippers map of our driving itinerary for the next week. We’ll be covering a lot of ground across Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. I’m looking forward to having no commitments and simply enjoying the landscape as I reflect on reaching 35 years of life on this earth!

You can follow @gardenbetty on Instagram to keep up with my wanderings. Meanwhile, here were the five little things that made my week.

Mountain biking in Stowe

1. Mountain biking on our last day in Vermont. We discovered the locals’ gem, Cady Hill in Stowe, and it was unbelievable! The trails, the forest, the farms we passed along the way… I can’t wait to come back.

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June 12 2015      11 comments     Linda Ly
Diversión   Libros   Viajes

The CSA Cookbook Road Trip: Bainbridge Island, Portland, and Willamette Valley!

(Chatting with a passionate group of edible gardeners and urban homesteaders at cluck! urban farm supply in Providence, Rhode Island.)

This post is bittersweet for me. It’s the last leg of The CSA Cookbook Road Trip, but marks a drive I’ve always wanted to do since moving to California — Highway 101 down the coast of Oregon and Northern California. I’m over the moon to be visiting three places on the west coast that are completely new to me: Bainbridge Island, Portland, and Willamette Valley.

June 24 is my last official book tour stop, and the week remaining will be spent exploring the Redwood Coast before we finale in Lake Tahoe, and then home to Los Angeles. But all of that still feels worlds away!

This past weekend in Vermont, we reached the Hump Day point of our road trip, exactly three weeks in with three weeks left to go. I haven’t calculated the total mileage thus far, but I’m guessing we’ve logged at least 5,000 miles on our Kia Sedona MPV (which, by the way, we’re loving more and more as we wander on dozens of scenic byways).

We’ve also reached a milestone in the trip where all the signs are starting to point west… and I’m looking forward to meeting my Midwest readers in Chicagoland and the Wisconsin River Valley this week!

Saturday, June 20 at 1 pm – Bainbridge Island, WA
Eagle Harbor Book Co.
Following the Saturday morning farmers’ market, I’ll be giving a talk, answering questions, and signing books at Eagle Harbor Book Co. This will be a fun and informative event to learn how to use all those fresh vegetables you just picked up, with as little waste as possible! (And you might be surprised by all the unconventional parts you can actually eat.) Books will be available for purchase.

Monday, June 22 at 7 pm – Portland, OR
Broadway Books
I know there are plenty of kindred spirits in Portland, and I can’t wait to meet you all! Join us for a book talk, Q&A, and signing. I’ll be discussing common food myths and the surprising parts of plants you might not have known were edible. Books will be available for purchase.

Wednesday, June 24 at 7 pm – Corvallis, OR
Grass Roots Books and Music
The only reason I’m looking forward to the final stop on The CSA Cookbook Road Trip is my visit to one of the most passionate food and farming communities on the west coast! Come out for a conversation on CSAs and local food, and learn how you can make the most of vegetables you buy or grow. Books will be available for purchase.

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June 8 2015      29 comments     Linda Ly
Libros   Viajes