Anyone who’s even just peeked at my blog knows that I’m an adventure addict. If you stepped inside my garage, you’d seriously think you were inside an REI store… Shelves and hooks full of climbing, camping and backpacking gear; bin after bin filled with watersports equipment; snowboards, downhill skis and cross-country skis leaning against the wall; surfboards of all sizes and a stand-up paddleboard hanging from the ceiling; kayaks sitting on the floor wherever there’s still space and my beach cruiser hiding in a back corner next to my husband’s project BMX bike. It really is astonishing how much can fit inside what’s essentially a one-car garage.
Though I’m a lover of the outdoors, it’s almost silly that I’ve continued to venture into the backcountry without any formal first aid training, save for what I’ve learned watching Bear Grylls (and yes, I know, he still has a camera crew out there to rescue him if shit really hit the fan).
I’d been wanting to take a course from the Wilderness Medicine Institute for a while, with one excuse after another for why I couldn’t attend (usually it involved me jetting off on another adventure the same weekend).
But last weekend, I was invited to join a course offered by REI Outdoor School and I jumped at the chance to finally attend their two-day Wilderness First Aid program, taught in conjunction with WMI.
A couple years ago, I took a three-week holiday through Europe with my mom. We circled Western Europe and toured 9 countries in total (10 if you count the Vatican), zipping across channels and cities and countrysides, starting in London and ending in Amsterdam. (Has anyone ever flown out of Amsterdam’s airport? I don’t think I’d ever gone through so many security checkpoints in my life.)
In the middle of it all, I landed in Germany. I spent an afternoon roaming the Munich farmers’ market, but to call Viktualienmarkt merely a “farmers’ market” is underrating it.
Viktualienmarkt is a daily open-air market and square in the heart of Munich’s old town. It spans 240,000 square feet with over 140 stalls and farm stands selling everything from freshly cut flowers to freshly butchered meat. Everything is fresh fresh fresh. For a farmers’ market fiend, a stop here is a vacation in itself.
I’m a savory person… which means that cranberry sauce is my least favorite of Thanksgiving dishes, but I still make a cranberry sauce every year out of tradition. I’ve created a different cranberry recipe every holiday from a boozy compote to a spicy jelly, but frankly, cranberry feels too dessert-y to eat with my turkey (which is also my least favorite meat, but that’s a different story).
So while I was in the kitchen last week, roasting and mashing and blanching up a few trial runs on new recipes (it honestly feels like the whole month is Thanksgiving with the amount of food I make for these trial runs!), I started wondering… What are we going to serve for dessert? The savory side of me usually doesn’t go for dessert, but I do have a weakness for cheesecake and ice cream… especially when it comes to interesting flavors (like Vietnamese coffee ice cream and chai ice cream).
That is how cranberry cheesecake ice cream came into my life. I started dreaming about galangal and orange-glazed cranberry sauce swirled into a rich, cheesy ice cream base, perfect by itself or paired with an equally rich, chocolate pecan pie.
Those of you in Los Angeles may or may not know about Kogi, the Korean taco truck that spawned the hipster food truck movement in this town and became an icon of LA street food. I’ve always had an affinity for their Korean BBQ tacos, and wondered if the same idea could apply to Vietnamese food.
And then it dawned on me: Vietnamese-style pulled pork. Bánh mì. Tacos. Yes!
Bánh mì is a cultural classic, consisting of marinated grilled meat (usually pork) served on a crunchy French baguette with pâté and topped with Vietnamese pickles, cukes, cilantro, and chiles. No other sandwich tastes like a bánh mì, and a bánh mì-style taco combines the best of Vietnamese and Mexican street food for me.
Let’s break down what goes into a Vietnamese taco…
The five little things that made my week…
1. Gathering these amazing aromatics for a steaming pot of homemade Vietnamese phở.
I remember the day I decided to start a blog… and for days (weeks?) after, I was immersed in the Internet, researching the ins and outs of blogging. What theme should I use? What plugins do I need? How do I manage my social media? The possibilities were mind-boggling to a beginner. I was as blank as that first page I opened in WordPress.
Garden Betty has since grown into a small but smoothly running business, and I continue to fine-tune its engine every year. I thought it would be helpful to assemble all of the resources that have kept me organized over time and will get you organized too, from backing up your blog to managing your finances.
I’ll start by saying that a self-hosted WordPress blog is my platform of choice, and for many reasons — the most important one being its amazing ability to expand as your blog and brand expands. There are countless themes and endless plugins that can do nearly anything you want, and while you won’t use them all in the beginning, it’s good to have all those tools in your arsenal once you do get there. Start with WordPress now and you’ll save yourself the headache of migrating to another blog platform in the future.
Since tech is ever shifting, this list will evolve over time as I find more resources worth mentioning!
If I had all the time in the world, I could easily fill up all 365 days of the year with a new post, every day, about gardening, cooking and traveling. I have too much to write about, and that’s a good sign I’m writing about the right things: my passions in life.
I constantly have ideas swirling in my head, inspired by the beauty that I see, the people that I meet or the things that I do. When I engage in conversations, watch a show or listen to the radio, I hear with a writer’s ear and often fill my mental filing cabinet just by listening to others discuss sometimes unrelated subjects. To get them organized and coherent and down on paper (by “paper,” that could mean the back of my junk mail or a jot in my Evernote) can be overwhelming. Often I find myself writing about something that I thought about last year.
Now, nearly 400 posts later, I might know a thing or two about blogging. I’m just as excited about blogging today as I was on the day I started blogging — and every year it just seems to get better.
It goes without saying that being your blogging best means being authentic. Writing in your own voice and your own style. That’s the easy part — getting there is the challenge. Here are a few ways to stay on top of it and get past the blogger’s block.