Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dracula. Vlad Dracula.

Happy Halloween, my Ping peoples!

In the spirit of All Things Hallow, check out Huffington Post's homage to "The Impaler" - Vlad Dracula - with a photo essay of his gorgeous hometown, Sighosoar, Romania.

In the spirit of All Things Cute, check out these adorable trick-or-treaters that came by my door tonight. Tip: Kids either love Twizzlers or hate 'em. And they're not afraid to tell you. Either way. 

Trick or treat! How are you spending your Halloween? 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Giddy Up

I'm going to be out of pocket for the next couple of days, but wanted to leave you with something to ponder:

Which (current or former) Supreme Court Justice is honored in the National Cowgirl Museum's Hall of Fame?

a) Sandra Day O'Connor
b) Ruth Bader Ginsburg
c) Elena Kagan
d) None of the above. Jean's been reading way too much Wikipedia.

Answer to come when I return! 

Updated 10/31/10
Answer: First female member of the US Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor

Sunday, October 24, 2010

British Invasion

{Photo by HeatherOnHerTravels}

First, there was Pret A Manger.  Preservative-free happiness in the shape of sandwiches, desserts, croissants, and other tasty bites from across the pond.

Then, walking down 7th Street NW, I see a sign for Wagamama, home of “positive eating and positive drinking” - and lots of Pan-Asian noodles.

DC is experiencing a full-on British Invasion – and I love it!

Pret A Manger DC
18 & Eye Streets, NW, 202-403-2992
11th and F Streets, NW, 202-464-2791

Wagamama DC
418 7th Street, NW (opening soon)

Outside the Beltway?
Pret – located in New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, and throughout the UK (obviously).
Wagamama – locations in too many countries to count. Click here to see if yours is one of the lucky ones.

Pret or Wagamama – who would win in a cage fight?   

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Frugal Fun: Online Book Swappin'

If you’re anything like me, you like a good travel guidebook. Not that I necessarily read them from cover to cover. Booking a trip to a new city makes me feel like I have the right to go out and buy a shiny new book. So I do. Then they sit. On my bookshelf. Collecting dust well after the trip is over.  Don’t get me wrong – some guidebooks, I cherish! Let’s Go Europe 1998 from my semester abroad? It’s a keeper. But, as for the rest, well, they need to go. 

Thus, I present you with PaperBackSwap.  Here’s the deal: 

You post a book (or books) online that you’d like to swap. A fellow member likes it? You mail it to them. Then, you receive a "credit" to order a book from the rest of the four million plus selections available from the swapping community. Your seller, in turn, mails it to you for free (as you’ve absorbed the cost of sending your book, so do they). 

And there you have it. Old books off-loaded. New books received. The only cost incurred is postage. Pretty sweet, right? I know!

Gaga for guidebooks? Cherish forever or swap wildly? 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Those Crafty Bastards...No, Really.

Presented by alternative newsweekly Washington City Paper (WCP), Crafty Bastards Arts & Crafts Fair took place earlier this month in the Adam’s Morgan neighborhood of DC. And who are the Crafty Bastards, you ask?

For the past seven years, WCP has demonstrated its continued support to the indie craft community by throwing this annual event to showcase handmade alternative arts and crafts.  Patrons can discover – and purchase – fun and funky new items and meet the artists who created them. In turn, the artists show off, sell their loot, and get to know their audience. Everybody wins!

Here’s a look into this year’s bastardom.

A blimp constructed from Monopoly money

Rad skate decks

Golden Girls tea towels
(Which sold out 30 minutes after I shot this photo.
Do you know what a great gift this
would have made for dozens of my friends?!?)

Super cute, adoptable pooches from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue!

Tricked out tees

Cat rainbow buttons
(Really, I didn’t know how else to describe this.)

The day grew warm in the sun. Thankfully, the good folks at
Casey Trees were handing out these cute fans!

You can learn more about Crafty Bastards by checking out their blog.

Until next year, you Bastards…when that Golden Girls tea towel will be mine!

Supporting local artists? Who’s your favorite Crafty Bastard? 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Around the World in 30 Bytes: All About Pumpkin

{Photo by D Sharon Pruitt}
"Around the World in 30 Bytes" is a recurring series focusing on what’s shakin’ in the food blogosphere and in my virtual recipe box.

October is my favorite month of the year. The leaves are turning, the air is brisk, and Starbucks' pumpkin spice lattes are in full effect. All is right with the world...but back to pumpkin. Puree it, chop it, bake it – I’m just crazy about pumpkin! 

Thus, this edition of 30 Bytes is in homage to that sumptuous squash.

Belgium Byte: The Yvestown Blog’s Pumpkin Soup. Mmm...coconut milk...

California Byte: 101 Cookbook’s Roasted Pumpkin Salad. For the healthy pumpkin lover in all of us. 

New York Byte: Smitten Kitchen’s Pumpkin Bourbon Cheesecake. Pumpkin + Bourbon + Cream Cheese = Fab.

Oklahoma Byte: The Pioneer Woman’s Pumpkin Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream. So I like to cook with liquor. What?

Oregon Byte: Noble Pig’s Pumpkin Caramel Bars with Bacon. The Holy Grail of savory-sweet pumpkinosity. All hail Cathy!

Smashing pumpkins? Share your favorite pumpkin recipe!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Like Outer Space? Got $200K? You're Golden.

{Image by Acbo}
“Space…the Final Frontier.”

Captain James T. Kirk zipped around the solar system in the USS Enterprise free of charge and probably got a nice government pension to boot. Want to fulfill your Star Trek fantasy? You can start by hopping on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spacecraft and travel 62 miles above the planet. It’s no Enterprise, but thrilling to us Earthlings nonetheless. In just a few seconds, space travelers venture almost 2,500 miles per hour – over three times the speed of sound. Weightlessness! The view!  Space odyssey indeed.

If handing over Sir Richard Branson US$200,000 is too much for your wallet, you can check out Space Adventures, who will offer a similar experience for only US$102,000. Though, I must say, space travel is no area I would plan to bargain shop. 

For further thoughts on space tourism’s imminent boom, check out

Yay or nay - Is space your final frontier?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where Am I?

Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, more than 20,000 people - plus countless little guys like these - currently inhabit this area made famous by a scientist's fateful infatuation with its native bird. (I'm simplifying, of course).

Where am I?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Football v. Futball

{Photo by Bringsverd}
American football season is in high gear as I discovered 90% of the people I know watched the Washington Redskins v. Philly Eagles game on Sunday, fierce rivals they are (Skins won, thankyouverymuch).

Never quite an American football fan - despite my fierce love of Friday Night Lights - I do love watching soccer or “football,” as I suppose anyone outside North America would refer to it. Watching The World Cup in South Africa was one of the highlights of the summer. Passion! Shorts! Vuvuzelas!  90+ minutes of running and kicking and playing their hearts out…I felt that I was right on the field with them. (Well, as much as I could while sitting on a bar stool drinking beer.) And I’m still sick about Ghana.

Alas, we have to wait until 2014 for the next World Cup. Though there’s plenty of other soccer/football throughout the US until then, this feels like the only event in the sport that garners so much national attention.

So, for now, I have Sunday night American football. To which I say, “meh.”

Football or futball: Who wins your match?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Stepping Up To Fight AIDS

On Saturday, I proudly participated in AIDS Walk Washington for the fifth consecutive year. This annual 5K supports the ongoing efforts of DC’s Whitman-Walker Clinic.

Established in 1978, Whitman-Walker serves more than 10,000 individuals throughout DC with specialty health care services for the LGBT community and those living with HIV/AIDS. Their services include primary medical and dental care; counseling and treatment for mental health and addictions; HIV education, prevention, and testing; and legal services.

This year, over US$700,000 was raised for the clinic! Here are some highlights...

The walk began and finished at Freedom Plaza, leading right down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.  

Many walked in honor of a loved one.

These ladies comprised a few of the many volunteers
who cheered on the group along the route.

Canines also came out to support the cause!

And then of course, there was some silliness... 

And you even got free hugs at the finish line! 

I would like to extend special congratulations to Team 1Life - the team I proudly walk with - who last year raised US$3,800 and this year raised over US$5,600! What a phenomenal team!

For those readers in SoCal, there’s still time to register for AIDS Walk Los Angeles taking place on October 17. Those in Texas can join AIDS Walk Austin on the same day.

Exercising for good? Tell us about your cause! 

Friday, October 01, 2010

Be The Change

{Photo copyright}
A few years ago, I traveled to Tibet, where I had the honor of visiting Braille Without Borders (BWB), an NGO that teaches Braille and vocational skills to blind and hearing-impaired children in the Tibetan region. Many in Tibetan society believe blindness is punishment for doing something wrong in a past life. As a result, many of these children are shunned by the public, some even their families. BWB’s work has changed the lives of countless Tibetan children, and their story is nothing short of incredible.

Founder Sabriye Tenberken, a blind woman from Germany (and future Nobel Peace Prize nominee), traveled on horseback - alone - throughout the region to investigate to the possibility of providing training for blind and visually impaired Tibetans. On her journey, she met Dutch engineer Paul Kronenberg, now her husband and co-founder of BWB. There was no previous study for blind students; therefore, she had to develop her own Tibetan script for the blind with the help of a Tibetan scholar.

Sabriye and Paul’s organization began in 1998 with one elementary school for six children. Today they run a preparatory school for children ages 5-15, vocational training (including medical massage and physiotherapy), and the Self-Integration Program, which gives children the self-confidence and base knowledge to integrate themselves into society. In addition, they have now ventured into India, creating the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs (IISE), which offers leadership training for future social innovators who want to make the world a better place. 

BWB is also featured in the award-winning documentary Blindside, which recounts how Sabriye, Paul, and six of their students attempt to summit Lhakpa Ri, the 23,000 foot peak beside Mount Everest.

I was truly moved by their story and felt privileged to see their work in person. I feel they wholly embody Mahatma Ghandi’s appeal to “be the change you want to see in the world.”

There’s so much more to learn about BWB. You’ll find more information on their programs and students on their web site. If you’d like to donate towards their inspiring work, please click here.

Who inspires you to "be the change"?