It’s Time to Walk ‘n Roll ~

So…..

A 65 year old woman walks into a room filled with complete strangers…

Six of whom are dogs…

Her heart beats a little faster…

Scents of puppy breath and craft beer waft across the air…

And, she feels drawn…

You can call it puppy love, but…

I prefer to call it my first meeting with the lovely and amazing folks who are the Portland Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence.

Quite honestly, these people (and their pups) blew me away.  And then they stole my heart.  The meeting lasted two hours and I was completely hooked by the time I left.  I do not see the title of “puppy raiser” in my future, but I’ll make a great puppy petter and a very vocal supporter of the dedication and beautiful work that is being done by the good folks of CCI.

The meeting I walked into on that first Monday in March was a planning session for the Portland edition of a national fund raising event put on by CCI chapters – DogFest Walk ‘n Roll.   Yep.  You guessed it. I joined the planning team right then and there.  You can’t keep an old meeting planner down.

This is going to be a fantastic event for a beyond great cause!

By why stop there, she asked.  We need a Backpack&Rollie Walk n Roll team!  Because really, isn’t that what hubs and I are setting out to do?  Walk and drag out rollie-bags along twopups_webwherever we go. I am grateful everyday for our ability to so easily make this dream come alive.  For so many, it’s not quite so simple.  So last week Team Backpack&Rollie was officially launched.  We’re ready to walk and roll and we’re looking for members and sponsors to help us exceed our goal of raising $1,000.

Okay, and it didn’t bother me one bit that the team captain is also called the Top Dog.  How stinkin’ cute is that?

Here’s the mini version of how DogFest works.

  • It’s a family and dog friendly event that combines, two walking courses, puppy petting, sloppy kisses and wet noses (for the dogless folks like hubs and I).
  • Teams and individuals will walk and roll either or both courses.  Prizes will be given!
  • There will be entertainment, local celebrities, doggie events of all kinds and a chance to meet lots of CCI puppies in training, their handlers and their trainer.  Get a few tips for your own four legged friend.
  • The goal of each DogFest chapter (events being held in cities across the country) is to raise $60,500 and to spread the word about the amazing work these dogs (and their handlers) are doing to make a difference in the lives of so many people.
  • Fundraising is done through donations and sponsorships of all kinds, but the easiest way to get involved is to form or join a team.  Teams raise money online, compete for doggone good prizes and share in the fun on the day of the event.  You don’t have to live in Portland but if you do, you can come walk with us in September.  For out-of-towners, there will be lots of video and great photos so you will see your team in action and can cheer from a distance.

Please watch this short video taken at the most graduation of puppies from the Portland chapter at the Charles M. Schultz (yes, Snoopy’s creator was a HUGE supporter) in Santa Rosa, CA.

Grab a leash and join me for Canine Companions for Independence DogFest Walk ‘n Roll! You can register, join our team, or simply make a donation to my fundraising efforts. Either way, you’ll be supporting the amazing work of Canine Companions. We’ll be romping, rolling, and “ruffing” it up with our dog and people friends. Let me know how you want to get involved. It’s sure to be a doggone good time! – See more at: http://www.cci.org/faf/email/emailFriend.asp?ievent=1101116&lis=1&kntae1101116=C7A1F5748C52469AA52644FC77E93C82#sthash.qRYFCiHB.dpuf
Grab a leash and join me for Canine Companions for Independence DogFest Walk ‘n Roll! You can register, join our team, or simply make a donation to my fundraising efforts. Either way, you’ll be supporting the amazing work of Canine Companions. We’ll be romping, rolling, and “ruffing” it up with our dog and people friends. Let me know how you want to get involved. It’s sure to be a doggone good time! – See more at: http://www.cci.org/faf/email/emailFriend.asp?ievent=1101116&lis=1&kntae1101116=C7A1F5748C52469AA52644FC77E93C82#sthash.qRYFCiHB.dpuf

Wanna join the fun? 

Great, because Team Backpack&Rollie WANTS YOU!

Here’s how you can help ~

  1.  Join our team.  Here’s the link again.
  2.  Spread the word to your friends, family and co-workers and help us raise $1,000. I’d love it if you shared this post.
  3.  Sponsor our team if you are a business, or talk to me about corporate sponsorship for the event if you want to go big.
  4.   Make a one time donation.  Every dollar counts!
  5.   Come walk with us and join the fun on Saturday September 13, 2014 at the University of Portland.  I’m thinking costumes and I’m open to your wild and crazy ideas.

Because, when the chips are down in this life, aren’t we really all in it together?

It’s just how we roll.

Cheers!

Nancy ~ aka The Top Dog

Check out the CCI website for more information on their mission, their programs and all the ways you can get involved.

Creating Your Roving Retirement ~ Part 3: Use this money-saving tips

A Few More Money Saving Tips

-Make sure your credit card has mileage benefits.  Use it wisely, but use it.  Those points add up and will save you thousands on airfare.

-Airline prices fluctuate daily, but in general the best deals go to those who are patient and diligent.   Travel pros suggest that statistically those who book early in the morning or late at night, especially on Saturdays and Wednesdays, find the best deals.

-Lower price guarantee.  Most US airlines (but not all) have a guaranteed airfare clause buried in the fine print that says if you purchase a ticket and the price drops, they will refund the difference.  Sites like Yapta.com can track airline fares and notify you if a price drops.

-Travel off-season.  You will save on both airfare and hotel.   When the tourists leave and properties or air seats are empty, prices drop.  It’s the law of supply and demand.  This applies to home rentals as well.  Many off-season prices are negotiable.  They would rather rent their apartment to you for 30% off than leave it vacant.  Never hesitate to ask.

-Take the road less traveled.  Going just a little bit off the beaten path can save you a lot of money.  I’ve found that if you stay in that lovely small town just outside of the big city, the prices for both food and lodging will usually drop dramatically.

Creating Your Roving Retirement ~ Part 4: 5 Action Steps

ACTION STEPS

1.  DARE TO DREAM

Start with your travel dream board and wish list.  These two exercises will set the stage for a constant flow of ideas and inspiration that will continue to propel you forward.

2.  FIND YOUR PURPOSE

Everyone travels for a reason.  It can be a simple as finally having the chance to sip an umbrella drink in a beach chair or finally having the opportunity to use your skills as a volunteer.  Once you’ve identified the where on your travel wish list, spend some time with the why, which in turn will often lead you to the how.   For example, you might volunteer with an organization such as (        ) teaching English or building schools, and then plan a few months of additional travel.

3.  DO YOUR RESEARCH

You will want to learn everything you can about your travel destinations and explore all of the options for traveling on a budget.  The internet is a great place to start.  A few simple google searches will provide hours of online reading.   Become a regular at your library.   Find travel blogs that you relate to and sign up to receive their posts.  Ask questions.  Make connections.  Share your dream.  When you start telling people about your dream of retirement travel, you will be surprised how many like-minded people you will meet and the information and opportunities that will be provided.  Set the wheels of adventure in motion now.

4.  TEST THE WATERS WITH MINI-TRIPS

You may not be ready to sell the house and everything in it and head out to see the world quite yet, but you can start flexing your adventure muscle with mini trips.  If walking the Camino de Santiago is on your bucket list, start by exploring your city on foot.   Sign up for a 3 hour walking tour or create your own.  Life, and your city, look very different when you slow down to 3mph.   Do you dream of traveling across Europe with your Eurail pass and your backpack?   Start with Amtrak, your backpack and a quick weekend getaway a couple of hours from home.

5.   HONE YOUR LANGUAGE SKILLS

Many Americans assume that everyone speaks English.  This is often the case in the big cities, but you will have a very different experience if you have at least a basic understanding of the language.  The ability to say good morning and engage in a simple conversation truly enhances your “live like a local” experience.  Check out continuing education classes at your community college for classes in Spanish, French, German, or Japanese.  Join a local inter-cambio group through Meet Up or your library.  Generally these groups meet weekly and half of the conversation is in English and half is in the language you are learning.  You will meet native speakers and learn about customs and culture while you are improving your speaking skills.

If you missed that GAP year of travel in your 20‘s, here is your second chance to pack up your backpack and head out to explore the world.  With retirement travel you have the luxury of time all over again. Take as long as you like and enjoy every minute.  You’ve earned it.

See you on the road!

On the road again ~ Oh the places we’d go!

The hubs has been bringing up his dream of driving across the U.S. again.  And again.  It’s not my dream, never has been.  Two hours in the car and I take on the personality of that most annoying child “Are we there yet?”  “I have to go to the bathroom…now!“  “I’m hungry.“  and the never ending “I’m so bored I’m taking selfies with my phone and posting them on FB so I won’t resort to poking sticks under my thumbnails for entertainment.”

I'm really sure this would NOT be the one.

I’m really sure this would NOT be the one.

But, lately I’ve been watching friends who are packing up their mini trailers and campervans, heading out on the open road, and loving (almost) every minute of it.  Let’s just say I’m curious. And the trailer door is open, just an inch or two on the possibility. I’m thinking it’s finally time for a trial run weekend.  Just sayin’.  No commitment.

Here’s a post from the blog archives that made me smile all over again at the possibilities the future holds.

Oh The Places We’ll Go – originally posted 4/2012

So, if (and it is a BIG IF right now) we were to take to the open road in an RV or maybe one of those cute Airstream trailers, where might that road lead?  Visit friends and family – check, find rivers and stop for fly fishing – hubby big check, me “Ok, I’ll give you a few”, all those must see monuments, parks, historic sites that every tourist wannabe has on their list – sure, we’ll do those too.  But, I recently stumbled on a few places that really sparked my interest.  Now these towns might be worth barreling down the highway in an oversize toaster on wheels!  Kinda makes me want to say “Road Trip!”

Knowing us, we’d have to start with the names of dubious character ~ Intercourse, PA, Assawoman, VA, Blue Ball, OH, French Lick, IN (ooh la la!) or Buttzville, NJ and then ease on down the road to the tiny town of Slaughterville, Oklahoma which, so the story goes, was once the subject of a PETA protest.  PETA asked the town (I’m not making this up, I got it right from the Travel Channel) to change its name to Veggieville with the promise of donating $20,000 in veggie burgers to the school district if they did.  From there we could cruise into such hot spots as Hell, MI, or Fertile, NM.   And, when hunger strikes, we’ll head on over to Pie, WV.  If we’re feeling adventurous, we’ll surely make a stop at Surprise, NY and round out our road trip at Deadman Crossing, OH, or maybe Jerkwater, PA, or Idiotville, OR.  Idiotville? How can we live in Oregon and not have heard of Idiotville?  That sounds like a weekend getaway on it’s own.

Maybe something cute like this teardrop…only bigger and with windows?

Cute!

Cute!

 

Happy trails and roll up the damn window, the breeze is messing up my hair!

Nancy

4 thoughts on “On the road again ~ Oh the places we’d go!

  1. We just came back from a fabulous trip – 2+ weeks in our Roadtrek – bringing it home from Palm Desert via Sedona, Grand Canyon, Rte 1 in California…….you guys need to come over for a visit. We had a ball – can’t wait to get back out

    • Hi Judy, Les and I would really like to see the Roadtrek. Let’s figure out a time…soon. Can’t wait to hear about your maiden voyage.

  2. I am ready for a road trip! When we took our trip in 2010, our mission had two purposes: see the last house l lived in in CA and find Busby MT. Along the way we stopped for everything from national parks to fruit stands. We got on the road when we wanted and we found a good hotel when we got tired. No RV. Best vacation ever!

Retiring to the Tropical Good Life in Belize

Way back in 1996, I spent two glorious weeks in Belize.  The second week a group of us, mostly scuba divers (and me) lived it up in a rundown motel right at the end of the pier where the ferries docked.   It was also directly across from the local liquor store.  If you owned stock in Belikin Beer that week, your stock rose significantly.

Each morning we wandered down the beach to a tiny outdoor cafe where we sat for a very long time sipping our tea and watching the world meander by.  Every now and then, someone would ask, “I wonder how long it would take until we got tired of this?”  No one could even guess at the answer as we all had to be back in the corporate grind before the next week began.   We were staying on Ambergris Caye which at the time was the only developed (and I’m using that term loosely here) island of the bunch. There were no cars allowed, only a small number of golf carts for transportation, the streets were sand and sometimes the sand went right into the shops and restaurants.  This was before cell phones and the one public pay phone was out of order.  That trip still ranks up there as one of the best vacations of my life (so far).

While I’m not sure full time tropical living is what hubs and I are looking for, it was great fun to read the informative article below by Ann Kuffner that was published in a recent copy of International Living Magazine.   If sunny skies, beautiful blue water, and tropical breezes are calling you, either for a vacation or a retirement option, English speaking Belize might be worth a look.  Reading the article makes me want to visit again even though it sounds like the gringos have moved in and changed things a bit.

Belize’s 3 Best Beach Towns by Ann Kuffner

Most expats who consider moving to Belize dream of living near the Caribbean Sea on a beach. Fortunately for them, Belize offers several beach lifestyle options. Right now, the three most popular beach areas expats settle are Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, and the Placencia Peninsula.

Here’s a quick peek at each of these popular beach retreats…

Ambergris Caye: The World’s #1 Island on the Caribbean Sea

Ambergris Caye is the island that I’ve called home for the past six years—and I’m not the only one who has discovered its charms. For two years running Trip Advisor members have voted Ambergris Caye their favorite vacation island. But what’s it like to live full time in this hip, happening, tourist haven?

Few expats tire of the aquamarine Caribbean seascape, the vibrant marine life, and the protective barrier reef that’s a half-mile offshore.

But San Pedro Town can be frenetic. This colorful, active little town is definitely evolving and there are pros and cons related to Ambergris Caye’s growth. But you need only live two miles out of town to find a peaceful environment.

Ambergris Caye is a good-size island. It’s 25 miles long and has almost 20,000 residents. That translates to more options. Expats who settle here can expect a comfortable lifestyle with a surprising number of amenities. You’ll find quality fresh fish, chicken, meat, diverse produce, fine wines, fresh coffee beans, and specialty items not available in most of Belize.

There are plenty of options for activities. In addition to outdoor water sports, there are multiple yoga studios, gyms, massage spas, sailing clubs, live music scenes, karaoke competitions, and festivals…and many options for volunteer organizations and churches.

The majority of expats live in an established condo community. That allows them to lock up and take off.

Beach houses tend to be pricey (though they’re still much more affordable than on other Caribbean vacation hotspots). Prices for certain goods are steep here when compared to prices on the mainland, due to the transport cost. But a couple can get by on $1,650 per month (including rent), if they’re careful. And, on the positive side, a golf cart is much less expensive than a car—to buy and maintain.

Caye Caulker: The Ultimate Laid-Back Island Lifestyle

Caye Caulker is blessed with the same gorgeous Caribbean seascape as Ambergris Caye. The two cayes are close. The water taxi between them takes only 20 minutes or so and both cayes are only a half-mile from the barrier reef. But there is a world of difference between these sibling islands, in terms of lifestyle…

Caye Caulker is small. It’s only five miles long and has 1,300 residents. Its colorful, charming village has a relaxed, artistic vibe. It reminds me of California’s 1970s hippie communities.

The streets are still sand: no cobblestone or concrete streets here. The residents get around on foot, or a bike. Golf carts are an option, but not a necessity…

The entire island has an aura of peace and tranquility. Whether Caye Caulker is the place for you depends on your interests in life. If you need the stimulation and excitement of a busier place, you’ll be bored after a few days. But if you favor a quiet and tranquil vibe, this will feel like heaven on earth, particularly if you’re the artistic type. So if you’ve been putting off writing that novel, this might be the perfect spot to settle in…

Expats eat out often here, especially since the restaurant fare is decent and reasonably priced. But be advised: there aren’t many options in terms of grocery or specialty food stores.

Thecost of living on Caye Caulker is lower than on Ambergris Caye. A number of expats I’ve spoken to tell me that they spend less than $1,000 a month, exclusive of rent. Rents as low as $400 a month can still be found here.

Placencia: An Irresistible Beach Community

Placencia is a haven for beach connoisseurs. Kick off your flip flops and you can walk for miles along the wide sand beach.

The peninsula is 16 miles long, with the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Placencia lagoon to the west. The Maya mountains provide a gorgeous backdrop for the tranquil lagoon. But the peninsula is also close to all the diverse activities that the mainland offers. You’ll easily be able to reach them with a car.

Placencia is 20 miles from the reef, so it takes an hour or so to reach the reef via boat. But it also has much deeper waters than that of the cayes, which means that you’ll find deeper marinas and diverse boating options on the peninsula. It’s a great place for those committed to boating.

The three primary villages include Maya Beach, Seine Bight, and Placencia Village, and you’ll find a good mix of expats in those places. We’ve met several Europeans who’ve opened restaurants and businesses, as well as Americans and Canadians.

The peninsula has experienced fast-paced growth, especially since the road was paved in 2010. Still, there are currently only about 3,500 residents within the three main towns, so the peninsula has plenty of room to expand. More businesses are opening as expats flock to this area, which means Placencia is amenity-rich. You’ll find yoga studios, beauty spas, massage studios, and even a bowling alley!

On the Placencia peninsula you’ll also have your choice of hip restaurants, trendy bars, and cafes.

A couple can live comfortably on $1,550 a month here, if they find a reasonably priced rental and are not too extravagant. Spend $500 a month more and you could live very well.

Thanks International Living and Ann Kuffner, for your great reporting!

Time for a piña colada!

Cheers,

Nancy

6 thoughts on “Retiring to the Tropical Good Life in Belize

It’s Friday and here’s a little Food For Thought ~ and a smile

A dear friend sent me the link below earlier this morning.  I was working on another post in my Plan Your Roving Retirement series, when I took a short break to read what she had sent.   A smile broke out at the article’s title “Was it Fatal For You Darling”?, but when I read the opening line, and started chuckling out loud , I knew I had to share it with all of you.  Because, we’re all in this together and one thing I know for sure, laughter is still the best medicine.

wasitfatalforyou?

photo credit: Emily Flake

So thank you my dear Marian for your eagle eye and your cockeyed sense of humor in spotting this great post and sending it along so I could share it on the blog.

Was it Fatal For You, Darling? by the brilliant New York Times humorist Joyce Wadler.  If you want to read more of Joyce’s “Was I Misinformed” columns click here.

Happy Friday!

Nancy

 

3 thoughts on “It’s Friday and here’s a little Food For Thought ~ and a smile

Magic Moments ~ a photo essay

Good news!

We saw the sun in Oregon this week.  Several times.  And it was glorious.  I was inspired to get out and walk, walk, walk.  That is always good news.  Even better, I just started a new online photography class and although I’m still using my tiny point and shoot camera, it’s been so much fun to once again slow down and wait for the every day magic to appear.   One of our lessons this week was exploring what photographers call the “magic hour”.  That’s the hour right around sunrise and sunset, when the light practically glows and photographers capture their best shots.

So off I went, less than ten minutes from the house, to see what my camera and I could find.  We were not disappointed.

applebarn

Apple bar in the warm glow of sunset

treessunset

Sunset through the old walnut orchard

farmblue

Magic hour at the farm

farmandfield

Tranquility just three miles from my townhouse

tree

These were taken in the morning light.  The ducks put on a show.

duck2

Duck Yoga

duck

Mamma Duck

What a beautiful reminder to stop and experience the beauty of every sunset and sunrise.  And, since it’s almost Spring, take time to smell the roses that will be blooming before you know it.

Life is full of magical moments.  I’m so happy I could share a few of my favorites with you.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

5 thoughts on “Magic Moments ~ a photo essay

    • Hi Cynthia. The photo class I just completed was with Joy Sussman at Joyfully Green. It was online and I really learned so much. Joy is a great photographer and teacher. I think she’s starting a new class in July.

  1. Great pictures Nancy, especially the golden tree and the Mamma Duck. I had to do a double take on that last one; it looks like the rock is floating in the clouds. Nice.

Create Your Roving Retirement – Part 2: Cheap Sleeps

Retirement travel doesn’t have to mean package tours, luxury cruises or high dollar hotels.  In fact, it’s my experience that if you live more like a local and less like a tourist, you can save a lot of money and have a much richer experience.  Here are a few great ways to stretch your travel dollar that I’ve mentioned before and are worth exploring.

Live Like a Local – Sleep Here

Somewhere in Spain...Nancy Slept Here

Somewhere in Spain…Nancy Slept Here

Housing will probably be your biggest travel expense.  These unique options will not only save a lot of money, but allow you to really connect with a location:

WWOOFING -   World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  Volunteers trade farm duties for room and board. Accommodations are simple and the work can be hard at times, but if the chance to harvest grapes in Italy, learn how to make goat cheese in France, or get your hands dirty on an organic herb garden in New Zealand appeals to you, then WWOOFING is the way to go.   A surprising number of people in their 50’s, 60‘s, and beyond are signing up.  www.wwoofusa.org

Chicken wrangling...how hard can it be?

Chicken wrangling…how hard can it be?

 

Hosteling -  If you were that backpacking twenty-something, you probably remember hostels as cheap, dorm-style rooms with bunk beds and rented sheets, a bath down the hall and a party-hardy crowd.  Not a gray hair in sight.  They weren’t called youth hostels for nothing.   Much has changed.  Today more than 15% of hostelers are over 50 and the number is growing.  Now offering private rooms with baths, online booking, fresh and free linens and more, today’s hostels are catering to the mature traveler on a budget. Two things about hosteling have not changed – they are still inexpensive and a wonderful way to meet other travelers.   www.hihostels.com

Workamping -  For some folks, hitting the road in a motorhome is at the top of their retirement wish list.  But, it’s not as cheap as you might think.  When you budget for gas and campground fees, you could pay more to park you RV than you would for a moderately priced hotel room.   One unique and fun way to make your RV travel more affordable is by becoming a workamper.  Through online sites like Workamper (www.workamper.com) and Camp Host (www.camphost.org), travelers can find and apply for thousands of seasonal and year round jobs.  Many RVers work during the summer season as camp hosts, collecting  fees from campers, directing them to available sites, answering questions and watching for problems.  In return they receive a free campsite and often a small stipend.

House Sitting – Short and long time house sitting opportunities are available worldwide through online sites like House Carers (www.housecarers.com) and Trusted House Sitters (www.trustedhousesitters.com).  Most house sitting jobs involve some form of pet care and modest home maintenance like watering the plants and bringing in the mail.  Homeowners feel secure that their home is occupied and taken care of in their absence.  You get a great place to stay for free and the chance to live like a local.  Win-Win.

Remember, your first gig doesn’t have to be half way around the world.  Dip your toes into the shallow water before you make the plunge by starting closer to home.   If “Green Acres is the place for you”, why not spend a weekend getting dirt under your fingernails and sore muscles on a local farm?  If you think professional house sitting might be the way to travel, then offer your services to friends and family in the U.S.   You’ll gain valuable references and get a chance to see how comfortable you really are sleeping in a strange bed and picking up Fido’s poop.

What’s your favorite way to travel on the cheap?  We’d love to share your ideas and experiences right here on the blog. Leave us a comment.

See you on the road!

Nancy

 

5 thoughts on “Create Your Roving Retirement – Part 2: Cheap Sleeps

  1. Awesome post, Nancy!

    Boondocking is the free way to go RV-ing… there are lots of internet resources out there to locate places where the camping costs nothing, or map books such as the Benchmark series that show government land such as BLM where one can camp for free.

    Thanks for the info!

    – Lois

    PS. FYI – the link to camphost.org is incorrect; it goes to a non-existent site at camphost.com.

  2. Hi Nancy,
    Great post about non-traditional methods of travel and lodging, making it possible for more travel in general — a very good thing!
    I’m into house sitting and find it life-affirming and life-changing. Check out my point of view at HouseSittingTravel.com
    Wishing you safe and happy travels,
    Josie

    • Hi Josie, I have been reading through all the posts on your blog. Such a wealth of great information. Would you ever be interested in a “been there/done that” type of guest post on my blog? I think it would be really helpful and inspiring to hear it from an experienced expert. I’m still in the learning phase. But I’m getting ready to jump very soon. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Hi Nancy,
        Thank you for your kind words.
        Sure, I would be happy to contribute a guest blog. Please feel free to email me with details at josie@housesittingtravel.com
        (I searched around your site for a contact email but couldn’t find one, so please email me and let me know your parameters.)
        Josie

Homemade Chinese Dumplings ~ they’re what’s for dinner

Last December I was formally introduced to the fine art of dumpling making and I’ve fallen in love with these  plump little pillows of melty, tangy mouthwatering deliciousness.  I showed hubs how to make them and now we are the dynamic duo of dumpling-making.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to share our new-found skills and invited our friends over to a make your own dumpling dinner.   Dumpling night was a hit as you can see from the photos below.

Make your own dinner!

Make your own dinner!

Try a dumpling night at your house.  It’s a simple way to entertain family and friends.  It takes a little bit of prep work in advance but when guests come over, you open a bottle of wine, pass out aprons and rolling pins, show them how it’s done and turn them loose.  Expect rave reviews!

Flour-y fun

Flour-y fun

My friend (and home cook extraordinaire) Kate  found the original recipe in the Seattle Times.  She invited me to dumpling night during a recent Port Townsend visit and I was so excited by how simple and delicious they were that I had to make them again as soon as I got home.  Dumplings are now a staple at our house.  Hubs and I make them just for fun. We eat our fill and then freeze what’s left for future use.  We’ve made both pork and chicken and although I haven’t tried veggie or tofu, I’m sure it would be pretty easy to adapt this oh so easy recipe from Judy Fu owner of the Snappy Dragon Restaurant in Seattle.

Judy Fu’s Pork Jiao-zi  – Makes 36 dumplings

3/4 pound ground pork (not too lean)

1/2 cup minced napa cabbage

2 finely sliced scallions (green part only)

3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

3 cups cake floor (plus more for rolling)

3/4 cup cold water (we found you might need to add up to 1/4 cup additional water to get the right “sticky” consistency.)

1.  To make the filling:  In a bowl, use your hands to thoroughly combine the pork, cabbage and scallions.  In a separate bowl, mix the ginger, white pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil; add to the pork mixture.  Mix thoroughly, in one direction only, until you have a well-blended paste.  Refrigerate.

2.  To make the dough:  Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.  Add water and stir to produce a fairly stiff dough that maintains a bit of stickiness.  Add more cold water, a teaspoon at  time if necessary, to achieve the correct consistency.  Knead by hand for 2 minutes until smooth, then cover with a slightly damp towel or place in a zip-lock bag.  Use immediately (or refrigerate the dough for no more than 24 hours).  I think it’s easier to work with if it chills an hour or two.

3.  To form wrappers:  On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to roll dough into a log 1 inch wide.  Cut the log in thirds.  Pinch off (or cut) each log into 12 equal pieces.  Working in batches on a generously floured surface, gently flatten each piece with your palm.  Grasp the dowel (or rolling pin) in your dominant hand and roll from the middle to the outside edge, rotating the dough with the opposite hand until you have a 3-inch circle, slightly thicker in the center.  *we also roll on the board, turning in the same manner to get the circular shape.  Relax, you can’t mess these up.  We had a few perfect little disks lots of blobs and oblongs.  They all tasted great and as long as they stick together, it’s all good.

4.  To assemble and cook:  Hold the wrapper in your non-dominant hand and with your other hand use a dinner knife to spread about a tablespoon of filling into the middle.  Fold the wrapper so the edges meet.  Press edges to seal tightly and place on a lightly floured baking sheet.  Use a little water to help seal if needed.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings.  Don’t cook too many at a time.  Boil for 5 minutes then strain.  The dumplings will float to the top when they are done.  We drained then placed them on another baking sheet with parchment paper to dry.  We tried paper towels and they stuck.

5.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.  You can use bottle sauce, but I loved this easy to make Ponzu sauce (recipe below).  Give it a try.  dimsum4

dimsum8dimsum5dimsum2

dimsum3

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Cooking and eating in this way can be your evening’s entertainment.  We fortified ourselves by sampling a few of the first batch of dumplings than managed to cook the rest and sit down at the table where I served them with a noodle salad and an asian slaw (used up the rest of that napa cabbage).

Ponzu Sauce -  So easy.  So good.  Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup fresh lime juice or 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice or a combination

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 pinch red pepper flakes

Whisk together juice, vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar.  Let it sit at least 1 hour to marry flavors.  Store covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

It truly is the simple pleasures that make our lives abundant.  Good food, simply prepared and shared with good friends.  It doesn’t get any better.

Life is good!

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Homemade Chinese Dumplings ~ they’re what’s for dinner

  1. What fun! I love gyoza! I’ve never made them, though – I just get the veggie ones at Trader Joe’s. This sounds like way more fun! Great post!

Create Your Roving Retirement … Five Fun Ways to Kickstart Your Dream

“Listen to the Musn’t's child, Listen to the Don’t's. Listen to the Shouldn’t's, the Impossibles, the Won’t's. Listen to the Never Haves, then Listen close to me. ANYthing can happen, child, ANYthing can Be.”
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999);Poet, Songwriter, Musician

Maybe you were one of those 20 year old free spirits who stuffed everything they could into an over-sized backpack and set out to see the world before you settled down.  Or maybe, like most of us, you only dreamed about that kind of travel and then stepped straight onto the well-worn path already laid out for you – work, marriage, kids.   Your travel dream was put on the shelf and after a few years, the backpack went to the Goodwill.  A big trip became a week at Disney World.   It’s funny how that happens.

But those dreams never fully go away do they?  Like long lost friends, they lurk quietly in the back of our minds only to pop up as fanciful daydreams while we’re slogging through a mind-numbing day in the office or waiting in the carpool line.

What I know for sure is that for many of us, somewhere around 50 is when those old dreams start to re-surface in earnest.  Gone for a while, but not forgotten.  That travel gypsy is still alive and well.  A little older, a lot wiser, and eager to explore the world.

Don’t worry, there’s still time.

A growing number of people are becoming vagabond retirees.  People in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s are packing up their new, high-tech backpacks and heading out to become citizens of the world.

Want to join them?  It’s easy.  And it doesn’t have to blow your hard-earned retirement nest egg either.

Traveling on a retiree budget does require thinking outside the box, lots of research, some advance planning, a sense of adventure and a willingness to be flexible.

Don’t wait until you are officially retired to set your travel dreams in motion.  Include them in your planning now.  Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:

1.  Create a Travel Dream Board.  It might sound hokey, but it’s fun, it’s easy and it works!  Buy a large piece of posterboard, gather up lots of magazines, travel brochures, old photos, scissors and a glue stick.  It’s as simple as cutting out pictures and pasting them onto the board.  Don’t over-think this.  Cut out everything that catches your eye – beach sunsets, different cultures, village life, bustling cities, historical settings or mountain views.  Can you see yourself in the picture?  Then it belongs on your board.  I call this visual goal setting.

2.  Make a Wish List.   Use the images on your Dream Board to create a Wish List.  Here’s where you get more specific.  What are your must haves for a travel or retirement living destination?  Sleepy village or bustling city?  Beach or mountains?  Easy access or remote?  The options are endless, but honing this list to your top 5 or 6 must haves will give you a great jumping off point for your initial research.

3.  Do Your Research.  Whether you need resources for small hotels or hostels while backpacking through Central America, house swaps in France, or which visas are required for a trek across Tibet, it’s all available on the internet.  Find out where the best airports are, what ground transportation is cheap and easy, who speaks English, what the local currency is.

4.  Become an Arm Chair Traveler.  Read and use the country and city travel guides from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.  Check out books from your local library.  Reading about the adventures of buying and fixing up a run down farm in Portugal, living the gypsy life on a boat in the Caribbean, or women walking all 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, is very inspiring and educational.

5.  Get Connected.   Find and connect with the folks who are blazing the trail ahead of you.  Ask questions and get the scoop from people who have been there, done that.  It’s helpful to know the good, the bad, and the “never again” about a place before you go.  Start reading travel blogs.  Many are filled with first hand information, great personal stories and links to more resources.

I hope these ideas give you a good starting point.  I have LOTS more information and some great ideas and resources that I’ve learned from all my research that I’ll be sharing in future posts so stay tuned.  There is so much inspiration and adventure to be found in the planning process.  Let’s get going!bridge

See you on the road,

Nancy

7 thoughts on “Create Your Roving Retirement … Five Fun Ways to Kickstart Your Dream

  1. Quite a photo, Nancy!
    It’s interesting, for me, to watch your progress. My retirement wishes are to stay in one place and to feel at home but I still admire your dream and plans, and the way you are making it become reality. I just did some writing today and saw how I have worked so many times to make my dream a reality, and now, I just want to sit down and sit back and enjoy it. Quietly.

    • I totally get what you are saying Margie. I hope to have a few years of travel exploration and then figure out where we are going to settle in. I hope we can make it happen. At least I am working on it. The photo inspires me to be much more adventurous than I feel a lot of the time.