My #WDS2014 Adventure ~

You are never too old to indulge in a wee bit of World Domination!  That was my thinking anyway when I attended #WDS2014 aka The World Domination Summit – a multi-day gathering of 3000+ lively, creative and inspiring souls who traveled from all across the globe to connect in downtown Portland Oregon for the fourth annual iteration of this very cool event.

WDS was on my bucket list and this year I was lucky (early) enough to snag a ticket.  These babies sell out quickly so, you snooze, you lose and that’s what happened to me last year.  This time I jumped the day they went on sale.

Super Hero

Super Hero

When I told folks that I was going to the World Domination Summit, I got more than a few puzzled looks.  “World domination?”  “What the hell are you getting involved with?”  “That sounds…interesting.”  “Well, have a good time.”

And I had more than a good time.  I had a fabulous time.  My creative mojo was re-charged.  My head is swimming with new ideas and my waning resolve to cut the corporate umbilical cord sooner rather than later has been fully restored.  In short, getting out of Dodge has become priority number one (again).  And I have a new toolbox to work with.

For two very full days, Grandma Nancy listened and learned and shared with a whole pack of mostly 20 and 30-somethings and they blew my socks off!

Here’s how it went down.

The Great Namaste.  When an event that starts with the intent to set a new world record for the most people doing yoga in one place, you know it’s not going to be any ordinary rah rah weekend.  On Friday morning 800+ people gathered in Portland’s Living Room (Pioneer Courthouse Square), spread out their colorful yoga mats on the bricks in the 90 degree heat and OM’d their way into the Guinness Book of World Records.  So far so good.

WDS Great Namaste

The Great Namaste

How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?WDS keynote

This was the question that attendees were encouraged to contemplate as we listened to a well-curated line-up of inspiring, heartwarming, funny, and very thought-provoking keynote speakers with lots of time for mixing, mingling, exploring, and making connections.  Throw in a 5k run, the Portland Experience in the Park Blocks, a scavenger hunt called the Unconventional Race and the very unusual “Highly Sensitive Person Lounge” located on the mezzanine of a nearby hotel where a dimly lit room was set up with several capsule-like hammocks for napping and you have one hell of an experience.  I didn’t nap, but I did check it out.  When I peeked in, every hammock was full and a very loud buzzing noise was emanating from one in the back corner.

But it always comes down to the people.

The Poem Catcher came all the way from Scotland.

The Poem Catcher came all the way from Scotland.

This group of adventurers and inspiration seekers were absolutely delightful – full of adventurous plans, brilliant ideas and interesting stories.  I met 29 year old Kat who quit her job in 2008 to work on the first Obama campaign doing social media and has been traveling the world every since.  Kat’s doing in her late 20’s what I hope to do in my late 60’s and she had lots of great advice for me.  I sat next to Tracy from Vancouver Island who at 50+ quit her job and began a new career as a designer of edgy baby clothes and up-cycled art jewelry.

Woody & Alice

Woody & Alice

I raised a glass in the beer garden with Woody from England and Alice from Romania who were extending their WDS weekend into a two week tour of the western United States.  They loved their Airbnb stay in Cannon Beach!

And I swapped life stories and dreams for the future with twin sisters Alex and Jennifer – currently from Boston and Atlanta who were plotting their next great adventures and bought me lunch (and several glasses of vino!).

Brave Bots wearing our invisible super hero capes!

Brave Bots wearing our invisible super hero capes!

We shared our “brave bots” with our waiters and they indulged us with a photo.  We talked and laughed for so long that we totally missed the meditation in the park meet-up, so we made a quickie doughnut run to Blue Star Doughnuts and raced back to find a seat for the final session.  My young friends then partied into the night while I headed home with my mind racing and my butt dragging.

A few take-aways !

The truth is, we are ALL cousins – from the funny and brilliant A.J. Jacobs, author of My Year of Living Biblically and currently gearing up to hold the world’s largest family reunion in NYC next June.

Stop talking and listen – Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant John Francis author of Planetwalker: 17 Years of Silence, 22 Years of Walking.

Don’t be afraid to meet someone – the WDS mantra!

It’s never too late – from all the courageous folks I had the pleasure to share my story with.

You are braver than you think!  – Dee Williams, author of The Big Tiny and Gary Hirsch creater of BotJoy

What do you want to be remembered for?

What do you want to be remembered for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A huge congratulations and Thank You! to Chris Guillebeau and the entire WDS Team.  You rocked my world!

Happy Fourth of July ~

Happy Fourth of July!

Greetings from Hillsboro, Oregon 1988. 

Fourth of July Parade

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy

I love a parade.  And one of my all time favorites is in Hillsboro.  It’s the largest 4th of July parade in Oregon.  Everything from kids decked out and ready to strut their stuff to giant John Deere tractors roll right down the middle of Main Street.  Jazzercise mamas, high school bands, church groups, hand-made floats on the back of flatbed trucks and even a local politician or two round out the entertainment.  It’s definitely 2 1/2 hours of small town wacky bliss.

America truly is a great big melting pot of weird and wonderful.  And that’s exactly why we mark this day.

Whether you choose to celebrate at a small town parade, enjoying brauts and brews in your neighbor’s backyard, lighting off bottle rockets under the cover of darkness (oh no, please don’t!) or stretched out on the grass gazing up at a night sky filled with flash and sparkle, enjoy the day and savor the moment – from sea to shining sea.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Meatless Monday

I’ve decided to jump fully onto the Meatless Monday bandwagon.  Starting today.  Oh, I’ve dabbled with the idea.  I’ve tiptoed around it.  But I’ve never truly committed.  Because that probably means dragging the hubs fully into the game.  Yep, the main chef at Casa Sims-Thompson still believes the old nutrition rules they preached back in the stone age – every plate should contain a very healthy portion of dead animal parts.  To my dear hubby, even a salad has to have at least bacon bits and anchovies.

Old habits are hard to break.  But I’m game to try.  It’s only one night for goodness sake.  Buck-up boy-o!  This is gonna be fun.

I gave up eating beef and pork and lamb several years ago as my own personal protest against Big Ag and the horrific practices of the meat industry.  I know where the chicken and fish I do eat comes from and how they were raised.  I live in Portland, not Portlandia, so I don’t know the

chicken’s name, but I do like knowing it lived a good life to the end.  This is my small way of voting with my pocketbook.  Does it make a difference?  Not really.  It’s a just a tiny drop of water in the ocean.  But it’s my drop.

To me Meatless Monday is a very simple way of putting everybody’s tiny drop into one bigger bucket and guess what – that makes a difference!

The concept of Meatless Monday is not new.  It first started during WWI and again during WWII when the folks at home all did their bit for the war effort with victory gardens, meatless Mondays and even wheatless Wednesdays.   It was a good idea then and it’s a great idea today.  Meatless Monday was launched in 2003 in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  In 2009 Ghent, Belgium became the first non-U.S. city to go meatless.  Shortly thereafter Sir Paul McCartney helped the U.K. kick off Meat-Free Mondays.  And today there meatless Mondays in 34 countries from Kuwait to Croatia.

Here in Portland we have the bounty of fresh fruit and veggies from 40 different farmer’s markets to chose from and for those lucky enough to have a backyard or a front yard, chances are good they have a garden patch or are sharing space with a few friendly chickens or goats for eggs, milk and cheese.  What’s old is new again.  And we’re all healthier and hopefully a little happier for it.

Meatless Monday is an easy way to eat a bit more mindfully.  It’s good for your heart, fights diabetes, cancer and obesity.  It’s good for the planet. And, its definitely good for the cows, pigs, chickens, and all the fish at sea.  In fact, Harold here gives Meatless Monday a hearty two hooves up!HowardtheCow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, jumping right in, a quick search on Pinterest led me to this lovely recipe for pasta with garlic scape pesto and spring peas on Scaling Back’s delightful blog.  It’s what’s for dinner tonight.  I guess I’m cooking.  Hubs will love having the night off.  He’s off fishing right now but he always catches and releases.

Who knows where this small change will lead.  Maybe to wheatless Wednesdays.  That would be way better than wineless Wednesdays!

Bon Appetit!

Nancy

Tales from the Columbia Gorge ~

Last weekend hubs and I met up with 600+ fellow walking enthusiasts and set out to explore some of the most gorgeous trails in the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.  As I was planning today’s blog post thought it might be fun to share few tales from the Columbia Gorge…

The weather gods were on our side.

The clouds parted, the rain stopped and just when we needed it, the sun appeared.  But not too much.  A little light cloud cover kept us from melting as we officially kicked off our walking season and our first multi-day Volksport walking adventure – the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic.  And what an event it was!  These folks have their planning honed to a science.  Thirteen walks, one bike ride, lots of great information, a hot dog lunch and a dinner cruise on the Sternwheeler.  There was truly something for everyone and the little town of Cascade Locks was packed to capacity.  We opted for a room at the Skamania Lodge on the Washington side of the river which added daily crossings of the Bridge of the Gods to our weekend adventure.  Hubs and I met up with other walking friends at Skamania on Friday afternoon and set out on our first walk – an easy stroll into the town of Stevenson for a close up look at the wind and kite surfers.  This area of the gorge is the windsurfing capital of the world and when you stand on the end of a pier in 25+ mile an hour winds and watch these dare devils fly across the choppy water, you see why.

There is always something interesting going on at Skamania Lodge and Friday evening we sat out on the lawn in Adirondack chairs, glasses of a tasty chilled Spanish white in hand and enjoyed a fascinating birds of prey show (so up close and personal that one flew over my head and riffled my hair).

Skamania Lodge - always something going on

Skamania Lodge – always something going on

 

Saturday morning was our big walking day and we chose to hike the Multnomah Falls to Wahkeena Falls loop.  Rated a 3B by AVA.  We had no idea what 3B meant but hubs figured it was moderate as the walks range from 1A to 5C.  Let me say right here that moderate has taken on a whole new meaning!  It started innocently enough.  A little uphill climb to the stunning bridge view just below Multnomah Falls.

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Then up, and up some more for 11 marked zig-zags.  Hearts pumping, thighs screaming No! we went up a little more…and then a little more.columbiagorgewalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we’re on standing on a ledge looking down on the falls.  But wait, there’s more. We left the paved trail and then the packed dirt trail behind and continued up on a very narrow trail composed of tiny jagged granite.  One side dropped 1000 feet and the other side went straight up and I’m clutching ferns for balance.  And stopping to take photos (and catch my breath).  We walked through ancient growth forests, past cascading waterfalls, forded a few streams and were totally awe-struck at the magnificence of Mother Nature.

columbiagorgewalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we started down.  And down.  And it was just as hard as the up.  I saw my life flash in front of me for a brief moment when my feet lost traction on some slippery rocks and I started to slide, but I clutched a branch and all was saved.

columbiagorgewalk4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost back to civilization.

Almost back to civilization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We slowly wound our way back down to the Old Columbia River Highway where we had started our trek 3 1/2 hours earlier.  It was mid-day at Multnomah Falls, one of the region’s biggest natural attractions and on this beautiful first weekend of summer, the place was packed with tourists so we limped to the car as fast as our wobbly old legs would go and headed back to the hot tubs at Skamania.

Ahhhhhh.

Ahhhhhh.

 

 

 

 

That evening, we celebrated hubs’ birthday one more time with a delicious dinner and some of the tastiest cheap wine I’ve had in a long time at a hidden gem of a restaurant, Henni’s Kitchen and Bar, tucked away about 30 minutes further up the gorge in White Salmon.  We enjoyed a specatular sunset drive along the might Columbia arriving at our “home” in time for a nightcap and an early visit with our comfortable beds.

I’d like to tell you that we hiked again on Sunday, but I can’t.  My butt muscles hurt, my quads hurt, my calves were like two sticks and nothing more than a short stroll to loosen things up was going to happen on the walking front. A rousing game on the hotel’s 18 hold putting course and a leisurely drive home completed our weekend walking adventure in the Columbia Gorge.

We picked up lots of brochures for upcoming Volkswalks all over the world.  We’ll be trying a few up near Port Townsend Washington soon.  We love exploring the world at 3 miles per hour.

See you on the trail.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Bird’s Eye View ~

A bird’s eye view ~ More adventures in house sitting on a vineyard. bird's eye view golden finch

They flitted in and out claiming their time at the bird feeder hanging just outside the big kitchen window.  Some politely took their turn, others muscled their way right in, while a few hovered on the railing below waiting for a break in the action.

Early each morning and late into the evening I perched myself on a stool by the window to watch the show.  They came by the dozens.  Swirling flashes of color – bright lemon yellow, fire-ball orange against midnight black, soft dove grey and warm mottled brown – each a beauty in its own way.  These were the birds who enchanted and entertained me for ten days.

I learned a thing or two from my new feathered friends.  And of course I took a few photos.

bird's eye view morning dove bird's eye view yellow songbirds bird's eye view of a finch in the rain bird's eye view  bird on the rail bird's eye view Spending my time with the birds was a whole lot more entertaining and enlightening than any program on the television.  That I know for sure.

Cheers!

Nancy

Rock on Older Ladies

Rock on Older Ladies!

When I saw this video I knew I had to share it on the blog.  Enjoy!

Hubs and I are lacing up our walking shoes and heading out to the Columbia Gorge for a birthday weekend celebration and lots of walking at the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic Volkswalk event  at Cascade Locks.  With 600+ walkers from all over the world, 13 different walks and 1 bike ride, plus fun social events, and lots of new people to meet I know it’s going to be a great time.  Now all we need is some sun.

Enjoy this toe-tapping tune and share it with women everywhere!

Cheers to weekend adventures and older women.

Rock on.

Nancy

Smitten with Chickens ~

Yep.  After a week on the farm, I am officially smitten with chickens.

chicken4

Especially the five ladies I’ve taken under my wing (so to speak) for this house sitting adventure.  I had no idea what beautiful, smart and delightfully entertaining creatures chickens are.  They are feathered comediennes and you can’t help but smile when you interact with them.

I’ve been getting to know “the girls” for several days now.  Each has a unique personality. They are very social and quite talkative.  I am totally gaga over these feathered beauties.  Last night I sat in the grass and tried my hand (with moderate success) at chicken portraiture.  chickens in the vineyard

Every evening I let them out of the chicken pen to wander freely around the lawn and into the edge of the vineyard.  They are lined up and waiting by 5:00 p.m. calling me to hop to it and open the damn gate already.  They make a break and their first stop is usually a nice dirt bath.

DSCN3884

Around dusk I head out to wrangle everyone back into the coop for the night.  My secret weapon is a big bag of Happy Hen Treats aka dried mealworms.  A few hardy shakes of the bag and the girls come running.  They are a sight to behold! DSCN3883 chickens2 chickenbutts2 Spending time with these feathered lovelies has been one of the highlights of this house sit. You never know what adventures life has in store. I am so glad I said yes to this opportunity.

Cheers from the vineyard,

Nancy

 

 

 

Weird Weekend Encounter ~ Oregon Style

Keep Portland Weird!

Drive down any street in Portland and you will see these words proudly displayed on the bumpers of passing cars.  Being weird ain’t easy.  You have to work at it as hubs and I learned this weekend.

We only dress this way on the weekend.

We only dress this way on the weekend.

We weren’t in Portland, but had driven out to one of my favorite small farm country towns, McMinnville.  Nonetheless, weird was proudly on display.  Mac, as the locals call it, has the perfect mix of wine country aficionados, old school suspender wearing farmers, bright-eyed college students and wandering semi-tourists like us.  It’s a hub for tasty food, local wine, art, farmer’s markets and unique street events that bring out huge crowds.  These events have just the right mix of hipster cool and homespun tackiness.

Nothing gets to my brain

Nothing gets to my brain

When we heard that McMinnville’s ode to all things extraterrestrial – The 15th Annual U F O Festival was this weekend, you know we had to go.  This four day long event included research heavy hitters, radio hosts, a themed scavenger hunt, lots of curiously named food and drink and, of course, a parade.  Way back in May of 1950, farm wife Evelyn Trent went out back one evening to feed the rabbits when she noticed a strange object hovering in the sky.  She called her husband.  He took photos.  The rest is history.  And one more reason to throw a street party.  We went for the parade but had way more fun just people watching.

We were seriously under-dressed and believe me, we won’t make that mistake again next year.  Metal colanders are at the ready!  Aluminum foil is our Plan B.

Of course, I took LOTS of photos.  There was so much crazy fun going on that it’s hard to select just a few.  I’ll post them all on the Just a Backpack Facebook Page so click on over and check them out.  I’d love it if you gave us a LIKE while you’re there.

They drained the pasta in these last night

They drained the pasta in these last night

 

Girls gone bad and their other-worldly spawn

Girls gone bad and their other-worldly spawn

Of course there were bands

Of course there were bands!

See you on the road.

Cheers!

Nancy

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

dimsum8 dimsum5 dimsum2

dimsum3

dumplings1 dumplings2

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

 

 

 

 

And The Oscar Goes To ~

After months of hype, buzz, and blatant self-promotion… the 86th annual festival of who’s wearing who, who’s with whom, who said what, and who the hell really cares? also known as The Oscars, also known as three hours of your life that you will never get back, aired last night.

Congratulations to all the winners, the losers and the “I’m just happy to have been nominated in such august company” peeps.  Thanks for letting us share your moment in the spotlight.  Who got my vote?  Ellen and the pizza delivery guy.  It was definitely a night that young many will never forget.

I live in Portland OR where, quite honestly, right up until a week or so ago many folks didn’t even know for sure when the show was airing. But last week I was in L.A. and now I see what a sheltered life I live. The Sunday entertainment section of the LA Times (much heftier than the entire Oregonian these days) was packed with page after page of gigantic ads touting films, actors, directors, documentaries, shorts.  Every one was the biggest, the best and worthy of the statue.  It all felt so glamorous and important and kind of awesome in a wonderfully strange way.  I was visiting a dear friend who has seen every nominated film, animated short, and documentary nominee.  I think I’ve seen two…but I’m not sure.  We live in different worlds and glancing through that paper really brought it home.  Not better or worse, just very different.  And it was great fun to spend a little time in hers.

Whether you got your Oscar fix last night dressed to the nines at a fancy party or sitting solo on the couch in your jammies with a bowl of popcorn and a champagne toast, I hope your favorites won.  And, while the buzz from the Oscars is still humming in your ears, I thought you might enjoy this fun article highlighting some of Oscars Biggest Losers.

Not wanting to look like stalking paparazzi, I left my camera at home on our many walking adventures, but I did manage to snap a few iphone photos of the non-glittery side of Los Angeles, where the real beautiful people hang out.  The ones who watch the movies but are never in them.  You know who you are.

View from the tippy-top of Franklin Canyon.  The hike down was a thigh-buster.

View from the tippy-top of Franklin Canyon. The hike down was a thigh-buster.

Took a self-guided walking tour of the art & architecture of downtown LA

Took a self-guided walking tour of the art & architecture of downtown LA

LA2

Wandered into a wedding on the steps of the magnificent Disney Hall

LA6

Two tired old broads take a selfie on the lightrail ride back to the westside after many fun adventures in tinsel town.

Thanks for the memories my friend.  You will always be a star in my book.

Cheers!

Nancy