Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to Plan a Cross-Continental Adventure pt. 3

Wow... it's been long enough, eh? If you have read Parts one & two you should already have a good idea of the sort of trip you have in mind. Ideally you have a notebook or binder where you are keeping track of these sorts of things- lists of options on where you want to sleep, rough ideas of your budget, and the sort of traveling you intend to do. Now you need to decide where you are going and how you are going to get there.

Ideally you would have covered this when reading Choose Your Own Adventure Part 1 but I cannot safely assume that you have all read that, so we will do a recap. Ya need to know where you want to go before you can go, ya know? Basically what you need to do is open a fresh page in that adventure book you have set aside and start jotting down all the places you want to see. At this point, don't be worrying about your time frame, budget, etc....simply unload all of your dreams of exploration. Machu Picchu? Eiffel Tower? Great Wall of China? Rome? Bristol? Timbuktu? Isle of Man? Bruges? Maine? If you wanna go there, write it down! Don't think this only takes a minute or two- it takes a lifetime. This is a page you will hopefully be adding to and crossing off of for many, many years to come.

Once you have a good sized list, theeeeen you can be realistic. If you want, you can go all crazy and sort the places by continent or general area (you can even color code it if you want to). What sites/cities/towns can you group into one trip? Once you have grouped them, play the priority game and choose the trip you'd like to take first. Make sure to keep in mind how much time you'd like to spend in each area - an hour? a day? 3 days? two weeks? Completely up to you! This plan is a draft...the reality of this list being your final plan is slim, but it is a very important step.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kickstart My Heart

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Which, in a way, makes it kind of funny when you look at the breakfast options most people gravitate to. You'd think for the most important meal more people would choose something that will do the body good- like fruit, vegetables, something hearty with whole grains. Instead, many people pump themselves full of sugar, carbs, and caffeine first thing in the morning: cereal with the words "frosted" or "fruity" when there is literally no fruit in it, croissants, danish, donuts, homefries, hashbrowns, bagels, coffee, latte, might as well just wake up to a chocolate bar, a potato, and a cup of simple syrup, right?

I'm no better than the average bear, mind you. The opening paragraph was more of an epiphany than a lecture, because the main point of this post is about something delicious I made yesterday. Vegan cinnamon buns. This is a classic example of the "just because it's vegan doesn't mean it's good for you" rule. These puppies (awww) are full of sugar, "butter," flour, and absolutely drool inducing deliciousness. Just please, PLEASE understand that these are horribly unhealthy and more like a dessert than a breakfast item. My recommendation is a heaping bowl of fresh (or once frozen is fine too!) seasonal fruit with a piece of multigrain toast.

I wanted to figure out how easy this recipe was because I plan to use a loose interpretation of it when I eventually open my vegan ice cream cafe. I want to have cinnamon buns, scones, and the rest of those marvelous, heart stopping pastries. However, I want them to be simple to make and still as healthy as butter-soaked-sugar-bread can be. This recipe is absolutely brilliant. It is easy to follow, organized, and pretty much holds your hand the whole time. I found it at VeganYumYum (there's an app for that!) and demand everyone reading this to check it out. These do not "taste vegan" like a lot of mock recipes do. They are so rich and filling that you are likely to think that your mouth somehow detached from your body, went to heaven, and came back to share its findings with you.

If you have even a fraction of the sweet tooth I have, you should give this recipe a try. I'm not posting the recipe here as it will do no justice- Please check out the VeganYumYum website for the full recipe.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Camp Cookin'

Jeez Louise, do I want to go camping. I love the smell of a campfire, that slight dampness that mysteriously covers everything you own despite the fact that you are in a tent, waking up to a sunrise and fresh air...Ahhh the life. I have not been camping in far to long...and I mean camping, not this Winnebago bullshit that has swept the nation. Hence, I am very excited to be Flea Marketing this weekend! The place we are going has a field set up for vendors to camp overnight. "There aren't any electric hookups," she says, "Hookups are for lame-os" I say internally. 

Obviously one of the most amazing parts of camping is the food. While I do believe that they have a food cart on site, Jake and I will most likely be bringing a coke-can burner and making some delicious concoctions. Click on the pretty picture to find out how to make a coke-can burner....br00tal! 

So I adapted the following recipe from Backpacker Magazine as I literally started drooling while reading. PLUS, it's vegan. 

Backpacker's Shepherd's Pie

1 4-ounce package homestyle instant mashed potatoes 
1 packet powdered mushroom sauce (such as Simply Organic)
2c. Just Tomatoes! Dried Vegetable Mix
1/2 teaspoon vegetable bouillon
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme  
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil 3 cups of water. In one freezer bag, combine mashed potatoes and 2 cups of water. Seal and mush the bag until potatoes are fluffy. In a second freezer bag, combine vegetables, herbs, bouillon, and powdered mushroom sauce. Add remaining cup of water, seal bag, and mix thoroughly. Pour vegetable mix into a bowl and top with potatoes. Eat until you explode. Repeat. 

For convenience, I substituted the tofu on the original recipe for an extra cup of vegetables. You can follow the original if you'd like, but this is still incredible. Aaaaand you can't go camping without a little dessert! Unfortunately, s'mores (my absolute favorite camping dessert) aren't particularly vegan so we are going to have to settle for....

Camping Crisp

2 Cups Just Tomatoes! Just Fruit Salad
2 Tablespoons Just Tomatoes! Blueberry Powder
1 cup water
2 cups granola

Boil 1 cup of water. In a freezer bag, combine boiled water fruit salad and blueberry powder. Seal and set aside. In the meantime, toss the granola over the heat in your heatproof bowl/messkit pan until warm. Put fruit mixture into bowl and top with granola. 

Dried fruit and veggies are amazing for camping and backpacking because they still contain all of the nutrients, just happen to way practically nothing! 

Do you have a favorite camping recipe? Email or leave it in a comment to have it featured! 

How to Plan a Cross-Continental Adventure pt. 2

Alright, so last HPCCA post was dedicated to finding out where you are going to sleep, but this section is going to be primarily about the different types of traveling you may do. Keep in mind, this is not the full list of ways you can travel, this is actually just a small portion of the several options and combinations. Find your method, and work from there...everyone has their own style! Please note: It is not my intention to stereotype, pigeon-hole, or offend anyone. This is simply a fun exercise to help you figure out what style of traveling suites you best. It is very likely that you will find a combination of these methods to be the most suitable for you!

The Wine & Diner: You will want to be traveling to be on vacation. While you may still be on a budget, the money you do spend will be on good food, and tourism. You don't so much care about staying in the best hotel in town, as much as you enjoy the comfort of knowing you have a reservation awaiting you when you arrive...and a continental breakfast just happens to be a plus. Your main transportation will probably be guided tours, or walking to places you'd like to see. resources you should use:,, and tourism guides

The Hostel Hopper: You will likely be traveling alone or with a close friend. You don't mind sharing your sleeping quarters as you do not intend to be staying in your room for long. It is likely that you will be spending from dawn til dusk exploring the city you are in. You look forward to meeting other travelers from all over the world, and making new friends. The funds you have brought will probably be spent on the metro, going out with your new friends, and maybe on some snacks, but nothing major. resources you should use:,, guides for public transportation

The Backpacker: It is likely that the only things you have brought with you are your backpack, and a smaller pack. You intend to sleep wherever you can, hostels, with friends you may have met throughout your travels, hotels if need be, and trains. You have a large itinerary, and perhaps not a lot of time to reach these places, so you spend as much time as you can seeing the sights, learning about the cities, and taking photographs. Since a lot of your finances will be devoted to transportation, you eat mostly at food carts, farmer's markets, fast food chains, and vending machines. resources you should use:,,,,

The Hiker: The only things you have brought are what you can carry on your back. You intend to walk most everywhere, and hitchhike if need be. You are likely on your journey for the primary reason of exploration. Your main food sources are probably a combination of protein bars or "camping food" that you have brought with you, farmer's markets, foraging, or freegan networking. You mostly sleep in a tent using bivouacking methods, and treat the environment with respect. resources you should use: (the forums), trail guides,,

The WWOOFer:  Your main interest is immersing yourself in the life and culture or the places you travel. Physical labor does not bother you, especially if it means you will have food and shelter in return. You likely have an interest in food, the environment, and/or language, and have no problems staying in one place for a few weeks at a time. You don't have much money as your expenses are minimal, and you cherish the connections you make with your hosts. resources you should use:,

There are many other resources out there, these are simply a starting point. Google, Yahoo, and Ask Jeeves all you want because there are constantly new websites out there that will help you plan your journey. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Babyshower Baking

I'll admit, ever since I got rid of Facebook, Twitter, and television, it's been a lot easier for me to pay attention to blogging. It might be because now I actually have things to share what with the big travel plans and cake-baking....Oh wait, I didn't tell you about the cake? Silly me! You may recall the Baked Good contest I held a month ago...however you may not seeing as only three people entered. Regardless, the winner is a very lucky lady because I am making her a FREE baby shower cake! The ideas for this cake have been changing bi-minutely. My problem with cakes is I usually get in way over my head and they turn out like Jake's Leaning Tower of Penis Pisa cake. But not today, sirs and ma'ams! Today, I decided to make a simple yet elegant cake that will knock your socks off!

I actually had typed out an entiiiire entry for you, but seeing as Blogger is an enormous cock, it all was deleted before I could save and now I am pretty much entry-less. However, below you can see how it turned out!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How to Plan a Cross-Continental Adventure pt. 1

For those of you who have been sticking with me since the beginning, you may recall my little "Choose Your Own Adventure" series from when I was planning my trip to France...for those of you just tuning in, I recommend giving it a read because that is where you will find the basics in Beginner's Traveling Tips. The series has I, II, III parts...(obv. you should click on the numbers to read them).

Great! So, you understand the basics in planning an adventure. However, there is a big difference between planning a week in Paris while wining and dining in gorgeous hotels, and heading to Europe with a map, a backpack, and a plan- ready to get down and dirty (I mean really, chances of showering are slim). There are not many people who would consider the second option fun- most folks want their traveling to be a vacation...relaxing, simple, full of pampering. I certainly enjoy my fair share of pampering, but when I think about travel I think of the culture and the people and how much I would prefer to just live off of cart-crepes and delicious rape-van-pizza. In addition, while this sort of "wing-it" traveling is rather loosely planned- it also takes a different kind of planning. The "where will you stay," "what will you eat," and "what will you pack," parts will need to be approached in a different way, as will your entire state of mind.

This journey can take anywhere from a week until..well..pretty much until you decide you are through. I recommend going for at least a month in order to get the full experience. I will be using my trip as the example throughout this series which will be a six month endeavor covering a helluva lot of territory.

Where do you intend to sleep? If you intend to stay in hostels and hotels for most of your adventure, your time frame will heavily depend on your budget. You will need to be sure that you have enough money to get to where you need to go, sleep where you need to sleep, and eat enough so that you don't become a walking skeleton (or a super-crab. I don't know about any of you, but I become meeeean when I'm hungry. Whiny, violent, mean. No one likes a crabby camper). If you think that these are your only options for sleeping, think again mon frere! There are many options.

1) yes, yes, hostels. Check out for a listing of hostels in pretty much every country.

2) yes, yes, hotels (LAAAAME!) you know, expedia, orbitz, yada yada yada..can you tell that I don't approve of hotels for adventures such as these? BLAHHCK.

3) - okay. CouchSurfing is an amazing website that brings travelers together in the most magical of ways. It consists of "surfers," "hosts," and people that understand that you need to do a bit of both. Basically, if you have a couch or spare room, you post about it on your page, and travelers coming to your area will request to stay with you during their journey. Usually they are only 2 or 3 days, but it could be longer. These people will have their own page, complete with references from other people they have stayed with or hosted- this is basically the list of their credentials. Obviously it is not very wise to let a stranger into your home, but couchsurfing makes it safe. On the other side, and the more relevant one in this case, you may search for hosts in the countries you are visiting and request to stay with them. They too have references left by surfers who have stayed with them. It is a great opportunity to meet other travelers, make friends, share your culture, and get a first hand glance into life in that location. I have never surfed, only hosted, but it has been incredible!

4) Planes, trains, and boats. A less reliable way to sleep is to arrange your transportation to occur at night. This way you can snooze on the trip to your next destination. Of course, if you are hiking the whole way, this is inefficient.

5) Camping. You have to be careful about this one...there is a lot of private property in the world- and most people don't like people squatting on their land. While there are some camp sites, they can tend to be more expensive than a hostel. While wilderness camping is an option- please, please, please do your research first.

6) WWOOFing. Amazing concept. Incredible opportunity. However, I will get into this later because I feel like it belongs in a different topic. In the meantime, feel free to check out

As you can see, there are many other options on where to count your sheep. Once you figure out where you want to sleep, you will be ready for the next step.