concerning "quaint" towns / raw coconut water

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Every time I visit a town referred to as “quaint” or “nestled” in any type of landscape whether sea or mountains or whatever, I become suspicious. These overused adjective’s usually mean one thing only: fudge shops. Small town fudge shops draw fanny-packed Americans into their sugary arms like retired Floridians to egg salad sandwiches. And each of these lame towns always proclaim themselves as having “the best fudge in the country”. Who the hell eats fudge anyway?
These types of towns scare me. They always have that “Truman Show” look about them. The sidewalks are cobblestone and pristine, the shop windows are framed in gingham-checked curtains, and you instantly get the feeling that you’ve entered a time capsule. My unicorn friend picks up a complimentary map from the trolley conductor, but since the town’s only 3 inches long, I tell him we’ll manage. There’s a barber shop with the weird twirly striped thing outside the door, a “country” store that sells peanut brittle and salt water taffy, about a dozen or so antique shops (translation: stores filled with some old cat lady’s weird junk), little benches with bronze statues of small children at play, horse-drawn carriages driven by bearded men in top hats who speak with an accent that suggests they’re from the 19th century, and of course–the dreaded fudge shop. Salted fudge, fudge with nuts, fudge filled with coffee, fudge shaped into dogs, and fudge store novelty items: stuffed animals holding hearts and a small bag of fudge, magnets, teeshirts, and other useless crap that tourists scoop up with exuberance so they can show their friends back home. “We went to this quaint little town and they had the best fudge…”
These towns were probably great a long time ago, before they knew how marketable they could become by exploiting their charm to the point of nausea. All you have to do is clean up your town a bit (translation: add cobblestone, hanging flower baskets, street lamps, and an old cannon or some type of rusting weapon of yesteryear in the main square…there must be a main square). Then add a Life is Good franchise. Tourists love that spindly-legged do gooder. You should also have a “walking tour” of the town, described in a series of plaques every few hundred feet: “This is where Joe-I-did-the-american-dream-thing-Smith first landed” or “This is the oldest tree in America”, etc. The important thing is to make sure that this walking tour isn’t longer than about a 1/2 mile, not only because you’ll end up in the next town but because Americans don’t like to walk. Actually, if you really want to shake things up, open up a Segway rental shop and soon you’ll have fanny-packs zooming around your town like nobody’s business! And you can charge twice as much for everything. As long as it has the town’s name plastered all over it, tourists will overlook the golden “Made in China” sticker.

Now that you’re parched from stuffing your face with fudge and you’ve totaled your Segway, why not sit on one of those creepy benches with the bronze children and have some coconut water? Raw coconut water is the water found inside of fresh young coconuts. It is one of the most naturally hydrating liquids on earth. It’s full of electrolytes and has the same nutrient balance as plasma. The brand I love most is called Harmless Harvest. Unlike most brands, Harmless Harvest’s coconut water is unprocessed and raw, which allows for greater nutrient bioavailability and a superior taste. You can also purchase a young coconut from most natural foods stores and stick a straw in the top and suck the water out for yourself. Either way, it’s insanely delicious. Try it out and give it to your unicorn friends!

passport renewal part 2 / blueberry bliss smoothie

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Last night I picked up our mail and was pleasantly surprised to see an envelope from the Department of State. Must be my new passport, right? After an evil post office woman, four hours, a $110 check, and yelling obscenities in the privacy of my car about the inefficiency of government run businesses, I was actually receiving my passport in a timely fashion. I nearly felt guilty for my previous post (see Passport Renewal), but then I opened the thick, manila envelope. New passport? Nope. It was my old passport, all of my filled out paperwork, and a fresh white letter telling me that my passport renewal had been denied. I looked in the envelope for the returned check. No luck; the bastards took my money anyway…and, on top of it all, they had the audacity to tell me in that my check amount was incorrect. I was supposed to send $135 dollars instead of $110 dollars. Super. So why had it been denied? Apparently I had already applied for a passport in 2003.
#$%*@#?! (translation: I am a little frustrated) because I sent them my old passport, marriage license, social security number, soul, and a unicorn friend to vouch for me…and they still turned me down (not to mention my unicorn had to be overnighted which was expensive).
Luckily, my husband’s passport is up to date, so he just needs to renew his green card (he’s from outer space!!!). Isn’t it strange how they call non-citizens aliens? Every time I see his “legal alien” card I envision a purple, bug-eyed creature with antennae and sticky fingers like E.T., not a cute englishman.
And speaking of aliens…Dragon (samwise gamgee) has been mewing all morning and staring at the ceiling as though a demon has infiltrated our apartment. I think it may have something to do with the fact that we removed the AC unit from our bedroom window. This is rather catastrophic (no pun intended) for a cat like Dragon. She lives in our apartment, every second of every day, and isn’t allowed outside (for reasons I think you may be able to guess…she gets lost in open spaces, remember?). There was a large, grey object that made loud noises and now there isn’t (translation: demons are in the apartment and she must alarm everyone to their presence). I also made the mistake of leaving the closet under the stairs (mordor) slightly ajar. Frodo went inside (naturally, because he’s got to throw that ring into the fires of mount doom already!) and when Dragon approached the dark, menacingly entrance…she panicked. She could hear the crinkling of bags (translation: roar of mount doom’s inferno), and feared for Frodo’s life, so she pooped outside the litter box and has been running around the apartment like a maniac for the last ten minutes.
Needless to say, I’ve been slightly distracted and unable to edit my novel very much this morning. Solution? A raw smoothie to energize my spirits (and an excuse to turn on the blender and further confuse Dragon). Raw food used to scare me because I love cooked, hot, cozy food, and whenever I thought of the word raw I envisioned cold, gazpacho soup, goosebumps, a food dehydrator, and an unsatisfied stomach. But you know what? Raw food is pretty r-awesome. Yup, I just said rawesome…deal with it, haters.

Blueberry bliss smoothie

1 large banana, peel removed
1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1 cup soy milk (I use Edensoy Extra Original) or non-dairy milk of your choice
A few pinches of ground cinnamon
3-4 ice cubes
**For a protein boost, I add a small scoop of hemp protein powder (I use Living Harvest Organic Hemp Protein…nothing but cold milled hemp!)

In a high speed blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve to two sluggish unicorns without passports.

wine snobs

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I like red wine.  A lot.  Pinot noir is my favorite varietal because of its effortless drinkability and it’s clean, fruit forward style.  Now, before you start ruffling your feathers and dropping big words like: mouthfeel, minerality, barnyard, and super tuscan, let me point out that most people who talk like they know about wine, know very little about wine (this statement can refer to most things actually).  You know the type, right? You’re trying to enjoy your $9 glass of pinot, and Grant Dimwitt III (the very same one from the cocktail party with the swanky pad in Manhattan and the free Yankees tickets) asks you what your favorite pinot noir is (with a horrible french accent).  You smile and get ready to respond, but before you utter a single word he’s already started telling you (and everyone else at the bar) about his close connection to the owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (“you know, my buddy at DRC?”).  He pauses for a moment to allow for the gasps and whispers of awe to transpire, then swirls his glass and becomes somber and nearly emotional as he describes a Sassicaia, a Screaming Eagle and a Grange as though reciting a Shakespearean sonnet: “No, it wasn’t a true red, it was more of a medium ruby, a muddied blood, a purple-crushed velvet” (an insecure junior investment banker tries to hide his michelob ultra behind his briefcase).  “And the nose?  Like the dying embers of a long burning fire: smoke and cedar, with a touch of vanilla…at once muted and multidimensional.” (you start seeing unicorns again and the bartender nods his head as though he fully understands how something can be both muted and multidimensional at the same time).  “The palate was lush and tasted of wet leaves after a November rain (this is about the time when you choke on your baguette and have the urge to ask this idiot how many times he’s eaten wet leaves).  “A hint of white pepper, and the tannins firm and ripe, with a welcome taste of slate and raspberries, and an elegant finish.” A unicorn chugs the rest of the neglected michelob ultra and gives you a wink. “It had the most decadent, velvety mouthfeel…” (was he still talking?).  The funny thing about guys like Grant is that they usually impress people, and I always find that baffling.  So what if you’ve googled the top ten wines of the world and have memorized Wine Spectator’s tasting notes on all of them, anyone can do that…but only a Grant type will.  Many junior investment bankers will be impressed by his flashy suit, which he says was made custom by a small italian mill in Milan that no one has ever heard of (your unicorn friend lifts the jacket from the back of his chair with his teeth and shows you the label: Joseph A. Bank).  He gives a few dumbfounded suits his business card and leaves without paying the tab…

My current favorite pinot?  Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve pinot noir from Oregon.  Domaine Serene – Evenstad Reserve.
Forget europe, drink some A-mur-ican wine already!