Happy Third Anniversary (to me)!

Three years ago this week, I took the leap and hit the “publish” button for the first time.  The blog “Travel. Garden. Eat.” entered the blogosphere.  Three years of blogging = 314 posts, 21,118 visitors, and 48,048 views.

As I begin year four of my blogging journey, it is interesting to look back on posts of interest — whether yours or mine.  Some have been shared far and wide, others that I hold dear because of the memories they evoke may have stayed closer to home – it’s all good.  When one first tentatively puts that post out for public consumption, whether the effort is viewed or “liked” holds more importance, but I think over time that becomes less and less a point of attention.  Instead, this blog continues to be my creative outlet, for words and images.

Versailles on a Rainy Day
Versailles on a Rainy Day

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

~ Anaïs Nin

The topics of traveling, gardening and eating merely serve as a base — life is rich and varied, and I think blogging often provides the opportunity to remind oneself that the little things in life are often the most rewarding.  A walk in the woods can be just as rejuvenating and eye-opening as a journey across the sea.  Our own backyards often yield just as much interest as the backyards of our neighbors far and near.

Beargrass in Glacier National Park
Beargrass in Glacier National Park

The most viewed posts over the past few years reflect that philosophy of interest near and far.  For the five months I blogged in 2012, the posts with the highest views were all in response to Weekly Photo Challenges — a great way to engage bloggers on a wide variety of topics, and  help inspire a little creative stretch from time to time!  The challenges of Big, Renewal, and Everyday Life generated the most traffic that first year.

Buona sera, Trastevere!
Buona sera, Trastevere!

In 2013, traveling and eating both were reflected in the most viewed posts:

Pre-wash rinse, courtesy of the cat

Moving on to 2014, one of the most popular posts for visitors was my visit to the Apostle Islands’ Ice Caves, “It’s Not Too Late for the Party: Day-Tripping to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves.”

Kat in the cold seat
Kat in the cold seat

And, finally, 2015 — a year not over yet, but one in which I finally returned to gardening in “Gardener’s Mecca in Minnesota: An Illustration of the ‘Why’” for the most viewed post this year-to-date.  Interestingly, one of my older posts, “Iceberg Lake Trail ~ Glacier National Park” also has been a popular post this year — it is a favorite travel memory, so always happy to revisit that one!

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”

~ Ansel Adams

Iceberg Lake Trail ~ Glacier National Park
Iceberg Lake Trail ~ Glacier National Park

Thank you to all who have followed along since the first year, as well as those who have joined more recently — all 989 of you (spammers and all — I don’t flatter myself to think that I have almost 1000 engaged followers, but I am grateful and amazed by how many truly interesting and engaging bloggers and readers I have met along the way!).  For a little celebratory fun, I updated the look of the blog, and welcome any feedback you have — Font hard to read? Like the layout? Miss the old look?  All comments welcome.

lakewalk kathy corbin 2 4_22_13

Thanks for reading – blog on!

Ciao! ~ Kat

Indian Summer: Fennel-Spiced Pork Ribs with Onion Cilantro Tempering

Summertime is perfect for lazy afternoons on the patio, with a book in one hand and a beer in the other.  Grilling ribs is an art that requires several hours, so it is a perfect companion for the lazy afternoon on the patio (especially if it is your spouse or partner doing the grilling while you sit with the beer and book!).

My boys and I decided to improve the probability of this scenario by splurging on my husband’s 50th birthday present …… a Primo Oval XL 400 Grill.  Yep, that’s 400 square inches of cooking surface and a ceramic grill construction that allows for perfection in grilling and smoking.  Some men have their dream sports cars, my husband has his dream grill.  When I went shopping for the grill, I texted my sons jokingly, “Do we love him that much?”  My oldest replied, “Well, the grill is a show of love as well as an investment in future meals for ourselves, making the deal substantially more attractive.”  With meals like this Fennel-Spiced Pork Ribs with Onion Cilantro Tempering, we have been quickly realizing that return on our investment!

Fennel-Spiced Ribs on the grill

The grill was actually the perfect opportunity for my husband to try one of the recipes he had been eyeing in the cookbook I recently purchased from one of my favorite bloggers — Tikka, Tikki & Spicy Bites, authored by Peri Avari and Rohit Kapoor, over at Peri’s Spice Ladle.  The Fennel-Spiced Pork Ribs with Onion Cilantro Tempering did not disappoint!

After marinating the pork ribs overnight, they were ready for hours of slow roasting on the grill. In order to help keep the ribs moist, my husband sprays them down every 20 minutes or so with a mixture of juice, vinegar and water.

Finishing the Fennel-Spiced Ribs

After smoking the ribs in the rack, and cooking them for a couple hours, he then wraps them in foil to cook for another hour.  The last stage is to put the ribs directly on the grill with indirect heat to finish them with a glaze.

Glazing the Fennel-Spiced Ribs

Using a silicone brush, he glazes with a heated mixture of mango chutney and chicken broth.

Fennel-Spiced Pork Ribs on the Grill

After the grilling stage is done, the ribs are transferred to the kitchen for application of the Onion Cilantro Tempering.

Onion Cilantro Tempering on Fennel-Spiced Ribs

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We served the ribs with a side of cucumber raita, and bookmarked this recipe for a repeat performance!

Fennel-Spiced Ribs with Onion Cilantro Tempering and Cucumber Raita

Peri’s newest cookbook, Tikka, Tikki & Spicy Bites, is a bargain at only $5.99 (USD) through Amazon, and also available through Amazon’s international sites.  I have followed Peri’s blog since I began blogging several years ago.  If you are not familiar with Peri’s Spice Ladle, it is a feast for the senses with delicious recipes and food ideas (ranging from family-friendly weeknight meals to more sophisticated dinner and party options), as well as interesting writing on the Indian culture and cooking techniques.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Blowin’ in the Wind (or “Where Do All the Bloggers Go?”)

Am I the only one who wonders what has happened to some of the blogs I have followed in the eight months since I have discovered the world of blogging?  I realize I have not seen a post from a favored blog in quite some time, and I pull up the blog’s home page periodically, watching time grow longer and longer since the last post.  Did some tragedy befall the blogger?   Did life just get in the way, such that the hours in the day no longer were enough to include a blog post now and then?  Did the novelty of blogging wear off?

Or, sometimes there is the abrupt “pulled the plug” message that appears when I click on a gravatar, or look for a blog I have missed:

xyzblog.wordpress.com is no longer available.

The authors have deleted this site.

“What!?”  I think, “But, they didn’t say goodbye!”

As we said our goodbyes to one of our four-legged family members this week, I was touched by some of the stories and personal notes left by bloggers old and new.  I was again reminded of the diversity of personalities, interests and creativity in the blogosphere.  Those who have not discovered the world of blogs and bloggers are missing out on a rich and rewarding community.

So, it is with gratitude I say “thank you” to those who take the time to recognize my efforts, which vary in creativity and/or intellect (or lack thereof) from day to day!  The admiration is mutual, so I encourage you to visit their blogs, even if you have been blogging for some time, because you may discover a new or previously unknown blogging voice that resonates with you.  As an added twist, I have provided a link to one of the nominators “random” posts. (Did you know that when you hover over the blog’s name in the upper lefthand corner in the WordPress menu bar at the top of your page, an option of “Random Post” appears in the drop-down menu?  Can be an interesting way to explore a “new” blog.)

Shelbur 10 ~ The “Liebster” award 

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Thank you Shelbur 10, whose “slice of life” posts include ones like “Five Ways to Master School Projects.”    An award often bestowed upon newer blogs, with questions created by the nominator for the nominee to answer, and each new nominee nominating worthy blogs and creatively drafting new questions for response.  Shelbur 10 posed these questions to me:

  1. Beef or chicken.  Why?  Actually, I am a buffalo fan when it comes to protein (I shared my love of “Wild Idea Buffalo” in this post, or other organic, sustainable and humane sources of protein.
  2. What is the thing that you’re the most proud of accomplishing?  Raising my children (although I am not done — are we ever? — and perhaps the jury is still out on that by those who may judge our parenting skills a success, or not!)
  3. Where’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited, or the place you’d most like to visit?  As you know, I enjoy travel, and Italy holds a special spot in my heart, but so many destinations are like comparing apples to oranges it’s hard to pick just one!
  4. Do you cook?  Why or why not?  Yes, but my husbands cooks more.  Why?  Because I like to eat!
  5. What is your favorite thing you’ve ever written?  Was is received the way you expect and/or hoped?  One of my favorite blog posts since I started would be the one titled “Important Life Lessons That Family Travel Has Taught Me.” 
  6. Your very favorite pick-me-up song?  I always get a smile when I hear “Praan” come up on my iPod rotation — maybe it is because I always am reminded of the inspiring travel video “Where the Hell is Matt?  2008” which introduced me to this music.      
  7. Do you opt for convenience or sustainability?  Aka: paper plates or extra dishes to wash?  (ps, there are no wrong answers, cause I do both) Sometimes paper plates at the cabin due to lack of running water, but otherwise we do strive for sustainability in this family with most activities we pursue.
  8. What is one word that you always misspell?  Misspelling is not as bad as mispronouncing . . . I tend to do the latter more often than I care to admit.
  9. What is your stance on raisins?  Healthy treat or unwelcome chewy devil? Healthy treat.
  10. Do you find spontaneity exciting or unsettling?  As a typical Type A, I admit I find it unsettling, as I am a planner, but I am getting better as I age.
  11. What is your favorite beverage?  A dark roast coffee or red wine, depending on the day (or time thereof).

Tiny Lessons Blog and Hearing With the Eye ~ Versatile Blogger Award              

Many thanks to Tiny Lessons Blog, who takes us traveling, reflecting and dining — like when she took us on a whirlwind Egyptian food tour in “Kushari and the Thousand Crunches.”

With appreciation to Hearing With the Eye, a young woman wise beyond her years, whose random post directed me to “Happy Friendship Day!” but whose musings often wander much farther afield with some of her exotic travels.

slowgirlfastdog and Maple & Saffron ~ Very Inspiring Blogger Award  Awww shucks - thanks!

In gratitude to slowgirlfastdog, whose blog resonates with me as another runner with a running dog (in my case, a lab, in her case, whippets!).  The random post feature directed me to her most recent post, “We Should Use the Word ‘Super’ More Often.”

And, grazie to Maple & Saffron, a culinary and travel delight to the senses, who have inspired me to place Abruzzo on the travel bucket list when (yes, when, not if!) I return to Italy some day!   Their post “Il regno incantato” was my random post response — Google Translate let me know all about a magical place in the woods in Nova Scotia!

The so-called “rules” for the Versatile Blogger and Very Inspiring Blogger awards are similar, so I have grouped for sake of brevity (although I think we may as well throw away the idea of being short-winded at this point of my post!)

  • Thank the person who gave you this award
  • Include a link to their blog
  • Select 15 of your favorite blogs/bloggers to nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award
  • Share 7 things about yourself

Seven things about me?

  1. Before my husband and I had children, we enjoyed researching genealogy — this was before the internet resources really developed, so it meant trips to the local Family History Center (Mormon family history research library) and reviewing microfiche (after kids, the hours in the day never seemed to quite be accommodating enough for activities like this).
  2. I love arugula.
  3. I hate eggplant (don’t care how you try to dress it up, I still know it’s there).
  4. I am pretty respectable with my chainsaw skills, and perfectly fell an overgrown cedar tree that was at the front of our hose, avoiding the other decorative bushes and trees in the yard.
  5. One of the books currently on my nightstand (I always have a few going at once)?  Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray
  6. First song that pops up on my iPod when I hit shuffle this time?  Sarah McLachlan’s “Do What You Have to Do.”
  7. What else could you possibly need to know about me?

Bending the rules a bit, I have nominated 15 blogs total, 5 for each award, and tried not to duplicate any award nominations I have previously made.  And the envelope please:

Liebster Award Nominees:

  1. Circle Tour Adventures
  2. thelifebus
  3. The Beauty Along the Road
  4. Diplomatic Dog
  5. lucindalines

Versatile Blogger Award Nominees:

  1. Back Road Journal
  2. On the Homefront
  3. Breezy Books
  4. alesiablogs
  5. My Caymanian Life

Very Inspiring Blogger Award Nominees:

  1. From the Bartolini Kitchens
  2. Grimm’s Furry Tail
  3. Canoe Communications
  4. Tricia A. Mitchell
  5. Spontaneous Tomato

As usual, I invite the nominees to do what they like with the nomination, and feel no obligation to respond, but know they are read and enjoyed (so, please don’t go “blowin’ in the wind” on me!).  And, I do recognize some of the nominated blogs do not make a practice of participating in the awards process.  I still wanted to pass on my gratitude for the blogs they have created — some full of creative beauty, others full of personal musings, all reflecting time and effort of their authors.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Taking a Moment to Say Thank You

Since my current archive of photographs is not inspiring a response to this week’s photo challenge theme of “Kiss”, I will take this post opportunity to instead say thank you to several bloggers who have been kind enough over the past couple of months to pass awards my way!  I enjoy reading others’ award posts for the opportunity to get to know a blogger a bit better, for the introduction to new blog voices out there, or for the reminder of old blog voices I have missed along the way.

Maddie at Breezy Books flattered me with the 2012 Blog of the Year Award. I have a Susan Hunter mystery loaded on my nook and look forward to finding time to read the first in the series authored by Maddie!  Check out her often humor-filled posts, as well as her series of mystery books.

Blog of the Year Award 2 star jpeg

Across the Bored generously listed Travel. Garden. Eat. when nominating blogs for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!  I enjoy the varied nature of Across the Bored’s musings, and know you would, as well.  I was flattered to receive another nomination for this award shortly thereafter from Hearing with the Eye!  Sumithra is a young woman with an inspiring voice who I know will continue to make her mark on this world.

very-inspiring-blog-award20121   very-inspiring-blog-award20121

Taking to the Open Road nominated my blog for its first Versatile Blogger Award!  Peggy’s blog takes readers all over the world with its travel photos and insights — a wonderful opportunity to vicariously travel while building the bucket list.

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Another nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award came from Dorothy of Musings of a Horse Mom.  Dorothy actually has a couple of different blogs that I enjoy, including Eyes to Heart (whose response to the photo challenge “Kiss” this week definitely touches your heart!).

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I continue to enjoy so many of your blogs and am always amazed at all of the talent and creativity this world holds.  In the interest of space and time, I will pick the “rules” of just one of the awards to pay it forward this time — the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

The rules of the award are:

1. Display the award logo on your blog

2. Link back to the person who nominated you

3. State 7 things about yourself:

  1. I will soon be accompanying my oldest son for several college visits in Boston and Washington, D.C., and look forward to enjoying fresh seafood that can be a scarce commodity in Minnesota!
  2. I came from two biochemist parents and to their horror took Physical Anthropology to satisfy my science credits for my undergraduate degree.
  3. I do not believe that food can have too much garlic.
  4. I am a night owl.
  5. I am a “Downton Abbey” fan.
  6. I am not sure I will be able to finish my book club’s next read, “Big Breasts Wide Hips” by Mo Yan, the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature.
  7. Despite living in Minnesota for over 20 years, I enjoyed my first sauna only a few years ago. (Look for a future post on Minnesota sauna culture soon!)

4. Nominate other bloggers for this award and link to them.  

I would like to recognize some of the more recent blogs I have been delighted to discover:

Ciao! ~ Kat

Year-End Statistics, Award Trivia, and More ~ This is What Happens When a Cold Bug Plants a Blogger at the Computer for the Day

With disappointment, I look outside at the fresh layer of snow and sunny skies, knowing that cross-country skiing conditions would be lovely today . . . as I sit with stuffy head and achy body, struggling to open the darn childproof packaging of the Dayquil softgels, telling myself the holiday visit to New York City was worth the lousy cold/flu bug I picked up along the way.  I have decided that sitting at the computer is a perfect sedentary activity for the day, since doing laundry last night about wiped me out.  At least I can tackle one item on the year-end neverending organizational and decluttering list today . . . organizing digital photos. (I could sit at the computer for the next decade and probably still have digital photos to review and organize!)

While I was drafting this post, I read 3rdculturechildren’s post on statistics so have taken the liberty of adopting some of her format for my own post (just chalk it up to my stuffy head and runny nose, and forgive my lack of creativity!).  As the year draws to a close, I reflect back on my first four months of blogging, starting with that first post: “The Pecorino of Pienza” which was published on August 10, 2012.

Since then, my little Travel.Garden.Eat. blog has seen 8,383 views with 1,177 comments.  Visitors from 82 different countries have stopped by to take a look!

Map Showing Views by Country
Map Showing Views by Country

The top search terms that have brought people to my blog are:

devils tower 116
italianate architecture 19
raspberries 12
bentleyville 12
bentleyville duluth mn 2012 11

The top 10 posts by “views” for all time (since starting the blog in August) are:

Since commencement of this blog, the top 10 most-commented posts of all time are:

Post Comments
Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal 45
Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections 41
You Flatter Me, Blogger Friends! 41
Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful 39
About Kat B.’s Blog 39
Peaceful Sunday at the Feeder 37
Memories of the Lovable but Dimwitted Duo 35
“30 Days of Blessings, Condensed” Challenge 30
Weekly Photo Challenge: Big 30
Vivaldi and La Sainte-Chapelle: A Transcendental Travel Experience 28

I am grateful to each of you who take the time to comment, “like” and interact by replying to comments left on your own blogs.  The blogosphere is a fascinating, illuminating community, and I look forward to our continued interactions in 2013.

Speaking of illuminating, though, before I turn to decluttering the computer, I need to express my gratitude for a couple of award nominations for the Illuminating Blogger Award from Cancer in my Thirties and The Serenity Space.

Cancer in my Thirties writes a blog about her ongoing battle with aggressive breast cancer with reminders to enjoy the little things in life along the way.  Her posts often leave me reflecting on what is really important, and to remember to appreciate the moments along the journey of life, because we don’t know where or how long that path may go.

The Serenity Space reminds us to live a mindful life, and to continuing growing as we find or redefine ourselves throughout our lives.  She also posts some beautiful images from life in Queensland, Australia.  I encourage you to stop by both of these blogs when you have a chance, if you are not familiar with them.

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Because I am planted in a sedentary position for the day, I actually searched for the origins of this award and found this post from Food Stories Blog:  the Illuminating Blogger AwardFood Stories originally suggested the following response to an Illuminating Blogger nomination:

  1. The nominee should visit the award site (http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/) and leave a comment indicating that they have been nominated and by whom. (This step is so important because it’s the only way that we can create a blogroll of award winners).
  2. The Nominee should thank the person that nominated them by posting & including a link to their blog.
  3. The Nominee should include a courtesy link back to the official award site (http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/) in their blog post.
  4. Share one random thing about yourself in your blog post.
  5. Select at least five other bloggers that you enjoy reading their illuminating, informative posts and nominate them for the award. Many people indicate that they wish they could nominate more so please feel free to nominate all your favorites.
  6. Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog, including a link to the award site (http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/).

Hmmm, one random thing about myself  . . .  I love planning travel almost as much as the trip itself sometimes!  Researching the history of a destination, the cultural sights, hidden gems for dining and exploration, and insider’s tips for maneuvering the in-demand attractions.

My five “Illuminating Blogger” nominations go to some of my favorite illuminating and informative bloggers (although there are many more!):

  1. 3rdculturechildren ~ life of a globetrotting family of 5 in the U.S. foreign service
  2. The Choice ~ the N.Y. Times blog on college admissions and financial aid (essential for any parent and student in the midst of the college search process!)
  3. Peri’s Spice Ladle ~ for anyone interested in Indian cuisine and cooking
  4. The Green Study ~ the recent series of posts regarding volunteer work is a great way to kick off your 2013
  5. Backpacking Kids ~ her recent series discussing technology addiction in kids is thoughtful and well-done

I do believe it is time for another hot cup of tea.  Cheers and blog on!

Ciao! ~ Kat