family travel

ROOTED Worldwide

TIPS FOR BEING ROOTED ON THE GO.

Pack-worthy essentials to help give you a sense of stability and home while living up-rooted and traveling around the globe.

How important it is to find your roots while drifting over land and sea. It is hard enough to live out of a suitcase while living in the in-between. Some days you just crave the crash on your own pillow at home, the smell of your laundry detergent on your favorite sweater, or the simple feeling you get when passing through the doors of a home your soul knows.

Below are my necessities to help ground and settle my spirit while wandering and living without roots. 

 

·       Unpacking – I always say ‘Home is where I unpack.’ A simple rule of thumb I follow is to always unpack when I’m staying somewhere for more than two nights. It just helps you to drop into your space, experience it more deeply and feel like ‘this is my home; this is where I reside; this is where I lay my head; this is where my things are.’

·       Traveling Altar –  It’s your sacred space that holds the treasured things that keep you connected and rooted. They can be gifts from friends, photos of loved ones, trinkets from places of significance to you, statues or books of your spiritual path. They’re reminders of memories, of things that you’ve loved, and anywhere there has been any unfurling of the heart. This curated collection of objects represents the essence of your being and your home in this new space. I have mine wrapped up in a silk bag and I unpack it and set it up on a small table, empty shelf or even the floor of the room I call home at the moment. I like to have it in a place where I can set up my yoga mat and practice or even just sit in front of it for a meditation or prayer on my journey. I do this when I go to new places – places of the unknown.

o   Some examples of the items I have on my alter right now: a little rose pin from my mom, a small Buddha statue from India, an olive wood cross from California, a Ganesha statue from Indonesia, a silk scarf and mala from the Dali Lama, a seashell [“the eye of Lucia”] plucked from the Amalfi, a shell from Spain, a piece of volcano from Iceland, a bead from Kenya gifted from a dear friend, an amethyst crystal, a photo of my daughter Mila from her birth, a postcard from a friend, A tiny wooden elephant from Thailand, broken travel bracelets from adventures past, a picture of my husband Swiss and the one remaining earring from a pair that he gave me early in our relationships as his first gift while we were in Belize.

·       Traveling Candles – if you can handle the weight of packing a candle, lighting a fire can feel like home and can be an important element in your spiritual travel alter. 

·       Clary Sage – Smudge Sticks (preferably white sage from California) – these clear impurities in the air, detoxify and rid a space of bad energy. Light them, get them smoking and walk to each corner of the room a couple times or around a space or person.

lite one end with fire, allow to burn for a moment before blowing out the flame and just smoke remains. Smudge it out on a plate when finished "cleaning".

lite one end with fire, allow to burn for a moment before blowing out the flame and just smoke remains. Smudge it out on a plate when finished "cleaning".

·       Traveling Yoga Mat – I have an ultra light travel mat by Manduka that I bring with me. It’s yours, you sweat on it, and it is there for you when your ready. Whether you leave your mat laid out on the floor all day or fold it up when your not using it, the mat invites you in to practice, like the pot call the cook to the kitchen. Sometimes we need the reminder to drive up the intention.

·       Measuring Cups – I always travel with American measuring cups! If I get homesick and call my mom to make her buttermilk biscuits, I can save a lot of time and energy by using these tools rather than converting the ingredients to metrics and finding that they never turn out the same. There are some great plastic collapsable ones out there too.

·       Multiple Journals – I love a good Moleskin. But the Apica Note Book brand is one of my favorite. They’re thin, so I can have multiple for different topics, whether spiritual outpouring, family travel ideas, work-related projects or something pertaining to my daughter. I’m a Pisces so I like to have a daydream journal of things I want to do or envision doing in the future. There’s no rule that journals need to be filled cover to cover. I have lots of half empty journals, and each one tells a tale of my past.

·       For traveling with a child – In terms of traveling with a child, bringing certain snacks, books, and stuffed animals that are reminiscent of home is really important. At two, my daughter isn’t really attached to one thing in particular, but having an essence of home is something that comforts her and gives her a sense of place regardless of where we are in the world. This of course, means I have to bring many items on a  trip as opposed to just one important one. 

White Asparagus Frittata

White Asparagus fritata with arugula salad

Whether you consider breakfast for dinner better than, well, breakfast for breakfast, like I do most days. Then Frittata is or must be a regular in your eggs-for-everything  line up.  I like mine thin, as opposed to the frittata's beefier cousin, the Tortilla Español. The frittata is quick, lite, and versatile as a blank slate for any season. For it's simplicity, it has a way of still impressing your friends at a picnic, brunch or last minute dinner party.  

Right now the white and green asparagus are impressing the pants off me here in Switzerland. My experience with white asparagus in the past was never this tender and flavorful, or the season seemingly this long. Spring here has made the transition from an agricultural abundant California life very easy to digest, as the spring farm stands have my husband pulling the car over every 20 minutes on a drive out of the village. All payments with the honor system, I'd like to add. It is enriching to see small acts of silent trust in the world again.

A Spring Picnic

After a morning of farm stand hopping and a copious dose of much needed Swiss sunshine, we came home for a picnic in the backyard. A quick white asparagus frittata, topped with spicy arugula salad and shaved pecorino was exactly what we needed. On the side, we finished up the Austrian wild deer salami I brought back from being in Vienna for work. That and the sourdough I found which had a 36 hour ferment from an ancient sourdough starter (insert heart eyes) and a hefty chunk of Gruyere.

White Asparagus Frittata

note: Do know that I leave room for intuitive instruction and amounts in my recipes. A place to play and feel for your food and not to be stuck with an exact process that will make or break it. Freely change out the vegetables for others of your choice; zucchini, broccoli, spinach, bell pepper, etc.

serves 2.5

  • 5 eggs, whisked
  • 6 medium or small white asparagus, not the double-wide ones
  • 2 spring onions, or 1 med shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 red chili, seeded or not, finely chopped
  • 4 T olive oil, separated
  • plenty of salt and pepper
  • 2 handfuls of arugula
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 T red wine vinegar, or vinegar of your choice
  • pecorino or parmesan, amount to your liking, shaved

Peel the stems of the white asparagus if need be (if young and small, I don't peel). Slice at an angle 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. You can really slice how ever you like, this cut is always more instinctual for me. Heat up 2 T olive oil in an 8"  nonstick skillet. Your welcome to use a smaller sized pan, just note that your frittata will be thicker and will need to be flipped and cooked longer.

Add your asparagus, spring onion and red chile to the hot oil and turn down the heat to medium. Stir to take the raw edge off the vegetables, then distribute the mixed veg around the pan. Pour the whisked eggs over the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and turn the heat down a bit more to med-low and cover with a lid.

While the frittata cooks, add the vinegar, remaining oil and some salt and pepper to the bottom of a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  add sliced cherry tomatoes, arugula and shaved pecorino (i use a vegetable peeler) to the bowl and toss to combine. 

After about 7 or 8 minutes, check the frittata. It should be cooked on the top just by the steam and golden on the bottom. Loosen up the sides with a spatula, and shake the pan to to be sure the whole frittata is detached from the pan.  Place a cutting board or round platter over the pan ann with your right hand (if your right handed, that is) flat on the bottom of the board, and the left hand on the handle of the pan. With one swift motion, FLIP the frittata onto the board. I like to cut the frittata into portions next, before adding the salad. Top the round frittata with your salad and a few extra shavings of pecorino, maybe an extra sprinkle of salt (I like Maldon finishing salt).

Enjoy your picnics before the spring rain comes!

-Ash

The Bridge Of Tea - Morocco

Better a handful of dried figs and content with that, than to own the gate of peacocks and be kicked in the eye by a broody camel.
— Moroccan Proverb

A Feast Of The Senses - Morocco. I have been traveling to Morocco with Peggy Markel's Culinary Adventures for 6 years now. Each trip expands my heart and mind further. The delicate weaving of flavor, tradition, artisanal craft, and community are what these programs are made of. This particular trip was especially unique as it we brought in an emphasis of photography by our amazing teacher Stephan Smith, and a daily spiritual practice of yoga taught by myself. The rest of our days were spent connecting with our Moroccan teachers and friends as a tight thread of our being was connected with permanence to the country, landscape, individuals, and cuisine of Morocco.

Today there is much conversation about the "wall" in our world. With the political noise on constant echo in our minds and on our social media pages as the US prepares for changes in November 2016. This particular trip to Morocco carried a significant weight to it, as many things could change for how Americans travel and connect with other countries such as this one in the very near future, depending on the direction of the elections. 

I was reminded often of the kindness of strangers. To be a foreigner and a traveler, we must be sensitive to differences that set us apart. We are indeed the minority and we are just visitors here. So subtle and yet profound the gestures of kindness from the Moroccan people were constant. Simply placing their hand over their heart and asking questions of concern;

"Are you hungry? Are you tired? How is your family? Tea?"

One is never far from the tender care of Moroccan hospitality during our 10 day stay in their country.  Generosity flows endlessly from teapot to cup. Here is one of my favorite flavors and traditions of Morocco- Berber Whiskey.

 

Recipe: Moroccan Mint Tea (a.k.a. "Berber Whiskey")

Perfect for snuggly winter days under a blanket, a pick-me-up and mellower in equal measure. Recipe via Peggy Markel's Culinary Adventures.

  • one 6-8 cup teapot
  • 1/3 cup gunpowder green tea
  • freshly boiled water (quality will determine the quality of your tea)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • one bunch fresh mint (spearmint or your favorite variety)

 

Cover the tea with boiling water and pour off the first glass full. Save aside. Pour boiling water over the tea again and swish around. Pour off second glass and discard. This cleans the tea. Put the first glass of tea back into the pot, with the sugar, fresh mint and boiling

water to desired level in your tea pot.

(If you have a metal teapot that can be put over a flame, it is traditional to bring the tea to a boil again at this point.) Pour from on high to aerate the tea. 

May we continue to make choices that build more bridges between us and brew more tea together. Inshallah.

Costa Rica & Gallo Pinto

Traveling as a family to the rich coast.

 

Pura Vida!

Pure Life is in fact what they pride themselves on most over in Costa Rica. This sweet strip of land on the central coast, buffers up to both the Gulf of Mexico and the great Pacific. It's approachability, safety, geographical scale, surf and turtles are probably it's biggest tourist pulls. Or simply put- La Pura Vida.

It was May when we traveled as a family to Costa Rica. From LA, a flight to San Jose (the capitol of Costa Rica) is cheaper than most flights to our closer neighbor, Mexico. 

With only 8 days to vacation, we chose to go to the Manuel Antonio province. Specifically to a town called Quepos. A short and beautiful Island hopper plane gets you from San Jose to Quepos in 45 minutes. Manuel Antonio is a national park, and the mix of extensive wildlife and clean beaches are what attracted us to choosing Quepos as our home.

We decided to pick a place and stay put for our week stay with our 14 month old daughter. The regime of packing and unpacking should only be exercised so many times on a short vacation, in my opinion.

Tulemar is the private beach community that we called home. 

The walk down to the beach each day was accompanied by monkeys, giant iguanas, and sloth sightings. Having a clean beach with it's own source of kayaks, baby beach toys, and floatation was a huge plus for us. If we tired of the sand, then we spent the day at one of the pools in the community instead. All with an ocean view. We recommend the Villa Cielito house, where we stayed. The staff of Tulemar were incredibly accommodating to make this tropical treehouse safe and baby-proof.

Sunset from the Villa Cielito balcony.

For the coffee fix and great food we were looking for, Cafe Milagro was our favorite, and a 10 minute walk from our front door.  Quality ingredients, and only smiles from the staff as our restless toddler ran around, stealing stuffed monkeys and keychains  from the cafe's boutique. What parent can resist a restaurant that serves you food while the servers carry your baby around? I'll take two mojitos. Thanks.

Local day trips to Manuel Antonio state park where black sand beaches, and wild life amuse your senses. The reptile and butterfly park (also walking distance from our front door) kept our toddler curious and enthralled. 

As a Californian needing a recharge from the drought-ridden, succulent-clad terrain of our home turf, Costa Rica is the perfect tropical fuel.

 

Gallo Pinto (the Spotted Rooster)

This classic Costa Rican breakfast is abundant everywhere in the country and in a myriad of ways. Red beans, black beans, fried egg, or scrambled egg. First of all, grains and eggs are truly my preferred pairing any time and all the time. The toddler ate it for every meal and even my coffee-and-bread-ONLY-for-breakfast husband dug in.

(recipe adapted from Boulder Locavore) serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1/c cup bean stock or ½ cup chicken stock if bean is not available
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • Sour cream, if desired as topping
  • 4-6 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  1. Fry onion and bell pepper in vegetable oil, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté a bit more.
  3. Pour in the beans and the stock, bring to a simmer.
  4. Avoid the mixture drying up.
  5. Add in the rice and stir thoroughly, gently.
  6. Don’t mash the beans!
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. In a separate pan, fry the eggs one at a time to desired liking (dot forget to season with salt and pepper!)
  9. Right before serving stir in the fresh cilantro and top with sour cream if desired

 

Your First Journey

A letter to my daughter about flying with a child;

You were 7 months old when we packed up all your favorite things for a month away from the land you were born in. Your father and I hovered over the piles of soft cloth, sweet smelling stuffed animals, and every "necessary" baby item we owned.

We had never traveled with a baby before. This was by far the most complicated, and fragile piece of carry-on luggage we had ever considered adventuring with, and frankly we were incredibly nervous.

Our flight was to depart at 9  pm from the east coast to cross the pond and have us into Switzerland by mid day. We paced anxiously in front of the gate, bouncing you back and forth. Four other couples with newborn to 12 month old babies were practicing the same monotonous jig. One partner with a baby attached, the other hovering close with a bursting diaper bag full of tricks, burp clothes, bottles and blankets.

When another child would rear their head from their cozy pouch, let out an anxious cry of demands and protest, and you, our angel child would stay quiet and sleeping in our arms. Our faces would fill with pride as we gazed adoringly at one another and you, our sweet quite baby. Of course, at one point you did make your opinions heard, but we survived the journey feeling relaxed and victorious.

Now, on the second trans-atlantic flight of your life, you were a bit older. Your arms, legs and opinions have all stretched out in your 23 months of life. We knew we had to up our game this time around. We planned every diaper change in the airport accordingly. Ran you up and down the escalator to burn energy, and generally kept you moving until the bitter end when it was time to board. Two diaper bags were packed and organized with all your essentials for instant happiness. Tiny toys, magic markers, the $50 Woody doll I ran out to buy last minute, the bloody tablet I swore I'd NEVER buy, a felt folder full of surprises, and those freeze-dried strawberries that get you out of any carseat rage. We felt powerful and prepared.

An hour into our flight and surprises were being pulled out like stuffing from a gift bag. Joy turned to contentment, then to boredom and frustration in what felt like 5  short minutes with each new treasure given to you. That was until, the breaking point. The point of what felt like an eternity. The struggle that topped all past struggles before. No amount of rescue remedy or lavender oil could pull you out of this one.

You were done. Just plain DONE.

"All done. Auto. Nana's house" was on repeat and there was nothing we could do to console you. Your body twisted out of our arms like a contortionist, your screams grew louder and your protest more intense by the moment. Slowly the patrons around us on the plane found new seats to occupy, But distance could not hide them completely from the disturbance. You were every where.

2 straight hours of rage and you tired out. I never sat down once in nearly 3 hours of juggling your moving, screaming body in my arms, or keeping you quiet once asleep.

After 10 hours, many apologies, little sleep, too much Toy Story, and ZERO friends made, we arrived to Zurich from LA. It was the worst flight of our lives. I am now only willing to board a long distance flight with potent baby tranquilizers. I am also actively researching deals on a trans-Atlantic cruise ship. And I hate cruise ships.

On the flip side of things, the crew members on Swiss airlines were incredibly kind and helpful, plus they kept a constant flow of beer and chocolate for us in-between meltdowns. The only saving grace.

I still love you,

-Mom