Tuesday, October 30, 2018


          This will be a short blog because you have candy to buy and trick-or-treaters to please.  I simply have to share a hilarious thing they do in Norway.  Inside the wrapper of their Kit Kat-like bar are hiking tips. Yep, hiking tips:
          Not that I went off my vegan diet to learn this. Okay, I was TRAVELING, which is like the free space on a bingo card.  
          Here it is (and the chocolate is creamier than ours). Kvikk Lunsj translates to Quick Lunch:
          I had to wonder how clever these tips would be. I mean, we all have common sense, right? (Yeah, I know, it’s not all that common.)  But we could, even those of us who aren’t avid hikers, compile a list that includes “stay on the trail” and “let people know where you’re going.”
          Well, apparently not, because Freia has taken the trouble to print those very bits of advice, lest you embark upon a wilderness adventure with candy but no brains.
          Some of these nuggets of brilliance include "take into account weather," "use a map and compass," and my favorite: "Turn back around in time; there's no shame in turning around."            
          And it got me thinking—why not dispense advice in ALL candy wrappers? Who wouldn’t love that, the same way we enjoy breaking open a fortune cookie to see what it says?  So, candy makers everywhere, I issue this challenge: By next Halloween I want to give out brilliant wisdom, along with chocolate, to my trick-or-treaters!
You could also give out my books! Imagine the delight of little four-year-olds! Okay, maybe not. Although they can be devoured.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ghost Story

By any chance have you ever slept in a graveyard? 
I’m guessing no. But wait until you read how I happened to do this in Norway.
          Nicole has some friends from her mission days who are renting a home that overlooks an actual fjord. Seriously, the property is breathtaking. And they invited us to spend the night. 
          Also on the property is the landlord's larger home, a huge barn, an apple orchard, and another house.
Years ago the landlady at that time was told by the government that it needed to appropriate the land to build a road. This is called eminent domain here in the U.S.—the taking of land for the public good—and it happens all over the world.
          So she accepted her fate and the night before demolition she went out to dig in her garden.  Her spade hit a rock, making a clinking sound. So she moved over a bit and dug again. Another clink. Then another, and another.  It turns out she had discovered a huge oval of stones surrounding a 1,000-year-old Viking cemetery!
          Immediately the property became a protected historic site, and that’s how we came to sleep in a Viking graveyard!  When we arrived we asked to see it, but were told it hadn’t been excavated yet. Apparently they don’t have sufficient staff to unearth every exciting location in Norway.
          BUT… are you kidding me?  Do you not own a shovel? I would die of curiosity—and thus join the others—if I couldn’t get out there and dig up all those exciting artifacts!  And if it’s illegal, do you not own a spoon and a flashlight? I would be out there in the dead (no pun intended) of night, working feverishly and carefully to find every sword, shield, and helmet!
          I could hardly sleep. And leaving this work undone the following morning, well, what can I say? It haunts me even now.
          Halloween is coming up-- and that's the perfect time to read my books, while you wait for Trick-or-Treaters to ring your doorbell.   

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Danish Magic

          Think about going through the security check at the airport.  You’ve probably taken off your jacket, your shoes, stuffed them into a plastic bin, walked through a metal detector.  All the usual stuff, right?
          But have you ever been stopped so you could watch something entertaining?  Here’s what happened on the way to Denmark. The TSA guy (probably called something else there, and with a lot more letters) stopped me. “I’d like to perform a trick,” he said.
          A little bit random, right? I also have a flight to catch. But I like magic, so okay. St. Bob and I have recently been watching a magician on TV, so this should break up the monotony of boarding a flight.
          The fellow held out both his hands, palms up. Aha. I know this one. He’s going to make a coin appear.
          Or maybe a card.
          Then he motioned for me to do the same. I happily held out my hands. Then he swiped them with that litmus paper thing they rub over your luggage to see if you’re covered with bomb dust.
          And then it hit me. He wasn’t saying “perform a trick,” he was saying “perform a check.” Well, dang!  Get my hopes up and then accuse me of being a terrorist.
          HOWEVER, when we got to our utterly amazing place to stay, right on the shore of the Baltic Sea, 
it turns out there really was magic!  Down the beach was a place called The Magic Forest and it truly was:
          So, Mr. Airport Security Guy, I got to be part of something magical, after all.
          And, just like magic, you can click here to watch my YouTube Mom videos. There I am, right on your screen!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Taking Stock of Stockholm

          Am I lucky or what? Not only did St. Bob send me to Scandinavia with Nicole for my birthday (I told you he was a Saint), but my long-time Swedish friend, Marianne Carlsson, then treated us to a dazzling and delicious dinner at Stockholm’s Brasserie Godot, listed in the White Guide—which is like getting a fistful of Michelin stars.  We eat plant-based now, and look at the chocolate ganache/cherry sorbet/berry meringue dessert their chef came up with for us vegans (read more about that on my Instagram: @unlikely_vegan).         

But just to balance the scales—and because you can’t find these anywhere else in the world— we also had to sample McDonald’s McVegan (no Michelin stars here) and the new vegan Magnum bar.
A walk through historic Old Town is a must:
          Then I noticed a shop you’d never see in the U.S.—not because it refers to Sweden, but because its claim is so understated.  In the U.S. they’d announce that they’re the absolute best, anywhere.  But not in Sweden. Here they’re ultra honest, even humble in their self-evaluation:  
          I asked Marianne’s daughter, Linda, if this reluctance to brag was common in Sweden.  She said, “Probably.” 
So, if you want the absolute best book list ever, anywhere in the world, check out my website here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Norwegian Numbers

         We’re baaack. Two glorious weeks in Scandinavia and enough material to last a lifetime. Not that this will become a travel blog. But indulge me a bit.
          First of all, let’s start with Norway. It’s every bit as gorgeous as you can imagine, with thunderous waterfalls, majestic mountains, and amazing fjords.  The chocolate is swoon-worthy, the people are kind and helpful. 
But there’s one area where the fairy tale breaks down, and it’s when locals estimate how long it will take an average American to walk to a given location. As if the entire population has agreed on this figure, any given person in Norway will tell you it’s “just a 15 minute walk” to get anywhere.  Often they will add some comment about how invigorating and delightful this can be.  However, they are not pulling a heavy piece of luggage with a broken wheel. 
Nor are they people who avoid the gym, and who drive if anything is more than a block away. They also don’t realize that they have grossly underestimated said “walk,” and that 15 minutes is actually 45.
Nope, they are walkers and hikers.  They feel a rush of, I don’t know-- fitness?—as they stride briskly through hill and dale. It’s like they’re all training for the Olympics.  (How every destination can be uphill escapes me, but this also seems to be the case. I also think it should be against the laws of physics for a vegan to pull a HAM string, but here we are.) 
There are literally people in Norway who herd hundreds of sheep by hand in the rain and on steep cliffs that look as if you could fall to your death, should you take one wrong step. Like wind-up action figures, they don’t even break a sweat. And those sheep are the real reason I said we’re baaack.
But I miss those sheep and their owners and their waterfalls.  I just wish someone would write a travel guide called No-hike No-way Norway for wimpy travelers who walk three times more slowly than locals.
You can order one of my books to read while you wait for next week’s blog—that one will be about Sweden.