BJWPost

Oh Sweet Republic!

Oct
08

Good lord, I am addicted and I blame my son…

Okay that’s not entirely true. But it was for him that I recently bought a pint of Sweet Republic’s real mint chip ice cream while I was doing research for my upcoming article for Green Living AZ Magazines November issue.

The story is about food, and well ice cream is food, right?

Sweet Republic makes their ice cream by hand with unique flavors, including lavender, apple-wood smoked bacon and Arizona medjool dates. So in my never ending quest to expose my family to healthy, fresh, local food and ingredients I reasoned since Sweet Republic uses real mint from Maya’s Farm at South Mountain I was killing a few birds with one stone (excuse the reference).

I also figured the ice cream wouldn’t create an issue with me because I’m not really a mint or ice cream person. Never mind all the four and five star ratings on Yelp for Sweet Republic. Or that one of my favorite magazines, Bon Appétit,  named them as number 1 ice cream shop in America.  Or that Alton Brown voted their toffee banofi sundae as The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network. I was safe.

Sadly I was wrong on both accounts.

Although my son loves mint chip ice cream, the fresh mint is a bit much for my 4-year-old’s palate.

Mine, however, LOVES the stuff!

The delicate, aromatic mint is so exquisite that I cannot stop sneaking bites every couple of hours…

Oooh Sweet Republic!

My Food Obsession

Sep
19

I just recently realized I have an obsession with food.

Yes, I know for most of you that know me you may be thinking, “Really, you just now figured that out?”

And I answer, yes. But it’s not the kind of obsession of how many calories in versus how many calories I burn off or can I eat this and not get fat, kind of obsession. Not that I haven’t done that in the past, and quite frankly, I think that kind of obsession created a weight problem for me at one time. But when I decided to quite worrying about food that way and started looking at food differently, like what’s it really made of, I started looking and feeling better.

I read nutrition labels, cookbooks, articles on food and recipes like novels. Many of the stories I write for Green Living Magazine  have some kind of food component in them. In fact I recently did a story about waste generated at football sporting events and I wasn’t too excited about it until I came across this little nugget:

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) food waste is the number one item being thrown into landfills.

This information got me excited about the story. No, not because of the amount and detriment to the environment this causes (which are huge by the way – food waste produces methane that escapes into the ozone if it isn’t composted), but because of the connection between food and the environment.

I have long been a proponent of whole, healthy REAL food. Food that is close to its natural origins, even if it is meat or chicken. If you look at it you should be able to recognize what it is.

As I have become more “obsessed” with this aspect of food I also become more aware of my son’s eating habits. I do my best not to make food an issue, but I want him to understand choices he makes when it comes to food. For instance he does not like walnuts. But I tell him to try them every now and then. To at least see if he likes them prepared this way or that. I let him know why they are good for him and then let it go. Because as a kid I HATED walnuts, I hated all nuts. In fact I remember my mother, aunts and grandmother always trying to get us to eat them. They would hide them in things or put them in baked things they didn’t want to share with us (hmmmm….smart!).

But you know what? I LOVE them now. I will eat them raw, put them on a salad, eat them in cookies. I really like them. So I’ve been thinking about this for a while. If I hated them then but love them now ( and there are many more foods in my life like that now, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado etc.) how’d I get there?

And if I did, maybe my son will too.

So last night as I popped pistachio after pistachio into my mouth while we waited for our dinner to arrive I asked my mother about her childhood experiences with flavors and food. She said she didn’t like avocados as a kid but loves them now. And she’s even starting to like peas now and she didn’t when I was growing up.

I told her I thought growing to like “good for you foods” had to do with early exposure to “real” food, like what she and I grew up with. My grandparents (her parents) were farmers and didn’t believe in processed or packaged food and what they made came from vegetables, fruits or meats from the butcher. Both our early childhood food experiences were with unprocessed foods.

I continued to mull it over as I devoured (and enjoyed) my delicious Windsor Country Vegetable Chop salad of kale, brussel sprouts, radish, avocado and crispy okra (of which I also hated as a child!).

Turns out I may be right.

In the Scientific American, journalist Brian Mossop writes in his article titled “Can We Be Trained to Like Healthy Foods?”

Now, an increasing number of scientists and physicians wonder if our propensity for unhealthy, obesity-inducing eating might be tied to the food choices made during our first weeks and months of life. Indeed, the latest research indicates that what we learn to like as infants paves the way for what we eat as adults.

I can relax a little about my son’s diet. He loves broccoli, he loves carrots and prefers real apples to apple juice. His first “baby food” was avocado (hates it now by the way). I tried to make sure he ate a variety of “yucky” foods that were barely processed or not at all. But it still doesn’t stop me from freaking out that I may not have done a good enough job ~ happily though, my mom has sound and a sage advice:

Just keep doing what you are doing, and don’t worry so much honey, he’ll be fine.

Then I think, okay, she’s right. And maybe I’ve also finally found a place for my obsession and passion for my job as a journalist, mother and foodie.  Maybe I can help other moms, families and people learn to eat and live healthier and better one post at a time.

Cheers,

~BjW

4-Star Accommodations

Sep
07

In my quest to figure out my direction as a writer and blogger one thing has always been constant: my desire to become a travel and food writer. As a flight attendant I traveled on my own to many countries and continents to see the world. But once I went back to school and had a child at the same time, traveling took not only a back seat but another whole dimension. Travel writers weren’t in demand and I didn’t really know how to break into the area. Plus there’s this other little dark secret: I was intimidated to travel with an infant. In fact my son has only been on an airplane twice in his four short years, really quite sad if you ask me.

But here’s the thing, I believe strongly in visiting other countries besides the one you live in. However, I somehow found myself too comfortable in my day-to-day routine to venture out and take a stand-by seat with my son and husband in tow. At least I was until my conversation two weeks ago with my good friend (and also former flight attendant) Elizabeth. My “plinky” answer sparked her comment on my blog about travel and the importance of children experiencing other cultures and places.

Travel is a form of education and parents need to make financial planing for travel as much a priority as education and college. We are a global economy and learning about the other global players is key to developing a successful future. Parents need to take time to research, as a family,  places to go, what to do while there and if the kids are old enough have them take part in planning  the budget for the trip. All of these skills are real world skills,

But I’m sort of a throw back hippie/surfer (did I mention I grew up in Bisbee?) wrapped up in a modern, high tech bag of over achieving thoughts mixed up with my old school values. And so I see travel as a way to just be. But to learn from it too, learn what the locals do, where they go, what they think, become a local if you can and then just experience life as it comes to you. It’s the Zen side of travel that needs to exist. So when my friend, Jen, offered us her friends’ house to watch, and to look after Albert the unsinkable goldfish, we said “Hell yes” that, and it was 115 degrees in Phoenix.

I realized my long time purpose/goal or whatever you want to call it, is my desire to show Henry the world. To let him see it with his own two eyes, to come to his own conclusions of what he likes or dislikes about certain places or experiences. Which is what propelled me to bust out of my own confinement and shovel a disarray of clothes into a too small suitcase with my  toothbrush solidly embedded between my teeth to fly to San Francisco on a 7:45 a.m. flight.  I raced my family to the airport unprepared (hippie/surfer) to hop on the flight. Didn’t happen. Didn’t have all my ducks set up the night before.

But we decided to eat breakfast and wait for another flight. The surfer was rubbing off on all of us and we chilled and laughed while we ate a decent breakfast at the Home Turf Bar (they don’t have an online menu – I don’t understand this), anyway the food was good actually. Eggs and toast for Henry & Paul. Fruit and yogurt for me. I’ll give it this: it was fresh and good.

Needless to say we did NOT make it on the flight, so we left and ran errands. Got back in time to make the 1:15 flight.

Henry’s first subway ride was good, he enjoyed putting his mouth on every hand rail and seat back he could find. Paul was starting to OCD on washing Henry’s hands after every object he touched but I said let’s just attack the biggest battle, “Henry, KEEP YOUR MOUTH OFF OF EVERYTHING!’ after a while the message sunk in and I think we only had to disinfect his mouth half a dozen times… k not really.

Deodorant… clean, fresh, eco, EXPENSIVE!

Aug
07

I finally found a deodorant that isn’t full of aluminum and actually makes your sweat (as is inevitable in Phoenix in June) smell so nice. Like a fresh breaze from a forest or some kind of pristine lake.

K – I’m not kidding. They did not pay me to say this – the whopping $75 came out of my own pocket and I think I am onto something. I normally wouldn’t recommend anyone spending that kind of dough on such a thing, but If you are the kind of person who does so on perfume, lotions or such, then consider this your summer perfume – with a bonus.

I’m a first (and only generation) hippie-chick and love the smell of patchouli. But after the birth of my son my nose or chemistry, or both, changed and I couldn’t wear patchouli anymore. So I tried Kiss My Face peaceful patchouli deodorant for a little dose of patchouli without the “whole” wave of it.And for awhile it worked. But then, things changed again and the deodorant stopped working and WOW! What an aroma that was – patchouli plus sweat, in Phoenix, in June – YIKES! Blech.

I had to find something fast. Which is where Sisely’s eud de campagne came in.

At Saks Fifth Avenue one hot and sticky afternoon a non-plused Sisely rep, Yvette, suggested I try their new deodorant.  I was a little embarrassed to try it on, under there, my armpits in Saks. But then again, if you know me, you know I get past that stuff pretty quickly. Besides Yvette was insistent. She rocks.

Aaaahhhh… it was clean, fresh, crisp – made my fresh from the gym body feel clean, fresh and crisp (mostly). I was sold.

I didn’t look at the price until she asked for my money. I swallowed hard and briefly debated what to do. But I was too in love with it (and a little too sheepish) to say “no thanks” at this point. I mean I’d sprayed $75 deodorant on my armpits in Saks and now I’m embarrassed….

So I said the heck with it and handed Yvette my cash.

I tossed it in my Flipped Bird bag – I may have spent a fortune on deodorant but I’m still going green when I can – so no bag, no tissue! I got in my car and sprayed my pits with abandon. The smell was divine! Seriously!

I still had to make a couple of stops on my way home, and although I was in my workout clothes, I knew I smelled okay. Someone even asked me what I perfume I was wearing.

I smelled great!

I was sold. This new deodorant works and I LOVE knowing the ingredients are herbs and botanical oils – all good stuff. But I was also feeling good knowing that Sisley helps women with cancer feel good by helping them look good…

Support for the organisation la Vie de plus belle , that offers skincare and make-up workshops in hospitals for women suffering from cancer.

and seeing women feeling good because they look good, feels good no matter what language or country it’s in.

So when the heat’s gotten to be too much, splurge on yourself. Your psyche and pits will love you for it.

~BjW

BJ Walker, the Blogger, Journalist, Writer

Jul
21

Well for anyone who may have been wondering about my blog’s name, there it is, mostly. Professionally, in all my writing I have almost always gone with the name that most everyone knows me by: Barbi Walker, but I’ve been struggling since graduating with what and how to blog. And as I’ve said in a previous post this is a play on words & my initials. Sort of like Arianna Huffington and her Huffington Post.

The idea was given to me by my former professor, Adam Klawonn, who was my editor at “The Zonie Reoprt” where I blogged about Arizona news.  At the time blogging and the public journalist were just becoming a force the journalism world had to recognize. When I graduated from J-School there were immense changes in the industry and I never made the transition to blogging on my own about news.

Which brings me to why I am writing this post.

I was in limbo about blogging, journalism and writing without the direction from a seasoned reporter, editor or professor. I felt lost.

Fortunately I found a freelance writing job with “Green Living AZ” magazine, where my patient and helpful editor, Tishin Donkersley, gave me direction and opportunity. I can happily now call myself a journalist.

But I was still confused about my role as a blogger, I felt that I needed to blog as a writer/journalist. I wanted to blog, but I felt I needed to blog about something news related (the journalist is strong in this one). That my blog was supposed to be about something, a common idea, thread, blah, blah, blah. I’ve sat down so many times to write “what this blog is about” and in a few short days stop writing and losing interest.

There are numerous unsuccessful blogs out there and I didn’t want to be one of them! I’m an overachiever and work hard when I have a project or goal. But I wasn’t doing this with my writing and began to give up on all of my craft.

Then came the JK Rowling article. I was inspired. I thought. I blogged. I was happy but still didn’t know where I was going with my blog. Was it going to be an eco-journalist blog? A personal diary of my attempt to unclutter my life? Or maybe where I tracked, brainstormed and edited my novel? I even toyed with the idea of a personal journal of sorts, but happily journalists are taught that our thoughts and opinions aren’t to be included in our stories. Plus I honestly didn’t want to blog about my experiences, I get bored just listening to myself (as I am sure readers would too!). So I was still in limbo.

Until yesterday.

As I ran around doing my errands I thought about how I don’t journal or write much because I hadn’t found a system that worked for me. I love my weathered journal for notes and thoughts etc., but I didn’t like sitting down to “write” in it. I like technology, let me rephrase, I LOVE technology! I like writing on a computer ~ it feels like I am a writer when I sit down and write on it.

Now you may be thinking, well ding-dong, just write in a Word Doc. I’ve done that – but I find the excitement and accountability of “publishing” something I’ve written magnified thinking others can read it. I have so many thoughts and story ideas that I want to work on but they get lost since I don’t put them somewhere.

So I thought, why not just use my blog for THAT? Umm, well… sheesh, I don’t know. Let me think about that some more.

I did.

Then I got a text from my long time, dear friend, Elizabeth, asking if I had a minute to talk. She was on break from her intensive yogi training. I promptly called her.

She is more sister than friend, she has inspired me numerous times, counseled me and challenged me to question things. I respect her immensely.

We talked. I told her what I was ruminating about. She said the blogs and stories she loves most are the ones where the writer is fully engaged in telling the story. The stories the writer is passionate about.  I told her what I really wanted to do with my blog:  Blog about stuff I like or find interesting, Journal about my thoughts, insights or ruminations and Write my novel and short stories. To use it as a central holding pen for all of the above. I told her I didn’t do that because I was worried of what I should be doing with my blog.

She said three things that resonated with me :).

“You need a place to hone your craft.” This is true, I need a place to practice my writing (writers need to write every day), to strengthen my writing and blogging would be a great tool.

“When you find something you are passionate about you will make time to do it.”  This is the second truism. I was excited all day to sit down at my computer and to  write about our eye-opening conversation, about my love of a certain hair product (I even wanted to take pics!), my thoughts and research for upcoming travel – I was giddy and bubbly with itchy typing fingers!

But what stuck with me the most was this:

“Barbi, I’ve always thought of you as fearless and when you want to do something, you do it regardless if others say you can’t.” That is me IN A NUTSHELL. But I had been so afraid of doing my blog my way because it isn’t “how you are supposed to blog” or be a journalist that I wasn’t doinganything.

When Elizabeth said that, I thought, who cares if my blog isn’t “normal”? It’s a blog, it’s mine and I can do whatever I want with it. And what I really want to do with it is make it a one-stop shopping place for my writing. It’s what I really want to do, it will improve my writing and journalist skills andit’s me.

Thank you Elizabeth. Thank you for being such a solid force in my life, I love you.

And to you dear reader, if you have gotten this far, Thank you! Thank you for your interest and your patience, because if I don’t think about you, my writing, my research, my ideas aren’t doing what I want them to do. This blog may be “my personal” place to think, write and practice, however, I think about you, the reader, as I write.

I welcome your feedback, your thoughts and your insight, because when I write for me, I also write for you.

Cheers,

~BjW

Living in Other Countries

Jul
15

Living and pretending abroud.

Never. Wish I had. Always looking for ways to get out of here….

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JK Rowling saved a writer

Jul
15

Well I have to say I have no idea what I am doing, other than, well writing (and blogging I guess). I started this blog and a few others for some ungodly reason (well I have them but meh…) and haven’t done much with any of them. I’ve had some nagging thoughts, which are fast becoming headaches since I’ve ignored them all to long, about my blogs.

So here’s the scoop: This page is dedicated to blogging. Sound ridiculous? Yeah well, to me too, but bear with me. I created this blog as a play on letters of my name. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to blog or write or journal under my byline name, plus I was trying to be clever (not always a good idea) but either way my thought was to have a site where I blogged, reported newsy/newsworthy stuff (journalist) and wrote (not sure the difference really – maybe my fiction and tragic poetry, who knows.

Either way, I’ve been stumped and stopped about this whole thing that I almost got writer’s block. Then worse, I stopped calling myself a writer and then the world got black. My enthusiasm for my freelance writing at Green Living AZ dulled. My green thinking turned to green envy at my friend, Becca, who is new to blogging and is blogging away like nobody’s business on . I poured over “ways to blog” and “don’t make the same mistake I made blogging” sites and e-books.

I felt hopeless, lost. If I’m not a writer then what or who am I?

But then my husband (and biggest supporter) handed me an article on JK Rowling and the last series in the “Harry Potter  books. I’m no JK Rowling, not by a LOOOONGGGG shot, but a girl can dream right? A writer can aspire to be like her, right? Especially when Rowling has such an underdog’s story, was born the same year I was and, well, used her initials to create a new identity to sell books. I could be like her right? At least until I read the last paragraph, the closer, the clincher of the article:

Ever since she finished “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2007, Ms. Rowling has given tantalising hints of future ventures. Now Pottermore, a website that goes live on July 31, has been announced as the sole source for electronic downloads of the Harry Potter books, as well as any prospective future texts. Still only 45, Rowling seems ready to step up her game. From Dickens, with his 20 novels, she must know that what a writer does is write.

“…she must know that what a writer does is write.” 

This phrase scared the shit out of me. I wasn’t doing that, not much at all. In fact I was feeling no “what a writer does is write” kind of thing. I started feeling really dark, really lost. But I also thought a lot about that phrase, about her and her being rejected 12 times by London publishers, according to the Walls Street article.  I even thought of the article’s writer, Norman Lebrect, whose talented and well choosen words hit home on such an important day for me.

I also thought about my newly blogging friend and her beautiful writing exposing her scars for all to read. She’s brave. She’s capable of writing her thoughts and experiences in a humorous and thoughtful way. She, my friend Becca, inspires me in her blog, Team Hope Chest to get up and write and to quite whining about not doing it right or whatever I may be thinking. Her posts inspire me to “just do.”

I also thought about my husband Paul and his faith in me and what I do. Sheesh even he has a blog, albiet, waaaay off the kind of stuff I read, but he just writes what he needs to and moves on.

And then I thought, who cares what I have to say, who cares if I “do it wrong” ? I don’t, not anymore. I’m not even afraid of the Big Bad Big Brother Eagle Eye in cyberspace clocked wolf’s clothing reading my shit. In fact if no one ever reads it I am okay with that too. And I mean that in the nicest way possible, really, because I have something to say, a lot really, and I’m tired of letting all my thoughts go to waste. Because I’m a writer and that’s what writers do, we write.

Flipped for Flipped Bird

Jun
30

Even in Hawaii the Flipped Bird has a presence, albeit a presence of one, but does it really matter? I say “No” because that is how word of mouth travels even if it has to cross the Pacific Ocean to do it (remember “Finding Nemo” – okay if you have a child under the age of 10).

Anyway, to my lost point is this: the girls at the Coach Store on Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki, HI – the equivalent of Madison Ave in NYC, all know who Flipped Bird is and honestly, I think it is only a matter of time before this uber cool tote/bag takes flight to destinations unknown. And you know what? This is what the American Dream is all about. The American Dream is eco-friendly because it involves a local entrepreneur who uses their influence and connections to perpetuate a good or service to others. The American Dream usually starts in a backyard similar to yours or a basement or garage. And yes, sometimes in the very end, the local company goes BIG TIME and markets around the globe, and you know what? We should Flippin’ Be Happy for that American Dreamer who did it!

And in this case this is one American Dreamer who not only is working the dream, but is also giving back to her community. Flipped Bird recently made a special (I say commemorative) bag for a local friend and sister-gal-pal in pink ribbons “my boobs tried to kill” breast cancer survivor chick who, as it happens, is doing the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. Team Hope Chest received  20% of the proceeds from these adorable, festive bags.

Now that’s something to “Feel Good” about!

So I say: “Marci – you go girl! And thank-you for giving me a simple piece of fashion to just Be Flippin’ Happy to carry around :)”

~BjW

 

Negative Feedback

May
06

I am just checking to see if all the negative feedback on Apple’s App page about the WordPress app are accurate.

So far I am not having any of the issues the majority of posters/users are complaining about.

My app opened perfectly on my iPhone, all of my posts are there, everything is working as needed. I’ll finish by “posting” and see what happens.

My Biggest Challenge Right Now

Apr
25

Time (management) is not on my side.

Time management & prioritizing what I need to do. Lately I'm just horrible at it.

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