Things to Do in Boston
Boston is not only a visually stunning city, it is also home to the Red Socks, Beer and Lobster!

The city of Boston is one of my “second” homes. From historical battle fields, to Irish pubs, a mix of colonial and modern architecture, the fusion of blue collar values and lofty academics leaves me feeling relaxed and welcomed. The city is smaller than most capital cities and boasts a host of unique neighborhoods. It’s more intimate than it’s rival New York, and  it’s easy to escape for those dreaming of New England sea coast villages or the mountain wilderness of New Hampshire and Vermont.

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Boston is where my mother’s family is from, where I went to school, it’s where all of my best friends live, it’s my first stop during any trip home, and it’s one of those places you could spend years exploring and never really figure it all out.

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Bostonians are proud and loyal, with good reason. The city can lay claim to the nation’s oldest public park, first public library, first subway system, the first public school and as you will see everywhere the key role the city and its loyalists played in the American Revolution. I get asked over and over where to go and what to do in Boston. Here are 5 Uniquely Bostonian things you should do on your next visit to Boston.

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The Freedom Trail

Boston Freedom Trail
The Old Boston State House

This is perhaps the most quintessential Boston tourist activity you can do. However, just because it’s popular doesn’t mean its not worth it. The Freedom Trail is a walking introduction to Colonial Revolutionary Boston. The trial brings walkers on a tour through the historic past of the city, covering 16 colonial sites over the course of 2-3 hours. The sites are connected by a red brick path serving as a guide through the city. At over 2.5 miles the trail combines museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond.

You can take a self-guided tour or one of the many tours available through the Boston Common Visitors Center at 148 Tremont Street or the Bostix Booth located at Faneuil Hall. I prefer to walk, but you can also take trolleys that allow you to get on and off.

Oh, and stick around Faneuil Hall for some historic touristy shopping. Don’t forget to stop by my uncle’s bar, The Ames Plow Tavern for a beer and a reminder of what the area used to be like when it was an agricultural marketplace. Have a look at the bar and you’ll see pictures of my great grandfather and his blacksmith shop.

Fenway Red SoxCatch a Red Sox Game

Fenway park is not only the oldest baseball park in the United States, but the Boston Red Sox are the best baseball team. Well, OK, I might be slightly biased, but it is hard to imagin coming to Boston and not experiencing a night at Fenway. The fans are loyal (when we win), loud (all the time), and the sausages and beer are excellent (if overpriced). During and after the games is when you will get to the heart and soul of any Bostonian. Buy a ticket well in advance as games are almost always sold out, or test your luck with the scalpers lining the road to the stadium.

At the very least park yourself on a bar stool at one of the thousands of bars across the city during a game and you will see what true passion, and bitterness is all about.

North End

The North End is Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood with people living there since the 1630s. The area has gone through many face lifts and demographic shifts, from the wealthiest segment of Boston, to the first community of freed slaves, to mostly Irish, to a major Jewish center, and finally in the 20th century the center of the Italian American Community. If you are hungry this small 1/2 square mile area boasts over 100 small authentic Italian restaurants.

Your walk along the Freedom Trial will take you through the North End, so don’t forget to save room for Italian cannoli, a tour through the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s House.

Drink Beer

Sam Adams Brewery Tour

Beer, check. Beer, check. Beeeer, chick. bRRRR, hick...up

Ok, to be fair I would give this advice anywhere in the world. But Boston sports two of my favorite small scale breweries, Samuel Adams and Harpoon. These two classic American Breweries will have you laughing in the face of anyone who tries to convince you that American Beer taste like water. Rich in flavor, and steeped in history they will also knock you on your ass if you drink too many.

The Samuel Adams Brewery offers a tours with a tasting afterward for a suggested donation of $2. Tours run weekdays and weekends but fill up quickly and tickets are only available in person.  Harpoon Brewery has a free tasting on Weekdays and a $5 Weekend tour with a tasting afterward.

Eat Seafood

Nothing quite says New England cuisine like a large helping of seafood. From fresh lobsters, to New England Clam Chowder (psst that’s the white one), to raw oysters, you can not leave Boston without diving into the Atlantic ocean. You will find no end to places to eat lobster, which come boiled or steamed, with a fashionable plastic bib, drawn butter for dipping, a nutcracker for the claws and a pick for the legs. Eating lobster can be an expensive proposition and they are sold by the pound with market prices changing everyday. Personally, I’m a clam chowder and crab cake kind of a guy.

There are too many great fresh seafood restaurants to name them all. While my favorites are simple shacks in the small coastal towns near Boston, if you are in the city you can’t go wrong with Legal Sea Foods. Go to the one near Long Wharf and you can stroll along the water before or after dinner and watch the seals for free just outside of the Boston Aquarium.

Of course there is plenty of truly unique Bostonian adventures to be had in this culturally packed little city. We would love to hear your own recommendations.

Photo Credit 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Golden Bridge

Hmmmm, I think it might be a bridge. That's the only hint you get

Update:

The winner is Jerick…who guessed, Si-o-Seh Bridge in Esfahan, Iran!

Thanks again to Glenn and his great travel blog. Here’s what he had to say:

This is the Si-o-Seh Bridge (or Bridge of 33 Arches). Built some 400 years ago, it is one of the most romantic bridges of the world. Iranians love to stroll along the bridge and linger beneath the arches to sing, recite poetry, or watch the river flow by.

Jerick gets the prize this week. So check out Jerrick’s Blogging in Brussels and find out about his new plans for a travel blog.

Welcome to the weekly Where in the World? Travel Photo Contest! We have a great list of travel photos and bloggers lined up to challenge your world travel knowledge each and every Friday.

If you’re new or never bothered to actually read what I write, each week I post a beautiful picture (at least I think so) either from a featured travel blog guest (see below for details on how to guest post) or from my own travels and you guess where it is. Due to the popularity of featuring other travel bloggers I plan to hot other peoples travels and photos for as log as there is interest (get in touch!).

This week’s photo comes from Glenn over at Diaries of a Vagabond Couple, you’ll have to check out his site to find out who the second part of the couple is.

The first person to guess where this picture was taken (Country, City AND Name!) will win a link back to their blog and all the fame and glory associated! We still don’t have a winner from last week so we are trying to see who came closest :)

Leave your guess and recent post in the comment section below (comment luv should take care of the second part).

Yes, the prizes heavily favor the blogging and travel geeks amongst us. If you don’t have a website, then leave your favorite website or better yet a charity that deserves attention. Good luck!

Guesses aside, all comments are welcome!

Let’s invite as many people as possible! Please consider tweeting or sharing on Facebook

Be a Guest Photographer

If you’re looking to help increase the visibility of your blog, drive more traffic, or just share your pretty pictures then why not be a guest photographer for Photo Contest Friday on Todd’s Wanderings! This is no longer as new feature as we have had 5 weeks of guest posters and have the next 3 weeks filled already!

If you’re interested in having your photograph featured then send me an e-mail through my Todd’s Wanderings Contact Page with the Subject line: Photo Contest Friday. Don’t forget to tell me which site your coming from and I’ll be in touch and explain how to send the photo. Keep in mind that your photo should be awesome!

The photograph should be your own and should have a few small clues in the photo to help the reader out if they’ve never been there (no, I don’t follow this last rule myself all the time…but it’s my website). I’ll link to your page and talk you up as the guest poster. I can be very flattering when I want to be.

Oh, and it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. You should be an independent travel blogger. I love helping the little guy…or gal.

Todd's Wanderings Blog Party

Tell us who you are and meet other world travelers

We haven’t had a Blog Party (think Block Party without the pony and clowns) here on Todd’s Wanderings for a while so its time to get to know each other better. There is beer further down, keep reading…honest… One of the greatest things about having a blog is being able to connect with so many people around the world. I want to extend the opportunity to you.

So, what is a Blog Party?

That’s a great question! Basically it’s a chance to tell us who you are, what you do, and where we can find you. It’s a way for us to meet each other, discover areas where we connect, learn new perspectives on life, travel, doing good, or whatever.

What you need to do.

Wait! Don’t go, I promise, no heavy lifting. Just introduce yourself with your name, what you like to do in life (ie how you travel, what you’re passionate about, number of piercings…), and any projects you’re working on at the moment. Now for the self-promotion part: leave your blog address and twitter name (use http:// so the link comes through) so that we can all find you again, if you have them that is.

I’m looking forward to learning more about you. Don’t be shy, and feel free to respond to each other in your comments or even post something up on Todd’s Wanderings Facebook Page.

I’ll go first by giving you a peak into what is going on with me at the moment.

1) Still working for the UN doing conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Kosovo;

2) An ebook I have been developing through Lonely Planet (yeah you read that correct) with 40 other travel bloggers is almost ready to launch. Its called “Around the World with 40 Lonely Planet Bloggers.

3) I’m almost finished with the Hiking Guide to Dragash, Kosovo. It launches in the Spring;

4) My main Travel Book on hiking the 88 Temple Shikoku Pilgrimage Japan is 2/3 of the way done…but going slow at the moment while I get the other project finished.

5) I launched a new blog, Travel Blog Challenge. It’s a community experiment to prove if a Travel Blog can bring in a stable online income.

It’s as simple as that, although feel free to skip the list and describe in detail. For the record I used to have two piercings :)

And if you are feeling overly generous I’d love for you to give your feedback on my quick 2 minute survey so that I can help make Todd’s Wanderings even bigger and better. I’d really appreciate hearing what you think of Todd’s Wanderings.

Take Todd's Wanderings Feedback Survey

Don't feel pressured to take my Survey....

Hi readers, this is a different type of post. I’m not going to tell you anything, I’m actively resisting the urge to teach, amuse with my banjo twanging wit (whoops), or captivate you with my snarky satirical surprisingly smooth storytelling (damn it!).

I want to know what you think! I want to know what you most enjoy about Todd’s Wanderings and what you want more of. I’m here to indulge your whims (not really), answer your questions (if I can), and leave you feeling refreshed and energetic after exploring the world. In short, I want to you to take my Todd’s Wanderings Survey to Beat all Polls (click the link or see below). Sounds exciting and contentious, doesn’t it!

Help Make Todd’s Wanderings (more?) Awesome

On a more serious note, this is very important. With your help I’m planning to change Todd’s Wanderings into a Purple Cow. I want to stand out in the travel writing, adventure seeking, love my life it hurts blogging community. I want you to be itching to see what is going on here, desperate like a monkey addicted to crack bananas to implement by lifestyle strategies, and the hero of the bar as you conveniently (wink wink) replace my name with yours and enthrall the other drunks around you with tales of adventure and lust from around the world.

New Blog Movie Trailer for Todd’s Wanderings

Because I know that surveys can be boring here is the latest movie for Todd’s Wanderings. You can take the survey after you watch it. Hopefully it will put you in a good mood before you take the survey ;)

Take the Survey (it only takes 2 minutes)

(scroll up and down, use the arrow keys to move, or just hit the Tab key to move the survey down)

Travel Photo Contest

There are a ton of clues in this picture if you just look hard enough.

UPDATE: The “Winner” is coming soon. No one got this spiritual place so Arti is deciding who was closest distance wise. Come back shortly.

Welcome to the weekly Travel Photo Contest! We have a great list of travel photos and bloggers lined up to challenge your world travel knowledge each and every Friday.

If you’re new or never bothered to actually read what I write, each week I post a beautiful picture (at least I think so) either from a featured travel blog guest (see below for details on how to guest post) or from my own travels and you guess where it is. Due to the popularity of featuring other travel bloggers I plan to hot other peoples travels and photos for as log as there is interest (get in touch!).

This week’s photo comes from Arti and her wonderful India Travel Blog My Yatra Diary.

The first person to guess where this picture was taken (Area AND Place!) will win a link back to their blog and all the fame and glory associated! Yes, we all know it will be INDIA, but where????? A big congratulations to Justin who one last weeks contest by knowing the Medusa statue in the underground Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, Turkey.

Leave your guess and recent post in the comment section below (comment luv should take care of the second part).

Yes, the prizes heavily favor the blogging and travel geeks amongst us. If you don’t have a website, then leave your favorite website or better yet a charity that deserves attention. Good luck!

Guesses aside, all comments are welcome!

Let’s invite as many people as possible! Please consider tweeting or sharing on Facebook

Be a Guest Photographer

If you’re looking to help increase the visibility of your blog, drive more traffic, or just share your pretty pictures then why not be a guest photographer for Photo Contest Friday on Todd’s Wanderings! This is no longer as new feature as we have had 5 weeks of guest posters and have the next 3 weeks filled already!

If you’re interested in having your photograph featured then send me an e-mail through my Todd’s Wanderings Contact Page with the Subject line: Photo Contest Friday. Don’t forget to tell me which site your coming from and I’ll be in touch and explain how to send the photo. Keep in mind that your photo should be awesome!

The photograph should be your own and should have a few small clues in the photo to help the reader out if they’ve never been there (no, I don’t follow this last rule myself all the time…but it’s my website). I’ll link to your page and talk you up as the guest poster. I can be very flattering when I want to be.

Oh, and it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. You should be an independent travel blogger. I love helping the little guy…or gal.

Why you need travel insuranceSince I married I have become a lot more responsible, and travel insurance has become a priority. I travel  (a lot) and protecting my trips, my family, and my bank account are now a priority. It’s no secret I have put myself in some…um…compromising situations. From getting hit by a hurricane while out to sea off the Vietnamese cost, stuck in the middle of a Thailand lake in a metal open air boat during a thunder and lightening storm,  getting hit by a car in Japan (OK and Laos), to getting $500 stolen from my room in Sri Lanka. When you step out of your house Sh$# can happen and that’s why I recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance.

Simple and Flexible

You can always extend your policy while you are away.

I like World Nomads and have a lot of respect for their product and for the fact they provide one of  the fairest deals for independent travelers. You can buy, extend and claim online even after you’ve left home. Recommended by Lonely Planet, World Nomads travel insurance is available to people from over 150 countries and is designed for adventurous travelers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

Travel insurance is not just to protect you if you get hurt and need to be hospitalized. It can protect you in the case of lost or stolen luggage and personal effects, trip cancellation, personal liability,  emergency dental treatment and evacuation back to your country of residence., or even the lost of your laptop or Ipad…gasp!

When choosing any travel insurance the best advice I can give is READ THE POLICY WORDING CAREFULLY. The last thing you want to is think you are covered and then find out later your not because of a stupid technicality. So, take a break, get out the coffee and read through the fine print.

A Few Travel Tips from World Nomads

Here are a few things to consider when choosing your insurance to make sure that you will be covered on your adventure:

  • Cancellation: It’s no fun if you fall ill before you leave and can not go on your trip. To claim though, you have to buy your insurance policy when you buy your trip. Not all insurance policies cover cancellation, so please read the policy wording relevant to you carefully.
  • Lost or Stolen Gear: most travel insurance policies have a per-item value limit – make sure its high enough to cover your gear or choose a policy that allows you to increase the limit.
  • Medical expenses over and above evacuation: check that your cover includes emergency treatment while away and transport to bring you home – remembering that insurance providers will usually insist on getting you home as soon as you are fit enough to travel.
  • Adventurous Activities: look carefully at what your policy covers – you may find that you are not covered to do all of the adventurous activities that you are planning while you’re away.
  • Personal Liability: Accidents happen. If it’s found to be your fault and someone decides to sue you, you want to be covered.
  • Is it safe to go there? Make sure you check the your Government’s Travel Warnings and keep up to date with the latest travel safety advice on the road. You may not be covered if you choose to go to a place affected by war, terrorism, civil unrest or environmental disasters (like volcanoes, earthquakes, floods) and other major events where you may be at risk.

5 Things you Should Know about World Nomads

  1. Who can buy it?
    World Nomads Travel Insurance is available to residents of over 150 countries.
  2. What if I change my mind?
    Had a change of travel plans? Unlike other policies, World Nomads is flexible and allows you to extend your policy while you are still traveling.
  3. What activities are covered?
    World Nomads cover most adventure sports from bungee jumping in New Zealand to white-water rafting in Colorado.
  4. How do I buy it?
    You can only buy World Nomads policies online using a credit card. To start, please choose your country of residence.
  5. How do I make a claim?
    With World Nomads Travel Insurance you can claim online even if you are still traveling. And if you don’t entirely trust insurance companies, have a look at how World Nomads have helped some of their travelers.

If you have made it all the way down here than you must really love reading about insurance! When I’m not cover by my work travel World Nomads Insurance is what I use and what I used even before I decided to promote their product. If you buy travel insurance with World Nomads through Todd’s Wanderings you not only be protection yourselves but I will get a small commission and you can keep help keep the lights on.

Tout in Tokyo Red Light District Kabukicho

What is this guy doing on a weekday at noon?


As far as red light districts go, Tokyo’s Kabukicho near Shinjuku station is relativity tame. Unlike Amsterdam there are no pot houses (aka “coffee shops”), prostitutes are not for sale in windows like a pimped out version of a holiday display, and at only 600 square meters it’s not even that big. What Kabukicho lacks in overtness it makes up for in subtlety and uniqueness. I spent a day walking around during the day time, but come after 6 pm and the streets are packed with partying salary men showing business associates a “good time” and getting hammered. Sounds enticing doesn’t it.

What type of clubs exist in Kabukicho?

Kabukicho Red Light District Toky0

DVD and Peep shows seem to be a favorite the world over

The area is dominated by small drinking holes, DVD shops, peep holes, and host and hostess clubs that cater to lonely husbands and wives who need a little attention from well dressed, flirtatious professional conversationalists. If you are expecting the run of the mill strip club or sex club found in the west think again. Kabukicho caters almost exclusively to the Japanese and their unique passion for the stranger side of sexual fantasy. Clubs are often themed and filled with pretend secretaries, nurses, maids, dominatrices (well they might not be pretending), and any other fetish you can think of. There is naked karaoke, sex dolls for rent, reconstructed trains were you can group school girls (who are showing their age), and the eloquent “soap lands” where the ladies use “soap” to scrub you happy.

Be Careful

Love Hotel Japan Tokyo Kabukicho

A classy Love hotel in Kabukicho

Kabukicho is an interesting look into both a sexually liberated and restricted society. The strange tolerance of places like this, and the need for them is itself an interesting commentary on Japanese society. However, as with most sex districts in the world, criminals and crime syndicates pray on the drunken loneliness of the back ally visitors. Entrance fees can be hundreds of dollars and non-negotiable so don’t just pop in a place to check it out. Touts are on the streets selling themselves, their business or funneling the drunk and naive into holes in the wall.

A recent ordinance in Tokyo dictates that all sex clubs need to be closed by midnight (as opposed to closed in general!). Any open after midnight are sure to have protection by local gangs and should be avoided.

By the Numbers

This tiny area of Tokyo boasts over 300 sex shops, nearly 200 clubs, 80 love hotels, and hundreds of bars and restaurants. It is estimated that around 150,000 people pass through it each day. Whether you agree with it or not, it is an interesting facet of Japanese and Tokyo culture. My advice is check it ourtfor yourself, but leave early and enjoy the finer aspect of Japanese culture and society.

Have you been to Kabukicho? Curious?
Ancient Stone Face

She seems quite happy to have her face pressed to the floor. Where is she?

Update:

The winner is Justin…who guessed, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul Turkey!

Thanks again to Chirs and his great travel blog. Here’s what he had to say:

This is from the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul near Hagia Sophia. This underground cistern was built by the Romans under Emperor Constantine. After the Turkish conquered the city in the 1400s they did not discover the cistern for over 100 years until someone got suspicious why locals were able to fish from their basements. This particular picture is a column with a statue of Medusa at the base.

Justin gets the prize this week. So wander on over to Justin Was Here and let him know that your were There.

Welcome back to the Friday Photo Contest! We took a short break and but are back, are bigger than ever (not really) and we have a great list of travel photos and bloggers lined up for every Friday (that part is true).

If you’re new or never bothered to actually read what I write, each week I post a beautiful picture (at least I think so) either from a featured travel blog guest (see below for details on how guest post) or from my own travels and you guess where it is. Due to the popularity of featuring other travel bloggers I plan to hot other peoples travels and photos for as log as there is interest (get in touch!).

This week’s photo comes from Chris Christensen and his widely popular Amateur Traveler,  for those who love to travel.

The first person to guess where this picture was taken (Country, City AND Place!) will win a link back to their blog and all the fame and glory associated!

Leave your guess and recent post in the comment section below (comment luv should take care of the second part). The only hint you get is that this place is “hidden.”

Yes, the prizes heavily favor the blogging and travel geeks amongst us. If you don’t have a website, then leave your favorite website or better yet a charity that deserves attention. Good luck!

Guesses aside, all comments are welcome!

Let’s invite as many people as possible! Please consider tweeting or sharing on Facebook

Be a Guest Photographer

If you’re looking to help increase the visibility of your blog, drive more traffic, or just share your pretty pictures then why not be a guest photographer for Photo Contest Friday on Todd’s Wanderings! This is no longer as new feature as we have had 5 weeks of guest posters and have the next 3 weeks filled already!

If you’re interested in having your photograph featured then send me an e-mail through my Todd’s Wanderings Contact Page with the Subject line: Photo Contest Friday. Don’t forget to tell me which site your coming from and I’ll be in touch and explain how to send the photo. Keep in mind that your photo should be awesome!

The photograph should be your own and should have a few small clues in the photo to help the reader out if they’ve never been there (no, I don’t follow this last rule myself all the time…but it’s my website). I’ll link to your page and talk you up as the guest poster. I can be very flattering when I want to be.

Oh, and it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. You should be an independent travel blogger. I love helping the little guy…or gal.

This post is by Kay, who writes the K’s Kitchen section of Todd’s Wanderings. She also happens to be Todd’s lovely wife!

Japanese Seven Herbs Nanakusa Gayu Recipe

These are the Seven Herbs

This is a special and traditional dish that Japanese eat on January 7th with the wish to get rid of evil and bring health. Also, there is a connotation for resting your stomach after eating heavy and rich Osechi Meals over New Years. The porridge/congee is cooked with seven kinds of herbs: (Japanese parsley (seri); Shepherd’s purse (nazuna); Jersey Cudweed (gogyō); Common chickweed (hakobera); Henbit (hotokenoza); Turnip (suzuna); and Daikon (suzushiro).

They are seven herbs which represent spring. For your reference, there are seven leaves for autumn but they are for decoration not for cooking.

To be honest, this is not a very tasty and attractive dish as it is, but I like the significance of this custom and the idea to rest my stomach after eating a lot over new years. That being said, there is a period that I like to eat Porridge/congee, when I am sick. In the US and some countries, they tend to cook chicken soup when they are sick but Japanese tend to go for this porridge. In case you have not tried it when you are sick, this is the best dish to throw into your stomach and recover quickly when you don’t have appetite! We put these special herbs only for the Nanakusa Gayu, and normally eat the plain Porridge with some Japanese side-dishes, pickles, or plums (Umeboshi).

Ingredients (for 3-4 people)

  • How to Cook Japanese Porridge Nanakusa Gayu

    I love the green and white!

    Japanese Rice: 1 cup (Can be substituted with other sticky types of rice such as Thai). I use Macedonian rice in Kosovo which works perfectly!!

  • Water: 7 cups
  • Salt
  • 7 kinds of herbs (Seri, Nazuna, Gogyo, Hakobera, Hotokenoza, Suzuna, and Suzushiro- See the introduction paragraph for details). If you would like to make a plain porridge, you don’t need these herbs.

How to cook (cooking and preparation time: 40-50 min)

(1)  Wash rice and put in a pot with 7 Cups of water. Leave it for about 1 hour as it is.

(2)  Cook the rice in the pot for about 40min. Start the stove on medium and turn it down to low once the water starts boiling. If the water evaporates earlier than 40 min, that’s fine as long as the rice is cooked well.

(3)  Wash the herbs, cut them into small pieces, and put then in the pot. Cook for a few minutes, add salt, and leave the pot with the lid off after turning off the stove.

(4)  Serve in a bowl with some additional Japanese side-dishes /tsukemono as you like. Please see the reference below for pickles in case you would like to purchase them at the Asian Store.

Tips: The above recipe is cooking rice from scratch.  If you have some already cooked rice, you can also use it with 2-3 times more water than the amount of rice until the porridge looks like the one in the photo.

Japanese side dish to go with porridge/congee:

Tsukemono (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsukemono)

Umeboshi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umeboshi)

Tsukudani (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsukudani)

Curbed Tuna (Katsuobushi) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katsuobushi) with soy sauce

How did it go? What other Japanese dishes do you like?

Beautiful view of New Port RI

This is where I grew up...It is possible to live and work in beautiful places.

It’s difficult to imagine our perfect life. It is surprisingly harder than one would think at first. If you had the chance, could you do it? Could you design your perfect life? Lifestyle Design is a term created by Tim Ferris in his wildly popular The 4 Hour Work Week. I had never actually heard any about the Lifestyle Design World when I started blogging here at Todd’s Wanderings, even though I had already Designed my perfect life. The funny thing about designing your perfect life, is that it’s a non stop process, you are never done.

Freedom of  Time and Freedom of Location

I came to the conclusion during my Shikoku Pilgrimage that my ideal life was one of freedom, where I was free to engage in my passions, and following my interests. That led me to San Francisco, then Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka and currently Kosovo. I love my job as a conflict resolution and development worker. But I’m also now finding my passion in writing, blogging, and general entrepreneurship. I’ve decided that I want an even higher level of freedom than I currently have. I want to keep working in development but I want to be free to choose the projects and my hours. I had a taste of this before I took my current job, when I was consulting. I’ve also decided that I want freedom of location. I want to be free to live anywhere I want, to reside in Bali, visit my wife’s family in Japan, and spend extended amounts of time with my family in the US.

My Perfect Home

I could live here a few months every year!

Impossible you say? Only the rich could afford such a life? I disagree. True, it takes more financial freedom than most people enjoy, but it’s not impossible. Nothing is impossible. Well that’s not true, it would be impossible for me to listen to Lady Gaga for 24 hours straight.

Do What you Love

Many people assume that my current lifestyle is impossible. It’s not, and I’m living proof. I also like to take my own advice that we should Do What we Love and Love What we Do. I’m planning a manifesto on this concept that I will share with you in the near future. The overriding message is that you should be doing things in life that energize you and that fulfill you. But at times, on our road to our perfect life, we are sometimes forced to spend time doing things that are less than ideal. Even when were a this stage we can find something to love about our work and thus learn to be happy no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

My Secret Logical Weapon in Lifestyle Design

Last week my wife and I were dreaming about where we would go after Kosovo. This got us thinking about our perfect life, where we would like to live and  what we would like to do. Defining your ideal life is a powerful thing, because once you glimpse it, its difficult to let it go. As I thought more and more about my ideal life (yes, I will tell you what it is soon), I realized I had the tool to plan it all out.

In International Development we plan programs to change the way society interacts, to increase employment, to bolster the rule of law, and to convince waring parties to move to peace. This requires not only sophisticated levels of planning, but also ways to measure the impact of our work, or how we can prove that we were successful. To plan, and to evaluate we use something called a logical framework (one of the most hated and misunderstood tools in development!).

I’m a program designer and manager, it should be easy to use the same skills in designing my own ideal life.

Logical Frameworks and Designing your Life

Numerous books have been written on logical frameworks and how to use them correctly in development. However, I may be the first person to adapt this tool to the planning of our own lives (no, I have not even tried to research if I am or not). The concept is straight forward and the framework helps us to break down complex social engineering into…well…logical steps that are connected to each other. The progression builds from Actions (the things we do) to Outcomes (the things that result from the actions) to Goals (the ultimate thing we want). Each step is verifiable by Indicators that help us to know when we have achieved something.

Step 1- Define your ultimate Goal. What do you want to achieve? What is your perfect life?

Step 2- Define the Outcomes that allow you to reach your goal. What are the components in your life that will let you live the life you set out in the Goal above.

Step 3- Define the Actions needed to achieve each Outcome.

The important thing about planning with the Logical Framework is that you start from the top, from your ultimate goal, and then design the steps that lead there. Often in life we start at the actions, doing something just because it’s what we know, or is easy. By flipping the design process around we can more clearly see the steps we need to take.

Step 4- Include Indicators that prove you accomplished each step above. For the actions, it is a simple as where they done or not. For Outcomes it is a bit more tricky. If your Outcome is “work for myself” the indicator might be “Business registered, and earning x% of income per year.” The indicators for your ultimate Goal can be even more difficult to measure. But if your Goal is to Travel the World you indicator might be “X number of countries visited”.

So What is my Perfect Lifestyle?

If you read the first few paragraphs, and didn’t just skip down to the pretty diagram you’ll know that I want freedom of time and freedom of location that involves the ability to write, blog, be an unconventional businessman, and to continue with my development and conflict resolution career. Sounds greedy doesn’t it :)

Here is a simplified version of what I created for myself. The Goals and Outcomes are the originals but the Actions have been simplified to fit into the post!

How to Design your Perfect Lifestyle with Logical Frameworks

This is a simplified version of a Logical Framework. But this is exactly what I have design for myself.

If you want to design your own Lifestyle you can download my Lifestyle Design Logical Framework Template. If you like this approach or find it useful, a huge thanks in advance for sharing, linking on facebook, tweeting or applying any other type of social media magic.

These are my plans. Want to bet if I will make them happen? Uh? I’m confident that I can. The hardest step in determining your perfect life is not designing the actions. It’s finding out where you want to end up, and knowing that once you get there you might like to walk someplace else  in the future.

What are your goals? Where do you want to be? Let us know what your plans are!

Photo Credit 1, 2

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