Stones Into Schools, I’m Reading Now

Stones Into Schools

Stones Into Schools

We met Dr. Greg last night! I was so excited to meet him, that my very patient husband and I waited in line for over an hour to have our copy of his new book signed. It was worth the wait! Our local bookstore, Warwicks, along with several other local groups organized an evening with the best selling author of Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson. His latest book, Stones Into Schools, was released on December 1, 2009. After reading Three Cups of Tea this past summer, I was eager to read Greg’s new book. Stones Into Schools picks up where Three Cups of Tea left off in his journey to promote peace.

There are several things that I took away from the presentation and book signing event yesterday evening. First of all, hearing Greg speak and meeting him in person reinforced his message for me. Change is not created by addressing the negative, it is inspired by hope. And in this case, the hope for peace specifically.

Three Cups of Tea: One Mans Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

He spoke specifically about the subtitle of his first book. And talked about why the subtitle reads “one man’s mission to promote peace…” and not “one man’s mission to fight terrorism…”. What I also appreciated about meeting Greg in person is that I got to fully experience his brand. Let me explain. If you have read the books you know that Greg is a modest and often quiet person. He is not one to place emphasis on the material things in life and he does not particularly take pleasure from the sales aspect of his profession. Hearing him speak last night I took note of his mannerisms and appearance. He was dressed nicely but he did not dress the part of a well polished business person in a well tailored suit. That just isn’t part of the Greg Mortenson brand. Nor should it be, after all this is a man who gives tirelessly and selflessly to a higher cause. His work has been so influential that his books are now required reading for many military personnel and he has even recently been nominated for a Noble Peace Prize.

Image from Three Cups of Tea, Greg reading to school children

Image from Three Cups of Tea, Greg reading to school children

But appearances aside, the biggest illustration of the Greg Mortenson brand is the smile that he is always wearing and his strong bond with children. At last night’s event there was a group of school children in the front row. The children had raised over $2,500 for Greg’s Pennies for Peace organization. You could tell by the way that he spoke to and involved the children in his presentation that he truly does draw strength and inspiration from working with kids.

I also appreciated his message that we all can make a difference in our communities, and that there has been a bigger movement in recent years to make our communities a better place. One such example that he gave was about an 11 year old boy from Florida who created a non-profit called The Little Red Wagon Foundation. He raised thousands dollars to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness among kids in his city. Next year he plans to walk across the country to raise a million dollars to bring awareness to the issue across the country. He sounds like a truly remarkable kid.

Me with Greg Mortenson in La Jolla

Me with Greg Mortenson in La Jolla

When I finally got to meet Greg at the book signing, it was well worth the wait. I shared with him that as someone from Montana, I also appreciated hearing about his time in Montana as well. Even though it was almost 10pm and the line was still hours long behind us, he took the time to shake our hands and make us feel important. I think that is the charm of Dr. Greg, he has a calmness to him and an ability to connect with people on a very basic level. And in these days where we are all rushing from place to place and communicating mostly in digital worlds, Dr. Greg reminds us of the importance to actually spend time with people in person and build relationships. Thanks Dr. Greg, for all that you do.

Oh, and my apologies to the Warwicks crew, we told them we wanted to have my husband take a non-posed picture of Greg signing my book for me (posed pictures were not allowed), and somehow it turned into a posed photo. My face turned so red, I felt like I was breaking the rules! Sorry Warwicks! But while we are on that note, I have to say that Susan McBeth and her team that helped organize last night’s event are owed a huge round of thank yous for a fantastic evening. Here are the links to buy the books from Warwicks, as of last night they still had some signed copies of the children’s book Listen to the Wind, you may want to contact them to see what signed copies they might have left:

Stones Into Schools (hardcover)

Three Cups of Tea (paperback)

Three Cups of Tea- Young Readers Version (paperback)

Listen to the Wind (children’s edition of Three Cups of Tea)


Bubbles and Nibbles at Hotel Solamar

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion

We attended Slow Food Urban San Diego’s August Mixer Farm-to-Bar Cocktails & Book Event last Wednesday at the LOUNGEsix at Hotel Solamar. The event showcased the farm-to-table cuisine of Chef Christian Graves of Jsix Restaurant and the launch of local food writer Maria Hunt‘s new cocktail book, The Bubbly Bar.

From an event planning standpoint, I was impressed. Not only did the event draw me to purchase a book that I might not have otherwise heard of, it also introduced me to a great organization, Slow Food Urban San Diego (SFUSD). The event produced by SFUSD appeared to promote the not only the event’s host, venue and the book, but also a local bookstore, and a set of other participating companies such as alcohol distributors.

bubblyThe event was free to attend and included samples of 3 select cocktails from the book as well as tasty seasonal bites from the JSix kitchen. We got a autographed copy of the book for $20, which also included 3 full size cocktails. I have to say, I had no idea just how many things you can mix with sparkling wine. We tasted the 3 cocktails showcased at the event, which were all very different. I most enjoyed the Lava Lamp, which had sparkling wine mixed with PAMA Pomegranate liqueur.

It’s always fun to discover new venues and events, but even more fun to take in a well organized and apparently successful event.


Babycakes NYC in San Diego

cookbookcover-smallLast night I attended the book signing and talk with Erin McKenna, founder of the famous NYC bakery BabyCakes NYC, at Warwicks in La Jolla, CA. Rarely do I actually read a whole cookbook in one sitting, but last night I found myself fascinated by her healthy recipes for cupcakes, muffins, cookies and other sweets. All of her recipes are Vegan, most are gluten-free, and all are free of refined sugar. She created the recipes in her newly released cookbook, BabyCakes, in the hopes of creating healthy alternatives to traditional sweets recipes, and due to her own wheat, dairy and sugar sensitivities. Fortunately, I do not have any food allergies, but I am fascinated by the idea that a cupcake can be made without butter and milk and still be tasty enough to win New York Magazine’s coveted Best Cupcake Award in 2006. I’m off to start experimenting, let the baking begin! Oh, and for those of us on the west coast, Erin talked about a new bakery that will be opening in downtown Los Angeles very soon. Road trip!

Erin McKenna and her new fan, Ali

Erin McKenna and her new fan, Allison

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