Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cruising Connecticut has success in Florida!

I was intrigued with a series of programs at the Venice (Florida) library called "Booked for Lunch", where every Friday at noon, a different author talks about and signs their book. Without any forewarning, the marketer in me came out of vacation mode long enough to inquire about being part of the program, and next thing I knew, I was booked. Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket by Jan Mann was listed in the February calendar.

Because I was pretty sure a Florida audience would not be interested in hearing about all the great things there are to do in Connecticut, I chose a new topic, "7 Steps to a Perfect Picnic" including exciting new recipes to take home. And, what a surprise to learn that of the 35 attendees, slightly more than one-half had ties to Connecticut.

Best of all, everyone seemed to enjoy hearing about the different ways to plan and enjoy a picnic, along with tales about some of the more unique recipes and how they tied into the destinations in my book. For example, Joe's Jambalaya contributed by the Commission of Tailgating" featured in my Football Tailgating chapter, and Almond Macaroons, an 1873 recipe featured at Roseland Cottage during Henry Bowen's reign as "Mr. 4th of July." But, the ultimate joy for me was the amount of audience participation, a sure sign that people were not only paying attention, but interested in what I had to say.

My 7 steps are simple enough, well, at least the first six:

1. Keep Your Picnic Basket Ready to Go at all Times
2. Have a Plan
3. Pick a Location
4. Decide Who to Invite
5. Choose your Menu
6. Be Flexible

The most important step is No. 7: IT'S OKAY TO IGNORE STEPS 1-6. The point is this: Let's say you are lucky enough to wake up to a beautiful day and have the opportunity to get out and play. Of course, you don't have a plan, you can't think of where to go, you don't know if anyone is free, your picnic basket is not organized, and in fact, you can't even find your picnic basket. You don't have anything interesting to eat because you haven't been grocery shopping in a while, and even if you do have food in the house you don't feel like preparing it. We've all been there!

What to do? First of all, do not let any of the above details deter you. Simply make a sandwich and walk out the door, or stop at the market for a prepared sandwich, or the makings of a french picnic: a loaf of crusty bread, some good, hard cheese, and a bunch of grapes. Then, get in your car and drive. Keep an open, positive mind and chances are your car will take you to the best place for you to relax, enjoy a casual activity, or experience an over-the-top adventure, whatever you need to get rejuvenated at that particular time. Never get caught up in the details of the picnic if you don't have the time or inclination.

Remember, the simplest picnics are often the most perfect.