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March 19, 2010



Hi Leigh,

First, I hope you are feeling better on your bday!
Second, what a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday! I love this idea. Bravo!
Third, Happy Birthday. Hope your day is filled with many challenges for the benefit and betterment of others.

Be well,


Hi Leigh,
Happy birthday! I love this idea of celebrating your birthday by giving! They have a similar practice here, in the Czech Republic. When it's a person's birthday, they are the one arranging a big dinner, etc. A very different tradition to the one we have back home.

In honor of your birthday, I would like to ask if you would do a guest post for my blog, Czech Off the Beaten Path. It would be fun to work on a guest post with you!

Again, Happy Birthday--I hope you have a wonderful, magical, blessed day!
Sher :0)

Amy @ The Q Family

Happy Birthday, Leigh!!

What a great way to celebrate your birthday! I hope you have a wonderful and fulfilling years ahead of you.

So to help you with your birthday present, I would ask if we will meet up later when you are in Atlanta in the future. :)



This is brilliant! I'll think of something and get back to you about it.


What a fantastic idea! I have a strange request, but it's the sort of thing I'd really appreciate. I'd like you to write a letter - a proper, old-skool pen and paper job - to any friend or family member that lives overseas and you haven't contacted for too long. (Just make sure they live somewhere that receives post... unlike Cairo!)

Rachel O

Hi honey. Happy Birthday (tomorrow). I love reading your blog. It makes me feel reconnected to our youth and allows me to dream beautiful dreams for my future.

So here's my request -- You have such a vast network of people in your life. Can you help me find people who work in government or social services in Southern California? I have been looking for a job for nearly 9 months now and am feeling stuck and without a network of contacts. Any introductions you can make would be fantastic. I can share my resume if that would help.

Lots of love, from a fellow redhead.

Leigh Shulman

Thanks for the birthday wishes, Cher.

I'd love to work on a guest post together. Are you thinking you'd like to post on my blog? Mine on yours? Or something else entirely?

Let's talk more about it?

Leigh Shulman


This seems almost unfairly easy, because I already had it on my list of "to do" for the next time I come to Atlanta.

But I suppose being part of the birthday challenge means it's even more likely to happen.

I can't wait!!

Leigh Shulman

Excellent! I'll be waiting.

And thank you for tweeting, FBing and generally putting the word out there about this!

Leigh Shulman

What an amazing idea! Thank you, Nick.

I guess this falls under the category of you asking me to do something that is ultimately in my best interests?

I know just who I'll be writing, too. I have a friend who is in prison, and the only way I can get in touch with him is through letters.

Right before I left NYC to travel, I saw him, we had, well, it wasn't quite a falling out, but it was a particularly difficult visit.

Our relationship had always been intense -- as one would think when you have a friend in such a situation -- but it went completely over the top at that point.

I haven't written to him since then. Or at least, I haven't written and then actually sent the letter.

Now, I will. Thank you for this, Nick. It's something I've been meaning, trying, wanting to do for a long time. You've given me the extra impetus.

Oh, and Panama and Costa Rica also don't have mail service. Argentina? It does, but no one seems to be able to find our house.

Leigh Shulman

It would absolutely be my pleasure, Rachel.

I knew last year this time you were just starting to make contacts in LA and had some leads. I'm sorry to hear it's been a difficult year in that respect.

How about we e-mail or chat on Facebook and talk about some options?

Leigh Shulman

Thank you so much, Aye!

Also, I got your e-mail, too, and already replied. I am absolutely honored and touched by your compliments and good wishes.

Patti Woods

Happy Birthday! My request is: can you tell me about some of your favorite candy bars for my blog? (www.candyyumyum.net) And of course, this request would necessitate that you do plenty of research! :)

Trisha Miller

Absolutely brilliant idea, Leigh! I've been giving my parents gifts on my birthday for many years (after all, they did all the 'work') but I like this idea too - I will have to give this a go on my next birthday (I'm a fellow Pisces so it will be a while but will give me time to gear up for it).

What can you do for me? I'd love to have a guest blog post from you to publish at Travel Writers Exchange....no rush, on your timeline, we can chat about topics, something that you can get jazzed about writing.

And Happy Birthday!!

Lisa B

Happy Birthday, sweet Leigh. How about reading the latest incomplete revision of my book? Which I haven't worked in on months?


Hi Leigh. I always love reading your articles on Matador, but this is my first visit to your site. It's wonderful and this was the first article that I read.

So with that let me say a very Happy Birthday to you. This is such a unique and great way to celebrate, and Kiva is a great organization.

My request is pretty simple. I like to cook - can you share a recipe you've made or discovered while traveling? Something that represents the local cuisine, assuming the ingredients aren't impossible to get where I live (Edmonton, Canada).


Leigh, feliz cumpleanos! You're amazing, who would ever come up with such a noble cause on their birthday?!

I have something I'd like you to do for me as well - I'd like for you, Lila and Noah to spend a beautiful Sunday in Humahuaca, and have a awesome lunch at el Portillo.

It's an atmospheric restaurant/hostel with acoustic music on weekend nights. I loved the place and miss it so much, we had the best steak there (called Humahuaqueno al diablo). It's just 1hour away from Salta.

It's exactly what you deserve on your birthday - a great day out with your family in a gorgeous town enjoying good food. ;)

Lila Goose

I want to do to the movie theater and Neverland. Happy Birthday. Love. Lila


Happy birthday my sweet! As always... A wonderful way to celebrate your birthday. I request a long massage.

Love. Noah

Leigh Shulman

Hi Patti,

Is this candy from anywhere in the world? Because I'd have to say my favorite candy bars tend to be Irish. They sell the same brands in the US and other places, but they just taste so much better in Ireland.

Beyond that, I'll have to think about it, and perhaps send out a couple status updates and tweets to see what others have to say.

Leigh Shulman

I totally get that. I always say happy birthday to moms at kids' birthday parties.

As for a guest post, I would LOVE to write something. I'll e-mail or tweet and we can discuss it more.

Thanks so much, Trisha. Talk about doing something for someone else that is as much for me.

Leigh Shulman

I already e-mailed you about this, but just in case you visit here first, send it on over.

Leigh Shulman

Thanks, Alouise, for reading my Matador articles and for visiting here. It's great to see you on my blog as well.

Recipes: My first thought is the pinto recipe I published on Matador early on when I started.


But it does feel a bit cheap to just send you to Matador for an article you may well have already read, so what I'm going to do is a follow up blog post here with some recipes I've learned and made along the way of our travels.

How does that sound?

Leigh Shulman

Nellie! Thank you. What a sweet thing to say.

We haven't been to Humahuaca yet, and while the next couple weekends we already have plans and people staying that make a trip there a bit difficult, I'm thinking the next change we get, we'll drive up there for the weekend.

Thanks for the suggestions of where to go, what to see, where to stay and where to eat. There's so much to learn and see in Salta itself, that we don't often venture even a couple hours away.

I will remedy that and let you know.

Besos y abrazos!

Even though we live nearby, we tend to stay closer to home.

Leigh Shulman

It's always pretty simple with Lila. Neverland and a movie.


Leigh Shulman

An interesting thing. Anyone else asks me for something, my immediate reaction is "Sure. Of course!"

Noah, you ask me for a massage, and my first thought is "Wait a minute. It's MY birthday. You should give me a massage."

Of course, everyone else has asked for writing, editing, accessing my social network and things of that sort. No one else has asked me to rub then down with oil.

Hmmm... maybe I need to put an addendum on this challenge for next year.

Love you!


It's a small thing, but you could help spread the word about this:


We want to give the spotlight to some under-appreciated writers, but we still have categories with zero submissions. We could use your help.

And many many many happy returns... see you in NYC?

Leigh Shulman

Hey Pam,

I just Twittered and FBed the Call for Entries. Will repeat later this week as well and until the April 16th deadline.

Unfortunately, I can't be there. We fly back to the use mid-July and will be heading up to NYC then to see my SIL who's having a baby.

Trying to put another trip back to the US and NYC just a couple weeks earlier is a bit too much.

BUT... I've been planning to enter something in the Home Bittersweet Home category. I feel like it's a great way to take part in TBEX even though I can't physically be there. (This year. I will make it one year for sure.)

Thanks for the reminder to get my entry together!


You're an inspiration Leigh! I might give this a try on my next birthday. I don't really like receiving presents.


Happy birthday, Leigh! Kiva is a great organization :)


Is that a yes or a no? Consider my request in the category of "accessing my social network". Hope you enjoyed the other birthday festivities!



Happy Birthday Leigh! Hope you had a wonderful day.
Cheers from Lagos



Leigh that sounds great. And in the mean time I'm definitely going to try making that gallo pinto, it sounds delicious.

Hope you're having a fantastic birthday. :)


Happy belated birthday, Leigh-what a wonderful tradition and a generous thought to donate to Kiva. Hope you're feeling better by now. Too late to request, probably, but if you're so inclined, please share some of the local food traditions you're coming across in Salta...I like to live vicariously.

Leigh Shulman

Definitely not too late, Claiborne.

I like to celebrate my birthday for at least a week. As a good friend said to me recently, no one ever object to extending their birthday.

I've added your idea to the list I keep of future blog posts. There's some great food here. Andean. I haven't made any of them yet, but I'm going to try my hand at a couple and see how they turn out.

Thank you for the suggestion!

Leigh Shulman

Funny you say that. I'm not much for presents either. Too many people I know use gift giving, especially for birthdays, as their way of defining the relationship. In that sense, I'd prefer to know a person, meet them for coffee and talk.

The suggestions I've received have also been as much for me as for the person asking. It's been eye opening.

I'll post a list of the challenges I received soon enough. It's been quote something.


Hi Leigh! Is it too late for me to 'make a wish'? My friend Elizabeth is exploring the possibilities of WOOFing for a while, and has a particular interest in food and the culture of food... I've pointed her to your blog, but if she contacts you, could she possibly pick your brain a little? Thank you, ma'am! xo Kit

Leigh Shulman

Definitely not too late!

First, I'll refer you to a couple great articles to get her started.

A First Timer's Guide to WWOOFing

Four Questions To Ask Before WWOOFing

Then, of course, feel free to give her my e-mail and I'll answer as many questions as I can.

Rachel O

Thank you, my friend. I'm heading to Sydney on Friday (yes - an odd way to spend Passover) and will be back in early April. Let's connect soon.

Leigh Shulman

It actually sounds like a great way to spend Passover. Why not?

Speaking of odd ways to spend the holiday, we decided to make indian food. It's been a bit difficult finding matza, so we'll make rotis instead.

Let's talk early April.


Randall Arias

Hey love!!!!

Well... Just in order to help! I want you to do something for me!

I won´t put it easy, because that´s just not how I do! ;)

I want you to find the oldest, most interesting person you can find -really put an effort in it and don´t settle for the first choice (unless you feel like it´s the right one)- and ask him or her to help you create a fantastic, epic, yet short, bed story for Lila and for myself (of course)!

Then, pls have Noah record a video of you reading it for the first time to Lila! Pls tell her that it´s a gift from the universe to you (Leigh) and that you wish to pass it on to her... Then post it anywhere, where me and others can see it! ;)

Also give a big hug to Lila, Noah and yourself from me!



Hey Leigh ~

I thought about what you could do for your birthday for me. I saw your post a couple days ago about the dog, and I'd like you to adopt an animal. No fancy breeds or anything that was raised in bad breeding conditions. Ideally, you would adopt a dog off the street who really adopts you (that's what happened to us in Kenya), but it doesn't have to be a dog. I would just really like you and Lila to have a pet - a lizard, a frog, a dog, a cat - who will be with you longer than the wild birds and the tadpoles, will provide Lila a chance to learn something, and helps the animal who would otherwise not live as comfortable of a life. And if you can't adopt an animal (not sure how Noah feels about this whole thing), I'd like you and Lila to take a few days and volunteer to help the animals at the local shelter or rescue group.

Leigh Shulman

What a fun and interesting idea! And of course, Ran, I know it couldn't be easy. :)

I love this!

I assume the oldest, most interesting person will suggest him or herself to me when we meet.

Hugs to Lila and Noah already given.

Besos y abrazos a tu!

Leigh Shulman

So funny you mention this, JoAnna.

We've been looking to adopt a dog AND cat. I've visited the vets around here, but most of them refer us to breeders. Then yesterday, I posted on FB asking for shelters and rescue groups. Apparently there is one, so we're going this weekend to see who we can find.

In addition to that, an adorable little dog started coming by our house this week. She literally just appeared in the kitchen one day and started running around the house. I think she might be our neighbor's dog, but if not, she has a home now.

Great one! Thank you! I'll post pictures when we have our new family members in the house.


It's a good idea to give presents on your birthday!

vehicle donation charity

Your birthday this 2011 is near. :) What's your next plan to help? I'm excited to know.

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