Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An Independence Day Hodgepodge




1. On Saturday July 4th America celebrates her Independence. What is your favorite thing about the day? Your favorite food on the 4th? Do you fly a flag at your house? Fireworks-yay or nay? Any special plans this year?

My house has been flag city since the weekend.



My favorite memories were when I lived in DC and my friend Tim was always able to get us reserved seats for the A Capital Fourth show that takes place in front of the capitol every year and is televised on PBS.  I still either watch it live or tape it every year.  The fireworks are fantastic and it really makes you proud to be an American.  Really, everything about Washington, D.C., makes me proud.  It is such a wonderful, beautiful city.  I've cried all over that town.  

This year, Joe and I are going to enjoy some music -- at the Dallas Wind Symphony concert.  My mom and I always have a hot dog or two with chili and cheese with potato chips and I usually make Vincent's coleslaw to go with it.  I also love watching the Will Smith movie Independence Day or just something on The History Channel.  Fireworks -- YAY!

2. What's something you recently got for free?

The aforementioned concert tickets.  Thanks, Jill!

3.  The Statue of Liberty, The Liberty Bell, The Washington Monument, or Mount Rushmore...how many on the list have you seen? What is your favorite historical American monument, and why? 

I haven't been to Rushmore, but would totally love to go.  My favorite is the Lincoln Memorial in DC.

4. When it comes to the news are you more ostrich (stick my head in the sand) or hog (they have room to take a whole lot in)? How much attention have you given the recent news reports regarding ISIS and the acts of terror they've perpetrated against those who do not share their beliefs or support their cause?

I watch The Today Show almost every day, so I pretty much get my news from it.  I also read The Dallas Morning News, but usually not the international/real news.  Mostly read it for the style/entertainment section and local/metro.  

As for Isis, I wish we could all just get along.

5. We're talking plain ice cream...vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? Choose one.

I almost always have vanilla in my freezer, but that is because I won't eat it in a single sitting.  Chocolate is my favorite of the three.  I have some chocolate Haagen Daz waiting for me right now.

6. Share a song you love containing the word 'stars' in the lyrics or title?

Coldplay's "A Sky Full of Stars" is amaze-balls.  Check out this video -- if this doesn't get you moving, nothing will.  And yes, Chris Martin is my boyfriend.  Back off Gwyneth. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljuyyXMYT-M

7. Describe and/or say goodbye to June with an acrostic.

J -- just the beginning of hot
U -- undeniably romantic
N -- never to be seen again in 2015
E -- exceptional time for reading

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I feel so lucky to have been born in America.  I'm also extremely grateful to have such a wonderful family and ancestors who came to this country before it was America.  God bless it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Aspen Food & Wine Festival -- WOW!

One more bucket list item completed -- a trip to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival!

I've always been fond of food and have always enjoyed cooking.  I will say that the cooking part has definitely been enhanced in the past few years by The Food Network (The Barefoot Contessa is my absolute fave) and all of the cooking reality shows -- especially my favorite show -- Top Chef.  While I don't like to cook things that are too difficult, I really do like to cook for myself and usually make my own dinner each night and cook for family or friends on most weekends.

NOTE:  I have never made anything from Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa) that wasn't at least good and mostly fantastic.  Her recipes are the best and are super easy.

NOTE TO NOTE:  Ina doesn't like cilantro.  She is correct.

Anyway, my bucket list trip to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival was fantastic!  We had a group of 5 girls attending, three of whom I never met before arriving in Colorado.  No matter, we are all besties now and just had a ball.  One of the ladies writes a food blog, so be sure to check it out:

http://www.keestothekitchen.com

The best part about the festival was not the food -- it was fine, but Aspen restaurants gave us our best bites by far -- the best part was getting to be up close and personal with the celebrity chefs at their cooking seminars.  Check out my brushes with fame!

Tyler Florence was darling -- he demonstrated fried chicken that I actually might attempt.  The one time Joe and I tried to make it, it was a disaster.

Masaharu Morimoto took a picture with every single person who wanted one.  The king of Iron Chef and one of my absolute favorites.  He did a fantastic sushi spread that was true art.  He taught us to NEVER mix your wasabi in the soy sauce -- just add wasabi to the fish if you want more and only to dip the fish into the soy -- don't dip the rice.
How cute is Carla Hall?  She is just as cute in person as on TV -- we were front and center for her demo.
Jacques Pepin and his daughter were our first session and what a start -- they made a cauliflower souffle that I am definitely going to make.  Their banter back and forth was darling too.  At one point Claudine said these words to her dad:  "I know that is what YOU would do."  Sounded so familiar!
This is Dana Cowin, the editor of Food & Wine Magazine.  Super cute, but her seminar was not my favorite -- she taught us to cook eggs.  I already know how to make a great omelet, Dana.
Oh wait -- that's not a celebrity chef -- it's me on the step and repeat.  We wore hats everywhere, as the sun is stronger up there.  The chefs all knew we were from Dallas with our hats on -- not sure how, but they did seem to know (and like) us!
Chefs Michael and Grae from restaurant Olamaie in Austin were named as some of the Best New Chefs by Food and Wine.  Michael is the son of my friend Ola Fojtasek.  So exciting for them -- and their bite was delish!

And since I am the queen of the selfie (at least among this group of gals), here's a few for you...



So, that was the trip and now I'm back to work at Community Partners of Dallas -- what a way to recharge.

Not a way to lose weight.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Pink Hodgepodge Wednesday





1. June 23rd is National Pink Day. What's your favorite something pink?
Blue Bell Peppermint Ice Cream.  They better be back making it by December or just watch out.  Is this a threat?  Yep.

2. What did you enjoy most about gym class when you were in school? How about the least?
The only sport that I was ever halfway decent at was volleyball -- but even then, I was just passable. The worst was the President's Physical Fitness Test they made us take in middle school.  The only part I ever passed was the sit up portion -- and that was only because the PE teachers let us count our own in pairs.  Cheated.

3. What memory is brought to mind by the smell of roses?
Beauty in my great aunt's yard.

4. Do you prefer to read or write?
Like them both -- probably prefer to read.  And I like an actual book.  Just finished Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.  Now reading The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer.  Currently writing emails and texts.

5. Sam Keen is quoted as saying, 'Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.'Would you agree? Is laziness ever respectable? How will you be lazy this summer?
I'm pretty good with naps every day, all year long.  Other than that -- and an occasional all day TV marathon in PJs -- I'm not usually lazy.  I think it is totally acceptable and respectable to be lazy in your later years.  Nothing I like more than a cute old man sitting on the porch watching the day go by.

6. The Florida Keys, Disney World, or a resort somewhere on the Gulf Coast...which Florida destination would you choose (and why) if the trip were today?
I'd go to Disney World in a heartbeat.  And I'd push that cute old man from the porch if he wants to go with me.  It's fun for all ages!

7. What question do you hate to answer?
From a server at a restaurant -- "Are you done working on that?"  Gross.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I just returned from my trip to Colorado and my downstairs air conditioning is out.  It's 88 degrees in my den.  Where, oh where, are those rustling Aspen trees when I need them?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Shades of Green

I've been thinking a lot about the color green lately.

There are several reasons for this:

It is my friend Holly's favorite color and since I was her guest for a week in Aspen, I was inspired.  Green is Oprah's favorite color, so of course, I'm a fan.  Money is green and I'm partial to that.

But, the main reason is Aspen -- everything is SO green!  Tons of shades of green and it is just lush city!

I've always liked lots of different colors -- probably red and yellow have been my long time crushes, but blue made a recent appearance in my life too.  But I may be making a change...

Green is good.  It's fresh.  Clean.  It reminds us of new life.

Winnie is seven years old and her favorite color is green.  She grew up as the oldest of 3 kiddos, but her life has been anything but clean. 

Winnie grew up in a home with drug addicts who only cared about themselves and their next high.  The adults who were supposed to love and care for her only cared about being numb.  The house she lived in was filthy and strange people were passed out everywhere.  Winnie tried to care for her little brothers, but she was just too small.  She didn't think adults ever noticed her because they mostly didn't. One day she and her brothers were so hungry that they walked into a convenience store and Winnie decided to steal some food.  She knew it was wrong, but adults didn't ever seem to see her, so she took some chips (onion flavored because the package was green), and tried to walk out the door.  The clerk stopped her and called the police.  Winnie told the officers that the adults in her life took drugs, so the cops raided the house, but first called Dallas County CPS to take the children.

Winnie's life has changed now.  She and her brothers live with a paternal cousin in East Dallas.  Her CPS caseworker is coming to our Back-to-School Drive at Community Partners of Dallas to get Winnie a green backpack and new uniforms for first grade at her new school.  Winnie still loves green, but now she knows that onion is not her favorite potato chip.

Green is good and so is Winnie.  Me too!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hodgepodge Wednesday

So excited to participate in Hodgepodge on the actual day -- today!  Let's get to it...

1. June is National Great Outdoors Month. Have you spent any time appreciating the great outdoors this month? If so where, and if not do you have any plans to enjoy the great outdoors before the calendar turns?
Not yet, but Aspen awaits!

2. What's a current hot button issue for you?
Always, child abuse.  Also, really loving Unreal on Lifetime. It's a drama show about the making of a bachelor-type show. The behind the scenes shenanigans are crazy. Producers offering the staff bonuses if they get the girls to get naked, make out, etc. I'm totally into it because I watch pretty much all reality TV. Probably not the correct answer to the question, but interesting to me.  I'm so shallow.

3. What's a food or treat that 'disappears like hotcakes' in your house?
Chips. I would say Cheetoes, but they rarely enter my house -- I finish them in the car before they make it into the house.

4. How hot is too hot?
Too hot to handle, of course.

5. Do you have an artistic outlook on life? What does that mean to you?
No. I'm a realist, but optimistic. To guess, I'd think someone with an artistic outlook on life doesn't smooth the curl out of their hair.  They like it natural. I pay to remove my curls twice a week.

6. What's one question you'd like to ask your father, or one you wish you could ask your father?
My father died when I was five, so I'd be thrilled to just look at him. I'd probably ask him stupid stuff like, what's your favorite book, song, food.  I'd also love to see my brother get to talk to him. In fact, I'll give John my time.  That would be a real joy. Lots of happy tears when that happens someday in heaven!

7. Something you learned from your father?
Live each day like it's your last.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I'd totally go see the new Magic Mike movie.

Be sure to check the other Hodgepodge bloggers by going to the web version and clicking on the logo on the right side of the blog.

You or a Child?



I attended a lecture last week about the Salem Witch Trials.  The speaker was the author of The Heretic's Daughter.  It was a bestseller some years ago and the speaker was great -- engaging, self-deprecating, fun -- everything that I like in a speaker.

NOTE:  Also, everything I like to BE in a speaker too!

Anyway, the author's relative was one of those convicted as a witch during the trials (this is why she was so interested in the topic and decided to write the book) and so the author did a ton of research about the whole big subject -- the people, why, and what, etc.

One of the things she told us was that the accused women (and some men) were each asked if they were a witch.  

Two possible answers:
  1. YES, I'm a witch  If the accused confirmed that they were actually a witch, they were basically released from jail and given a slap on the wrist/community service.
  2. NO, I'm not a witch  (And if you know anything about The Salem Witch Trials, really none of the accused were witches.)  If you said no then you were jailed, tortured, and later tortured and hanged.  
NOTE:  Didn't you think they were burned at the stake?  Nope.

The part I didn't know was that if you denied being a witch, they also tortured your family -- trying to get you to confirm witch-hood.

The author told us that her ancestor never wavered from her truth of not being a witch.  Even after they tortured her children -- her sons and her 6 year old daughter.  Even though the ancestor knew they were torturing her children, she still stood firm that she was not a witch.

She and I are different people.

While I am all for standing up for what I believe, I would have started my incantations on the witness stand and pulled out the pointy hat and wart if they were torturing my children.  Because I know God would forgive me.

At lunch after the speech the gang did discuss that Puritans didn't believe God would forgive them, so the non-witch in question was standing by her beliefs.  The lunch gang then started talking about what if this happened today and you were tortured and had to say you renounced Jesus (or substitute the belief you hold most dear here)...

Again, if they were torturing my children (or ANY children), I would renounce, because (again) I KNOW GOD WILL FORGIVE ME.

Maybe this is too easy for me and aren't I lucky that my God is so forgiving, but damn, people -- He forgives me all the time.

The children part is what causes me to witch-out.  Children tortured.  Who could allow that?  I know who -- the parents of the pitiful children we serve at Community Partners of Dallas.  So many people right here in our community abandon their children, hurt them, sexually abuse them, torture them -- the list goes on and on.

You can help us help these kids.  Visit www.CommunityPartnersDallas.org to learn how.

What will you do?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge Virgin

Well, I told you guys I was going to try this and it seems like the perfect time because the creator of Hodgepodge is on break this week, so I'm actually answering last week's questions.  Knowing me, I thought I needed some extra time to work this tech stuff out...

So, here we go!

NOTE:  Special thanks to Katie at Preppy Empty Nester, as she is my blog idol and I want to be/do everything like her -- even though we have never met.  Katie participates in Hodgepodge, so since I love reading her answers, I'm hoping that some of you will think it's fun to read mine.

NOTE to NOTE:  I just know Katie and I would be besties if we lived in the same place.  Unfortunately I found her just before she moved to Boston, so besties from afar, it is.  If you are viewing this on a desktop computer, you can find her blog listed down below on the right side of this blog or if you are viewing this on your iphone, please select 'View Web Version" at the bottom of the blog so you can see the other blogs I follow.  The Hodgepodge button will be down there too, so check it out.  Katie is hilarious and always doing something fun, watching something I like, or shopping.  What's not to like?

Here is the Hodgepodge.  Be sure to click on the link to the right below (in the web version) to visit all of the bloggers who participate!

1. What's something you're looking forward to in the month of June?

I'm headed to Aspen for the Food and Wine Festival.  After watching so many episodes of Top Chef, I feel like I'm really getting to be part of the action.  So grateful to my friend Holly for inviting me!

2. In what way have you come full circle?

When I started working in Non-Profit, everything was new.  After 17+ years of fundraising, I'm just now beginning to work in earnest on something I've never done -- a capital campaign.  Get your checkbooks ready, friends!

3. Lonely Planet lists 10 spots in America you should see in 2015 and the reasons why. How many on the list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see?

Queens NY, Western South Dakota, New Orleans, Colorado River Region, North Conway NH, Indianapolis IN, Greenville SC, Oakland CA, Duluth MN, and the Mount Shasta Region CA.

I feel like I've probably been to Queens (or at least driven through) since I'm an NYC whore.  I've been to Oakland and Colorado too.  New Orleans is the best and other than NYC or Miraval, it's my absolute fave place to visit.  Not sure which of the rest I'd most like to see, but would happily visit any of them.  I'm a great travel companion, so let's go!

4. A song that describes your mood right now?

I listened to Call Me Maybe this morning on the treadmill and I'm still singing it.  Keep picturing the Olympic athletes' video they made of it too -- the swimmers, I think -- they were all on a bus.  And of course, since we'll be starting the campaign for the CPD building soon, I'll be making lots of calls!

5. Strawberry ice cream, strawberry short cake, strawberry pie, or strawberries right off the vine...your favorite?

I like them all, but have never had them straight off the vine.

6. Aesop's birthday is celebrated on June 4th, although there is some disagreement as to whether or not that's accurate, or if he was even a real person.  Regardless, the name Aesop is associated to this day with many well known fables. Which of the following best applies to something in your life right now? The Tortoise and the Hare (Slow and Steady wins the race), The Ant and the Grasshopper (Be prepared), The Fox and the Goat (Look before you leap) or The Crow and the Pitcher (Necessity is the mother of invention)?

The Ant and the Grasshopper -- we have been preparing for this campaign for more than a year.  I feel like we are well prepared.  Famous last words...

7. The answer is yes...what's the question?

Do you wish you could go back as a camper to Camp Longhorn?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I got to order a big-ass dry erase board for my office today and it's arriving Friday.  I cannot wait to see it staring at me from across the desk.  So much empty space to be filled with words and actions.  Excitement galore!