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:


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!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Informational Interviews Stop Here

As someone who has been in the non-profit world for umpteen years, I am often asked to do informational interviews with people (usually young women) who are looking for a first job or even with older folks who are interested in making a career change.

I am always happy to have these meetings  -- particularly if it causes some old friend to call or contact me about setting up the meeting.  Some people only call you when they need you -- and YOU KNOW that is a-ok with me, so bring it on.

Five Tips for Informational Interview Seekers:
  1. Have your friend (or mom or the last person with whom you had an informational interview and referred you to me) call me up and ask me to meet with you.  This is the best way to get a happy Paige calling or contacting you back quickly.  Will I still hold the meeting if my acquaintance doesn't actually ask me to do it before you call me?  Yes, I will, but I want my friend to ask me because I'd like to hear from them.  Otherwise, my friend is just another person in my FaceBook feed vacationing in Costa Rica or posting pictures of their kids graduating from high school.
  2. Bring your resume with you to the meeting.  Even if you have emailed it to me in advance, have a copy to pull out if I ask you for it.  That shows me that you really want a job/career change -- and I might just have someone in the office that day who might be interested in hiring you.  Be prepared!
  3. I've said this before, but arrive on time for the meeting.  Don't come early -- I hate to think of you waiting while I'm finishing up a project that I planned for the 15 minutes prior to our meeting -- and for sure don't arrive late.  Even though this is not a real interview, you strolling in late doesn't make me want to recommend you to my network.
  4. Be ready to tell me why you want to work in non-profit -- or even why you are interested in learning more about the sector.  If you have no passion for the field nor the idea of working in it, don't waste my (or your) time.
  5. Do what I tell you to do if you are really interested in finding a job.  Follow up with me after you meet with any contacts I give you.  Shoot me an email if you apply for a job -- I want you to be successful because I am invested in your success.  Be sure to join the groups and organizations that I recommend too -- becoming involved in Dallas is important for all people who work in non-profits!
P.S.  I'm going to try participating in a fun meme called Hodgepodge on Wednesdays -- thanks to my friend at http://preppyemptynester.blogspot.com -- so I'm planning to post my usual blog on Tuesdays or Thursdays for the future since Wednesdays will be given to Hodgepodge -- it is part of http://www.fromthissideofthepond.com  You guys know I'm not very technical, so fingers crossed for tomorrow.  Also, BTW, tomorrow's Hodgepodge is not going to be new, but it will be new to this blog!  Let me know what you think -- Paige

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I Feel Like A Foreigner

Oh my gosh, y'all -- I just returned from a fabulous trip to London, the Cotswolds, and Paris!  C'est magnifique!

NOTE:  My high school French didn't really come in handy.  Since the only line I remember in French is "Come on, quit fighting all the time," I was kinda at a loss, unless my friends were quibbling about the cost of dinner, natch.

NOTE to NOTE:  Of course, I'm only slightly better off in German.  My lines there are "Do you have a light?" and "Why didn't you come before the stairs burned?"  Obviously, my career as an arsonist in Germany awaits.

Luckily, things in Paris have changed since my friend Priscilla and I basically hosteled through Europe in the mid 1980's.  While I remember the French people hating us and our big ugly American ways back then, now they seem to be super friendly and all speak English.

NOTE:  I do realize that our $600-a-night hotel and the $100 dinners might have something to do with this recent vacay change -- yes, I do know I paid the French people to be nice to me.  And I'd do it again.

Anyway, after a couple of weeks away, I'm really glad to be home and back at Community Partners of Dallas.

NOTE:  Even though our auditor is here.

One of the things we did in Paris was on Memorial Day we went to the Suresnes American Cemetery.  The cemetery has about 2,000 American dead from WWI and 24 unknown soldiers from WWII.  It was truly moving to be there and to see all of the American and French flags on each grave.

We are so lucky to live in America.

And I'm so lucky we speak English here.