Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hodgepodging with Recipes

Hello and welcome to my blog -- the final Hodgepodge of September 2015!  Thank you, Joyce! 

1. Something on your October calendar that makes you smile?

I'm a big fan of Halloween.  Other than Christmas, I have more Halloween decorations than anything else.  I do the front door, the yard, a tablescape in the dining room, the den and more.  We always give out TONS of candy -- more than 1,000 pieces -- one or two at a time.

I'm sure you are wondering if I wear a costume.  No.  Being in Dallas we have to dress up in western/cowboy attire several times a year for events and that is enough dressing up for me.  I own three pairs of cowboy boots.

2. Food for the soul or music for the soul...which camp are you in? Tell us why.

Food -- life is not worth living without my favorites.  Symphonic music is a close second -- it really fills up the soul.

3. What are two or three things you've learned recently as the result of an online search?

This morning I was looking to find out about a potential candidate for a job we have open at Community Partners of Dallas.  Linked-In to the rescue, but I prefer FaceBook for this.  

Yesterday I searched party invite text -- planning one for Christmas.  

Monday, I searched the phone number of a new florist that was recommended to me -- called and ordered flowers for someone.

4. Share your favorite game day recipe. You can describe it, post the how-to, or add a link to the actual recipe. 

Ths is my favorite and it came from my friend Jill, BUT you will notice that it is called Paige's Jalapeno Popper Dip.  That is not because I made any changes to it -- the stuff doesn't need any changes, people -- but because my mom taught me to put my name on stuff so you remember who gave it to YOU, not who gave it to your friend who gave it to you.  And I am unanimous in that.  Mrs. Slocum reference for those in the know.


2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup mayo
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (half Monterrey Jack, half Cheddar)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 (7 1/2) can chopped green chilies 
1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapenos
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (yes another 1/2 cup)
1/2 stick of butter, melted


Combine the first 6 ingredients in a mixer or food processor and blend until smooth.  You do NOT need to drain the cans of chilies or jalapenos.  Pour into a large 
quiche dish or pie plate.
In a bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and melted butter.

Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the dip and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. 

You want the top to get browned and the dip to be heated through and bubble gently on the edges.  Serve with Tostitos (Restaurant Style) Tortilla Chips.  Enjoy!
5. What are your five essential steps for creating the perfect morning routine?
  1. Up without alarm.  
  2. Drink 32 ounces of filtered water.
  3. The Today Show.
  4. Shower and hair wash -- no styling.
  5. Drive to work and pray.
6. What small thing have you taken note of today?

Ben Rett -- the 4-month-old baby at the office.

7. Sum up your September in seven words or less.

Good deal closed.  Shocks and surprises. Normal.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Gosh, I love sushi.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

An Autumnal Hodgepodge

Yay -- Joyce is back with questions for the Hodgepodge this week, here I go...

1. What have you 'fallen for' recently?

At this very moment in time, I have a Tootsie Roll Pop sticking out of my mouth.  When you work for a charity, lots of donors and volunteers bring candy to our office.  I've always liked these and when I pass through reception if there is one in the candy bowl, I always take it.  This one is orange, but I like red too.  I just bit it.

2. What's something you're 'squirreling away' for later?

Five dollar bills.  One of our wonderful donors and I were talking about money on Sunday and about how we are some of the only people left who still use cash.  I (of course) save all my change for Community Partners of Dallas' Change is Good party, but our donor told me she is saving FIVE DOLLAR BILLS -- she heard that if you do this for a year that you'll have enough money for a trip. People of New Orleans, get ready to serve me some of that delicious food in Autumn of 2016!

3. How do you like your apples? Sweet? Tart? Crisp? Cooked? Apples are one of the superfoods for often do you eat an apple either plain or as part of a favorite recipe? What's your favorite variety?

I like a pie, but my favorite mmm good way is just plain.  My favorite is the Honeycrisp.  I actually have been totally into watermelon lately, so apples have "fallen far from my tree" to coin a phrase!

4. According to Fodor's the ten best fall foliage trips in the US of A are-Aspen ColoradoThe Catskills New York, The Berkshires Massachusetts, Columbia River Gorge Oregon, Green Mountain Byway Vermont, Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway New Mexico, Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, Upper Peninsula Michigan, Lake of the Ozarks Missouri, and Glacier National Park Montana. Which would you most like to visit this fall and why?

I would go to any of them and would love to see the beauty.  I lived in Washington, D.C., for five years and loved seeing the seasons change.  In Dallas, my fall foliage is limited to the 4 Bradford Pear Trees in my front yard, but they really are beautiful.

5. The topic of legalizing marijuana was raised in the most recent televised political debate so let's wade in too. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Your thoughts?

I can see both sides, but I do think it is a gateway drug.  Illegal drug use is the cause of so much child abuse and neglect that I can't support it.

6. Are you okay to watch a movie already in progress or do you need to always see it from the beginning? How about jumping into a TV series somewhere in the middle? Is that okay? 

From the beginning.  Movie and Series.  I think it is fine if others want to start in the middle, but I don't.  There are lots of TV series that I wish I had started, but I feel like it's too late.  I've never watched Modern Family, nor 30 Rock.

7. Thursday (September 24) is National Punctuation Day. What rule of punctuation trips you up most often? What rule of punctuation, when broken by someone else, bugs you the most?

I'm a BIG fan of a dash -- always have been.  I feel certain that I don't always use them correctly because I love them so much.  As for others, it's more misspellings that bug me.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I do not recommend the film 90 Minutes in Heaven.  Only about 5 minutes is spent in heaven.  The rest is pitiful hospital scenes and mad victims bitching.  Yes, there is a nice ending, but not worth the 2 hours spent watching the rest.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Did I Really Say That?

I started writing this blog 5 years ago Sunday.

Writing was never something at which I thought I was particularly good.  I'm a talker.  I like to look at people and give a speech. I was trained as an actor, so of course I like people to look at me while I'm speaking, too!

So how did I end up here five years later with 267 blog posts?

I know how it started.  One of my co-workers wanted to write a blog for Community Partners of Dallas and pitched her idea to me to do it.  Sarah was already writing a personal blog -- that was quite good, btw -- but when I discussed her idea with our communications team (at the time our communications "team" was really only Joanna and I), we decided that if someone was going to write a blog that it should be from me as the "face" of CPD.

Note:  The "face" of CPD could stand to lose a few, but it's the face for now!

At the time I didn't want to write a blog, so we let the idea go.  Within the next 12 or so months, I attended a non-profit and social media branding workshop put on by my friend Kim Whitman.  Kim brought a few experts together to educate us charity folks who were there and there it was again -- should I write a blog???  What platform do I use?  How do I get started? Yikes, yikes, yikes!  I vividly remember talking to Kim after the meeting and she said, "Oh just use Blog Spot (now Blogger) -- that what I use and it's easy.  You can do it, Paige."

Note:  Kim is a real, live TV personality, an entertaining and life-style brand expert, gorgeous friend, and a wonderful mom.  If you don't already read it (and I'm sure you do), check out her wonderful-ness here:

That's was all it took.

I've enjoyed writing this blog so much.  I have posts I'm super-proud of and that still make me cry, as well as throw away ones that make me shake my head.  I love knowing which posts were more popular than others -- Blogger tells you this -- and I am apparently an expert on board service because my posts related to non-profit management tend to have more reads and longer legs.  I've also gotten to know people I've never met in person through blogging.  I love this writing thing.

Thank you for reading!  268 down -- more coming.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Jenny Friends

People say that friends are the family we choose.

I have to say that I'd have a pretty dull life without mine.

Even though I'm from Dallas and grew up here -- and I'm lucky enough to have my family here too -- I feel like I don't have a lot of good friends.  Of course, I know hundreds of people I would call friends. But I'm talking about friends who know the real, true me and love me despite my faults and shortcomings.

Not counting family, I can count those real, true friends on 2 hands.  Some of them I've known forever, some less than 10 or 12 years.  Some I'm in almost constant contact with, others I only see every once in awhile.

What do you call these special best friends?

Some people call them "Ride or Die" friends.  Some call them "Besties".

I've started calling mine Jennys.

Here's why...

Cara was born to a drug-addicted mother and a father who spent most of Cara's life in and out of jail. Child Protective Services caseworkers were called when Cara was born and tested positive for drugs. She was placed into foster care as an infant and when her parents' parental rights were terminated, she became a ward of the State of Texas.  Even though she was a cute baby and later a cute little girl, none of her foster parents ever adopted her and no potential adoptive parents ever showed an interest in her.  She moved to different foster homes a lot.

Cara became more and more disruptive as she got older.  Her feelings were hurt over and over by foster parents, by other children in foster homes, by kids at school.  Cara was an introvert -- but one who acted out in rage periodically.  Since she moved to different foster homes a lot, she attended lots of different schools.  She had no friends.

Many CPS caseworkers were assigned to Cara, but with her years in the system extending and her caseworkers changing jobs or leaving CPS altogether, she didn't have much stability in her life -- until Jenny came along.

NOTE:  40% of new CPS caseworkers leave CPS within 9 months.

Jenny is a CPS caseworker in Dallas County who really cares about her clients, so when Cara was assigned to her caseload, things began to change for Cara.  At first, Cara wasn't used to having a friend, so she wasn't very open with Jenny.  Jenny kept trying.  Cara went into a rage at her foster home and had to move to a new foster home (again).  Jenny kept trying.  Cara got into a huge fight at school.  Jenny kept trying.

Finally one day after a particularly bad fight with her foster dad, Cara began to cry to Jenny.  Cara told Jenny that she only had one friend -- and that was Jenny.

And one good Jenny is enough.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hodgepodge for the Mind

It's another great week of Hodgepodge Q&A!

1. Last thing you did on the spur of the moment?

I hate to keep harping on it, but I kinda joined a gym on the spur of the moment.  I did visit with my friend Jan once before I joined, but so far so good.  Last week I went three times!  BTW< this is NOT where I'm working out -- I just walk the indoor track.  Moderation, people, moderation!

2. How well informed do you feel about the current Syrian refugee crisis?

I'm as informed as NBC Nightly News and The Today Show have informed me.  I'm so sorry this is happening.  Texas knows how the European Union feels.

3. What have you changed your mind about? 
Once you get to be a certain age, I don't think people change their mind much.  I still hate cilantro.  I have decided that Hagen Daz makes a good ice cream though since Blue Bell is still not being sold in Dallas.

4. A medium sized non-poisonous snake found it's way into the pool trap this weekend. If you'd been sitting poolside would you have fished it out? Gone running? Called for help? Pretended not to know? Continued swimming?

Call the cops!  Our police are so wonderful -- they even helped me turn my sprinkler off once.

5. September 10th is National TV Dinner Day...what's your idea of a great TV dinner? (Or at least a pretty good one!) 

I've never eaten a TV dinner.  I do periodically have a Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese --- cooked in the oven for 50 minutes, not microwaved.  I really don't use my microwave for anything other than melting butter for popcorn.

6. Samuel Johnson is quoted as saying, "Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other." Would you agree? Where have you seen that played out recently? What's the second greatest virtue?

I do agree -- we have to have courage to do anything of value in life.  Sometimes just showing up to work is courageous.  Honesty.

7. What are three words you have trouble remembering how to spell?

Architect.  Cryptic.  Receive.  Some of this is typing trouble, not spelling.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I just finished a fun book called Delicious! -- Cute, quick read.  It's by Ruth Reichl.  Ruth was the editor for Gourmet Magazine and a restaurant critic for The New York Times, so she knows a lot about food -- it's her first novel.  Of course, I know her best as a sometimes judge on Top Chef.  Here's the link:

One other random thought -- so glad that Ladies of London is back!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Style Tips From A Not-Too-Stylish Gal!

I attended a fashion show yesterday and (as always) I came away thinking that I knew almost everything about the trends already.

Yes, I do care about fashion.

You may not think that I care much about it if you know me; however, I do read fashion blogs (check out my list of favorite blogs listed on this page) and magazines.  I watch Project Runway and Fashion Police.  But, mostly I stick with the basics.  Here are my tips for looking good and pulled together at age 54 and beyond:

  • Spend some good money on one or two good outfits each season (I usually do Lafayette, Escada, or every few years I do a St. John).  These pieces never go out of style.  Try a pants suit with a jacket, a dress with a long coat that can go to a luncheon or to a cocktail party, etc. 
  • Try a trend in an inexpensive way.  Chico's will have some of this years trends that will be affordable -- I just bought their fringe skirt and purchased some lace in the spring.
  • Know which trends are not for you.  Culottes?  Just say no.
  • Accessories are your friend!  I love, love, love mixing up a plain t and jeans with a fun necklace.  Everyone loves a scarf or wrap to dress up black.  Hermes is great, but any scarf can turn up your outfit and help you look pulled together and intentional.  The hat above is not a usual accessory for me, but when you need to keep the sun off your face, it's a must.
  • My fave uniform for Fall (or any time of year) is a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a cardigan with cute flats.  I can wear the pants off of this all day long.
  • Separates are my favorite way to dress.  A pair of black pants, a white or black tank and a jacket or cardigan can take you anywhere for work or play.

So, you just read style tips from a not-too-stylish gal.  What are your style tips?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hamburger Stroganoff-y Hodgepodge

It's time for another round of Hodgepodge questions, so here ya go-

1. What's on your September calendar? Anything fun? 

OMG, YES!  We have one of my fave parties ever on September 20 benefiting Community Partners of Dallas!  It is called Change is Good.  It is basically a kids party on steroids!  Kids bring change (or bills are great too) to the party and for every $10, they get a chance ticket for a fun prize.  It's a great family party with good food, DJ, bounce houses, a bungee jump, etc.  Visit our website to purchase tickets today at

2. You might be described as a natural born _____________________?

Leader -- at least that is what my mom says.  She says I came out of the womb wanting to boss people around!

3. September is National Courtesy Month...what one act of courtesy would you most like to see more of in your home, town, or the world at large? 

I want people to quit looking at their phones during meals.  They have someone to talk to right in front of them -- and who/what could be more fascinating?

4. Eager beaver, chicken out, clam up, or let the cat out of the bag...of the phrases listed, which one have you related to most recently? 

Out of these, I'd say Eager Beaver -- I like to get places early and (shockingly) I'm still going to the gym a few mornings a week!

5. What's your movie theatre snack protocol? Do you chow down on snacks during the previews or wait until the movie begins? Do you buy snacks or refuse to pay those kind of prices? What's the last movie you saw in a theatre? How many thumbs up would you give it?

I must have popcorn (with butter) at every movie -- even if I just had dinner, I'll save room for a small popcorn.  I want my own bag too.  

The last one I went to was Mission Impossible.  I thought it was just OK.  My friend Christie left about 45 minutes in.  Just too far fetched and silly.  Tom Cruise still looks good though.

6. Henry Ford is quoted as saying, "Nobody can think straight who does not work. Idleness warps the mind." Agree or disagree? Why?

Disagree.  Idleness is one of my favorite activities.

7. What's the last job you completed or task you performed where you had to 'work like a dog' until it was finished?

I have to do it all the time at Community Partners of Dallas; however, the work changes as you get older.  We are at the end of our Back-to-School Drive now, so donors are delivering boxes and boxes of supplies each day.  As a small non-profit, all staff members are called to the warehouse so donors have lots of help to empty their cars and trucks quickly and with lots of gratitude.  I threw my back out yesterday from picking up big heavy boxes.  Ugh.

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

Totally craving Hamburger Stroganoff tonight -- headed home to make it.  Going to be pissed if I have no Cream of Chicken Soup...