The End of #BEDN

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Mash-upToday marks the end of Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN). Yay! I made it! I’m really proud of myself and I’m glad I took part in the opportunity. I also have to say that I’m a little relieved. I have a new appreciation for those who do blog every day. It’s really hard to stay motivated and come up with good content when life presents you with plenty of distractions! Overall, I’m very grateful for the variety of new post ideas and of course, new followers and readers who have stopped in to visit.

So how am I spending this last day of November? Well, I’m messing around in the kitchen with some new produce items from the Good Food Collective. One of these items is celeriac or celery root. This item has a mild celery flavor and is often used in soups and French cuisine. I did a little poking around online and recipes were varied and some were quite rich. We just discussed how I have to clean up my food choices and so I was inspired by this Jamie Oliver recipe because I saw the potential to keep it healthy while improvising with a few other ingredients I had on hand.

I can’t recall if I’ve told you about my love for truffle salt or not. I discovered it several years ago while I was working in retail. A friend was peering at the Dean and DeLuca catalog while raving about how she loved sprinkling it on her popcorn. I was immediately intrigued and went to Williams-Sonoma and almost had a heart attack when I saw the price tag. I rationalize paying the price because it’s so flavorful and I use such a small amount that this jar really lasts forever. It’s basically a finishing salt flecked with tiny pieces of black truffle. As my friend suggested, it is wonderful on popcorn, but also adds amazing truffle flavor to rice and potatoes. I knew I had to find a way to work it into a healthy mash-up of potatoes and celeriac. These are so delicious – you will not miss the butter and cream in traditional mashed potatoes at all!

Lady Sensory’s Chub-Checker Celeriac/Potato MashCeleriac

See what I did there? Ha!

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

1 celeriac (celery root), approximately the size of your fist

2 medium-sized red potatoes (also approximately the size of your fist)

6 tbsp water

2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

Cracked black pepper and truffle salt, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp of cracked pepper and 1 tsp of truffle salt)

Wash potatoes and celeriac thoroughly, peel, and chop into chunks that are roughly 1/2 inch to 1 inch. Warm the oil in a heavy pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until slightly golden. Add the potatoes and celeriac chunks and cook for another five minutes or so. Raise the heat to medium and add 6 tbsp of water. Bring to a strong simmer (almost boiling but not quite), then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes. Add the parsley and chives, then mash with a potato masher. These are supposed to be a bit chunky (like in the picture above). Finish with the pepper and truffle salt, adding a little at a time until you reach the desired flavor. This should serve 2 people or one very hungry person.

Happy December!

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-Rosalilium

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Random Black Friday Thoughts

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Today for Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) I’m supposed to tell you what I want for Christmas this year. That answer is fairly obvious and also hella-boring. Let’s just say that this week’s employment alerts for “public relations” have included being the general manager of a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Have I ever told you about the time my mother found a snail in their coleslaw? It was certainly not finger-lickin’ good. Let’s not go there. Instead, I’m going to provide you with random thoughts that have occurred to me between fits of sneezes today. Yes, somehow I am the proud recipient of a head cold that commenced this morning at 5 AM. I did not ask Santa for that.

First random thought: I’d like to alert you to someone’s 40th birthday. A very talented and creative buddy of mine, Joe Mayernik, created this post about his Black Friday Birthday on his blog. Basically he wants to you submit a photo on social media and tag it with #Mayernik40. The resulting photos will be made into a poster to commemorate his milestone day. It’s a really clever idea and it’s been fun seeing what other people have posted today.

Other random thoughts include another amazing live tweet session documenting an irate American traveler trying to get home for Thanksgiving, complete with note passing and slapping. It’s hilarious. Then we had some shoppers wreaking havoc in Walmart  and apparently there was also shooting at a Kohl’s department store in Chicago last night. Is it really worth it, people? Has anyone been out to experience this? I’ve honestly never done it and after seeing some of the footage, I’m still not interested. I prefer my retail therapy to take place in a calm, relaxed environment.

The last random thought for today is that I need to clean up my eating habits for the next few weeks. The timing is not ideal with all of the holiday parties but November was chock full o’ bad choices and I’m feeling like crap on a stick. So you can expect some healthier recipes in the coming weeks and I’ll be choosing water more often than wine. Hopefully this will keep me from filling out a Santa costume!

Santa

A Bigger, Blacker Friday

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CAH PackagingToday is Thanksgiving and the recommended Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) topic is the great outdoors. Since we’ve had our first official snowfall here (yuck!), it’s highly likely that my time spent outside will be limited to driving to and from my friends’ new home to celebrate Friendsgiving. So, I’ve picked another topic to discuss.

What’s this post title all about, you ask? Well, our group has a habit of playing the game, Cards Against Humanity. So, this is merely a play on words combining the traditional post-Thanksgiving Black Friday shopping day here in the U.S. with a couple of the cards that say, “A big, black dick” and “A bigger, blacker dick.”  One of our hosts just got the latest edition of cards, appropriately named, “Bigger, Blacker Box.” If you haven’t played, I caution you to only play with people who aren’t easily offended and those who share the same depraved sense of humor. It’s basically like playing Apples to Apples infused with all things inappropriate and politically incorrect. Actually, if you’re interested you can print your own set by visiting here.

Speaking of Black Friday, what is the deal with all these petitions people are posting online to save Thanksgiving? Apparently some of the larger retailers are open on Thanksgiving day for their sales. I am sympathetic here, and that’s because I worked in retail and I know how crazy people can get during a sale. However, I also worked in healthcare for many years and had to cover holidays despite that I wasn’t in a vital life-saving role. Seriously – I even had to be there when I was a sales and marketing director. I did find it kind of ridiculous, but Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July were actually the holidays I would bid on because you could easily be taken in somewhere after your shift was over. So if you are off today, be grateful. It’s not always a given!

As far as today’s Friendsgiving goes, we have folks with an assortment of diets and tastes coming to this gathering so I will be bringing this oldie but goodie. Nope, it’s not vegan, fat-free, nor gluten-free, but it’s pretty damn delicious. As for hitting the sales today or getting up early and shopping tomorrow? No, thank you. I will be passing on that insanity. If anything at all, I’ll partake from the comfort of home via “the internets.”

I hope your turkey day is filled with magnificent F-words like family, friends, food, and fun. What? You thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?  Be thankful! We haven’t busted out the cards just yet!

That Thing That Happened at the Matisse Museum

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Musee MatisseAfter being buried in vegetables from my Good Food Collective share today (which was extremely awesome, by the way) I’m writing and posting very late. Today’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) post is supposed to be on “Yes Moments,” which are defined as “tiny moments when life has complete clarity, meaning or certainty.” I call these types of things “epiphanies.”

The most recent and major one that comes to mind occurred while traveling in France in the summer of 2012. I had reached the south after wandering around Paris for five days. I believe I’ve told you I’m kind of a museum nerd when I travel. I knew wanted to visit the Musee Matisse while in Nice. I asked around and determined I would need to take a bus from my hotel up to Cimiez Hill, which was not a big deal (only 10-15 minutes).

Henri Matisse has always been an influence of mine and has held a solid place in the top three of my list of favorite artists for many years due to his superb use of color. When I arrived I was confronted with a red building overlooking lemon trees and an olive grove that also serves as a park. If you are familiar with Matisse’s work, you’ll recall the lemon and olive trees make several appearances. After seeing the big museums in Paris I wasn’t expecting it to be earth-shattering, but I figured it would definitely have some interesting pieces and a decent gift shop.

I wandered the various rooms and read the descriptions of the pieces in the collection. The bonus of hitting the smaller museums is that there are usually fewer people in the way. I stared at these big tapestries and was struck with the realization that Matisse had spent time in Tahiti. I don’t know how I never knew that. Maybe I did and just forgot. I had always associated Paul Gauguin with Tahiti. Suddenly it occurred to me that most of the places I travel are somehow associated with artists or writers and that I’d basically bombed around the globe for the past few years searching for something that I wasn’t finding…because the answer was already in me.Matisse Postcard

So there I was: in the south of France, on a sunny day, in small museum with a security guard in every room and I start bawling my eyes out. No, I’m not kidding and no, I was not premenstrual.

Oh wait, it gets worse.

I went downstairs to find the restroom to freshen up because crying makes me look like garbage and I walked straight into a children’s exhibit of at least 70-80 pictures all done in Matisse’s style with varying compositions. We had the lemons, the portraits, the cut-outs. Yep. All there. Some of them were pretty incredible.

I pretty much wanted to vomit on myself at this point but thankfully, I didn’t. The room was sunlit so I threw on my shades and forced myself to look at every single kid’s picture in the exhibit. Then I went into the gift shop, found the postcard of the Polynesian tapestry, a book on the museum collection, and got the hell out of there.

Well, then it got even more interesting. I wandered through the olive grove to a cemetery behind a church. Um, yes, in addition to museums I also have a weird cemetery fetish when I travel. I meandered down some path and there, under an olive tree, was Henri Matisse’s grave.

Matisse graveThat was enough of a wakeup call for me, and I knew what I would eventually have to do. However, when I returned to the states and got bombarded with two major fundraisers and an annual report I quickly forgot about my little epiphany.

Until now.

So tomorrow on Thanksgiving while you are feeling grateful for all that you have and the loved ones and friends that surround you, make sure you are thankful for your talents and gifts that make you innately you.

You never know when you’re going to have to fall back on them.

Home Is Where The Barn Is

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Hafner's Red BarnToday’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) topic is on “Home Sweet Home.” I interpreted this subject a little differently, and mainly because I just returned from a little jaunt down the NYS Thruway to see some friends I’ve known since childhood. It’s kind of funny that I’ve spent more than half my life in Rochester and when I think about “home,” I still think about being a 1980s kid growing up in Syracuse.

I felt a little nostalgic when I rolled by the old Hafner’s Red Barn, which is now sadly closed. It was kind of a big deal when I was little and they used to have all sorts of interesting gifts. When my grandmother and aunt would come to stay with us for Christmas, we would always stop in for a visit. During the holidays, they used to decorate the entire second floor of the barn with Christmas trees. I remember it being pretty amazing. They were running a wine tasting room out of the barn about 7 or 8 years ago but that eventually closed as well.

This got me thinking about other old holiday shopping spots like Service Merchandise and that wacky conveyor belt, and a department store called Chappell’s where I would grab things like Tinkerbell nail polish and jelly shoes. I used to get my arts and craft supplies at Switz’s, but they were mainly known for their amazing Halloween costume selection. I remember hitting the Penn-Can Mall to go to Record Town, Johnny Jo Toys, and having some Pavone’s Pizza. While these places are all long gone, Hafner’s is still open but is primarily a major garden center located down the road from the old red barn. They still put up the holiday decor and have trees and wreaths available for purchase right now.Old School Otto

The red barn appears to be up for sale. I hope someone buys it and repurposes it into an event venue or something like that. It makes me sad that these special places from my childhood aren’t around anymore and I wish I had thought to document them. Growing up, you tend to think things will always be there and you don’t appreciate them as much. Thankfully I can still relive the memories and reminisce about these places with my peeps. I guess you can take the girl out of the ‘Cuse but you’ll never take the ‘Cuse out of the girl.

Holiday Traditions?

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"I may be a sweetheart now, but no one pees on the diva!" Photo from http://www.who2.com

“I may be a sweetheart now, but no one pees on the diva!”
Photo from http://www.who2.com

With Christmas being only a month away, “holiday traditions” are on deck for today’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN). I’m no Ebony Scrooge (yes, please cue the Vanessa Williams classic, A Diva’s Christmas Carol), but my Holiday spirits aren’t quite what they used to be. Let me give you a summary:

1) I’m not a fan of the cold and snow and it’s only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I’ve actually hightailed it out of the country to warmer destinations for the past several years.

2) I have no kids and let’s be honest –  there really isn’t anything better than watching kids get excited about Christmas, Santa, and opening presents.

3) Everything has become so materialistic and people get quite nasty and impatient in retail establishments at this time of year. I know this because I have worked in retail during the holidays. This is very sad to me considering it’s usually a person who is generally more fortunate than others.

With those items in mind, I resolve to do the following:

1) While I won’t be leaving the country, I will be getting out of this cold and somewhere warm. That makes me very happy. Extremely happy. I don’t think you even understand how badly I need to see some sun right now.

2) I will be spending time around my friends’ kids in the hopes that some of that Rudolph-loving infectious disease rubs off on me. However, I do not want any of the daycare cooties, so please steer clear if your kid has the sniffles.

3) I will find ways to give back or get involved in any capacity I can. I’ve already talked about Breakfast with Krampus, but my financial buddy puts on an annual fundraiser every December that benefits two local non-profits called Farley’s Friends Give Back. This year’s event takes place on December 2 and will benefit the Rahema Home and Fairport Baptist Homes. There will be snacks, raffle items, and all sorts of amusement for a good cause.

4) In lieu of our annual post-Christmas/ pre-New Year dinner celebration, I’m spending some quality time with my high-school peeps right now since everyone seems to be in town. Here are a couple of us with Santa last year. And just ignore that giant goblet in front. Santa knows that we’re only occasionally naughty.

Santa-ngelo's in Liverpool, NY

Santangelo’s Santa in Liverpool, NY

5) I will bake my mother’s cut-out cookies at some point. Recipe can be found here. Disregard the rainbow sprinkles pictured and substitute with holiday colors of your choice. I may have a few other holiday baked goods up my sleeve as well.

6) While I will participate in my friend’s annual ornament exchange and have developed quite the ornament collection, I still refuse to put up a tree for the 6th year in a row. Come on now, people. “Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that!”

Sweet Brown

If You’re Going Through Hell…

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Keep going. You said it, Winston Churchill. The Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) topic of the day is motivation. I find this amusing and ironic, since I’m presently procrastinating while perusing this flask design for the holidays and future use:

Design by Anne Taintor

Design by Anne Taintor

I’d like to pair it with a coaster emblazoned with this:

Coaster design by MikWright

Coaster design by MikWright

Okay, so I’m having a little fun with this topic, but let’s break it down. We live in a culture that praises productivity and getting items checked off the proverbial “to-do” list. Frankly, I get exhausted just listening to it. I’m not saying we should be lazy or miss deadlines. I’m actually proposing we stop perpetuating the cycle of rewarding those who quickly turn out half-assed stuff just to “Get ‘er done.”

Instead, let’s take some time to inhale that coffee we are drinking, think about the origin of those beans, flavor notes, and why that coffee tastes so damn good. Yes. Procrastination is actually a good thing for creative people because it allows for great ideas to percolate. I guess that I would argue that if you’re going through hell, by all means move forward. However, you may want to take a minute to explore what landed you there in the first place so you don’t wind up in that hot mess all over again. Simply passing through doesn’t really teach you anything for future use.

When I was writing my graduate thesis, we had an entire year to complete the project and guess what? I ended up writing it in three weeks during the month of April. I graduated the second week in May. Did I require any special assistance or extensions? No. Did I make a big, giant, “to-do” list? Nope, and I got a 4.0. I’m not telling you this to brag or give you the sense that I like living on the edge. I’m merely stating that everyone works at their own pace and in their own style. Was I doing nothing else that entire year? Absolutely not. I think everything that was going on at the time provided me with the best content; and was essential in bringing me to the place I needed to be so I could articulate all of my thoughts into words and images. I’ve come to accept that the right combination of procrastination, pressure, and motivation is a necessary process for me to produce the best quality work. They key is knowing yourself and how to apply that combination.

So can we stop infringing our excessive “to-do” lists on others, thereby creating more anxiety? Let’s start embracing different styles of working and accept that what motivates one person might not motivate another. Focus on priorities and what is truly important. Spend time with family, friends, and other interests because they are a source of support and inspiration. Yes. Take the time to “stop and smell the roses.” But definitely don’t get caught doing it in someone else’s yard. Dude, that’s just creepy.