First Signs of Fall

The morning air is a bit cooler. Some of the leaves have begun to change. Apples are beginning to be harvested. The first signs of fall are upon us. Though the thermometer says it is 95 degrees, my heart says..hurry up fall. Bring on football games, blue jeans and the fall harvest.

My in-laws went up to the mountains this weekend and came back with a big bag of apples- fresh picked from an orchard. I just had to find a perfect apple dish to kick off the fall harvest. How about cranberry, caramel baked apples. Just like a caramel apple from the state fair…but with a hint of cranberry flavor.

The recipe called for me to core the apple using a melon baller (a recent purchase to help with my watermelon “cake”).  I had never cored an apple! Something new to go along with the new dish. I baked the apples with the cranberry caramel for about an hour. After baking, I reduced the sauce then poured back on the apple….pooling it in the carved out core. I then topped it with whipped cream. OMG. TASTY. Tart and sweet all at once. The apple was cooked to perfection…soft but not mushy. The caramel sauce was a perfect combo of deep sweet and a light citrus. One bite and I was transported back to the North Carolina State Fair at age 8.

Happy Fall Ya’ll.

Sometimes making a fist helps

We often take our health for granted. Me-Especially. I don’t even have a regular doctor. I rarely feel bad….and actually exercise to keep my bounds of energy at bay. I don’t know what it is like to feel pain everyday. I am very blessed.

But recently, my wrist has become inflamed and is very painful to move. Today for the first time, I couldn’t do a yoga pose because of physical pain. So I tried something NEW!  Rather than putting pressure on my wrist and hands for plank and updog, I put my weight onto my fist. This prevented the wrist from being wrist and created a straight line between my hand and my elbow. It wasn’t the most comfortable pose, but it prevented the streaks of pain from running up my arm.

I think I may need to go visit a doctor….this isn’t good. I’ll go nuts without my yoga.

Turkey Jerky

What could be more weird than beef jerky? Turkey jerky!  Are you thinking YUCK or YUM??? I woke up starving this morning. Enjoyed my protein shake…but was starving shortly after. I am on a high protein diet (gotta lose those five pounds of summer cocktail weight I gained) and let’s just say there aren’t a lot options on I-85 at 9am. So I wheeled in to a truck stop to see what I could find.  NOT MUCH

I did find a $6.50 package of turkey jerky at the Love Truck Stop just outside of Gaffney. Not too appetising but my options were limited and my stomach was growling. It’s terribly gross that I like jerky. Dried meat. How barbaric. But at 100 calories and 0.5 fat grams, it was a bargain on the weight loss front. Washed down with a coke zero…and I was on the road again!

Melts in your mouth, not in your hands

Peanut M&Ms are my all time favorite american chocolate candy. They take me back to child hood. The easter bunny used to bring them in my easter basket…the easter bunny must have been a fan of peanut m&ms too. The peanuts give me the false impression that I am being kind of healthy in my candy choice! Luckily for me, one of my co-workers keeps a bowl on her desk…and I “borrow” a few everyday!

I am often asked to speak on various marketing topics and I ALWAYS kick it off with a brief overview of the m&m brand to get folks to thinking about the evolution of brands. What a great study of a brand that has evolved with the times, yet remained true to the inherent brand. And don’t ya just love the m&m people. They even  have their own twitter and facebook pages. Ms. Green is my fave-what a sassy gal.

I love a little salty with my sweet. So the new inclusion of a pretzel in the middle was music to my ears. What a great combo. This new flavor is fantastic. Next time the devil on your shoulder is craving some chocolate, give these sweet treats a taste!  You won’t be disappointed.

Taking Risks

Sometimes it is a bit scary to take a risk. Whether that risk is a financial risk, an emotional risk or even a simple design risk. There is something inherently human that gives a little thrust of adrenaline when risk is imminant…whether the risk is significant or not.

Over the weekend, I fell in love with these great rusted birdcage light fixtures. They had a fab old patina and probably date from the late 1800’s. And the beauty was there were two!  I have no idea where these came from…or even why someone would have two identical birdcages…nor do I know how some creative spirit thought to turn the cages into light fixtures. All I knew…was love….love at first sight. But where could I put these beauties?

Several months ago I found these really safe…basic…nondescript penant lights in Pottery Barn that I decided to use over the kitchen island. They would provide a nice clean look and not distract from other areas of focus. But then along came the bird cages. Could they work? Would they be too large? Too obtrusive? Not to scale?

Fear set in. What if they look ridiculous? What if they don’t provide enough light? What if they are too over the top? Oh the decision. What to do? I wanted someone else to make the decision…to convince me these were a bad idea…to afirm these were a great idea. But ultimately, the decision was mine…and I was the one who would have to live with these fixtures forever. FOREVER. That is a long time.

My heart raced just thinking about them. After a couple of days of deep consideration, I realized that this fear, this risks, was silly. They were just light fixtures…and if they looked  stupid, I could easily change them. It wasn’t forever. I decided to take the leap…buy the cages and see what happened. Afterall, it was love at first sight…and how could that ever be wrong?

The Real Deal

If you have kept up with my blogs, you know that I have been on a quest to learn how to make sin pots. Now I know!  To celebrate our dear friend A’s birthday, we hired Cynthia Williams to come over for a cooking demonstration which was a complete surprise to A. Aren’t birthday surprises so much fun! 

Surprise!

A. couldn’t even believe that we were there celebrating her birthday with a live cooking demo just for her! What a treat for us all.

The main course was a FAB sweet potato encrusted mahi with a balsamic vinegar reduction and topped with spinach and a roasted tomato! What an interesting combo. And for dessert, our local favorite…Sin Pots!  I am not sure I could replicate…the recipe was a secret…but at least I now know the ingredients! And I have to admit…part of the fun of a sin pot is being at the Augusta Grill. But hey…at least I now know! Mystery Solved.

Rasberry Lemonade

Nothing says summer like raspberry lemonade…and our summer days are coming to an end. The air is beginning to change and I know that Fall is just around the corner. Today I bought raspberry lemonade gum to remind me of summer…even though I was very much stuck in the office and far, far away from enjoying summer fun. I’ve never had this flavor before….quite a tasty combo. I think I chewed half of the pack today. I’ve found that smacking gum is a great stress reliever. Hopefully no one will catch me mid bubble…that would be tragic.

My Word

What is one word to describe yourself? One word. Easy enough right? I have been deliberating this question now for weeks.  It all began when a reporter from Greenville Magazine asked me to provide five words that describe myself. I asked the natural question- Do you mean words that I would use to describe myself…or words that others would use to describe me. We all know there is a potential for differing answers on this one! I polled a number of friends and colleagues who know me fairly well, and came up with a nice mix of descriptors: adventurous, optimistic, curious, zealous, fun. But really…I wouldn’t feel good about using any ONE of these words as the sole descriptor of me…my essence. Me to the core.

So then…that  very same week, some girlfriends and I went to see “Eat, Pray, Love” and there I was again, faced by Elizabeth Gilbert with the very same question- What one word describes me? My word. My core. My essence. Damn…the universe is making me do some serious introspective deliberation. In the quiet of the day this question has lingered…In the busiest time of the day, this question has lingered. I searched my sole. One word just couldn’t do….I am a mix of things…some really juxtaposed against each other. I’m a little bit small town….yet…a little bit big city. I love highly sophisticated art but collect incredibly basic folk art. I navigate to fine dining at Michelin starred restaurants…yet crave good ol’ southern bbq.

And after weeks of soul searching…the conclusing hit me hard…I commingle. How could I have not seen my word from the beginning of the quest?  After all, it’s the name I chose for my blog. COMMINGLE- to mix or mingle together; to blend. A fine word I fell in love with at age 12.  A fine word to describe me- age 34.

What is your word?

Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap

Good, Big and Cheap! Anything described in this way, must be worth knowing about. I woke up early and decided to head out to the Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book sale- a benefit for the Gville Literacy Association.

I’m so not a girl for crowds…especially the general public. Not that I think I am better than others…but being a petit girl, crowds make me feel a little claustrophobic because I can’t see anything but people’s back sides..and sometimes that just isn’t pretty. I saw that you could pay a little extra to get in early and beat the crowd. Perfect. I arrived about 30 minutes before the public opening. The line of folks wrapped around the building (an old mall)- people of all shapes and sizes, carrying big tote bags, baskets and roller luggage…all to load up on books. I quickly skipped up to the front of the line…paid my extra bucks and headed in. OMG. I have never in my life. There were millions of books- all neatly organized and categorized. What a dream! But I only had 15 minutes before the masses arrived so this trip needed to be short and sweet. I loaded up with five home decor books, a birthday cake cook book and two general cook books for a friend who is trying to cook at home more often. So that is 8 books…nearly new…for a whopping $29. I now get it…that’s why all of those people had suitcases! To haul off all of the good, cheap books!

Next year, I’ll plan to arrive at 7:30…and bring my suitcase!

no recipe required

Peaches and fish…I was skeptical of the combo. C has a natural ability to pair foods, spices and wines. It’s amazing. He can totally just make up a dish with whatever happens to be around. I, on the other hand, must follow a recipe to a “t”. I proudly admit, that I can easily pick a good recipe from a bad one and really have an instinct for knowing what will be good together…but I don’t have the imagination to dream up a recipe.

Exhausted from a long week, we decided to make do with what we had in the house for dinner…some frozen mahi, some fresh peaches and some french green beans. I left C. in charge of dinner….assuming we would have grilled fish, a side of green beans and sliced peaches for dessert. Imagine my surprise when I came to the table to find a beautiful piece of grilled mahi, topped with a spicy peach puree flavored with cumin!  Fish and peaches? Really? How did he think of this combo. Never in a million years would I have ever thought to make a peach puree for the fish. The taste was delightful- the sweet of the peach paired with the spice of cumin and hot pepper really complemented the fish. No recipe required! That C is such a clever man. Glad I married a true gourmet. Cheers to a Friday night romantic dinner for two!