meat and three…hold the meat

I love a plate of good southern vegetables. I don’t even need meat when my plate is filled with yummy southern veggies-fried okra, corn, butter beans, collards, sweet potatoes, field peas and much much more. My grandmother’s country cookin’ was the best. No one….I mean no one could ever cook collards (Collard Greens) quite the way she did…not to mention the spicy sweet chow chow that she made to top the greens.

We all have comfort foods and we use those comfort foods to soothe our souls. I don’t feel anything real stressful or challenging…yet I am craving comfort foods. Cookies yesterday, southern veggies today.

My schedule was stacked so I didn’t have much time to pursue lunch, yet I couldn’t quite shake the veggie craving. I pass by an S&S cafeteria everyday on my way in for lunch- though I have never eaten there, so I decided to give it a shot. Not too far from the office and an easy place for take out. I ordered a plate with four veggies- green beans, collards, fried green tomatoes and squash casserole. They were out of the fried green tomatoes so I subbed for cooked cabbage.

Oh dear….perhaps it was because it was after 1:00 before I could get out for lunch, BUT these were the WORST, MUSHY, overcooked, over salted veggies I have ever tasted. I’d like to think my standards are too high, but it had been so long since I’ve had a veggie plate such as this, I feel certain I wasn’t being overly picky.

Now I know that a cafeteria is designed for the blue hairs and they probably eat around 11…but seriously this place should have been flat out embarrassed to serve up a plate such as this. Only a few bites taken and I was finishing out my lunch with Halloween candy. Candy corn is considered a veggie right?

No one will ever be able to cook up veggies quite like my Momo…so I guess my comfort food cravings will have to be satisfied with precious memories of days spent with her shucking corn and making peach preserves!

Everything but the kitchen sink

Crazy cookie craving. Can’t seem to get enough carbs. I tried an “everything but the kitchen sink” cookie from the Fresh Market today. I wonder if they have a recipe or if they really just throw a bunch of leftover stuff together. So this cookie had white chocolate, milk chocolate, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, raisins, oatmeal and maybe other things I didn’t recognize. Very interesting. It was quite tasty. I loved the combo of nuts. How often do we get cookies with all kinds of nuts? Love the savory and the sweet. Stop by the Fresh Market for a sweet treat and an unexpected surprise!

Welcome to Singapore

Welcome to Singapore. Southeast Asia. First impressions after over 30 hours of travel:

 I finally made it. The airport was very clean and prganized with great signage for directions- thank goodness since I was so tired I was seeing double!

The taxi line at 11:45 pm was long…yet it moved fast and the man at the front directing everyone through wore an interesting uniform and sophisticated white gloves. I love a white glove treatment- perfect. Every cab looked new.

As we drove off, we proceeded down a multiple lane tree lines highway. Highrise buildings everywhere. As we continued, the trees continued. No graphitti. Nothing out of place. It all looked perfect. We progressed through the city. Barely any traffic (though it was quite late….you’d think a city with nearly 5 million people would be busy all of the time). No horns. No lively people on the street. No homeless. Nothing out of place. My first impression is quite a good reflection of the city as a whole. Singapore is like a type A city with every t crossed and i dotted. I can’t wait to explore more.

Comfort First

I love the romantic notion of strutting through the airport as a world traveler- dressed to the nine, chic yet casual, fab luggage, designer handbag and a grande Starbucks latte- Picture a cute actress, snapped by the paparazzi and featured in People magazine.

ok but seriously…now lets talk about me. Not glam. No designer luggage. No paparazzi. Maybe a Starbucks latte.

As I began to pack for this 30 hour travel deal, I threw romantic notions out the window…comfort first. I really do usually try to look sophisticated while traveling but in light of this gruelling trip, I decided to go with a backpack as a carry-on. I definitely haven’t carried a backpack since I was 20 headed to Europe. And I must say…the back pack is very practical. Easy to carry, easy to pack. Not so chic but so practical.

And for added comfort, I bought some new moisturizing socks. They are extra fluffy and are  moisturizing. I don’t know how this works…I think it may be a false promise. These socks will be perfect and cozy for the flights. I’ll just snuggle up with my blankie and catch some z’s over the pacific. Bon Voyage friends!

Powerpoint- You’ve come a long way baby!

We’re down to the wire getting ready for my upcoming presentation. My presentation coach suggested that I embed the videos into my presentation. Oh dear. It’s been a while since I put video into a presentation. Back in the day it took serious work to get a video into the presentation. AND…how in the world could I get the video downloaded from You Tube. I’ve never done this before. Pressure is on…leaving in 24 hours.

First step- google “how to down load you tube video”. Lots of options and great advice. I easily downloaded a tool that would enable me to download the video. Next step- embed into powerpoint. Imagine my delight to realize that there is now a video button in Powerpoint that quickly and easily allows a video to be placed into the presentation. Presto. Done. Videos now live in powerpoint. No clicking back and forth! I think I am ready to hop on the plane (just as soon as everything fits into my suitcase!).

Preparing for a Global Audience

Public Speaking 101- Picture your audience naked.  That is the most ridiculous advice I have ever heard. Who thought of that? I have never had a fear of public speaking- but seriously- picturing the audience naked would add greater anxiety rather than relieve it for me (espeicially knowing several who will be in the audience).

Though I may be a little better than the average presenter, I have never had any real training. So I met with a presentation coach, Sherry Wyatt of Wheless-Wyatt Communications , today to work on my social media presentation for the upcoming Praxity presentation in Singapore. Definitely a good idea before taking the global stage!  Here are a couple of things I learned:

1. Cut cut cut- make your presentation as concise as possible
2. If the schedule is running late- make up the time by cutting your presentation. This demonstrates you are a professional.
3. Maintain control by offering a closing AFTER questions.
4. Memorize your opening lines to get the presentation started with energy
5. Include room temp water on the podium (not cold) to keep your vocal chords warm
6. Be prepared to do your presentation without visuals
7. Number your notecards just in case you drop them
8. You cannot be over prepared…practice practice…think through all details
9. Make eye contact with person asking question at the beginning of the answer, then scan the room and direct answer to the entire room (and repeat question if ther is not a mic for the person asking the question)

They think of everything…

The Japanese are so genius. They think of EVERYTHING. Seriously. EVERYTHING.  Take a look at this toilette from the Nortita Airport in Tokyo. I have never, in all my travels, seen such a sophisticated toilette. This gives new meaning to man’s thrown!

Take a look at the control panel on this toilette....I love the "flushing" sound option!

Patience is a virtue

Patience is a virtue…or so they say. I wouldn’t really know as I have very little patience! Today I took a Performance Indicator Test (PI). This is an interesting personality test- there are only two questions. One- select all of the attributes you would use to describe yourself. Two- Select all of the attributes others would use to describe you.

I was incredibly blown away at how accurate this test described me. Obviously based on the title of this blog post, I discovered that my patience score was very low. I want it now. I want it fast. I want it immediately. That’s why tonight when I got home and was a little hungry, I couldn’t wait 30 minutes for dinner…I stuffed my face with popcorn…and was not hungry for the delish dinner that was prepared. oops!

On the flip side, having a low patience score means that I am driven, results focused and action oriented. Yin and Yang! There can always be a positive…even for a negative. (oh and did I mention that the test showed I was incredibly optimistic!)

Pumpkin Everything

Have you ever noticed that pumpkin is added to virtually everything in the Fall? There is pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pound cake, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin sorbet…and I just discovered chipotle pumpkin salsa. The moment I saw it, I knew I needed to try it. Not simply because it was “pumpkin salsa” but because it was made by Rick Bayless, a James Beard chef who specializing in Mexican cuisine. AND whose restaurant, Topolobampo, is on my Chicago bucket list.

I wasn’t really sure what this pumpkin orange salsa would taste like. The smokey chipoltle peppers gave the salsa a rich campfire aroma and the flavor was an interesting combo of tangy tomatillos and earthy pumpkin. This salsa definitely had some kick and was a little too rich to be just consumed as a dipping salsa. It really needed to accompany and slow roasted pork tenderloin or a lean flank steak. The pepper flavor lingered like fireworks in my mouth-a delish celebration of Fall.