After 9 months of traveling, cooking, volunteering, visiting family and contracting, I start working full time again on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to going back to work full time, but am a little sad about having less time to cook and try new recipes. From desserts to Asian foods, I can honestly say that I've gotten better as a cook. I can now properly pan sear scallops, make a restaurant quality Thai noodle dish, and cream butter and sugar for baked goods. Twenty more years of practice and I might actually be good at this cooking thing :-)
Recipes tried over the past 6 weeks 1) Pretzel crunch 2) Fruity pebbles cookies 3) Compost cookies (potato chips and pretzel mix-ins) 4) Cornflake marshmallow chocolate chip cookies 5) Apple pie cake (with frosting that tastes like pie crust) 6) Pecan "crack pie" 7) Candy bar pie (peanut butter nougat on top of salted caramel and chocolate) 8) Thai curry mashed potatoes 9) Brussels sprouts with pancetta and garlic 10) Green bean casserole (from scratch) 11) Seafood miso soup 12) Mushroom soup 13) Italian wedding soup 14) Portuguese kale soup 15) Gluten free monkey bread 16) Gluten free apple pie cake 17) Gluten free cornflake cookies 18) Gomae (Japanese spinach with sesame seeds) 19) Thai steamed turbot (from Ellie Krieger) 20) Slanted Door's crab cellophane noodles 21) Raclette 22) Sausage and swiss quiche with hashbrown crust
While looking for some holiday gifts for the family pets I ran across these little gems. They're funny in an "ewwww, gross!" kind of way. I couldn't bring myself to buy them, but if you're looking for a gift for someone with a dark sense of humor, these just might do the trick.
I started to explore doing some pro bono marketing work for the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. They rescue, rehabilitate and release distressed marine mammals on the northern California coasts - and they typically get the most calls for seals and sea lions.
An artist in Oregan collected trash that washed up on her beach over time and turned it into sculptures that educate the public on the dangers of ocean trash to marine life. Seals mistake some items for food and get ensnared in others. I won't post photos here but it's heartbreaking to see a seal pup that's trying to grow with a six pack soda ring or abandoned fishing line around his neck. Unless they're found and rescued, they won't make it.
The good news is that this type of thing can be minimized if we watch our consumption of plastics, and recycle what we do use. Try using a refillable water bottle instead of those cases of disposable ones, and save up those empties until you find a recycling bin. We only recycle 7% of the 15 billion TONS of plastic we use each year. I think we can do better.
If you're near Sausalito, stop by the center. You'll see the rest of their incredible sculptures and may get to meet a patient or two. But be warned. They're stinky. One story told at orientation was of a well meaning officer who placed a lost sea lion pup in his police cruiser. Let's just say that car was never put back in service. :-)
A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook that we were seated near Sammy Hagar for Brett's birthday dinner at El Paseo (the restaurant Sammy Hagar co-owns with Tyler Florence).
Brett saw him immediately (or rather, he saw his hair) - and when we were seated at a table nearby, Brett chose the seat facing away from Sammy so he wouldn't be tempted to stare. Brett played it cool all night until Sammy got up to talk with Tyler in the kitchen. Sammy walked right past us, and on his way back he stopped to greet some tables. Unfortunately he didn't stop at ours. I knew Brett was disappointed, because I watched his eyes follow the former Van Halen star around the room. I also watched a sly smirk creep onto his face and noticed a twinkle in his eye as he pondered what he'd say if Sammy stopped by. By the end of the night, we went home without meeting him, and Sammy enjoyed his dinner uninterrupted.
The next day unbeknownst to Brett, I emailed the restaurant and asked them if they'd have Sammy sign a restaurant menu. They agreed and put it in the mail. When Brett got back from his business trip, he picked up the envelope, said "Did my mom send us a gift certificate?" and then after opening it - gave a long skeptical "Riiight...." He looked at me and said "is this your handwriting? Did you tell my mom? You had something to do with this didn't you?" I feigned ignorance for about 3 seconds and then burst out laughing, telling him the story and that the signature was likely legit. We had a few more good laughs and then stuck the paper on a shelf for a reminder of a fun night and an even funnier joke.
If you can't read the scrawl, it says "Brett - I saw you gnawing on that bone. Nice work Pal. - Sammy" (I may have fed Sammy his line - but he's still a stand up guy in my book).
Many years ago I saw a really cool looking bottle of hand soap at the store made by a company called Method Home. I liked the design of the package so I tossed it in my cart. It worked and smelled great, and I later discovered that their complete line of home and personal care products are all natural. What more could a girl ask for? Cute packaging, good for the environment (and my health) and it actually works. I was hooked.
As a marketer, I've continued to admire them and have been impressed by their punchy copy (ex: People against dirty), their cool partnership with Virgin America, and their creative user engagement tactics.
In their "laundry room love" video they asked fans to submit video of themselves doing scripted moves and then stitched them together into a master video. Fun stuff.
Then last week I was in the city in a cafe, and the Method Home biodiesel truck pulled up. On the back was an e-mail address and a message offering "handsome rewards" for those that wrote in saying where they spotted the truck. I wrote in, and got a voucher for a free product in the mail.
Needless to say, it was a positive experience with their brand, and I remain a raving fan.
I recently went to a birthday party where I knew just one person: the birthday girl. I assumed my afternoon would be filled with awkward small talk with other guests while she flitted around greeting her many friends. I couldn't have been more wrong.
I met a balloon artist: Brian Asman who runs a business called Balloons Equal Fun. Now, I know you're probably thinking "Big deal Lori. A guy who makes animals out of balloons" - but this isn't your average balloon guy. Go, go, GO to his web site and click through the "folks, decor and twisted" photo galleries to the left of the main image. It's truly amazing. He even does personal caricatures and has worked corporate events for companies like Yelp and personal parties for stars like Robin Williams.
Brian makes INCREDIBLE Balloon art. He wasn't working at the party, but when he casually showed me a few of his photos on his phone, I immediately said "you could be the Duff or Cake Boss of the balloon world." Then he told me TLC had already taped 6 episodes of a show called "Unpoppables" profiling a team of "balloon artists" working together for events. You can see another clip here:
Personally I think the show would have been better with just Brian, but I'm probably biased given my chance to meet him and see him and see his work firsthand. It just goes to prove that you never know who you're going to meet and that there are fascinating stories to be heard in the least expected situations. Thanks Robin, for inviting me to meet your friends. As they said in Avenue Q, "There is life outside your apartment."