Me, Me, Me

Have you ever hung out with someone who loves telling you stories about themselves?

I spent 16 years in sales and for many of those years I managed a slew of sales reps.  Oh, you can just imagine!

Me, me, me!

Christmas parties were probably the funniest!  Ever been in a room with 200 inflated egos, trying to talk over each other to tout their latest achievement?  For the spouses and significant others at the party, it was no picnic…they were all clustered together at the bar the whole night!

During my time in the world of sales I learned that there are 2 types of people out there selling:  those that listen and those that talk.  Both of these types sell.  No question about it.  However, the most successful were the ones who took the time to ask questions of others and sit back and listen.  I used to remind my sales team that they had two ears and one mouth for a reason!  And tried to encourage them not to take over any conversation.

Be aware.  The most important thing you can do when you’re having a conversation with someone is to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself if what you’re saying is:

A) necessary

B) self-congratulating

C) self-promoting

D) derogatory

E) condescending

F) selfish

etc ,etc, etc…

Because nobody wants to be near that person at the party!

Don’t self-aggrandize or boast.

Being self-centered will ultimately isolate you!

Those who are humble are usually the ones who have more to boast about and yet they let others talk about their accomplishments.  And they have so many more loyal friends.  Ever notice that?

Those who feel they need to self-aggrandize can be self-centered and insecure.  They may need to be the center of attention because they crave it or they may need to loudly tout their “accomplishments”, condescend and make themselves feel superior because they may be shallow, weak and completely insecure about their own choices and character.  Yikes!  That doesn’t sound like someone fun to be around!

I was recently in a conversation with someone who came right out and said that they were not interested in talking to anyone who was not well-educated or well-traveled.  Double yikes!  What a sad way to go through life!  Think about all of the incredibly interesting people and life stories they’ll miss out on. Their egotistical pursuit of like-minded narcissist companions will keep them from the enrichment brought about by hanging out with all types of people and will most likely result in a lot of time spent alone.

Steer clear of people like this, as they are not truly interested in your best interest, in who you are and in what is going on in your life.  They may view you as a threat to them and therefore they may try to one-up you and belittle you and your choices to make themselves feel better about themselves.

Find people with humility.  Someone who is modest is usually a person who is extremely bright and talented and unselfish and caring.  Stick with this guy/gal.

Be humble yourself.  You’ll find that your life is enriched by listening to others, instead of talking about yourself, and you will be more approachable and more trusted.

Surround yourself with people who make you want to be a better you; but not those who speak so highly of themselves as to purposely make you feel bad about the person you already are and what you have to offer.  You are awesome…but don’t be the one to tell everyone!

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Smoked Trout Dip (Oui! Oui!)

Here’s one you’ll want in your repertoire.  Unbelievable!  Quick, fresh, classy…An impressive dish to serve at your next cocktail party!

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Smoked Trout Dip…here we go!

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You’ll need to start with 8 ounces of smoked trout, or any smoked fish you can get your hands on.

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Tear into the flesh of the fish with two forks and pull it apart as you would with pulled pork.

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Place flaked fish into a large bowl…

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add 1/4 cup softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sour cream and 1 tablespoon heavy cream…

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mix together with a fork…

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finely chop 1 tablespoon fresh dill and 2 tablespoons fresh chives…

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add to mixture in bowl…

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grab one medium size clove of garlic…

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grate it over the delicious contents of the bowl.

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Combine with the forks.IMG_8187

Cut a lemon in half.

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Squeeze the juice of 1/2 of the lemon in with the fish…

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add 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (oh yeah!  There’s seafood in this dish and I’m from New England, so… of course!)…

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1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper…

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a couple of dashes of tabasco and a couple of dashes of worcestershire sauce, and then a couple more dashes.

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Combine all ingredients with the 2 forks, taste to make certain that it is adequately seasoned…

serve with crackers….

and Ta Da!  A glorious appetizer to wow your guests!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

Have an outlet

Run, swim, do yoga, walk, take classes, join a sewing circle, a book club, a weekly outdoors group, golf….

Find an escape that’s healthy for your mind or your body.

Do something that hits the reset button for you.

It’s so necessary.  Especially if you have kids.  Get – out – of – the – house! Make it an activity that’s just for you.

Try not to become fanatical about it.  The last thing you want is to be so obsessed with your hobby that you become highly agitated if you cannot fit it into your schedule.

But find something you enjoy, you look forward to, you feel great after doing and can’t wait till the next opportunity to do it again.

Preferably, you’ll have a couple, or a few hobbies that you enjoy that are outlets for your frustrations, stress or case of “Groundhog Day”.  Weave in one or two of them in a week if possible, and try to partake in at least 2 of them per month.

It’s important to keep your interests alive, for you to have a life outside the home, outside the hubby and the kids.  Remember that you are a unique, interesting individual.  That you had pastimes that you enjoyed, long before anyone else came along and laid claim to all of your time and energy!

Reacquaint yourself with those passions.  Find new ones.  Meet people with the same interests and make new friends!  Reconnect with old ones and arrange get-togethers.  Make a weekly lunch date or at least a monthly one.

Or make a lunch or dinner date with yourself.  Bring a book.  Enjoy the quiet.  Grab some alone time so you can appreciate the fullness of your life and schedule.

Grab some you time so that you can appreciate the life you share with your family and loved ones…

 

French Toast – the French way

“Pain perdu” is what the French call it, literally translated to “lost bread”.  Not certain why they called it this and have thus come up with  my own brilliant hypothesis that it has something to do with fact that the bread used in french toast is supposed to be at a least a few days old, therefore “lost” to any other uses…

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Oh my goodness!  What is this magnificence pictured above, you ask? Oh yes…let me tell you all about how to prepare this most memorable french toast in the comfort of your own kitchen!

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The custard – of course there’s a custard, it’s French! – is so simple to make it seems unlikely that it will create as much flavor as it does.

You’ll need a little less than 1 cup of milk in a large bowl (meaning don’t fill it to the tippy-top of the measuring cup…)…

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add a heaping 1/2 cup (scoop out the sugar with the measuring cup and if it’s overflowing, that’s what you want!) of white sugar to the milk ( you can also add 1/8 cup of vanilla sugar, too, to send it over the moon!)…

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Add 3 eggs and whisk.  And whisk.  And whisk.  And whisk. And whisk until your arm falls off and then keep on whisking.  You’re looking to really combine all 3 ingredients, especially the eggs.

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Ohhhhhh, the bread.  Soooo important to get the right bread…

Look for a brioche or sweet bread or challah, for the yummiest results.  Although white bread of some sort will work beautifully as well.

The secret to the bread, no matter which kind you get, is that it be at least a few days old.  So, if you plan to make french toast on Sunday morning, purchase the bread on Friday, at least!  Then let it sit out to get a bit stale.  The more stale and dry it is, the better the results!

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Slice the bread to at least 1/2 – 1 inch thickness.  Soak the slices in the egg mixture on one side until absorbed and then flip to soak the other side.

What happens next is up to you…

I will tell you the conventional way to make french toast and then blow your mind with a delicious, sure-fire way to make them incredibly each time!

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The 1st way, the conventional method, to cook the French toast is to add them to a hot, buttered skillet.  The skillet needs to be hot, over medium heat, so that the custard doesn’t leak out of the toast as you set it in the pan.  This will also ensure that your custard will set, and that your toast will be cooked all the way through.  Heavenly!

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The 2nd way, the one that’ll blow your sox off, is to put your drenched slices of toast on a buttered sheet pan, sprinkle them all with some brown sugar and cook them for 30 minutes at 375 degrees in your oven.   Unbelievable!

The custard sets perfectly and the sugar caramelizes into the crevices on the top of the bread slices and mmmmm, mmmm, mmmm is it good!

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Serve with maple syrup and try not to lick your fingers between each delicious bite…

Goodness the French know how to take a dish from great to exquisite!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

Sins of the Father

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Have you ever read The Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carloyn Chute?

Love Medicine reminded me very much of that book.  Most likely because The Beans portrays family life that could be found not only in the backwoods of Maine, but in some neighborhoods of the Adirondacks, the cold reaches of the Dakotas, or as in Love Medicine, a Native American reservation.

An infinite loop of poverty, desperation, hard luck, the men drinking and in jail, the women always pregnant, a lot of children, most of them related in some fashion…

Lives interwoven, fates predetermined by lineage (sins of the father), many outlooks bleak…

This book was written in the late 80s and was well acclaimed then.  I picked it up at a used bookstore in the early 90s, knowing that it was one of those types of books that I needed to have read in my lifetime.  I have since passed by it on the bookshelf for a good 15 years, and never reached out to grab it.  And now am so glad that I did…

This book is not a page-turner.  It doesn’t grip you with suspense, or take you to a fantasy land of wizards and magic, nor does it promise love and a happily ever after story.  It is an honest account of Native American life, of which I did not know much of.  And it is a brutal honesty…

This book can now be found on all kinds of book lists; the bucket list of books, best books ever written, everyone should read lists, etc.

Love Medicine was important to me as an anthropological study of the life of the American Indian portrayed in a stark fashion.  And unless you are of Native American descent, you may not be very familiar with life on an Indian reservation, the culture, the beliefs, the pull of the ancestral land and of what lies beyond it.

After reading this book, you’ll be fascinated with it all…

Naturally sweet fruit salad

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Every time I make this fruit salad, as simple as it is, someone asks me what I did to it to make it so tasty.  Usually, when I find something tasty it has a lot of butter, sugar, heavy cream or bacon in it.  The beauty of some delicious cooking however, lie in the ingredients themselves and making them shine.

The fruit that I picked for my fruit salad is not all in season right now.  However, I tried to pick the most ripe and beautiful smelling fruit I could get my hands on and find that doing so makes this especially wonderful.  Of course, any fruit that you use that’s in season will bring this over the top!

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How can you tell if a pineapple is ripe?  First, look at it.  If it is yellowish in color, you’ve got a winner.  A greenish looking pineapple is not ripe and will not ripen anymore than it is, once picked.  Secondly, smell it.  If it smells like a delicious pineapple, it is!  Thirdly, hold the one you like in one hand and a greenish one in the other.  The one that is ripe will feel heavier.

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cut off the top…

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stand it up on its bottom…

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cut off the sides, all 4…

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till you’re left with this rectangle.  See the faint circle in the middle of the top?  That’s the core and you will want to stay away from that as you chop the pineapple.  The core is very tough and fibrous and not much fun to eat.  You don’t want it to be part of your glorious salad!  Cut about 1/2 inch or so away from the core…

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and chop…

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You’ll fill the bottom of your bowl with the juicy pineapple. Yum!

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Next you’ll need a navel orange.

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Slice it in half.

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Squeeze the juice of each half right on top of the pineapple.

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You’ll need 2 bananas (these are perfect!)…

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sliced…

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and added right into the bowl with the pineapple.

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These glorious fruits are so vibrant in color and flavor that I love to add them to my fruit salads.  Peeled and…

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chopped.

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Then the blueberries, rinsed.  Oooooo the color!  Can you get over the fact that there is a food out there that is naturally blue?!

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Speaking of color…it is the Christmas season after all!  Hulled, rinsed, and sliced strawberries.

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Look how beautiful it is!  Don’t you just want to eat it now?  Not yet….you’ll be missing out….

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Here it is.  What sends this fruit salad over the edge.  Honey.  This amazing, golden nectar of the gods. Nature’s sweetener.

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Drizzle all over the top of the salad.  Combine, gently.

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

 

Embrace the Spirit

Embrace the Holiday spirit…

  • Make the time.

 

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  • Bake and decorate cookies with your little one.

 

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  • Watch Xmas movies with your hubby

 

  • Go on a date night Xmas shopping

 

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  • have a Xmas party

 

  • Shop early
  • Wrap early
  • Don’t get stressed
  • Read Xmas books
  • sing Xmas carols
  • play the radio station in your area that only plays Xmas songs after Thanksgiving

 

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  • eat too much

 

  • buy an ugly Xmas sweater
  • wear an ugly Xmas sweater
  • incorporate eggnog into your drinks as often as possible

 

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  • freeze cranberries and use them as ice cubes, whenever, in whatever you’re drinking, just because it looks festive

 

 

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  • decorate, decorate, decorate

 

  • make green and red food dishes
  • have your child’s picture taken on Santa’s lap
  • write a letter to Santa with your child and mail it to the North Pole (most post offices have a special ‘mailbox’ and ‘Santa’ sends a letter in response!)
  • send Xmas cards with a family pic…even if your family is all grown-up
  • pay attention to the lights and decorations
  • take a ride with your little ones at night to admire the lit up homes, find the ones with the most blow-ups…
  • Pray for snow

Eat, drink and be merry, merry, merry!