Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Date Night Challenge: Julia Child's Boef a la Mode

My husband and I love to cook and the one cookbook we did not have on our shelf was one from the plucky Julia Child.

My date night challenge was to cook my first Julia Child recipe - and considering I am not one for boiling crustaceans alive, or boning a duck . . . I chose her Boef a la Mode. Simple right? *aaaant Wrong. It would take time and patience.

This bad boy needed to marinate for 24 hours and there was a lot of prep that went into this recipe.

I did what any servant-less American cook would do . . .  I put on Julie and Julia and started chopping, measuring and trimming.

The one challenge was finding a wine that we both would agree on (my husband is a bourbon man) and still stay within our budget.

I found a Chateau la Pierriere 2010, which is a Cotes de Bordeaux appellation. This appellation was launched back in '08 and includes the four existing appellations Premières Côtes de Blaye, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Castillon and Côtes de Francs. (source)

Truth be told is was one we should have kept on the rack for a while, but after allowing it to breathe a bit, it was a nice compliment to the flood of flavor the Boef a la Mode offered.

The wine I chose to cook with (a favorite sulfite free wine) is Pacific Redwood - This allowed me to be sneeze free during our meal due to the 5 cups of wine called for in the recipe and I love that this is a wine my husband and I can enjoy together.

After waiting the 24 hours and turning the beef in the marinade it was finally time to cook!

While the marinade was reducing by half, I had time to set our table and light candles throughout the house. There is something that is so comforting in candlelight and a home cooked meal. It strips away the technology tensions and offers an oasis in flavor and family that no website or social network could bring.

With the smell of the browned beef wafting out of the kitchen and filling the house with what I can only describe as a smell I have not experienced since visiting my Grandmother nearly 20 years ago . . . I thought about how rare the act of cooking meals like this are for most people. I mean really, who has time to spend a few hours in the kitchen after a full day at work and wait 24 hours for something to marinade? Most people I know regularly eat food that is fast, now and done. . . not necessarily because they want to but because that is all they have time for. Sadly we tend to view eating as a chore instead of something to be savored.

That is why this 'date night challenge' was so important to me. I wanted for us to slow down, for me to understand the valued place the kitchen is as a team - the care and patience that goes into preparing meals and bring us, as a couple and a family, back to the dinner table.

Now is this particular meal one we would have regularly? No. But it is one I would make at least once a quarter and with great joy.

The details in making date night special for us are simple ones. . . from the flowers that come from our back yard to the indulgence in fresh fruit and stinky cheese. (The stinkier the better!) As Jonathan Smith says it's the "surprise joy" that makes the moment one you will treasure.

What made our date night complete was the music by the band The Ball and Chain that was sent to us by a twitter friend @doorhardwarelux. A surprise joy of true musical talent from a husband and wife team!

So what did I take away from my 'date night challenge'?

Not only did I learn to cook and amazing meal by Julia Child (thank you dear husband for all of your help!) but I learned what it means to slow down and enjoy the act of creating a memorable meal.

More importantly I learned to appreciate how friendship can travel miles and be part of a special celebration and how it is the small, kind acts that are the glue that holds relationships together.

If you want to try this recipe you can find it here. Be sure to let me know how your 'date night challenge' goes!

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Check out the amazing husband and wife that is The Ball and Chain - pretty sure you will enjoy them as much as we have!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Leverage to Make Things Happen

The leverage to make things happen starts in your own mind.

Now some may say, "If I only had Widget X, everything would go this way, the way I hope it will go, but probably won't."

Instead learning from actions and leveraging the lessons that ultimately keep us moving forward to think and grow in new ways, we can get stuck in a never ending cycle of "I need _____ in order to ______."


We are faced each day with thousands of opportunities and these split second decisions that we can leverage to reach our goals are often over looked or put on hold because we are waiting on something.

When we stand at the cross roads of 'This Way' or 'That Way' without making a decision, without leaping . . .  we ultimately build road blocks that keep our goals just out of reach.

Thinking differently and taking action is a daily commitment.

Breaking our mind free from hyper critical reactions, unrealistic expectations, unnecessary grudges, negative self speak, vague communication, snap judgements and having an overall Eeyore attitude is a life long challenge.

Understand that your personal commitment to any given goal or task will determine the outcome . .  . good or bad.

The leverage to make things happen (or not) is in every action, every word and every gesture we make.
 

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"The Road Not Taken"

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Over-communicated : How We Are Sharing More Than We Think

What was one of the first things you did this morning when you woke up?

If you answered checking and updating your social networks - you are not alone. In the last few years social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest (just to name a few) have made it easy to share nearly everything you do, what products you like or don't like, places you go and non profits you support. There really is very little about our personal and professional lives that we can't share online.

We have become the over-communicated society. 

And that is exactly what advertisers want to hear. As consumers, the information we share online, willingly, is gold for those companies who are listening - even more valuable is the data that we don't know we are sharing as an example, when we casually accept User Terms. Seriously, when was the last time you read EVERY page of User Terms of Agreement before clicking accept? Yeah, I didn't think so.

According to the Borrell report, 2012 will see online advertising grow by 18% with a whopping 88% of all local online advertising being viewed on mobile devices. This information is great - but what is disturbing to me is the one thing left out of this data - the amount of private information collected on consumers.

Let's take, for example, Facebook and the text messages of smart phone users who downloaded their app that they admit to (and they now deny) reading. No, I am not kidding.

There is big business in spying on our online activity.

The smart phone we are love to take with us everywhere and use share everything we do (well we think almost everything) is in fact selling us out. Imagine the millions of spying smart phones. All of those apps that you think you can't live without are only fronts to data mining - which is BIG business. Who knew! I don't know about you, but I think it's time to weed out some of the hundreds of apps I've downloaded and never use that may be more interested in me than I am in them. 

It seems as though we the consumer are willingly, offering up a very personal look into our everyday lives. Even understanding the potential for snooping and doing our best to try to prevent it we can still unknowingly be communicating information. If you've been keeping up on the news, you may remember learning that Facebook users were unaware that their web adventures were being tracked online, even after "logging out". More recently Facebook's frictionless sharing, is causing a stir because though it is different from Beacon, it is still up to you to turn the "social" sharing action off.

This is a perfect example of how, in our excitement to share our message, update, picture or latest location - we are indeed sharing more than we think. As RT rightly points out "even the most stringent regulation will not save users who voluntarily sign up to give away their most private data."

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A book that is now on my must read list :  The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth by Joseph Turow

From Mr. Turow's interview with NPR he shares :

In the future, Turow says, you might be placed into "reputation silos" by advertisers, who will then market products to you accordingly.

"It has a lot of ramifications of how we see ourselves and how we see other people," he says. "... And this is part of another issue we have to think about, which is information respect. Companies that don't respect our information and where it comes from are not respecting us, and I think moving into this new world, we have to have a situation where human beings define their own ability to be themselves."


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What are your concerns about privacy and the internet?

How can we participate in social media and still protect our online privacy?


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Power of Words : How Quotes Keep us Inspired, Motivated and Focused

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic As many of you know - I love quotes. Heck, I even come up with some good ones myself.

My love of quotes came from my dad who used to find quotes in newspapers and mail them to me when ever he was on the road. After he passed, my mom would send them to me. Even my favorite tea has quotes on the tag!

It seems that quotes find a way of instantly connecting us when we share them.

We all have our favorite collection of words that we know, no matter what, they will inspire us, motivate us and remind us of the direction we should be facing. When we share our favorite quotes we also share the power that they hold for us.

This quote was given to me years ago by a woman I met when I lived in New York. I see it everyday and everyday I not only think of her - I think of Helen Keller and what they both taught me about the power of words. 

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What is your favorite quote?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

From 6 to 16

I've been writing this post for months now - never quite sure when it would be finished, but knowing that I had to write it.

Recently I read a tweet by Lucretia Pruitt that shared Margaret Cho's eloquent rant to Karl Lagerfeld. I agree with Lucretia that Margaret's message should be to the whole industry.

To get you up to speed -  Karl is in hot water because of his ugly comment regarding the phenomenal Grammy Winning singer Adele being "a little bit fat."

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Adele backstage at the 54th annual Grammy Awards

I can't tell you how amazing it was to read Margaret Cho's article . . . she was saying everything I have felt about an industry that convinces women they are not beautiful unless they are a size 0. And Adele's response to his cutting remarks was spot on.

Why is it that some people insist on making a woman's dress size relevant to her accomplishments? 

Some of you may be wondering why I am so passionate about this . . . well, this should help you understand a bit more. . .

Most of my life I have been tall and lanky. At 5'10" I have spent most of my life at about 130-135lbs. And full disclosure - I have more bins of clothes in my attic that are a size 6 than any other size. Call me crazy - but I'm with Margaret - I just cant get rid of them. I am still thinking that one day I'll fit into my favorite Calvin Klein suit or slip on that silk Ralph Lauren gown again.

Some people have suggested that I just go out and buy new "favorite" pieces - and to that I say - you obviously have not tried to find anything for a younger woman in a size 16.

Me at Size 6
You see, it wasn't until I quit smoking nearly 3 years ago that I started to gain weight. Add to that getting married, starting a new business, a few family health scares and deaths and, well . . . let's just say I did not make much time for me.

Thankfully I have a husband who tells me everyday how beautiful I am.

But to be realistic about the obstacles I have to overcome to believe him - as a woman I am conditioned at a young age that I am never good enough as I am.

My hair needs more bounce, my freckles need to be covered up, my skin tone needs evened out, my teeth aren't straight enough . . . I could keep going.

The fashion industry and magazines constantly tell me that I should be thin and young looking for as long as I can pay a doctor to cut, snip, inject and enlarge or starve myself into a designer suit.

For the love of all things sane . . . teenagers and young women that barely eat - are trotted down runways and used by design houses to convince 30+ year old women they need to buy their products.

The next time you go to a grocery store, take a minute to look at the rag mags on the end caps and tell me if you met ANY of those people in person that they would look the way they are 'packaged' to sell a fake ideal. (Some of you may remember the Ralph Lauren model, Filippa Hamilton used in this horribly photoshopped ad that got fired for being too fat at 120lbs. You heard me. 120lbs.)

Me at a size 16
Hell, gain a little weight and the first thing people say is "When are you due" (yes that happened to me.) And no a half hearted apology won't cut it.

So, like Adele, I have no time for people who are so consumed by mean vanity that they use weight gain to try and embarrass people publicly. Petty remarks tell more about the person who says them than the person they are trying to hurt. 

Will I ever be a size 6 again? Maybe, Maybe not . . . but I can guarantee you that my happiness is not dependent on my dress size and neither is my success.

As I am discovering and growing into my authentic self, I see that the people I surround myself with love me just the way I am - whether I am a 6 or a 16.

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Thank you Margaret for taking the time to share your frustration and outrage with a clenched jaw and justified disgust.

Thank you Adele for being a role model for all women who fight every day to maintain a positive self image and for standing up to the people who try to politely destroy it. Your beauty and strength is just what this world needs.

Thank you Lucretia for sharing the post and pointing out that we do indeed have an industry of "not good enough" that should be ignored.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Recipe: Pinterest Inspired Breakfast Bites

Pin It

I love getting creative with breakfast. But I don't always have time to go full on Julia Child - This recipe is a fast fun alternative to your regular breakfast biscuits!

Normally my husband would insist on making the biscuit dough but typically Sundays are my day to cook & I chose to take the short cut with canned biscuits on this one.

I was inspired by this pin on pinterest for taco cupcakes and wanted to try it with breakfasty ingredients. 

Safe to say that this recipe will be one I use at least twice a month if not more. I could even see altering this recipe with home made dough and smaller cup cake trays for party size spicy sausage bites!

You can keep these tasty treats in the refrigerator for those mornings when you may not have time to fix breakfast or even freeze them & microwave them later. But fresh is best in my book!


RECIPE

Makes : 10 Breakfast bites


Time : 30 Minutes start to finish





Ingredients : 

One can (10) biscuits
1/3 brick of Neese's Sausage (Regular)
4 eggs
2 tbs water
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheese (up to you)
1/2 tbs Savory Spice Shop Tomato Powder
1/2 tbs Savory Spice Shop Cantanzaro Herbs (Salt-Free)


Directions :

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease cupcake tray and set aside.

Over medium high heat tear apart sausage into small pieces and fry until browned. Once cooked add 1/2 tbs Savory Spice Shop Cantanzaro Herbs (Salt-Free) and set aside.

In small mixing bowl whisk 4 eggs, 2 tbs of water, 1/2 tbs Savory Spice Shop Tomato Powder and 1/4 cup sour cream until smooth and frothy.

By hand, take each biscuit and pat thin. Lay into cupcake tin and gently press to mold into shape. Be mindful of the air bubbles!

Spoon in sausage into bottom of each cup.

Add egg mixture with small ladle being careful not to over fill!

Top off with cheese. 


Bake :

Place cupcake tray on a large cookie sheet (trust me on this one, I nearly set off every smoke detector in the house!) 

Bake for 11-15 minutes in the center of the oven. You may need to add a few more minutes until browned on top and the egg is cooked through.

Just be careful not to burn them!

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What are some of your favorite, fast breakfast recipes?

Have you been inspired to create something fun by something yummy you saw on pinterest?

Pin It

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Gift of a Smile

This morning I was thinking about how grateful I am every time I see a family or friend smile.

Smiling is the barometer of our inner happiness. Now we all have seen the plastic "I'm only doing this because I have to" smiles that hang on faces like a bad Halloween mask. How do those make you feel? Not so good right?

It's just a fact that you just can't fake the warmth that a genuine smile brings.

 Is it easy to smile every day? Hell no. Sometimes it's easier to put on the bad Halloween mask of a fake smile and hope for the best. But if you can see and feel that smile mask when others wear it - they can see yours too.

Today I decided to give my self a gift. . . I wrote down a few things that make me smile to keep with me. The idea is that when I want to smile the least - I can look at this piece of paper and bring my focus back to a more positive place - one of gratitude and true inner happiness.

Now is smiling going to solve the worlds problems? Probably not, but it sure would be nice if more people gave it a try.

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Here is a great list of why we all should be smiling more! : Top 10 Reasons to Smile
 
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What makes you smile?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Refresh and Renew : Brand Inspiration from Better Homes and Gardens


I received my second issue of my new subscription to Better Homes and Gardens yesterday and as I sat down this morning to explore and be inspired, I was struck by the mantra "Refresh & Renew".

It seemed timely and relevant for me - not only for my future home projects that the writers, photographers, producers & stylists have inspired - but also because of the focus of my last few presentations on personal professional branding as well as blog posts on some do's & don'ts.

Is it possible to inspire people to refresh & renew their brand the same way BHG inspires me to refresh & renew my home?

That is a challenge I'd like to take up. I want to share those personal professional brands that inspire me, and make me want to sit down at my kitchen table and sketch out what I want my personal professional brand to be.
 
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Who inspires you?

Have you started to refresh & renew your personal brand? 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Twitter: What's in a Name?

What's your twitter name? Mine is @dhatfield.

This past weekend I had the honor or presenting with Linkedin pro @RRWade to the Triad Association of Black Journalists to discuss personal professional branding for journalists on the campus of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University.  We even had @frugalista share a tweet chat with us to share how she transitioned out of debt and into a brand she built while a journalist for the Miami Herald.

During my presentation, I mentioned that while building your personal professional brand it's important to use the name that the public knows you by, when you purchase your domain name for your website, when you create/change your twitter handle, grab your custom URL on Facebook or Linkedin or any other social site for that matter. Consistency is key and creating a personal brand should be approached with careful planning and attention to detail.

As John Robinson pointed out during my presentation via a tweet to Sheeka Strickland of Fox 8 News (she was @fox8sheeka then @sheekaStricklan and now @Sheeka_S) and , it's not a good idea to misspell your twitter name. And I agree 100%. When building a personal professional brand use your full name - spelled correctly - and only your name when ever possible. But there is often a frustrating catch to that very sound advice . . .

Many people may not know that twitter has a limit of 15 characters for your user name. I was faced with the same dilemma as Sheeka Strickland and many other people with long names who wanted to use their real name to build a personal brand but didn't have enough room!

Let's say that instead of being Jane Smith where @janesmith and  /janesmith usernames and custom URL's come easy to you, consider your challenge if you are are Janet Smithsonian, and while trying to create your twitter handle you notice that your name is cut off to @janetsmithsonia . . . what to do?

Whether you are a journalist, anchor or professional looking for a job - when building a personal professional brand - having a twitter handle that reflects your real name is best, but be aware that you will be faced with some tough decisions if your name is already taken or too long for Twitter and you may have to get creative.

Say your name has already been taken online . . . as an example if @tiffjonesjourno was interested in changing/creating her professional twitter profile name - Naturally I would first think to recommend @tiffanyjones, @tiffanysjones or @tiffany_jones , hell even @thetiffanyjones but sadly ALL of those are already taken. Can you see the challenge Tiffany faced when she created her account on July 29, 2009? Finding a real name combination that still let's people know its really you, that's memorable and represents your personal professional brand is at times a huge challenge. What Tiffany faced is a perfect example of how building a personal professional brand may not be as easy as it looks and that it will take time and some decision making while creating and building brand consistency.

Remember that you may not be able to use your full name every where online. So before making any changes spend some time planning out your online identity and ask your peers/mentors if what you have chosen best represents your personal professional brand.

Way back when I was setting up my twitter account, my name was cut off and I had to decide quickly what I was going to do with @daniellehatfiel. Do I go with @danielleh or @hatfieldd, it was so frustrating to only be short one letter!! That's the rub with folks who have long names, we have to decide between our first or last and at times a mix of both. (and pray they aren't taken already!)

I ended up going with @dhatfield as my user name and thankfully my whole name fit in the 20 character limit for my real name.

One piece of advice for those of you considering changing your twitter handle or creating a new personal professional brand account, carefully think about your decision. If you are a journalist, having a twitter handle with your station id or newspaper name in your handle is fine - but to be clear that is NOT your personal professional brand. You are you and will always be you. . . you may not work for the same station or newspaper for the rest of your career.

My husband @brandonpierce also has a great piece of advice to add too - don't change your avatar and twitter name (if you decide to change it) all at once . . . the folks that know and love your tweets may not know who the heck you are! 

Before you change anything you may want to send out a tweet with your old twitter handle and new avatar (once you have confirmed your desired username is available) of your new name online. Then make the switch. 

If you do decide to chance your user name - set up and save a twitter search for your old twitter user name and keep an eye on those who may mention you. You don't want to miss out on any tweets!



Here are some great articles about building your personal brand: 


HOW TO: Build Your Personal Brand on Twitter

The Brand Called You | Fast Company

7 Steps For Building Your Personal Brand Online - Investopedia.com

Eight Steps to Building Your Personal Brand | Monster

90 Tiny Tips to Build Your Personal Brand | OnlineMBA

Building your personal brand and profile

Professional Branding: Building Your Personal Brand

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Do you have a long name that didn't fit in the 15 character Twitter limit? 

How did you come up with handle for your personal professional brand?

Are you using your full name when you can across the web to help build your personal professional brand? 

Do you know someone who is doing it well? Share it!