Monthly Archives of: March 2011

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Roast That Pepper…

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Well, I’m not one for giving cooking lessons, but this one is short and sweet–and pretty fun too.  Have you ever roasted  a pepper?  Roasted peppers are truly divine and I love them straight up or served with a hearty protein like filet or chicken breast.  This is actually easily achieved if you have a gas range–so here goes.

1) Turn up the open flame to medium-high and throw the pepper straight on the burner. (Or grill.)

2) One the side it’s one is charred–preferably black, then rotate it–keep rotating it until the whole thing is nothing but black.

3) Get an old-school brown, mini-paper bag and put the pepper in.

4) Roll down the top of the bag so it’s sealed shut.  You want the pepper to keep “steaming” so that the skin comes away from the flesh of the pepper.  Leave it in there for about ten minutes.

5) Take the pepper out of the bag and over the sink use your bare hands (or put on gloves if your picky) and gently exfoliate the skin off (it will come right off with hardly any work if you burned them enough.)

6)   After I’ve washed the black off my hands only I break the pepper apart and pull off the stem using my hands to get the seeds out.  I try not to run the pepper under the water because it dilutes the taste of both the sweetness of the pepper and the char.

***If it’s doable, use a grill instead, charcoal being the best!

 

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Ken Block: Shaken but not Stirred…

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I’ve known Ken Block for a better part of the last dozen years, and his better half, Lucy, for sixteen years–she’s my former roommate.  They are absolutely the perfect couple, both having a need for excitement, competition and thrills. Maybe even a little (or a lot) of danger.   Lucy is loaded with boldness, and I think she puts many men to shame in her attempts (mostly successful) at looking danger straight in the eye (although she’s probably rolling her eyes now reading this because she and I have a completely different definition of danger).  But I consider driving a tour bus down Mt. Hood in the snow right up there with jumping out of a plane with no parachute.  She’s the girl heliboarding from the top of Snowbird Resort while I’m the girl getting a full-body massage in the resort spa, watching her make S-turns through the big glass window.

I always knew it was gonna take a man even bolder than her to lock her down.  Enter Ken Block at our wedding here in West Virginia almost eleven years ago.  They hit it off that weekend, and after that it’s all history.   I still remember the massive three dozen mixed color bouquet of roses he sent Lucy to sweep her off of her feet, outta my guest room and into his home in Carlsbad, California.  Quite impressive.

Since then we’ve seen them get married, move a hundred times, design a hundred kitchens, adopt two massive, beautiful dogs, and make babies.  (Well, we didn’t really watch them make babies, you know what I mean.)  Which brings us to today.  I got an email that read, “Ken crashed, check this out.”  So I clicked on the video link that already had 340,000 hits in a mere twenty-four hours.  I should mention here that Ken is famous in the action sports world, first for co-founding DC Shoes with his friend Damon Way, and then for becoming a rally car racer and a YouTube sensation with his Gymkhana videos, where he drives his cars around huge playgrounds like abandoned airfields and shipping docks at breakneck speed. But this time my mouth dropped open as I watched Ken, racing in the World Rally Championships in Portugal, come around the turn, hit a berm and fly into the air where his Ford Fiesta Rally Car flipped almost four times.

I already knew he was alright at that point, so my first thought was, “Glad Lucy wasn’t there to witness that,” since she’s eight months pregnant.  I texted her and said, “Holy shit!  That hurt!  Please tell Ken I’m glad he is ok, and that he didn’t put you into early labor!”

Lucy: “Not pretty huh?”  Lucy

Me: “Dear God!!!!  Whew.”

Me: “How is he mentally? Ready to quit or ready to drive?”

Lucy: “Drive.”

Me: “That’s what I figured ;).  When are you due again?”

Lucy: “April 23. Off to CA tomorrow.”   (Where she will do home birth for the third time…)

When I saw the part of the video where Ken is standing beside his car after the crash I thought, out of all our friends that do extreme sports, etc., he is always so calm.  He’s the guy that turns in early, never raises his voice, and has more manners than anyone I have ever met.  He observes everything, registers life, and applies it to whatever he plans on doing next.  It seems everything he touches turns to gold, even occasionally his infamous front tooth  (although I’m glad it’s platinum now.)

Ken, that was quite a video for me and the kids to watch, but for Lucy’s sake, keep all four wheels on the ground.  I’m sure you are a little shaken, but not stirred!

http://www.rallybuzz.com/ken-block-crash-portugal-video-shakedown-2/

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Take Your Coffee Black? Really?

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Today I was in Pitt for an audition and I passed the 21st Street Coffee and Tea, I had some time to work on my laptop and thought I’d pop in for a minute.  It’s not a Starbucks but it will have to do. I ordered my cappuccino and my taste buds lined up on my tounge.

When I walked over to pick up my hot, steamy, coffee I didn’t see any sweetener, napkins, little wooden stirrers—nothing.  I was gutted, …robbed..

“Can I have a sweetener please?” I asked the barista, who looked just like Russell Brandt, the British actor that was in Saving Sarah Silverman, (who is married to Katy Perry.)  But this guy sure as hell didn’t have any comedic delivery.

He looked up at me as if I was insulting the coffee (and his ego). He is one of “those” coffee drinkers.  The kind that like it black, sometimes cream, but never ever any sweetener.  What a dick…. was my first impression.  Then my second thought was, are they paying him to be mean.  Because he was that mean.

As I sat there contemplating getting up to ask him what the password was for Wi-Fi, I actually felt threatened.

“Can I have a bottled water please?”  I asked, too afraid to just ask for the password alone.

He rang me up, gave me my change, and said, “Here,” in a not-so-British accent.  I was waiting for him to say, “Would you like a black-eye with that?”  But he didn’t…

“And what’s the password for Wi-Fi?” I asked like a once-bitten college freshman.

He and another female barista looked at me as if I had asked for the Divinci Code.

“I’ll write it down,” he said, while she just stared a hole through me.

I sat back down and tried to get on Wi-Fi….Mmmm…did they write down the password wrong?  Or did I put it in wrong…I’ll try again.

Sabotaged.

The place was way to high maintenance for me, without the high-end foam, nice chairs, and warm, fuzzy atmosphere of Starbucks.  My unsweetened cappuccino resembled more of a latte than a cappuccino, but I have to say it was pretty tasty. I don’t really recommend.  I packed up and headed out–I felt like I overstayed my welcome.

I showed up at my friend’s place a few minutes later and told him where I had just come from.  He looked at me and said, “Great coffee, but horrible service.”

Enough said.

(P.S.  I’m beginning to think Starbucks should hire me as their brand manager….)

(P.S.S  And what does our coffee say about us?  Black vs. with cream and sugar…..I think I’m on to something.)

 

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Take the Leap?

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Being on the fence isn’t a good place to be, we’ve all been there before.  Do you dare take the risk of trusting your gut feelings?  Or do you stay where you are at and figure out a way to be satisfied.  But if you do that, you are left wondering “what if?”  I’m at that crossroads with a few of my businesses.

For instance, I financed a pub for my brother sixteen months ago and he’s done a pretty good job at turning it around (the former owners had run it into the ground.)  It’s two floors, the top one is the only floor open–your typical smoky atmosphere with draft beer, fun patrons and good times.  The bottom floor–a once popular old-school Italian Grille, is just sitting there waiting for someone to give it some love.

I’ve been on the fence, under the fence, and have straddled the fence in what to do about it.  Do we invest a few more thousand dollars in kitchen equipment, freezers,  chairs, bar stools, etc. to bring this baby back to life?  As I sit and ponder how this will affect my life financially and time-wise, I can’t help but hear the voice of a friend that said, “You remind me of the woman in Hello Dolly,” at first I thought that was cute since Dolly is my maiden name.  But then went on to say, “She has a business card for everything, just like you.”  Then I was somewhat mortified.

Opening up yet another business–even though it’s an extension to an existing one, is another card on the table.  But business-wise it makes sense.  The rent is already paid for by the upstairs pub, along with phone, cable, and garbage.  So it really boils down to time and marketing.  It could prove to be a cash cow at the end of the day for only a small investment.

I had the last heart-to-heart with my younger brother a few weeks ago about pursuing the foodie venture.   As I gave him the ol’ stink eye and said, “Are you sure about this?  Why don’t we just sell it all and move on?”   I could see his demeanor change as he started to tell me how much he loved his pub and that it’s finally starting to make money and that it’s what he wants to do forever.  His passion was the dagger in my heart.

Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future so we eventually just decided to take the plunge.  He sold me on his belief.  He believes in it, and I’ve always believed in him.

We had intellectualized for months over all the possibilities on whether to do it or not–what to name it, what kind of food to sell, what kind of decor we wanted.    I’m enjoying the creative process (because creating is what I do best) of opening up another venue, a smoke-free, kid friendly place right down the street from the local softball and hockey playing fields. Where you can pop right in after a game, grab a loaded burger, a salmon spinach salad, or home-cut fries and a cold beer, and talk about the one you hit out of the park, or the one that got away…..

As of now we are still working on the name, but if you live in Motown make sure you stop in sometime after Mid-April and check us out, located downstairs at 669 Madigan Ave. in First Ward.

Cheers!

Shannon

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Facebook…Mark Zuckerberg hits the spot.

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Well, Mark Zuckerberg, either you’re more of a genius than I want to admit, or its just an extra perk that we get from being on Facebook–warm and fuzzy feelings.   Today was my birthday, not a special one so-to-speak, but nonetheless, another year older.  So I’m talking about all the hundreds of birthday wishes I was granted via my Facebook “family” all day long.  They popped up on my iPhone at what seemed like every other minute, each one putting a smile on my face.

Honestly, it was a pleasant surprise to receive some “Happy Birthday’s” from long-lost friends that otherwise, had Fb not been around, definitely wouldn’t have reached out to me–most likely because we had lost touch along the way, but also because in this day and age, it’s honestly a bit of a pain to hunt down someone’s physical address and send them a card.

I even got a few random texts from far off friends, (Jen E.  in California) and a call from Gia in Annapolis–who used to work at my boutique, I was pleasantly surprised on both accounts.  Had it not been for FB, we wouldn’t have developed or renewed the friendships that we have now.  So yeah, Mark, maybe you weren’t thinking that far ahead, but I’m guessing you were, that Facebook evokes a multitude of feelings and brings people together that want to be brought together.

I just watched The Social Network the other night, which I utterly enjoyed.  Jesse Eisenberg, who played Zuckerberg, did a hell of a job.  And a high-five to Justin Timberlake–who I adore.  (Have you seen him in Dogtown And Z Boys? Great acting–go rent it if you haven’t seen it!)

As I sat here and thought about writing this blog tonight, I felt the urge to check out Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page.  I had no idea what this guy looked like, nor did I care before watching his movie, but now I’m more than intrigued just by the genius of it all.  So I searched him, and “liked” him, along with his other 3,655,000 friends.  He seems to be posting things that are all for a good cause, (education etc.)

I hope after all that was said and done, he filled the hole that his ex-girlfriend ever-so non-politely blew through his chest that night in the pub. Or wait, did he blow one through hers with all the blogs he wrote about her after he downed a six-pack that same night?   I’m not sure if even three and a half million friends can make up for losing the love of your life…..but then again, maybe that scene was just written for the movie and she wasn’t the love of his life, but just a woman that pushed him over the edge enough to create one of the all-time greatest social networks…….

Either way, Mark made out in the end, and made me a very happy camper today.

Cheers!

S

(Zuckerberg is top pic.)

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Gypsy Woman

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Mortified.  I’m completely and utterly mortified at just how dirty my SUV was.  It’s my way of rebelling against Frosty every year.  Yeah, I know it makes no sense whatsoever, but it’s what I do.  I run from my car, to my door, from November through most of March trying to outrun Mr. Winter, and most of the time don’t unload–anything.

Today I pulled out an entire wardrobe–four dresses, eight tops, four pairs of jeans, three sets of workout gear, three coffee mugs, an empty bowl of oatmeal, and last but not least, a half of a sub from subway, (which was not mine–I think it was left over from a  road trip Davey took to Indy three weeks ago).  I unloaded everything, and thought about having it picked up tomorrow to get it detailed, but there was no way.  No one in their right mind was going to touch that thing.   It just happened to be seventy degrees out, which inspired me to be outside, so I went to town on it with a wet rag, toothpicks and elbow grease.

Two hours later, after wiping off milk from my homemade cappuccinos, dirt from the backs of the seats where little shoes have muddied them up, and who knows what else, it’s still only half way done.  Are you kidding me?  How on earth did I let it get that bad?  I also found M&M’s, protein cookies, peanuts, four yoga mats, and ten reusable grocery bags.  Uh, yeah.  I think I need to simplify, maybe focus on being less of a pack rat, and maybe a little less eating on the run. (But who has time to think about that stuff when you’re running out your door.)

At least now it’s to the point where I can call in back up to fine tune the rest.  I wonder how long it will last?

I hope I’m not the only one out there that lives out of their car at times.  I’d love to hear what you’ve found stashed under your seat lately?  Please share so I don’t look so bad, lol.  I’m beginning to wonder–how does the way your car look say about you?

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War Against Weight…

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Sometimes even though you are on the losing team, you still come out a winner.  Such was the case yesterday when I announced the results of our biggest loser contest, which started out as a mere bet per my request with one of my friends, then turned into a fourteen-person competition.

Yesterday throughout the day each individual headed to our local HIT Center where Kevin Sours was kind enough to give us a great deal on the bod pod.   We had our before and after results compared from nine weeks ago–it was neck-to-neck, or rather belly-to-belly.

As I watched people receive their results sheet, with smiles on their faces, it didn’t really matter what team won–it was obvious that we all did.  I saw some numbers in body fat and pounds drop significantly for some that had a lot to lose, and many of us that had our last five pounds to lose (which is the hardest to shed) hit our goals as well.  We had one guy lose thirty pounds and the transformation of his body has been amazing—way to go Todd Washburn, owner of Oliverio’s Restaurant.   He did it all on his own, besides the help from his two trainers: Will and Determination.

One thing (as a previous personal trainer) that just gets under my skin is when I hear, “It’s too hard to lose weight when you get older. I just can’t do it, it’s impossible.  My metabolism is shot.”  That is complete BS and what I really want to say is “Put your bagel down and get your butt off of the couch and onto a treadmill.  Eat clean, stay consistent and you will get where you need to be.”   My trainer, Archie Humpreys, a former Mr. WV, always reminds me that the amount of estrogen that females have in their bodies decreases as they age (which means testosterone increases) allowing for less bloating and fluctuation, and more of a chance to actually put on muscle.   And as your muscles mature in age they can become more dense and have more definition.  So even though we are fighting the war against our metabolism decreasing, we are winning the muscle maturation game.  That’s a pretty exciting stat–there is hope for us all yet!

I was going through my picture box the other day and found a pic from ten years ago, when I had the chance to fly to California to do a test cover shoot for Muscle and Fitness Magazine. At the time I was six weeks pregnant, so I was feeling a little nauseous and probably not as chiseled as I needed to be that day, considering all the hormones that were pumping through my body.  I didn’t end up getting the cover, the other couple that shot that day did, but it was still a great experience.

Ten years and two kids later, with the desire and mindset that I would get my best body ever back, I’m well on my way. I’d like to shoot some props out to the ladies that dropped between 4-7% body fat, some of them were over forty-five-years old—very impressive!

Once all the results were in, it was 110 points for my team (www.vancesblues.com) and 121 for the other team (Spa Roma).  At total of over 190 pounds lost and 30% in body fat.  That looks like a win-win to me!  (Congrats to Spa Roma and Michel Blankenship–have fun spending your gift certificates from Vances Blues!)

P.S  We are going to ramp this thing up again to continue winning the war against obesity and to increase focus on eating optimally for your health thus increasing longevity.  There will be two categories next time:  Biggest loser and Best Physique.  If you are interested, email me at Shannon@vancesblues.com.

Then                Today