Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate Turtles.....slow and messy but YUMMY!

OK, I had this fantastic idea.....or so I thought (rolls eyes). I found this new product that I am quickly falling in love with, Diamond Glazed Pecans. I have been putting those in everything from salads to my Christmas confections. Yesterday I decided what could possibly be better than combining them with caramel and chocolate......ahhhh, heaven (at least until you get on the scales!) As with all recipes, I have several adjustments I would make the next go around but the consensus of my office lab rats (ESSDACK co-workers)  is that they are delish - not pretty, but tasty. I will tell you what I used and then the changes I plan on making the next go around.

Chocolate Turtles Recipe First Draft

Chocolate Almond Bark -yep, it quick and easy, I like that
1 package of Diamond Glazed Pecans-a bit pricey but sooooo worth it or make your own (pecans, egg whites whipped until frothy then coat pecans and shake in brown sugar and cinnamon bake at a low temp for a while, stirring frequently) <------that was just a bonus.
1 bag of caramels (Kraft has these available now in caramel balls that you don't have to unwrap, YAY!)
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Melt 1/3 of the almond bark, drop in small spoonfuls on wax paper, then sprinkle a few pecans on top of that. While that is setting up, melt your caramels and butter and sweetened condensed milk in the microwave (used a stick of butter but would recommend less perhaps a 1/2 of a stick, because it took FOR-freaking-EVER for the caramel to set up). After the caramel is melted and a bit stiffer, drop on top of the half-made cluster. Go do your taxes and then when you return the caramel should be set up enough. Melt the remainder of the chocolate bark and drop a spoonful over the top of each one. Allow that to  time to dry. Remember these are somewhat a pain to make so only share them with people you truly like or are super special - for instance your wonderful co-workers. wink wink.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A little more about Savannah- AESA

OK, soooo many cool things happened in Savannah at the AESA conference, but I would be remiss if I didn't at least give you guys opportunity to SEE some of it yourself. I mentioned earlier that ESSDACK's own Kevin Honeycutt got called upon at the last minute to deliver the keynote and what an awesome job he did. I had seen snippets of his presentations before but was totally blown away. He had the audience eating out of his hand, they loved him. His message was timely and the delivery was fantastic. He was entertaining enough to keep the attention of his audience, yet it was filled with nuggets of motivational and educational information. I could tell you more but I'd rather you check it out yourself, it's worth the few minutes you'd invest to watch.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas!

Christmas, what a time, tons of things to do, lots to see, soooo many places to go and be......I can see how some people might just get the bah humbug spirit. But me? I LOVE Christmas, I love the feeling inside me, I love the sights, the smells and I love the meaning. I mean without hope what is the point of being here anyway?

So the hope, the joy that warm and fuzzy feeling, that pretty much sums up the feeling of Christmas but what about the other things? For instance the sights.....yesterday I was in Lawrence, Kansas home of University of Kansas, (you know ROCK CHALK) for my oldest son's graduation, his first leg of collegiate journey completed. And Lawrence is a very ........ahhh, different city, I will probably never be shocked or amazed by what I might encounter and see there. Yesterday though I did see something that made me chuckle. A group of Santas walking down the sidewalk, heading into a bar. I think I actually laughed out loud at the sight!

And then today.......finishing my Christmas decorating, I think I finally am satisfied with what I've done. Not nearly my usual but will be sufficient. I think I have at least a little decorating in every room in the house. Didn't put up the big tree, elected to use my 3 pencil trees instead. I think Santa will still get the idea. And I have this thing......I don't like to see underneath the tree, I think it looks sad and have to get something wrapped and under it immediately. I also have a thing about my packages.....the paper needs to match the decorations and the package itself needs to look like a decoration......(can you say neurotic?) anyway, done and done.

Now on to the smells....I love to make tasty treats, no matter what the holiday. Friday we popped popcorn in the office for a meeting and had quite a bit left over.......I brought it home and made the first batch of the season of caramel corn. Turned out to be quite delish! My co-workers will enjoy my little gift tomorrow.

Now the sounds.......I have the new Lady Antebellum Christmas music and am loving it! but I also have a few other tried and true Christmas tunes I am listening to and then there is always the sound of football on tv........ and soon my boys will be home and the laughter and joking and stories from their adventures at school will fill the rooms once again.

So as I get a little teary-eyed just thinking about the joy of the Holiday Season, the simple things that bring such great pleasure, I can't help but thinking of those that will be facing this time of year that will instead of happiness will be dealing with hurt or loss. My heart goes out to them and hope that somehow, some way the season or fellow man will heal the pain and mend the broken hearts. Wishing a happy and joyous season full of hope and wonder for you and yours this holiday season!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Savannah in retrospect

Tuesday-Wednesday -Where to start? I did my own version of Grease at the Atlanta airport.........but instead of the drive-in it was stranded in the terminal. Nice airport to visit, but definitely didn't want to live there, arrived at about 9:30 AM finally left about midnight. Found myself falling exhausted into bed about 2:30AM. Got up and got myself around to rehearsal (for AESA conference) about noon. Love those guys with the stage crew.....Freeman AV, very nice and a pleasure to work with. Worked alot with a gentleman named Lee Warne also, he writes the scripts and keeps everything moving on time, a great guy. Anyway that day seemed to go off without a hitch except for the lack of sleep part. Went to dinner as a group that night at a place called Vic's on the River, had a great platter of fried shrimp. Let me go on record as saying as a person who doesn't really like seafood, Savannah is a tough place. The ones that do like seafood said the food can't be beat but I was hard pressed at times to find something that wasn't fishy.

Thursday - showed up to rehearsal to discover Ian Jukes, our keynote for Thursday had come down with food poisoning and wasn't going to make it to the conference. They moved our Friday keynote to Thursday and picked ESSDACK's own Kevin Honeycutt to step in for Friday. Thursday went fine and ended the evening going to Paula Deen's restaurant, Lady and Sons for dinner. Awesome, just awesome.

Friday - Kevin rocked the house with his keynote, I felt honored to be able to say he is one of the ESSDACK team. The day went great, then after the afternoon session we hosted a special Digital Jam and it went well. The temperature in the space was quite warm and all the windows made it a big challange to see the screens but we managed, as with everyone of these we do, we learn and grow and make adjustments for the next one. Then went to two receptions at the Westin and ended the night about 10ish.

Had a strange thing happen on Saturday morning about 5am, got up to go to the bathroom and before heading back to bed decided to get a drink of water. The last thing I remember was turning toward the sink in the bathroom and the next thing I know my room mate is standing over me saying my name and shaking me. I must have passed out and then hit my head on the vanity because I am sporting a pretty good bruise to the side of my head and later that day found another small knot on the back of my head. No blood, and I don't think I was out longer than about a minute but scary none-the-less. Went to the last session of the conference and then headed to the airport......uneventful and now home again safe and sound.

---a quick explanation of my duties and responsibilities at this conference. I am backstage with all the crew. I have keynote (powerpointish) slides that correspond with the program, I create those ahead of time and another person takes pictures of all the activities during the conference, each day I try to get some of those infused with the other slides, sometimes only having a few minutes to get that adjusted before people are walking in.....  So I sit in the dark which I have affectionately starting referring to as the troll hole and listen on headphones to the cues being sent to make it all run like a well-oiled machine. Those guys (and girls) are amazing, the amount of expertise they have is mind-boggling. They also are a hoot, a fun group to work with for sure. I appreciated how they never make me feel like I'm in their way or don't roll their eyes when I ask a silly question (thanks Dan and Dave), I truly enjoy being back there in their domain. I also was responsible for a station at our digital jam - mine station in Second Life and a short demo on that. The other stations included, ipads, ipods and droids and applications, digital dumpster diving(free or nearly free apps that can used in the classroom), sing snap, wii and one other I can't remember. It's a kind of hands-on opportunity for people to come experience some things they may not have tried yet.

and now just a few random pics from the week:
Mike Cook - bestest boss ever, doing his thing at the podium

Kevin Honeycutt - giving his keynote (so serious)

Dave the AV man backstage

Kevin rocking out during the keynote - yep, play that funky music!

Me at Digital Jam at the Second Life station

Glenn Wiebe and Brenda Druecker, my fellow ducks

Digital Jam - Second LIfe

Digital Jam- welcome

Digital Jam- ipad station

Digital Jam- Glenn Wiebe at the Wii station - (yes, surrounded by a bevy of women)

Digital Jam- Second LIfe Station

Digital Jam- Wii Station

Glenn and Santa

Brenda and Santa

Dan at his AV Kingdom

Kevin at keynote rehearsal.....wowing the techs

Dave and Kevin at keynote rehearsal

Oh yah, no explanation

Lori and Santa

Sweet Potato Creme Brulee, sounds yucky but it was YUMMMYYYY!!!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Savannah-Highlight far.....

Ok, I hope to write an overview of this whole trip when I'm not absolutely exhausted but wanted to share my adventures of today. After having a somewhat stressful couple of days here in the great state of Georgia, today I had quite a pleasant surprise. I had been talking to the others here with me about how I would like to go to Paula Deen's restaurant and I knew that was probably not going to be possible. Well, this evening Glenn Wiebe, Brenda Druecker and myself went on a little exploring trip, walking around with no clear intention of what to do. When suddenly what to my wondering eyes should appear? but a restaurant, Lady and Sons! I asked if we could at least go into the store and look around and then when I happened to see the podium and happened to ask what the wait was and they just happened to say.........wait for it........NO WAIT! I just looked at them with pleading eyes and they took pity on me and said they wouldn't mind if we ate there. I was so happy, I'm not so sure why, except I wanted to say I'd eaten there. Well, we went and it far exceeded my expectations. They start you out with the fluffiest best biscuits ever and pancakes (who knew pancakes were considered an starter for a meal?) Then they had a seafood dip and bread and Glenn had some sort of seafood combo, Brenda had crab stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon and I had chicken pot pie. OMGOSH it was soooo good. It had a croissant type lattice style crust and huge chunks of chicken inside. We decided the chicken was probably leftover fried chicken from the buffet. It was Deelish.  We were too stuffed to eat dessert but did not let that stop us, we got some to bring back to the hotel. We got a piece of Key Lime Pie (which oddly enough had the consistency of soft butter, sooo good). We also tried the chocolate chocolate chip flourless torte and the gooey butter cake with toasted coconut. Overall, kinda pricy but not any more expensive than the other nice restaurants around this area. Here are some pictures from our adventure.