Monday, July 15, 2013

On Authenticity and Trust

If you read creative business blogs, you'll see a lot of talk about Authenticity and Passion. That got me to thinking about an interview I read recently with someone who had just released a new...widget, we'll call it to protect everyone involved.

This person admitted in the interview that she doesn't even like the new widget, and wouldn't use it herself, but that she saw a void in the market that this widget would fill. For me, this raises a lot of flags about the person and her business. I guess she was being Authentic in admitting that she didn't like the widget, but how can I trust that that widget is Authentic and that I'll be happy with it, if it's maker doesn't even like it? How can she be Authentically Passionate about her widget - and convince others to be as well - if she doesn't like it herself? How can I Trust her line of products knowing that she doesn't like this widget? What other business decisions were made solely for the market and the expected gain rather than because of a true Passion for the product?

For me, Authenticity breeds Trust. Because I'm a truthful, what-you-see-is-what-you-get person myself, I tend to dismiss those I perceive as inauthentic. Once someone has violated my Trust, it takes a long time, if ever, to repair that violation. I don't know this person at all, but this one interview has caused me to consider whether I would buy her widget, her products, or support her business. Just because of a lack of Authenticity.

What do you think? Am I over-reacting? Have you had similar experiences?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Food: Birthday Edition

It's my birthday this weekend. That means it's time for some Black Magic Cake! Love that Mocha Frosting. I'm not a huge coffee fan, but I could eat that frosting by itself, no cake involved! I first posted the recipe last year, but it's my birthday, so I can repost if I want to! Happy Birthday to me!

Black Magic Cake with Mocha Frosting

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee and 1 cup boiling water)
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (or 1 Tbsp vinegar and milk to equal 1 cup)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 13" x 9" x 2"  pan or 2-9" round pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes for sheet cake or 30-35 minutes for layer pans.
Cool completely on wire rack.

Mocha Frosting

3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsp hot coffee (or 1 tsp instant coffee and 3 Tbsp boiling water)
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt

Mix all ingredients until smooth and frost the cooled cake!
 Note: You may need to make additional frosting if you make a layer cake.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Food: Greek Macaroni Salad

It's potluck picnic time! Here's a good simple salad that tastes good and can withstand the heat. It's also got some protein going on, especially if you use whole wheat pasta, so it's good for a light lunch too. This was originally a Taste of Home recipe, but I've adjusted it some to my own tastes. You might also notice some funny looking pasta in the photo? There were Virginia Tech fans at the picnic: it's Hokie Bird pasta. Enjoy!

Greek Macaroni Salad

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
4 medium plum tomatoes, chopped
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans or chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 can (3.8 oz) chopped ripe olives, drained
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water.
In a large bowl, combine macaroni, tomatoes, beans, olives, and feta cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic. Pour over salad and toss to coat.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Stir before serving.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Daring Adventures in Paint: Beach Edition

One of the weeks of the Daring Adventures in Paint class, I was at the beach. Last year, when I took the Get Your Paint On class, I was also at the beach. Same condo. Same view.

So I decided to use the same view as a background for one of the collages. I'm a bit more adventurous with the paint now and have a few more techniques up my sleeve. I like this year's sky and water better than last.

Since this class was a Daring Adventure, I couldn't very well leave it as just sky and water. I had ideas about adding an airplane towing an advertising banner as they do at the beach here. My first attempt looked more like a jet liner, so I had to move the wings forward. I added some collage elements and letterpress ships on the horizon.

I haven't decided if the painting is done or not. I didn't want to lose all of the background, but am still not entirely pleased with the foreground elements. I think it may be the airplane that is bothering me most - it still looks a bit like a jetliner and is grabbing too much attention. I also think the horizon should have been a bit lower (and straighter, but I have a hard time painting straight lines!) It almost, but not quite cuts the canvas in half on the left, which is a bit disturbing. You may see this again with adjustments or I may just wait and try again on my next beach trip!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Food: Chocolate Peanut Squares

First a note. Yes, Friday Food has been missing lately. I make each one of the recipes and photograph it before it shows up on Friday Food. My schedule has been such lately that I haven't had time for much of any cooking or baking. Rather than repeat recipes, I've just chosen to be silent. Friday Food will remain sporadic for the summer and should get back to being a weekly feature by fall. In the mean time, you can find previous recipes at the Friday Food tag. Now on to this week's recipe...

It's my great uncle's 97th birthday next week and since my schedule has been a bit busy, I was looking for a recipe that be pretty quick, that I had all the ingredients for, and that I hadn't used here before. Chocolate Peanut Squares were the winner on all counts. This recipe comes from an old Taste of Home magazine. Simple, sweet, yummy.

Chocolate Peanut Squares

2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup chocolate chips
4 1/2 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp butter

Line a 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil and butter the foil; set aside.
In a large microwave safe bowl, melt butter in microwave. Add confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, and graham cracker crumbs and combine. Spread into prepared pan.
Combine topping ingredients in a microwave safe bowl; heat in microwave until melted (about 1 minute). Spread over peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until cool.
Using foil, lift out of pan and cut into 1 inch squares.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Daring Adventures in Paint: Blue

The treasure hunt for Week 5 of my Daring Adventures in Paint class was BLUE. Perfect since I was at the ocean! So, yes, I'm going to bore you with vacation photos, but who doesn't love the beach?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Daring Adventures in Paint: Green

Week 4's color for the Daring Adventures in Paint class was GREEN. Since I'm a bit behind on the color treasure hunts, I was at the beach for both green and blue so both colors were easy to find - and sometimes meld into each other. I finished (maybe) my paintings today so look for a post about the paintings themselves and what I learned from the class coming up later this week.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Daring Adventures in Paint: Yellow

We've been working through the colors of the rainbow with the Daring Adventures in Paint Class that I am taking. I'm playing catchup here since this is Week 6, but Week 3's color was YELLOW. Since spring is in full swing and moving rapidly towards summer, yellow was easier to find in my yard than orange and red. I prefer to get my colors from nature rather than from man-made objects so - lots of flowers this week!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Daring Adventures in Paint: Orange

For the second week of the Daring Adventures in Paint class, we had a treasure hunt for ORANGE. It's amazing how hard it is to find orange in Virginia in May. The flowers are purples and whites in my yard this time of year. These oranges came from around the house and a hotel I recently stayed at. Of course, I couldn't resist the Virginia Tech tie too!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Food: Picnic Ideas

I've been insanely busy over the last week and haven't had time for cooking of any time. Since it's Memorial Day Weekend, it seemed like a good time to bring back some favorite Friday Food recipes that are great for taking to a summer picnic. Take it from me, these three are crowd pleasers and relatively simple to put together. You'll be the talk of the picnic! And don't forget to remember the reason for Memorial Day is more than just a long weekend!