Thanksgiving Cheese Plate

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Here’s a blasphemous statement for Thanksgiving week. I don’t really like turkey and dressing. Or pumpkin pie. I should probably just turn in my American passport now.

I do, however, enjoy a day dedicated primarily to eating. And I firmly believe in the Joey Tribbiani “how the human body works” philosophy that the stomach must be stretched prior to large meals.

Charcuterie, cheese, and wine are my personal favorite stretching methods—and like any good eating athlete, I’ve practiced hard on them. Here are a few tips for tasty charcuterie and cheese plates:

  1. Trader Joe’s Roasted & Salted Truffle Marcona Almonds. I’ve never tried crack, but I’m willing to bet these are actually better than it.
  2. Dalmatia Fig Spread. It generally runs around $6, which seems crazy for a fruit spread until you’ve smeared it on a cracker and topped it with brie cheese. Then your tastebuds are all like “$6? I’d pay $600 for this.”
  3. Trader Joe’s Candied Pecans. Like Christmas in your mouth.
  4. Warm Castelvetrano Olives. Sure, warm olives sound weird. And the only place I can consistently find these in Charlotte is Pasta & Provisions. But these will make all other forms of olive dead to you.
  5. Rosemary and clementine garnish. If you’re trying to make that Pinterest-perfect cheese board, this is the key. You’ve got to throw some stuff on there that no one will actually eat. I’ve found that stalks of rosemary and a few clementines do the trick.

 

“Fail trying, don’t fail watching.”

Bob Goff, who wrote one of my favorite books ever, Love Does, spoke at North Point church in Atlanta over the weekend. His talk is about 40 minutes long and worth every second you should spend watching it. He weaves stories of his own incredible life into a talk about how to freely love and give in ways that scare most of us. It is next level inspiring. Go watch.

(He’s part of a series of speakers talking about giving. Weirdly enough, the one with Jeff Foxworthy was also fantastic. My favorite line from that one was “Once you’ve tasted purpose, you can’t be happy with just existing anymore.” Did not expect to get inspirational quotes from a guy known for his 1990s redneck jokes. Life is funny.)

 

 

I had some non-work things I needed to take care of on Friday morning, so I took the day off and started my weekend early with friends at a concert on Thursday night. Then, on Friday afternoon I headed to the mountains with other friends for a weekend of hiking in the woods, eating too much good food, and playing games next to a cozy fire. Then, on Sunday morning I drove down to Greenville for a sweet baby shower with a few of my oldest friends.

I don’t suppose that the phrase “lucky in love” was created for people as single as I am. (Which is very, very single.) But it’s how I feel, nonetheless. I am so lucky to have these people in my life—and even luckier to call them friends whom I love.

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Last night I accidentally went to a sold-out performance by one of the original cast of Hamilton.

Let me explain how this happened. A few weeks ago I got an invite for myself and a guest to come to a media event for the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s 25th-Anniversary Celebration. I have a vague memory of skimming the invite and thinking, “I like the Blumenthal and my friend Jenn likes the arts, sure, this sounds fun.” I RSVP’d “yes” and forgot about it until it popped up on my calendar yesterday.

My day was so crazy that I rushed to get to the pre-performance cocktail party on time (35 minutes late). I never looked to see what the performance would be. Then, at the party I got caught up in conversations with old friends and when they hurried us out to “make it to the show on time,” I was still in a conversation that didn’t end until I realized we were walking into the Belk Theater. With thousands of other people.

The ushers were rushing people to their seats as the show was about to begin. As we sat down, the lights began to lower and I leaned over to Jenn whispering, “What the hell is this?”

This experience led me to a few revelations. First, I really need to actually listen to Hamilton. Leslie Odom Jr., the evening’s performer, was amazing. It was a seriously cool night that also including an unveiling of a new logo for the prestigious arts center, and a fascinating look at its founding a quarter of a century ago.

Second, and possibly more importantly, I might be losing my mind. Between a busy new(ish) job, travel, and life, my brain feels perpetually scattered. It was only a matter of time before I ended up at a Grammy Award winner’s concert not knowing how I got there.

So, lesson learned. I need to start getting more sleep. Or meditating. Or maybe just actually reading my emails.

Listen, Watch, Read

1200x630bbA few weeks ago I was chatting with my company’s General Counsel over a work dinner and somehow the conversation turned to cults. Still not totally sure how that happened. But she told me about a podcast called Zealot and now I’m obsessed. It’s hilarious (something you wouldn’t expect when the topic is cults) and fascinating. It’s hosted by an Australian woman and her friends, and often makes me laugh out loud. But has also taught me a lot about creepy leaders and mass suicides. It’s harder than you might think to find all these qualities in one podcast.
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I just finished the book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen and LOVED it. If you don’t feel like reading the entire book, you can get the abbreviated and equally engaging version in this TED Talk from its author. Christopher McDougall’s “Are We Born to Run?” talk goes through three mysteries when it comes to running—then solves them all with a pretty cool answer. (I realize I’m like a decade behind on this book, by the way.)
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For a little while there, between Syria and Trump, it seemed like refugees were front page news every day. Lately, it’s been a little more quiet on that front. Of course, the crisis continues—war and persecution continue to force people from their homes and the current administration has made America about the least welcoming developed nation on earth. I liked this “The True Story of Refugees in an American High School” article (which is an excerpt from a book) because it takes a different angle and does a good job of humanizing a few refugees and a teacher who helps them. I especially liked this line: “If so, everything would be new—running water, appliances, grocery stores, snow, freedom.”

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A few weeks ago I was having dinner with some friends at my house when my friend Kristy mentioned she was reading a fun book called Living With a SEAL. She said it was by the husband of the woman who created Spanx, Sara Blakely. I said that Sara Blakely had actually thrown the coolest party I’d ever gone to in my former life of doing things like covering cool parties. It was in Atlanta and co-hosted by Sir Richard Branson. Jane Fonda sat at the same table as the guys from OutKast. Jewel sang during dinner and then Collective Soul played at the after-party. I still have no idea how I got to go to that party.

Later that night, Kristy texted me an image of highlighted text from the book. It turns out that its author, Blakely’s husband, was at the same party, and he wrote about it as the night he really fell for her.

This completely meaningless connection intrigued me enough to download the book, which I enjoyed so much that I began reading and literally didn’t put down until I’d finished it a few hours later. It’s a memoir by Jesse Itzler detailing the month that he invited a former Navy SEAL into his home for extreme fitness training. It’s hilarious and inspiring. He weaves some stories of entrepreneurship and his unusual family life into the story, but for the most part it’s a lot about freezing cold runs and insane workouts, which are way more interesting than you’d think.

It’s inspired me to keep reading more crazy fitness books. I’m currently reading Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, which is making me want to become a barefoot trail runner. Or, you know, get off my couch every once in awhile. I’m about to finish that one though and now I’m hooked on this theme. Any suggestions in the genre for my next read?

Doris

About six weeks ago I learned I was going to be traveling internationally three times in the span of a month for work. So, I decided it was time to go ahead and do the whole Global Entry thing. I signed up, filled out the forms, and they assigned me an in-person interview date of exactly three days AFTER I returned from the last international trip. Seems about right.

Last night, I went to the airport for my interview. (Sidenote: The Global Entry office at the Charlotte airport is in the customs area. Which means that I had to walk past like four very large signs reading “DO NOT ENTER” in order to get to it. The rule-follower in me found this excruciating.)

When I walked into the office I met Doris, the officer there. She was about a foot and a half shorter than me and looked around 80 years old. “That you, Sarah? You’re my last interview of the day. I hope you’re not a criminal because I do NOT have time for it.”

I told Doris that other than the occasional speeding ticket, I generally obey the law. She did not find me even a little amusing. She squinted at me suspiciously and then looked over my information.

“You’ve been to Grand Cayman twice in the last month. Are you banking down there? Are you doing something illegal? You’re doing something illegal, aren’t you, Sarah?”

I was definitely scared of Doris by this point. I told her all my actions in Grand Cayman were legal and had nothing to do with banks.

She took my fingerprints and photo, and signed off on my application. “Ok, you’re approved now. Don’t make me regret it. DO YOU HEAR ME? Don’t you make me regret it, SARAH.”

I promised I wouldn’t and then basically ran away. So, now I’m technically a “trusted traveler”—but definitely not by Doris, who, by the way, is exactly who I’d choose to be defending our borders.