Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Make My Day

This is the time of year when many people see only the light at the end of the tunnel. They travel through their day with great purpose, without regard for what is swirling around them, only seeing that there are too many other cars on the road home from the office, no parking spots at the mall or in front of the library. If there are two customers in front of them at the ATM, this throws off their carefully-timed expedition by possibly ten minutes - a catastrophe of epic proportions. Perhaps this person is you.

I was once this person. I occasionally lapse into this behavior even now, grumbling about the lack of carriages or baggers at the grocery, the selection of greeting cards at the drugstore. But it's no fun and spreads irritation and ill-will, so I'm offering myself up as a bad example, in case you find yourself indulging in this type of negative behavior. After all, you're only human. My recommendation to you is that you find a mirror (perhaps you're in the car - the rear-view mirror works fine for this little exercise), look yourself in the eye and laugh. It may feel fake, initially. That's okay - give it a try. It really helps - what friendlier face could you find than your own familiar mug, laughing at yourself? It takes the edge off, you can go about your day feeling sufficiently appreciated. Then take a look around you - drink it all in - and remember to pay that smile, that laugh, forward to the next person you see....it's contagious!

Do it - I promise it'll make your day.

Still need a reason to laugh? Try this laughing baby video (if you're at work, turn the volume down).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe

Joanne Chang is an industry all by herself. This young woman has multiple Flour bakery locations (two in Boston, one in Cambridge) plus Asian restaurant Myers + Chang - co-owned with well-respected chef Chris Myers. Joanne's new "Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe" cookbook is flying off the shelves of bookstores (we snagged the last one at Borders in Dedham) and on a recent Saturday morning my husband drove to Flour in the South End to catch up with Joanne and have her sign the book. Meanwhile, the place was mobbed with people clamoring for their Flour breakfast pastry and coffee.

"Flour" is a delightful and creative read - hardcover - co-authored by Christie Matheson with amazing photography by Keller + Keller. Joanne introduces the name "Flour" and her rationale behind that choice, which harkens back to a theoretical math class she took in college (she has a degree in applied math and economics from Harvard). It all makes sense, really. Even the most complex things begin with basic building blocks - if you bake (or even eat), you know that flour is a basic ingredient in many foods, especially baked goods.

Joanne provides us with helpful how-to's on techniques like applying a crumb coat, or whipping egg whites. She also gives the reader a list of necessary kitchen equipment, baking ingredients and why each is important, and her "Joanne's Top 12 Baking Tips". All of this is valuable; then the meat of the book contains recipes for many of the delectable treats you'll find in the Flour Bakery: brioche to banana bread, candied oranges and chocolate sorbet - these are some of the delights for which you'll find very complete instruction. And on page 134, my personal Flour favorite: Homemade Oreos! Can't wait to fire up my Kitchen Aid for this one.

You can find the book on Amazon here. It's also available in the Flour Bakeries.

All told, this "Flour" cookbook is a terrific resource for any baker and I look forward to getting started....

Click here for more about Flour Bakery + Cafe

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Packaging Expert JoAnn Hines on Targeting Consumers Through Packaging

In a recent issue of ThomasNet Industry Marketing Trends (IMT) Expert's Corner, JoAnn Hines, aka The Packaging Diva, lays out how the still-weak economy and fickle consumers are forcing businesses to rethink their packaging decisions.

It goes without saying that packaging plays a critical role in marketing a product or brand. However, it takes more than just a pretty package to sell a product that resonates with consumers.

IMT recently picked the brain of JoAnn Hines, a packaging consultant, speaker, educator and overall one of the busiest people in the packaging industry. Known in the industry as The Packaging Diva, Hines weighs in on some of the key forces within product packaging today.

For Hines' insight into the consumer packaging market, now and for 2011, read the full article here: Targeting Consumers Through Packaging