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living a joyful life

Hibernating ’til 2015

By December 17, 2014 feeding ourselves, living a joyful life, nurturing, personal growth, pleasure, practice, slowing down

Hey guys. It’s been awhile since my last post. Maybe I will share what’s been going on after the first of the year. As with everything around me, I have been going through lots of changes. What a world we are living in! For a while, I will be taking some time to focus on self and be attentive to my own world. I will share at some point. I am not sure when and how that will evolve. I promise to keep you posted.

Cheers to each and everyone of you that have been keeping up with my site. It has been and will continue to be an expression of love. I have been so grateful for the interest and appreciation some of you have shared with me. I wish you all a wonderful holiday. I look forward to re-connecting with you in the new year.

So much love from way deep in my heart,

Shelly

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A Beautiful Equation – The Melding of Skill and Love

By October 13, 2014 creativity, Durham, Fall, feeding ourselves, living a joyful life, nurturing, personal growth, pleasure, practice, self care, slowing down, Travel

Wow! Life has been busy and full of adventure. How about for you guys?

I had a wonderful week at the beach with friends mid-September. I took naps. I read fiction. I danced. I fished. I allowed myself to lose track of time. I nurtured myself and friendships with meaningful people in my life. I enjoyed the sun, the sand, and the water.

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That time re-ignited my intention to only put my energy into avenues and projects that feed my soul. I came back from that trip with a new sense of what I am going to be doing next. I will keep you posted on these adventures.

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I returned from vacation with my feet hitting the ground and running. I participated in and planned two different dinners for an annual fundraiser for Durham Central Park called Meals from the Market. I played a more of a hands-on role at a dinner at the historic Kress Building in downtown Durham with hosts Amanda Smith, Marybeth Dugan, and Kenny Dalsheimer. We could not have imagined a more picture-perfect evening!

These guests are enjoying a glass of Friulano, one of my favorite Italian white wines.

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I had the pleasure of working with a close friend and talented chef, Amanda Orser (pictured below on the right). This was mine and Amanda’s first public expression of melding our passions  and skill as a team. We have enjoyed each other’s company in the kitchen for as long as we have known each other.

We plan to facilitate many meals for others in the near future. If you know anyone need of a party, we are your gals. Amanda does the savory cooking, and I enjoy doing the wine pairing and making desserts. I was thrilled to have some of my Pizzeria Toro colleagues, including the lovely Nicky Owens (pictured below on the left), assist in making our service seamless from beginning to end.

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From fundraising to family- I just returned from a long weekend in San Antonio, Texas. I flew out to visit my family. I have a new niece, Rosalie, who just turned six weeks old. I went give her a loving welcome to this world and share some quality time with the rest of my family.

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I enjoyed time in the kitchen with my niece, Selena. We roasted okra that we found at the Pearl Farmer’s Market in downtown San Antonio.

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My mom flew back to North Carolina with me. She will be staying with me for a few weeks. Over this last weekend, we enjoyed a nice balance of cooking, connecting, and relaxing. I am looking forward to spending some time in the kitchen with her. She likes to bake as much as I do. I see some apple pie in our future. It is apple season here in North Carolina. Tonight I made sorghum glazed apples for dinner. They were the epitome of seasonal fare!

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I have another dinner event coming up this week. I am going to make some sorghum and cinnamon ice cream to serve with a pumpkin shortcake. I am excited and nervous to pull off a dessert that I have never made before. What always works in these situations is trusting my instincts and experience. It always turns out great! I was baking long before I could drive a car. I see an opportunity to share a recipe in the future.

With as full as my plate had been over the last month, I am as content with my life as I have ever been. I am putting my energy into projects that I truly enjoy. I am moving into the space of work becoming play. Who wants more of that? All hands raised, please!

Lesson: I am continuing to focus on my goal of only putting my energy into what feeds me – keeping in mind that I want to nurture the expansion of my talents and gifts. I am stretching myself all along the way. Isn’t that what this journey is about? What are you doing to feed yourself these days, even if it’s one little thing (that really is a big thing)?

 

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Lighten Up and Let Go: Flutter Breath

By September 10, 2014 feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, having flexibility, inspired by others, living a joyful life, personal growth, pleasure, practice, self care, silliness

I have been in a pretty serious and focused space over the last few weeks. I have been craving avenues to express silliness. Who would have thought that an expression of silly would be found in my yoga practice?

I was reminded how invigorating it is to be silly this evening in my yoga class when the instructor guided the class through a series of breaths. The final breath in the series was what is called the “flutter breath.”

I found a delightful snippet about fluttering on a blog about breathing and yoga. I found this image on there too! I am not sure who to give credit to, but I love it!

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Here’s what Diane Neuman, author of Breathing Deep Exercises, had to say about fluttering: 

Fluttering is an effective way (albeit silly) to dump some tension from your face. Face muscles are very small, very complicated and, therefore, a bit difficult to unknot.

Considering all the personal and professional challenges that get dumped on you during the day, it is no wonder that you squint, grimace, clench your jaws, wrinkle your forehead, tense your tongue and jut your head forward! Small face muscles eat up an enormous amount of energy. A tense face messes with your breathing and that messes with your speaking and that messes with your accomplishments.

We will stray briefly from the preferred nose-breathing. Keep any mouth-breathing brief and stop for water if you begin to feel dry.

Keep your mouth closed with lips and jaw muscles completely relaxed. Your lips will be parted slightly only by the escaping exhalation.

1. Breathe in through your nose. Softly blow out each exhalation through your relaxed lips until they flutter. Wet your lips when necessary. Horses and babies make this same sound.

2. Inhale slowly through your nose and breathe out through your “flutter.” Gently squeeze out as much air as possible. The gentle vibration will gradually melt away tension from your face and jaws.

Lesson: I am working on letting go of my serious approach to a number of things in my life. I am sending soulful gratitude to Jennie Dickson at Durham Yoga Company for facilitating the flutter breath in class tonight! I have learned a new strategy to be silly on the mat and in life. I can do it anywhere! 

What strategies do you have to allow some silliness in your life? What might happen if you allow yourself to be silly in unexpected places? 

 

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A Short and Sweet Reminder of How Important You Are

By August 24, 2014 feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, living a joyful life, nurturing, personal growth, practice, self care, slowing down

I could give you a post about a recent trip, making refreshing beverages for hot summer days, or how to preserve the last of summer vegetables.

Instead, I am keeping this post short, sweet, and to the point.

Who knew I was capable of that?

I am sending a loving nudge and a reminder to you of how important you are.

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Self care and nurturing are expressions of loving ourselves.

Learning to love ourselves is the most important work that we will do in our lives.

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Lesson: We are worthy of being a priority in our own lives. I know that the world is busy. There is a lot going on right now -inside and outside of us.

What can you do to treat yourself extra special this week?

How can you plant some seeds to keep you in the forefront of importance in your life? 

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My o ya Experience

By July 21, 2014 attention to detail, creativity, feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, living a joyful life, nurturing, personal growth, pleasure, practice, self care, so much to learn, Travel

First, I want to extend my apologies to anyone who was looking for my post from Loving Food and Life in their inbox this last Monday. I unexpectedly did not have Internet access that was strong enough to handle posting to my site. I decided to chill out about it. Unexpected things happen. I was on a magnificent island at the time. What else was I to do?

I have at least 20 tales to tell you about the last month of my life. I have been making some leaps. I have been having a blast. I have been on vacation. I have been laughing or crying tears of joy depending on the moment. I have been appreciating these human-ly emotions that I have been feeling.

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This post is about exhibiting one of the finest meals of my life (so far). What lands it on the list of the finest? For one, I decided to take a leap and go explore the city of Boston by myself. This meal was a magical benefit of my decision to take this trip. There was no way that I could return to Boston (my 2nd visit there) without a meal at o ya. To make it even more special, my friend and past colleague from the days of working at the Magnolia Grill, Maggie Warren now lives in Boston and works as a server at o ya. She wanted to wait on me, and I was thrilled to have her share a dining experience with me.

It might be redundant for me to say this, but I dig deep into the beauty of a meal. By the time I left o ya, my eyes were filled with tears of joy. I was full of gratitude to all of the people who participated in running this restaurant. Each one contributed to making my experience grand. I was appreciative of how thoughtful Maggie chose each course for me with a perfect sake pairing to match. I almost felt like I had been transported to another world. Then I became deeply in touch with my own creation of this experience. As the tears uncontrollably fell down my cheeks, I realized how it felt to be responsible for all of this.

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I went to o ya early on a Friday night. When I made my reservation, I asked to be seated close to the “pass” at the chef counter where I could see the food coming out. I went in feeling thrilled to be there again. This was my 2nd time dining at o ya. My anticipation of many exquisite bites was bubbling over.

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I sat at the chef’s counter thrilled to have Maggie as a dining companion, while I would be the only one eating. I told Maggie to feed me whatever she wanted. I told her that I would let her know when I needed to slow down. She brought me a beautiful flute of champagne to get things started.

Here’s what happened next: (I have posted the dish and then the picture)

Kumamoto Oyster watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette

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Hamachi spicy banana pepper mousse

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Salmon unfiltered wheat soy moromi

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Santa Barbara Sea Urchin and Russian Ossetra Caviar

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Karikari Crispy Sesame Chicken Skin yuzu-honey pickled ginger, schmaltz powder

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Artic Char yuzu cured, sesame brittle, cumin aioli, cilantro

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Fried Kumamoto Oyster yuzu kosho aioli, squid ink bubbles

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Wild Bluefin Maguro soy braised garlic, micro greens

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Kyoto Style Wild Morel Mushrooms garlic, soy

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Line Caught Ishidai Usuzukuri spotted knife jaw, ponzu, green onion, spicy daikon

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Scottish Salmon Belly cilantro, ginger, hot sesame oil drizzle

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Hamachi viet mignonette, thai basil, shallot

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Bluefin Toro Tartare ginger kimchee jus

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Chilled Maine Lobster Salad avocado, creamy yuzu dressing, micro greens, cucumber gelee

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Tea Brined Fried Pork Ribs hot sesame oil, honey, scallions

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Grilled Chanterelle and Shiitake Mushroom Sashimi rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth, soy

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Kushiyaki of Kobe roasted onion, yuzu kosho, maple soy sauce

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Foie Gras Miso Spoon tempura bits, preserved yuzu

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Chilled Daikon Dumpling miso nut “cheese,” homemade kimchee, wakame, spicy pine nut mayo

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Yuzu Curd almond, blackberry-jasmine, meringue and Aged Sake Gelato miso-hazelnut caramel, vanilla cremeaux, financier

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I am not a restaurant critic. You can find all sorts of amazing reviews of o ya here from critics all over the country.  Please check out o ya for yourself if you’re curious in learning more about them. If you’re in Boston, make a reservation.  It truly is a “don’t miss!” They pay attention to every detail you can imagine. When you are there, you will see beauty at every turn. I definitely had moments when I thought I could’t bear to lose the taste that I had just experienced. In his review of o ya in the New York Times in 2008, Frank Bruni said that he ordered a 2nd piece of one dish right after the first. There was no way he was leaving o ya with the memory of just one.

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Lesson: I have been in the process of stepping into a new way of living. To give you contrast, I spent many years often expecting the worse or not having much expectation because I was afraid of being disappointed. I am learning to trust that life is joyful and full of beautiful experiences. This dinner at o ya was indeed aesthetically beautiful. The presentation of the food was an exhibit of art. The smells and tastes of each plate were inviting and expansive. This dinner was an exhibition of how beautiful life can be. It served as a reminder that I am an artist to the depths of my soul. I have the ability and the power to create anything that I want in this life.

I am going to continue to practice this art of creating. It is bringing so much joy into my life. It’s not that fleeting kind of feeling that comes and goes. It is hanging around. It is flowing through me and into each encounter and experience that I create. It is hard to put into words what this is like. It is my wish that you can feel what I am saying.

What steps are you taking to make room for more joy in your life?

 

 

 

 

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