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slowing down

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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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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Tomato-Fest Salsa

By August 11, 2014 building relationships with others, feeding ourselves, nurturing, pleasure, slowing down, summer, summer veggies

I spent all of last weekend at a cozy home in the woods with 70 pounds of tomatoes and a good friend. We made fresh tomato juice, canned tomatoes, made salsa, and had an all-around grand time together.

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I called this endeavor Tomato-fest. I posted many photos on Facebook and Instagram. I had people contact me to ask for recipes.

This has been a good year for tomatoes. I think that many folks with gardens this year have tomatoes coming out of their ears.  Here’s one of the recipes that I made during tomato-fest. Enjoy!

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Tomato-fest Garden Salsa

You can make this recipe for immediate enjoyment or you can process your jars of salsa in a water bath canner to preserve it. I have done both. This year I wanted to preserve this salsa so that I will have jars of garden fresh flavors around into the winter months. I prepared a batch 3x’s this recipe. If you have a large quantity of tomatoes, you can multiply this recipe easily. You could use any kind of tomatoes that you like. I had an abundance of roma’s.

Equipment you will need:

1 large mixing bowl

A cutting board

A sharp knife

Food processor

A large baking sheet

Aluminum foil or silpat non-stick baking mat

Ingredients for 2 quarts of salsa:

4 lbs of roma tomatoes (you can use any tomatoes that you have in abundance)

1 medium red onion

juice of 4 limes

1 bunch of cilantro

2 roasted Serrano peppers

1 fresh jalapeño

1 tablespoon of sea salt, plus more to taste

1/2 tablespoon of black pepper, plus more to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with a silpat baking sheet or aluminum foil.

Core the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a large bowl. Once you have all of your tomatoes halved and cored, toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of sea salt and 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper. Allow the tomatoes to macerate with the salt and pepper for at least 5 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil to the tomatoes. Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil until the tomatoes are lightly covered with the olive oil.

Place the tomatoes on your lined baking sheets, skin side down. Pour any juice from the tomatoes onto the baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes in the over for 40 minutes. They should just be showing some charred color when you take them out.

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While the tomatoes are roasting: Peel a red onion and cut it in half and set aside. Pick the leaves from the bunch of cilantro and set aside. Juice the limes using a citrus juicer or by cutting them in half and squeezing the juice by hand. Set the lime juice aside.

imageFor the Serrano peppers: You could roast them in the over with the tomatoes. If you have a gas stove, you can roast them directly on the fire for a more full flavor. Either way works fine. If you go for the charring directly on the flame, you will have to place them an ice bath after you char them on the stove-top. Once the peppers are cooled, peel the outer layer of the skin off of the peppers. Your peppers are now ready to use. I processed the peppers with the seeds and all.

imageOnce you remove the tomatoes from the oven, pour them along with the juices to a large mixing bowl to cool.

Let the tomatoes cool for 20 minutes or until you can handle them easily. Once they have cooled, you will process the tomatoes in batches in the food processor. I pulsed them until just slightly chunky. I wanted to make sure that the salsa would be chunky enough to stay on a tortilla chip. This is definitely a measure of preference. How chunky or thin do you like your salsa?

imageOnce you have processed all of the tomatoes in the food processor, put them back into a large mixing bowl.

Place the onion in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the onion into the bowl with the tomatoes. Place the cilantro in the bowl of the food processor and add 1/2 cup of the lime juice. Pulse until the cilantro is finely chopped. Transfer the chopped cilantro into the bowl with the tomatoes.

imageAdd the peppers into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse them until finely chopped. Transfer the peppers into your bowl with the tomatoes.

Mix all of your added ingredients into the tomatoes. This will be when you will begin tasting for your preference. Keep in mind to add a little at a time. You can always keep adding. You cannot remove salt once you add it in.

imageYou can add more salt, pepper, lime juice, or even extra chiles to your salsa depending on your personal taste and preference.

I kept my salsa very basic. When I open one of the jars, I can always add more chiles to make it spicier if I want.

imageThis recipe will produce 2 quarts of salsa. If you will eat it quickly, refrigerate immediately. It will keep for a couple weeks.

I processed my salsa in a canner, so it will keep for several months. I placed the closed jars in a canning pot for 10 minutes. My goal in deciding to only process in the canner for 10 minute was to maintain the fresh taste of the cilantro and lime juice.

Lesson: With the busy lives that we lead, it can be challenging to make room in our schedules for concentrated time spent with our friends. Thankfully one of my best friends and I really enjoy being in the kitchen together. We rolled in a productive canning project into spending quality time together. We laughed, we danced, we sang, we ate well, and we worked until we could work no more for two days. The outcome was 30 quarts of preserved tomato goodness and an appreciation of the time that I had with my dear friend. Our tomato fest fed my heart and soul and nurtured our friendship. What creative ways do you carve out time for people in your life that is nurturing to self and the friendship?

 

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Dear Summer, thank you for the pleasures you bring!

By June 30, 2014 feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, nurturing, pleasure, practice, self care, simplicity, slowing down, summer veggies

Here’s a visual expression of a few things that are bringing pleasure to me right now. IMG_0169The anticipation of tomato season is beyond words. I savor every juicy bite!

IMG_0288There are few pleasures greater than homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

IMG_0321I wake to see blossoming all around me! 

IMG_0335Fruits of summer at the Durham Farmers’ Market.

IMG_0284Grilling and chilling.

IMG_0388More blossoming. Sungold tomatoes on their way.

IMG_0407Okra flower.

IMG_0417My garden mentor, Peter.

IMG_0451Look at those beautiful bean plants.

IMG_0445Cantaloupe, I can eat all day every day.

IMG_0476Summer supper with friends. My first corn of the season, elote` asada.

Lesson: Summer brings simple pleasures. I am taking the time to appreciate all of the simple things in my life right now: the juicy bite of a tomato, the refreshment that a slice of cantaloupe brings to my senses, learning in the garden with my dear friend Peter, time spent in my garden reflecting on the growth I am seeing inside and outside of me, and so much more.

I am shifting my attitude about my life. I am making room for more pleasure. In previous posts I have mentioned that I am only choosing to do things that feed me. Paying attention to pleasure and allowing it in my life is what is feeding me right now. What is feeding you? 

 

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Adventures in Relaxing

By May 19, 2014 creativity, getting out of our comfort zone, nurturing, self care, slowing down

Greetings from home! I am back in Durham, North Carolina. It has been an incredibly gorgeous day today! My neighbor says that she is “bottling up” days like today and saving them for the hotter months to come. I will be sure to invite you to the party when she opens up the 70 degree bottles of sunshine, blue skies, and cools breezes.

I am refreshed and feel some renewal within, thanks to my weekend getaway. I spent 3 nights in the mountains with the goal of relaxing. I did well! I succeeded with my goal. I made only 2 trips out of the house. One excursion was to check out a couple of local art galleries, the other was to the farmers market in Boone. Both trips fed my creative nature and appreciation for expression.

In the picture below, you will see one of my favorite spots of the weekend. From the kitchen stool, I had a beautiful view of the mountains outside a sliding glass door. I ate there. I drank there. I read there. I pondered life sitting on that red stool enjoying fine coffee, farm eggs, and fresh strawberries that a farmer named Tom hand selected for me.

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This was my post-farmers market breakfast. This was a lovely sourdough pecan sticky bun from Owl Creek Breadworks. If you’re in the Boone area, I highly suggest their bagels and sticky buns. All of their breads appeared to be thoughtfully prepared.

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It was rather chilly in the mountains. I built my first fire in the fireplace. Thanks to youtube.com, I had several teachers in multiple videos that I watched. As you can see, my fire was successful. It created warmth and comfort, too!

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I must admit that this is my favorite position that I took the entire weekend. I don’t allow myself to prop my feet up as much I would like to.

Seems like a worthy new goal -propping up my feet for at least an hour a week.

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So what is the point of me sharing my weekend expereince with you? I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for us to take care of ourselves. It can be a challenge for many people to slow down. I don’t know many people that grew up learning the importance of self and what it means to take care of ourselves. I am not talking about eating a balanced diet and getting enough exercise.

I am talking about nurturing ourselves with things that we love and enjoy. I am talking about giving ourselves permission to be at the top of our own priority lists. I am talking about giving ourselves the space to process changes and transitions in our lives. I am talking about creating a space for us to acknowledge and be present to our emotions. I understand that learning how to do this is indeed a process. What can you do to begin to plant the seeds to take care of yourself in a new way?

Lesson: I became fully aware over the weekend that I don’t allow myself to prop my feet up once in a while. My feet carry and take me all over the place. I have worked for over 20 years standing on my feet for 8 or more hours a day. I am claiming a gift for me and for my feet! One hour or more a week there will be “feet propping up.” How about you? What is something that you haven’t allowed yourself to do for you? What are you going to do to change it? 

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Trusting the Process, Trusting Self

By May 16, 2014 nurturing, practice, self care, simplicity, slowing down

Greetings from Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I have had quite an interesting week. In honor of embracing change and living in these wild and wonderful times, here’s a very different kind of post. Other than this brief intro, I am practicing silence. Words can be powerful, though here are some pics to express what’s up with me. 

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My view from the back deck – the storm is moving out. Blue skies are peeking through. This process is a beauty!

imageThese are a few of my favorite things that I gathered for my weekend.

imageCelebrating and honoring my life, even the broken yolks!

 

I will have much more to share with you about my weekend on Monday!

What’s going on for you?

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My Cup of Tea, Practicing Connection with Self

By April 3, 2014 nurturing, self care, slowing down

One of my realizations in putting this site together is that over the span of my life, I have turned to the kitchen for self-nurturing. It’s like a mini-getaway from living in a busy world – the busy worlds inside and outside of myself. I don’t always get all the time I need to cook marvelous dinners for myself. Sometimes I get the time I need for me in little bites.

These little bites of time often include something special like a cup of tea and 30 minutes to catch my breath before I move into the next phase of my day. My writing, including these blog posts, are written when I have a nice beverage of some sort and can sit down to be creative for a bit.

I love preparing meals and having huge chunks of time to indulge myself by cooking. Having a whole day or more in the kitchen feeds my soul. Thankfully, it does happen regularly. That’s because I make time for it.

In my real life – working in a restaurant, doing therapeutic work with others, maintaining relationships that are important to me, taking time to focus on my personal growth, developing my writing skill and building a new career – sometimes a cup of tea will do quite nicely.

I do enjoy an actual cup of tea very much, but it’s also a metaphor for life. I will write about tea as a beverage in another post. Today’s cup of tea has to do with taking time for yourself. Imbibing this cup of tea means taking 15 minutes out of your day to be with you. Be quiet. Be still. Feel your body sitting in the chair. Feel your breath flowing in and out of your body.

I have not always been a pro at enjoying my metaphorical cup of tea. For many years, the external world got almost all of my attention. At times it was even uncomfortable for me to be still. I was always so busy and really on the go.

When I became curious about a journey of personal growth, I realized that I had spent many years running away from myself. It was a habit that I had learned. No one ever taught me how fulfilling it would be to get to know self. For years, it had never even occurred to me that knowing self would be the most important intention that I would have in my life.

What is the point of me sharing this with you? The avenue of self-care that I have found to be most nurturing for me has to do with the pleasures of cooking. The main expression that I want to make throughout this site has to do with the importance of self-care in your life.

Other people will have their own unique way of learning to enjoy themselves. Some people enjoy fishing. Others may enjoy making pottery or painting. Each of us is unique. Tell me how you enjoy practicing self-care and nurturing. I am looking forward to learning from you.

 

Lesson: Enjoying getting to know myself has become my favorite “cup of tea.” This enjoyment will continue to evolve as I continue to learn even more about myself. What is your cup of tea?

 

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