WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE? Dark? Milk? Belgian seashells? Cadbury easter eggs? Ghirardelli? Godiva? My favorite comes in a tin box every Christmas: Crate and Barrel sea-salt caramels!
Looking for unique chocolate gift ideas, check out these sites:
Serve something new at your next Saturday Salon…
GRANDMA NOT THERE TO MAKE YOU a nice bowl of hot soup when the temperature drops? Make your own! Soup is one of the most forgiving dishes to make, and if you double the recipe, you’ll have lotsa bowls of love to give away to neighbors and friends who will really appreciate it this time of year. Easy, inexpensive and a family favorite. Hopefully you saved the turkey bones with some meat, so you can make turkey vegetable soup later – great for anyone feeling under the weather.
Here’s one of our favorites, and will make a great main or side dish at your Holiday Saturday Salon:
POTATO LEEK SOUP
5 large russet potatoes — peeled and diced
3- 4 leeks
3 1/2 cups water…to cover — up to 4
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
2 tablespoons dill weed
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
2-3 Tbs.sour cream
2-3 Tbs Butter
garnish: chives,parsley or dill
- Peel potatoes and set aside.
- Wash leeks (soak them in a bowl of water to get the sand/dirt out) and chop them up well, using only white and light green.
- Cook vegetables together in boiling water to cover, about 1/2 hour or until fork-tender.
- Add milk, caraway seeds (optional), dill, salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer another 20 minutes, or until it begins to thicken and the potatoes begin to fall apart a little. Stir in a few tablespoons of sour cream and a tablespoon or two of butter.
- Garnish with fresh dill or Italian parsley.
Serve with hot, crusty sourdough bread and a good, German beer. Add a tossed green salad if you must
EVERYONE HAS HEARD of Nelson Mandela. His name became synonymous with peace, forgiveness, leadership, inner strength, and since he spent 27 of his 95 years in prison…endurance. We revere him because he overcame what most of us could not. We honor him because he gives us hope. Hope for the Middle East. Hope for the United States. Hope for our future as a species on this planet.
But not everyone remembers him as a hero. My husband recently met a woman from South Africa who, unbelievable as it may seem, thinks of Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, justly jailed.
Prejudice. Resistance to Change. Hatred.
Guess we still have work to do…
WATCH FOR PICS of Sherrie Miranda’s 1st Annual Chula Vista Artist’s Salon! I’m looking forward to meeting all of Sherrie’s interesting guests this Wednesday. We’ll enjoy a 4-piece band, live music on the grand piano, some original paintings, and of course, lots of great food. Sherrie has the right idea – don’t wait for a perfect time, just do it!
If you’re not sure what an Artists’ Salon is, or the various kinds of Saturday Salons you can have, check out the book or explore the website, or send me an email and I’ll be happy to help you plan your first Saturday Salon!
THE BRIGHT STAR YOU SEE WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN IS NOT A STAR at all, but a planet. Venus, probably. In early December, Jupiter joins the parade and rises about 3 hours after sunset, when Venus sets. In the second week of December, Jupiter and Venus will briefly appear as bright bookends in the evening sky. Mars, Saturn and Mercury rise later, but I don’t stay up that late, so will have to take the astronomers’ word for it.
What does this have to do with the weighty matters of war, family drama and the economy? Absolutely nothing!
One of the best things about the holidays is the reminder to take a step back from the things that worry us every day, be they large or small, and I can’t think of anything that puts things in perspective better than star – or in this case planet – gazing.
So open a window and enjoy the show….
ARE YOU GOOD AT GIVING AND RECEIVING GIFTS? The holidays are almost here, and many of us are already eyeing the ads and looking out for good gifts to pick up before everything is picked over on Black Friday.
Most Americans are casual gift givers. Social obligations are more suggestions than the absolute requirements they used to be. Japan’s on the opposite side of the spectrum. Giri is the word they have for the duty or obligation of gift-giving they feel very seriously. If you want to do your enemy in, give them a very expensive gift. They are bound to reciprocate in kind.
Hopefully your gift giving is more from the heart. It’s a skill that can be developed. Skip the gift certificates and pick out something specific to that person, even if it is not expensive. They’ll know you thought of them specifically, and didn’t just grab something and check their name off the list.
Here are some good Saturday Salon questions on the topic of gift giving:
- What gift did you most enjoy receiving? What was your favorite gift received?
- Do you enjoy gift giving?
- What is a gift?
- How do you handle the holidays when you are broke?
- What makes a good gift?
- Have you ever received a gift you really disliked?
- What do you do with gifts you don’t like? Keep them? Regift? Return? Exchange?
IN THE DOCUMENTARY I AM, which is a result of one man’s spiritual awakening and exploration of his values, we learn a surprising fact: Deer make decisions democratically. In a herd of deer, when 51% of the group point their noses in one direction, the group starts moving in that direction. They don’t follow the leader, they each decide and then when 51% vote the same way – voila!
51% is the magic number. They’ve studied various animal groups and claim they all do the same thing. Fish. Birds. Primates…
How do you make decisions?
I rate this documentary 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, because it prods me to go find out, it challenges me to perceive the world differently, and it gives me hope for the human species.
UNTIL THE IRAQ WAR, MOST OF US HAD NEVER HEARD OF SUNNIS OR SHIITES, just as we couldn’t tell you the difference between Iraq and Iran. Yes, most Americans are about 90% geographically ignorant of the rest of the world. That is not news. But I don’t revel in America-bashing. We’re no better or worse than any other nation or group of people in history. We’ve had the luxury of ignorance. No longer separated by oceans or economics, we are now a global society, whether we like it or not. We can embrace this or fight it. I’m not saying it’s good; it’s just human nature to be lazy, to not bother learning about anything we don’t absolutely have to learn about. That’s why Europeans speak 5 languages and we speak 1.
What do you know about the Middle East? Ask most Americans and they’ll shake their heads and say it’s a mess, but they can’t tell you why. They also know nothing of the successful ways in which cultures there have lived side by side peacefully much longer than we have been a nation. You never hear about the good stuff.
For Americans, trying to understand the Middle East is like trying to start following sports. My two son-in-laws are both sports guys and I feel totally lost when sitting down with them to watch whatever game happens to be on. They know the history. They know who got traded to who, who has the best batting average or was out for surgery last spring, and which coach is good. I have NOOO idea what they’re talking about, so am not excited when the guy who’s been out with an injury knocks one out of the park or pitches a no-hitter. I think he’s just a guy in a uniform…playing ball. Good hit.
It’s the same thing with the Middle East. The history is so long, when I’ve tried to follow a current story in the news, it gets very confusing, because I think I would have to have a PhD in Poli Sci to even begin to know who to root for.
Take Syria…do I want the rebels to overthrow Assad? Should we go in? Who are the rebels? Are they worse than Assad? Which ones are the Sunnis and which ones are the Shiites again? If you want to start understanding what’s going on (as I do), do it in small bites. Here’s a start:
Sunnis & Shiites are both Islamic denominations (sort of like there are many different Christian denominations-Catholic, Mormon, Baptist..). About 75% of the world’s Muslims are Sunni. They are the majority in most countries, except Iran and Iraq, where they are the majority. Most (~80%) of the Muslims in the U.S. are Sunni. Women in both sects wear the hijab, which covers the head and chest. Sunni say the entire body of the woman must be covered, except face and hands. And then there’s the burqa..
The split came when the prophet Mohammed died in 632. Some followers thought the father-in-law Abu Bakr ought to be the next leader -others the son-in-law, Ali. The Shiite name comes from shi’at Ali (follower of Ali). Sunni means to adhere to the Sunna, or sayings of the prophet. Lots of battles back and forth–these issues are at the center of much unrest in the Middle East.
History News Network “What is the Difference Between Sunni & Shiite Muslims?
ARE YOU AN INTROVERT OR AN EXTROVERT? And why do we care?
Because we need to get along with other people. People different from us. And, come to think of it, since each human being is unique…everybody is different from us! Sometimes getting along with other human beings is exhausting, doesn’t it? What we think of as a clear and unambiguous communication or action, is often interpreted by someone else as meaning something entirely different.
We apply motives to others’ actions, too. Understanding ourselves and others is the key to getting along in the world, and in a business or academic setting, getting any work done. In personal relationships it is an essential skill.
There are many personality tests out there. (see links below) Some focus on behaviors, some on motives behind the behaviors; but when compared in a matrix, they all seem to fall into 4 general personality types. What’s interesting is that none of the personality types are inherently good or bad – there are healthy and unhealthy versions of each, and no matter what your natural inclination, you can learn the skills of the other types. That’s what growing up is.
#1 extrovert/leader/pushy/go-getter: She or He is the person you want in the lifeboat to organize things and get you to shore safely. They’ll ration the supplies, keep people in line, achieve the goal. Just not necessarily politely.
#2 introvert/follower/peacekeeper/thinker: This person has a lot to offer if they are mature, but rarely get the chance to share the wisdom they’ve gathered by quiet observation, because the talkative ones take over the conversation. Immature, they just float along, looking for the easy path, not contributing much.
#3 nurturer/sensitive/people-oriented: This person goes the extra mile for others and puts relationships first. This is great to a point, but man, they can be clingy if they don’t learn to balance their intense side. You want this person taking care of you when you’re sick, but they need to give you space to breath in everyday life. If you are this personality type, don’t expect others to be like you are, or you”ll be constantly disappointed.
#4 playful/fun/spontaneous: This person is often successful, but if they don’t learn some organization and responsibility skills, they will just spin from job to job or relationship to relationship without ever living a life of any substance. These people are adventurous and entrepreneurial, romantic, and did I say FUN!!! If this is you, buy a calendar or hire a PA, and try to be aware of what others need, not just you. Oh…and clean your room.
So, if you want to figure yourself out, here are a few sites to explore:
The Color Code (I can recommend this site)
TALKING WITH ONE OF MY SONS TODAY, who is having the time of his life in college and launching a non-profit in the process, I glimpsed the tremendous potential in the kinetic energy of youth. So much good will be done by optimistic, creative, fearless 20 somethings!
It’s not that I feel old…well, except when I see young women running upstairs in 5-inch stilettos. I still feel like getting up in the morning, in spite of the fact it takes me a few steps to walk upright.
But when I witness first hand the remarkable energy of a 21-year old, running effortlessly from class to library, to work, to fraternity, to dinner dates that start around 9 PM (about an hour after I’ve gone to bed), I realize they have just a TAD more energy than I do, and few limits as to what they can do. Tonight when he shared the work his non-profit is setting out to do, it was so simple and doable, and would help so many people in the most basic way, I wondered why no one had thought of it before.
It is in their strong hands the future is held. I’m glad to see the gradual shift from us to them.
I like being the occasionally-consulted guiding hand, not the pushy, forceful parent, or the one trying to live vicariously through her children. I enjoy watching the lives of our six children unfold and revel in the privilege of seeing the arc of their lives as they create them day by day, minute by minute. I hope they find the personal satisfaction and joy of meaningful work and relationships as we did; but I get excited about the wonderful things this generation may accomplish that mine didn’t get to yet.
There is a lot of work to do — but we can’t do it all at once — it’s a marathon not a sprint – to everything there is a time and season. I’m sure there are a few more wise sayings I could throw in, but it’s almost my bedtime.
Now that I think of it…maybe in our “retirement years”, should the economy ever pick up enough for us to have any, we will find fresh, creative ways to be useful and have fun pushing out our circle of influence to do a bit more. Even better, maybe we can create companies, movements and political parties that will take the best from what youth and age have to offer. Now that’s got some potential!