Carcass 201: Stock (for real this time!)

A while back I posted about making stock. What a perfect example of misinformation! (Turns out I was actually making BROTH) That post goes to show you that anyone with a keyboard and a blog can spout off with undue authority. Myself included. A few months back I had the opportunity to film Chef Jess at The Viking Store’s instruction on how to make proper stock. So, for your viewing pleasure, I’m embedding her video below. Bon appetit!

A New Direction

The winds of change are blowing.

Two months into my new job and I have finally found my feet – my balance. It’s not been the easiest transition, I must say. The Power that Is sent some terrific challenges my way personally, knocking me off balance just when I was most precariously perched. I’ve shed some tears the past couple months and I’ve exercised my faith…’tain’t been easy! It has, however, grown me as I so like to grow. And now, with my feet firmly grounded, I’m ready to feel the sun shine on my face as I start in a new direction.

One of my favorite things about my new boss is his voracious appetite for learning. He will learn from anything-or-one he’s the opportunity to learn from. He reflects on the way he builds his company, his business and his community impact. He encourages me to do the same. Due in part to a leadership podcast he’s turned me on to, an idea he has I think’s worth building and my thoughtful hubby’s cautionary reminder I don’t loose sight of my dreams, I find myself pulled in a new direction and I want to share it with you.

I recently thought hard about what I’m good at, what I believe in and what brings me joy. I reflected on these things in an effort to boil my professional aspirations down to a one sentence job description; something on which I can focus when I start to “spin”. What I landed on has excited me and I find my mind racing with ways to make it happen.

I want to encourage and inspire people to do business mindfully.

I want people to go out into the business world with ideas that encourage generosity of the spirit and collaborative thinking. I want to broadcast awesome resources/ideas like TED and Netweaving to influence anyone I can reach. And (this is where the joy comes in;)), I want to do this by written word. I want to learn and reflect on my learnings in such a way as they might inspire others to their own reflections.

It just so happens my boss has interest in doing much the same. Jason created a social platform a while back called the Noodlehead Network. Envisioned as a place where business minds can gather and share, it sits empty and waiting…like a carnival in a ghost town:(

So it is here I find myself. An idea rooted in passion and a vehicle for it’s launch. I’m ready to focus my attention and efforts in a new direction and I’m excited to see where this path leads me. I’m going to re-commit myself to regular writing and do the best work I can at the same time.

I worry only about PLM. This blog is so very special to me. It’s very name has become so much a part of how I see myself. If I choose to focus my writing time on Noodlehead Network instead of here I will miss it so…

But we’ll just see what happens, shall we? I hope those of you with an interest in this new project will join the conversation. In fact, I’d love to start it right now.

What ideas/information/people have you been exposed to that/who influence the way you work? The way you build the relationships in your lives? The way you go forth?

Comfort in Ritual

When last I wrote it was on the subject of change. I couldn’t tell you at the time, but I was in the middle of more change than I let on. I can now share more and while I’m at it I’m going to share some of my plans to ease my transition.

When my family returned from our recent visit to South Africa I was bound and determined to find a way for us to spend more time there. In conversation with some of our friends, I’d landed on the idea of trying to do some online marketing work from a distance with the help of my friend Jason and his team at Noodlehead Studios. My company hired Noodlehead about a year ago to redesign our website and help us increase our online presence in social media. A few months into working with them our big boss formally bought into the efforts for not only Builder Specialties but also our sister companies, peeling away most of my daily business responsibilities (such as managing the customer service team) to free me to focus on these projects and manage their growth. I was in my element and I found the perfect team in Noodlehead. Jason and his team are dedicated, creative, good people and I enjoyed working with them. It was natural I’d see them as potential helpmates for my cause.

One thing led to another in my conversation with Jason and he ultimately let me know he’d decided he wanted to hire someone to run the operations for his company so he could get out and drive the business. I was one person he’d considered for the job. My request to team up had come at an opportune moment and over the next few weeks we found a way to make it work. This past Wednesday was my last day with Builder Specialties and today was my first day with Noodlehead Studios.

As I mentioned in my last post, I love change. That said, when it comes around I generally try and plant a few stakes to help me maintain my course. As I embark on the biggest professional change I’ve yet to experience, I’ve identified some rituals I want to incorporate and continue.

  • I’ve been attending a Wednesday noon church service as often as possible for the past few years. I will continue to prioritize this worship time.
  • At that same church (just up the road from my new offices) the new pastor leads a yoga practice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’d like to make at least one of those practices a week to help me center and focus.
  • Our offices are around the corner from a park. When the weather gets a bit cooler, I’d like to take one lunch per week in the park – without my phone or computer.

There are other rituals I’ve toyed with but I hesitate to commit to too much right now…I don’t like setting myself up for failure. This feels good and doable – just what I need for now.

This post is more me, me, me than some, but I wanted you to know what’s going on with me in the event that I go MIA every now and again. Actually, I’m thinking this may be a great opportunity for me to stop waxing philosophical for a while and instead give y’all some real nuggets of useful information. So, in that vein:

I’ve stopped using dishwasher detergent. I found a substitution in baking soda with a few drops of liquid dish soap (like Dawn/Sunlight) and it works like a bomb…another Madison Avenue housekeeping solution bites the dust! ;)

Until next time…

A Change Philosophy

It’s unavoidable. If you live, you experience change. Change in weather, change in priorities, change in location, change in association…the list goes on. It terrifies some and excites others but we all experience it over and over again – it’s unavoidable.

That simple fact drives me to embrace it. I have that logic sometimes. I’ve been hedging my bets on wishes for years. You know; the necklace clasp is in front so kiss it and make a wish or blow out birthday candles and make a wish or blow an eyelash off your fingertip and make a wish…all these opportunities to declare what/who you really want. I always wished for the same thing: fun. I wished I’d have fun that afternoon or evening or even just for a good day that day. I knew there was a very good chance those wishes would come true, so I just kept (keep) on making them. And you know what? I’ve found a tremendous sense of power in my wishing. Who hasn’t thought it would be wicked-cool to make wishes come true? I can do it. I do it all the time:)

first day of schoolKiddo is in his second week at a new school. This change came one week after returning from our visit with family and friends in South Africa. He had a double ear infection (then undiagnosed) and I didn’t get him to bed on time the Friday, Saturday or the Sunday before his first day…nor the Monday or Tuesday following it. We had our reasons and he got some good naps in but wow…how’s that for some change?

And still, his reports from school have been glowing. He’s been so excited to go there and his teacher is complimentary of his manners (score: 1 Mama) and besides peeing himself a little during his first few naptimes, he’s dealing well with the change at school. At home, of course, it’s a slightly different story.

Llama llama, mad at mama. If there is a whine to be given, I’m getting it. Meltdowns, temper tantrums and all things four and fearsome (ok, he’s 3.5 but he started his terrible 2′s early, too!) are directed at me – and me alone. Fair enough, I am the instigator of much of this change, but his current tactics won’t get him anywhere with the rest of the world and it’s my job to teach him that; by not indulging him now.*

Kiddo needs to learn how to roll with the punches – because there will be punches. I’m hedging my wishes (for him to grow into a happy adult) by teaching him to do so. I wish for him to see a lesson in every challenge, an adventure in every detour and potential in every surprise. I want him to have fun.

I suspect more grown ups would have fun if they responded to change the way kiddo did the past couple of weeks. It’s ok to pee yourself a little when it sneaks up on you but try and use your manners while in company and save your craziness for those you trust can take it. That exercise of discipline alone should make it easier for you to start seeing a lesson in every challenge, an adventure in every detour and potential in every surprise. And if you’re still struggling? Plant some perennials, take up a weekly class or create some other constant in your life. But please make what you can of the changes, too.

I’m always surprised when my perennials come in…
the yard becomes so familiar again!
Still, with their leaving they’ve brought forth a change~
though each time different, they will come again.

*DISCLAIMER: Hubby would argue I’m more indulgent than I should be…he’s right.

So how about you? Are you a change-a-holic or a change-a-phob? What constants have you created in your life you can come back to again and again when change becomes overwhelming?

The Harvest

I’ve spoken before about tending your spiritual gardens. For the last few weeks I’ve been fortunate to celebrate a harvest. I went away on holiday to my family’s other homeland in South Africa and our days were filled with a bounty of spiritual food. I enjoyed the company of friends and family I rarely see, tasted food I eat often but enjoy the most in South African sunshine and allowed myself opportunities to learn and grow – so wonderful! I want to share some of these experiences with you along with my reflections – I hope you get something out of them!

  • Effort: On our second night in South Africa a friend, hearing of our arrival, dropped everything at 9 pm on a Friday to drive an hour to visit with us. What an expression of love! It makes me think about the times I’ve foregone visits with friends for simplicity’s sake. Yes, I still think it is sometimes the wise decision to make (especially if you’re taking into consideration the needs of a spouse and/or kids) but I’m reminded just how much love you can show by setting aside your own convenience to feed a relationship. Thanks, Thea, for loving me so well.
  • Hospitality: Next we went to Cape Town for a few days. When we landed the deal on that flight we contacted a friend to find out whether we’d be able to stay with her when we visited. Thinking she and her new hubby would be in a larger home by then (theirs is a small garden flat), she extended her hospitality. As our arrival neared, she contacted us to let us know she had everything arranged for our visit. She and her hubby had not moved yet, but would stay with friends so we could have use of their home. Shew, what a friend, huh? Fortunately, we also have other friends in Cape Town. Upon hearing her arrangements, my hubby’s childhood¬† friend’s parents insisted, rather, that we stay in their guest apartment – on the beach – with a view of Table Mountain. In short – the hospitality of our friends in Cape Town brought me to tears on multiple occasions and is due much credit for my rekindled obsession with moving there:) I thought about it the whole visit and took note of all the little touches of hospitality I found in our quarters. I want to be more mindful of the hospitality I extend to guests. I want to do as much as I can to make them feel as at home as I was in the Cape. Baie dankie, Rheeders en Nagtegaals!
  • Worship: What better place to worship than on the beach; wind and waves in your ears and salt in your breath? Our first morning in CT, I practiced my yoga with my toes in the sand and Table Mountain in my view. As I grounded, I gave thanks for all God created. I watched kiddo lead hubby across the crest of a dune (“c’mon, Papa!”) thank you. I watched dogs and people run thank you. I let the waves and the wind shift me, move me, change my direction thank you. God is so good!
  • Consciousness (kind of): After listening to some of my increasingly out there views on wellness and spirituality, a friend asked me if I would be interested in checking out an alternative healing therapy. I was:) I’m not going to try and explain the theory or the session but I do want to tell you what it did for me. The session afforded me the opportunity to settle my mind, calm my body and skim my sub-conscious for issues that were bothering me. I was reminded again how powerful a tool visualization is for me and I learned practices I can do to focus my thoughts and energies where they ought to be focused. I am so thankful God has led me to a place in my life where I am open to new ideas and interpretations…each time I explore my relationship with God in a new way another path is forged. I find each emotional or rational path I take these days leads me to a seat, in a garden, where he waits to be with me.
  • Moderation: Though natural to many, moderation has never come easily to me. I exercised moderation in my indulgence of alcohol this trip and am so thankful to hold all my memories – in full – of precious time and conversation with loved ones. This particular crop is my asparagus – it took a few years to cultivate. Hot damn and hallelujah!¬† ;)

Do you understand why the word “harvest” comes to mind? Such fruits! I feel so blessed, so loved, so full. And I must be. Because I never know when next I’ll return to that particular, familiar table…I only know that I will.

When was your last harvest? Where were you and who were you with? Do you carry pieces of that harvest around with you, chipmunk style?

An oozing, gushing mess of Spirit

The first thing I did this morning was plunge into cold water and stretch and move my body fully with the rhythm of it; dogs gliding along at my side and a crane perched on the roof of a dock in the cove. I felt God everywhere. I swam early: 6:20 on a Sunday morning. I swam before hubby or kiddo were awake; before anyone could ask anything of me. I swam with enough time to shower and go to the early service, even! After I had my swim I lay a towel on the dock and practiced yoga, moving my body on it’s various axles and then pushing my energies in one direction…another…grounding. Directing focus and praise physically, mentally and emotionally as the birds sang their good morning’s and the lake breathed thick veils with the air above it. I thought of all the blessings that’ve touched me lately and I thought of the promise of those yet to come.

And then I went to church. On Pentecostal Sunday. Can’t say I knew much about this one going into it. In fact, just last week Sonskyn mentioned my ma-in-law was at church on a weeknight and asked me what season we were in. My response after looking it up was “huh, Pentecost…nope, can’t think of anything special that time of year!” Huh, is right! I’ve since had a realization that I have somehow missed entirely the liturgical calendar event most closely matched with my personality!

But let me back up. I sat in the pews at my parent’s church (and nearest I’ve to one for my family at the moment) this morning and listened to a young mother called to the Episcopalian pulpit early who now loves that congregation with a joyous and genuine heart. She preached to us of the Holy Spirit and shared an interpretation of the Trinity she’d enjoyed and embraced. I want to share it with you now because it is just so lovely.

See most folks aren’t up for talking about the Trinity. God is good – we get him. He’s Big Papa, up there hugging or coaching or teaching. Sometimes he disciplines us; thwarts our plans. Jesus is the peer. He’s liked by gals because of his sensitive heart but still loved by many a guy because of his manly-likeability. You know you can see his hippy ass coppin’ a squat on the grass, whittle-wood in hand, ready to talk shop on life and carve something cool. The Holy Spirit or Ghost or whatever you want to call it, though…that one’s a little harder to personify…

So the idea Mary shared with us this morning was the Holy Spirit as the embodiment of the love between Father and Son. This “oozing, gushing” extra loveliness that spills out from them and into our world, our hearts, our lives…this is the Spirit. This is what I pressed my energy toward this morning as I stood with my feet planted firmly on a dock in an empty cove…What a beautiful conceptualization of the Holy Spirit, huh?

I leave this home in a couple of days to fly to our other one. South Africa, our “other” home, currently involves living in others’ houses and adjusting our child and selves to a culture that, though familiar, is different from the one we share now. We will disrupt the lives of friends and family there and impose ourselves on them for rides, beds, company and laughter. My family will spend two and a half weeks living a life so different from the one we live here…ahh, vacation:). I feel this opportunity, this privilege, so acutely today. I’ve spent the last two days preparing mentally and emotionally for the journey we’re about to embark on with a now very chatty child and I find myself strengthened for the path by an idea that resounds so firmly in my own head and heart: I can tune in to that Spirit anywhere I need to do so.

Should travel plans derail, I’ll thank God for the laughter the story will bring later…or the conversation enjoyed while we ride the bus (Pitlochry to London ’02 reference, Sonskyn and Thea…;)) Should family not always see eye to eye on those booze-laden evenings, I’ll thank God we want to share ideas and views with one another we feel passionately enough about to yell. Should absent friends leave us feeling sad and neglected, I’ll thank God for those who go to any length to remind us we’re home.

Get ready, South Africa…I’ve got a suitcase full of oozing, gushing Spirit with your name on it! I’m planning on documenting the heck out of this trip, too. I want to capture footage on SA food culture to piece together into a series for www.vikingtogo.com at the least or PBS at the best;) I’ve even downloaded an application for my phone that will allow me to stream video live to qik.com/potluckmama. I’m going to throw some footage up there while I’m away so feel free to visit and see what we’re getting up to. I may or may not post while away, dear readers. Rest assured, though, that I will be pushing my energies in one direction – then another – grounding all the while. I’ll direct my focus and praise physically, mentally and emotionally on the Spirit wherever I can find it – giving thanks.

I hope you catch the pentecostal spirit, too, friends…it’s a happy place to be:)

You may want to check out 1000 Awesome Things while I’m gone…that should get you started down the right path! :)

’til next time!

A Sense of Place

I’ve felt at home many places in my life. My childhood room, summer camp, dorm rooms, staff quarters, apartments and homes.¬† I’ve always enjoyed new starts in fresh places and the challenges were met in great part because I was able to identify a safe place, a home base, where I could recharge, reflect and renew. These bases allowed me to venture out into new territories while still carrying a sense of place in my heart. Even in my most awkward stages of life, I have been able to identify a place to cry, pray or sit with my thoughts. The roof of my parents’ house, the cab of my first car, a state park in Nashville, the Loch trails of Scotland, a porch in South Africa. Each spirited me forth anew with balanced confidence, no matter the blows I took before or after.

I thought about this, what I’ll call a “sense of place”, when I went down to my family’s farm for my birthday the other weekend. I love that place. I always have. Such a delightful mix of dirt and sunshine and old and new. I came there as a child to run and explore and play and I go there as an adult to…well, run and explore and play. No matter that I have no legal rights to the land. I have claimed it with my heart and in the event it is transferred or sold I have still felt that sense of place with my feet in that dirt and it can be recalled through a memory, a photo or a story.

I think perhaps the ease with which I recall this sense of place is the product of practice. My mother and father made me equally welcome in both their homes, in both their lives. They also thrust me out alone into the world early in my childhood, my first stint away from home being two weeks at a girl’s camp in North Carolina when I was six years old. I learned to make Cabin 1 on Hillbrook Hill a home and from there the sky was the limit.

How important it becomes when you’ve been thrust out into the world to be able to identify and claim a “home” of your own; to carry and exert a sense of place no matter the territory. This translates easily to confidence and ease, both graces that attract others to your little circle of life. I know in my own life it’s been when I have had the least sense of place that I have had the fewest comforting companions; that I’ve felt most alone. It’s then I’ve had to be carried through by my faith that I will feel those feelings once again, that I’ve had to reflect on those places, or even that I’ve had to run to those places to remember the certainty they bolster; to recharge my sense of place.

How awful it must be if you’ve not felt these feelings. I can hardly begin to understand the struggle to find balance when you’ve never felt a sense of place. I’m sure there are those people out there. Unsettled, still searching people who never seem to relax completely. Looking for a place where they can let down their guard and recharge; prepare to go out into the unknown with perceptible balance and grace. Entire foundations have been built to provide this sense of place to people who have none. People have dedicated their lives to helping others achieve it. It is a powerful need, indeed.

Find a place for yourself. Go there and recharge. Prepare for the next day of your life and prepare to live it with balance and grace. Trust me when I say it will be easier each time you consciously do so. And, when the opportunity presents itself, please do what you can to welcome others and give them that same sense of place to carry with them. It’s a gift like no other.

This post is dedicated to the people of Rainbow Village; may your blessings be bountiful and your sense of place strong.