I don’t know about you but I get excited about food on a skewer! When I see it, I just feel like fun is on it’s way! They’re so cute, I challenge you to hold one and not be enlivened as you bite and see what’s lined up next on the stick for your tastebuds.
I recently threw a small birthday celebration for a dear friend. Our Oregon Summer nights have such perfect temperatures. I thought it would be fun to have one for her on my back patio where she could feel special with friends in an intimate, relaxed atmosphere.
No one feels relaxed when a hostess is running all around preparing food. It’s much more comfortable for everyone when we can figure out a way to entertain that keeps an easy vibe. I decided a Skewer Party would be fun to try in order to achieve that. Besides skewers being cute and fun, they’re able to be prepared ahead of time. Once I set them on the counter, we were free to enjoy a comfortable, easy evening with the birthday girl!
My skewer menu was was farm to fork because Summer foods are so fresh, colorful and yummy, it called for it. However, as I was creating it, I realized how fun this kind of party can also be in Fall, Winter and Spring because each season brings us their own signature foods. I’m thinking a Greek, Italian or Asian food Skewer Party may coming soon too! So many fun possibilities!
If you enjoy having friends over or just want to make a family dinner night more fun, I hope these cute skewers inspire you!
Hey there blog friends! I’m sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve posted on my blog. It’s been a month of full of busy! It’s finally Summer though…..ahhhh deep breath. Summer is my favorite time of year! I’m not sure it will slow down much for me but at least it will be filled with longer days of sunshine, family and friends. I hope that’s the case for all of us!
I promised you a variety of inspiration on my blog and no season inspires me as much as Summer. Maybe it’s because I’m a Summer baby?!
Besides the vibe, warmth and sunshine, one of my favorite things about Summer is the gorgeous bounty of food it brings. Everything is so ripe and colorful! Farm to Fork is my favorite way to create a menu and eat, so I try to get to our local Farmers’ Market as much as possible during the Summer. I absolutely love the palettes of fresh, beautiful fruits, vegetables and flowers!
I also love that Summer is grilling season. Can we all agree that grilled foods are some of the tastiest? Grilling allows us to present food so clean and unfussy. Fresh fruits, veggies and grilled food make for such a perfectly delicious Summer food combination. It’s art for the eyes and food for our souls.
Loving grilled food, I’ve made sure I have that skill in my personal tool box. My husband has had to travel a lot for work over the years so I’ve gotten pretty handy at various tasks around the house. Grilling is one of them!
In general, I enjoy the creativity and love involved in cooking. It warms my heart to make food for my family and friends–it’s definitely one of my love languages. Summer evenings and temperatures are so lovely in Oregon and cooking outside feels more like a beautiful experience than a chore.
Throughout the Summer, I’ll share a few of my favorite grilled Summer meals. I hope it inspires you to be outside, get to a local Farmers’ Market and hone your “grill skills”. All of those things I promise, will fill your heart with some of life’s simple joys.
Here’s what was on the menu at our house for Father’s Day. My hubby loves a juicy pork chop and a Summer peach so that’s what we gave him!
Grilled Pork Chops with Traeger’s Apricot BBQ Sauce, topped with balsamic glazed grilled peaches, Grilled Corn on the Cob and a Watermelon, feta, mint leaf salad with a balsamic glaze.
As of last weekend, I have now had the privilege and heartache of dropping off 3 daughters at college. I would love to say the feelings after drop off got easier with each one but it didn’t. I have observed other parents over the years who seem to do it with such ease. I have often wondered what’s wrong with me because I literally feel like someone died as I drive away. Each time, the grief has been there for me. Upon arrival back home, I can barely look in their room. I can barely look at my dog laying in their room because I can tell the dog feels it too.
I’m sharing this because if you feel the same way, I don’t want you to feel alone– and I also have experience to let you know we will be just fine. If you’ve never dropped off a kid at college, you may want to read this to help prepare yourself. These emotions can take us by surprise. I’m a strong and independent person. I’m not someone who feels I need kids to take care of in order to feel a real sense of purpose– but I have loved being a parent. I have especially loved being a mom. This will be my favorite title until the day I die. Not because of purpose but because of the enormous love being a mom has brought to my life.
I have been all in. I loved baking cookies and carving pumpkins. I loved helping them name their Barbies and snuggling up for their favorite shows. I loved getting roped in to be the field trip chaperone, run the school auction and drive the homecoming float. From girl scout leader to dance & sports team “momager”, I volunteered for anything they needed to support their interests and development. Yes, it was exhausting. It was especially exhausting to stay up way too late quizzing them with notecards that could have and should have been done during normal hours. At times, it felt like sleep torture to make sure they got home safely after their many nights out with friends. But I have loved every magical, loving, exhausting moment of being a mom.
Will I ever know the lyrics to latest songs again? Will singing in my car ever be as much fun as it was with a bunch of teenage girls? Will I stay committed to keep learning the latest technology without them? Will my kitchen and backyard ever be the sacred psychologist couch or fun dance floor again?
Having been through this a few times, here’s what I’ve learned. If we do it right. If we were in it with them, they remember it. They are as bonded with us as we are with them. Yes many of us will grieve. It makes sense. A very important part of our life will never be the same, so of course we’re going to feel like something or someone died. The feeling of grief is real and earned.
However, I think it’s important to our joy to understand exactly what we’re grieving. This is where I hope I can help. If our kids made it to college, they are thriving and well! Having our kids thriving and well is always our goal as parents, right? They are embarking on a very important and exciting adventure, so we don’t need to grieve “them”. They are the epitome of life right now! We are just grieving the chapters we lived and loved so much with them. But let’s not stay stuck, we have many wonderful chapters with them waiting for us!
Since two of my daughters are now through college, I can happily report that we still get to have them! Part of being a good parent, is being someone they can count on. Who in this crazy world doesn’t need a person in their life that they can truly count on. Who doesn’t need someone who has their best interest at heart and will give honest, solid advice? We still get to be that person and they need us more than ever. While our lives and schedules are simplifying a bit with their independence, their pressures and responsibilities are growing. They need mature best friends who they can go to for advice and comfort. That’s us!!
College is fun but it’s also exhausting and hard. They will need to call you and have you assure them they can handle it. They will call you (and show you where your parenting holes are) when they aren’t sure how to do something. They don’t have money, so no worries, you’re going to hear from them!
They grow to appreciate the comforts of home and come back often so they can feel them as needed. Even when they get their first job out of college, it takes several pay checks to be able to afford rent/a house down payment, outfitting a home and all the costs that go with independence. They may just need to move back in for a bit to develop a little nest egg so they don’t have to start out in debt.
Trust me when I tell you (and remind myself too), your grief will soon be replaced with enormous pride and many fun new chapters. Sure they look different than the previous ones, but they are just as sweet and in many ways even better!
Try not to burden your kids with your feelings of grief because they have many feelings of their own during this time. Talk it through with your friends who are in the same place and feeling the same things. I promise this all passes. Use this time to get back to building you. Build your Mind, Body, Soul, Interests, Retirement Fund, Second Act, etc. We’ve earned it, we deserve it. The stronger we are, a stronger example and friend we will always be for them.
(Sharon Caldwell Peddie is the author of “Grow Yourself Beautiful”. For more information on her book, visit www.sharoncaldwellpeddie.com, amazon.com or follow: sharonpeddieblog.com)
Title: Grow Yourself Beautiful: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Following Her Heart and Focusing on Her Inner Joy Author: Sharon Caldwell Peddie Publisher: iUniverse ISBN: 9781532057342 Pages: 154 Genre: Young adult non-fiction Reviewed by: Lisa Brown-Gilbert
Grow Yourself Beautiful: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Following Her Heart and Focusing on Her Inner Joy is an impassioned narrative written by a lovingly concerned mother looking not only to encourage and influence her own daughters’ positive growth, but also seeks to encourage all young ladies through the hectic maze of this largely depthless, one-dimensional world, where society gives sanction to unreasonable standards of beauty and behavior for women. Author Sharon Caldwell Peddie’s debut narrative Grow Yourself Beautiful works. Powered not only by the experiences of being a mother to three daughters, but also her over twenty years of experience of working with young women through multiple arenas including leadership development, community service, as well as cultural awareness.
Instantly, author Peddie solidifies a heartwarming connecting with readers with her encouraging poem entitled the same as the book, Grow Yourself Beautiful. Both reassuring and inspirational this poem addresses the considerable angst that young ladies will encounter in today’s world and very much set the tone for the whole narrative which is one of practical guidance and supportive encouragement.
Moreover, the book is comprised like an acrostic poem, with each of the letters in the word-beautiful broken down letter by letter into chapters which artfully expands on developing inner fortitude and growing the beauty inside instead of focusing on the superficial exterior. Each chapter focuses on pertinent conventional notions that are simple but highly effective when duly employed; such as kindness, gratitude, thankfulness, education, being authentic, resilience and more. My personal favorite is chapter four; U is for Unplugging where she encourages leaving the electronics alone and taking an introspective journey into yourself in order to get to know yourself and foment the most important relationship you will ever experience in life – and that is with yourself. In particular, this is very important advice for this technologically submerged world, and not only do young females need to do this, as well, there are many adults that should heed this advice as well, as society would be a lot better off.
Author Sharon Caldwell Peddie’s passion for the development of healthy young women shines through her work in this book. Entirely an enjoyable and beneficial read, I found this book to be an invaluable guide, both empowering and encouraging for female readers of all ages. Also, as a mother of four girls myself, I could easily relate to the necessity for a book like this in a world full of sexist paradigms that barrage young ladies and discourage female independence while battering self-esteem. Our daughters need to know that they are great and have phenomenal potential, of which Grow Yourself Beautiful accomplishes with an endearing quality and comes across as more than just a guide to growing up female, it is a lovingly earnest tribute to all daughters and the devoted mother-daughter bond. An additional perk to the book is the inclusion of ten journaling pages and links to websites with more information.
For many years of my life, I was terrified of change. The fear of the unknown. The loss that might come from it. Would I have the ability to handle it?
However, I’ve always been someone who bores easily with robotic routine. I love the comfort of my normal routines but having new experiences out of my comfort zone feeds my soul. I like the security to keep repeating what I’m good at but I crave learning something new. It electrifies me and recharges my life. While I hold on tight to my oldest and dearest friends, I also love the magic in meeting new people and making new friends. I feel grounding roots in revisiting my favorite places, but experiencing a new piece of earth invigorates and excitingly educates me. This is why I have learned to love and embrace change rather than be afraid of it.
Change is really the only “constant” we have in life. Unless we learn to embrace it, we will always feel unsettled. Resisting it causes us anxiety and exhaustion. Embracing it brings inner peace and tremendous growth. The difference between resisting or embracing is either a negative life or a positive one.
Right now, my life is full of change. I wanted to write about my philosophy of positively embracing change as a therapeutic reminder to myself and to also help anyone else needing it too. I have a lot of personal change just with myself as individual–but also with my family unit who has been the center of my life. My oldest daughter moved out on her own. My middle is graduating college and she will live where she finds her job. My youngest is graduating high school and she’ll leave for college in less than 4 months. My husband and I will soon be empty nesters asking ourselves what we want the rest of our lives to look like. My step-dad for 41 years just passed away this week. All of this on top of each other could have made a younger me buckle, but change has shown me it’s all a sign of a full, well-loved, well-lived life!
Reasons to Fall in Love with Change:
Change closes the doors to bad situations and black spots in life. Change causes it to finally end. It moves us forward.
Change opens new exciting chapters to our story. It provides a chance for fresh new words and pages!
Change keeps life from being boring. The same routines make us feel stale and like sleepy robots.
Change adds mystery to our life. When we aren’t sure what lies ahead in the dark, we are forced to be more alert. It causes us to be more open, seeing and hearing things like we didn’t before.
Change opens new doors. There are new people to love and to love us. There are new opportunities to make our life more exciting!
Change brings valuable lessons and better perspective. Every time we go through a change, we learn so much about life and ourselves. It makes us look at everything through a fresher, sharper, wiser lens.
Change makes us more loving and more compassionate. With every new change comes an experience that helps us see what walking in someone else’s shoes feels like.
Change makes us more flexible. There are many things every single day we can’t control. When we learn flexibility, we get to have inner peace when things don’t go as we planned. When we learn how to be flexible, we become less afraid we’ll break.
Change builds strength and resilience. I devoted a whole chapter to resilience in my book because I believe resilience is our most important life skill. Resilience is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it gets. Every time we go through a tough or challenging change, it builds our resilience. It shows us, we will be ok. We will be just fine.
Spring is the perfect time to plant our intentions to grow a more positive mindset about change. There are so many signs in Spring from God, the Universe and Nature that assure us change brings us faith, light, hope, joy and love. Change helps us grow stronger and more beautiful.
My only gig as a wine sommelier is in my own kitchen haha, but living in Oregon Wine Country, I’ve gotten a chance to get pretty decent at it! When I create a great pairing, even a simple one like this, I love to share it! Great food and wine pairings are one of life’s simple pleasures and should get to be enjoyed by many. You know it’s special, when a combination of food and wine just hit the palate with that yummmmm factor! It’s like a beautiful symphony of the most perfect notes dancing in your mouth!
I’ll set the stage that possibly added to making it seem so good. It was cold and rainy all day and last night. A fire, candles and comfort food were definitely in order. I decided to make a cozy zucchini, lemon risotto for dinner. I’ll share that recipe too, very soon! Since risotto takes patience and we were hungry, we decided we should have a little snack to enjoy during the slow cooking process. I needed to tend to the risotto so whatever I was going to whip up for a little delicious nibble needed to be fast and easy. I decided on popcorn but also wanted it to be a little special like the dinner we were waiting on. I remembered I had a block of delicious truffle cheese so the minute the popcorn came out, I began shaving the cheese all over it! I thought it deserved a velvety red wine that would be great with the risotto too. This is super simple but it tasted so special, that I want to share it. It’s a perfect pairing for a cozy night in!
Perfect Pairing-Truffle Cheese Popcorn and Tamarack Cellars Red
Popcorn with fresh shredded truffle cheese and Tamarack Wine Cellars “Firehouse Red” 2015 wine.
Prep Time:3 minutes
Cook Time:3 minutes, 30 secs.
Total Time:6.5 minutes
Cuisine:Food and Wine
Microwave Popcorn ( I love Costco because it’s not too buttery but just enough!)
A bar of Melkbus Truffle Cheese ( I get it at Whole Foods- any kind of truffle cheese will be great)
Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red wine, Columbia Valley 2015
So easy- Spread the popcorn out on a long tray so all pieces get a nice coating of cheese! Shred the fresh truffle cheese generously on the popcorn while it’s hot. Watch the cheese melt as you pour the wine. Relax and enjoy every delicious bite and sip!
The truffle cheese is a warm combination of garlic, creamy, earthy, nutty flavors that meet so well with popcorn and this red blend from Walla Walla Washington (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc +) that also has earthy flavors, but of fruit, herbs and spice tones. It’s like when 3 new friends meet and just all hit it off! Even if you can’t find this exact pairing, I hope it inspires you to try a fun combination of popcorn, cheese and wine that you have access to. It’s funny how something so simple can be so special! Not everything needs to be fussy to be great!
Our hearts are speaking to us all day long. Our own heart knows what we yearn for. It knows exactly what we need. Our heart tells us when it’s time to stay or time to go. It tell us it’s time to relax or time to spread our wings and chase a dream. It tells us if we need to take better care of ourself. Most importantly, it tells us when we are strong enough to be uncomfortable to grow. Many ignore, the smart and empowered, listen, then follow.
Growing is very uncomfortable that’s why many stay stagnant in their life. They stay in places they don’t love. They do the same things they “sort of” like. They are with people who don’t make them feel good. They don’t face their fears head on. They never dig deep to turn their dreams into reality.
We are all made to grow. When we don’t, it starts to make us make us feel disappointed, anxious and out of sorts. We don’t recognize it as such but that’s what’s happening when people aren’t growing. It takes a lot of energy and mental health to resist it, so why not use that energy to grow positively and to make ourselves proud?
Each and every day our heart wants to tell us what we need. We just need to schedule time and unplug to listen to it openly. Once we listen, visions, dreams, wishes, talents and direction all come to light. It guides us to purpose and puts us on a path of growth that is right for us. We don’t have to try so hard, we just have to listen to our natural path.
To grow, we can’t and shouldn’t wait for others to validate it for us. We have to empower ourselves to listen and follow our own heart. We have to be the one who validates it for us. We have to be the one that gives us permission and determination to grow.
It will make some people uncomfortable to watch us grow. We have to be mentally prepared for that. We have to be determined to not wait for them to cheer for us or support our growth before we’ll begin–and we can’t quit our growth after we’ve become aware they aren’t cheering. It’s sad but it is part of human nature for some of that to happen. When we grow, it challenges other people to grow out of their comfort zone. It may inspire some and it may aggravate internal struggles for others. Some also see our growth as a threat to their relationship with us. They’re scared that we may not see their value anymore. Because of that, they will refuse to validate our growth. They will not be in our ear telling us everything will be okay as we embark on our scary new dream or bumpy path of growth. That’s okay, the right people for us will always be there for us. However, there is only one person who really needs to validate our growth anyway and that is us. We’re strong, we’re brave, that’s enough.
Empower yourself to listen deeper to your heart so you know when and how to grow. Let today be the day you understand it’s your validation of your growth that’s most important. Other people’s validation can be fleeting, yours can be forever!
Also, let today be the day you become even more aware if you are someone who supports the growth of the people in your life. We’re all in this together, let’s help each other grow. Let’s help each other be more comfortable on our journeys!
(Sharon is the author of “Grow Yourself Beautiful”. For more information on her book, visit www.sharoncaldwellpeddie.com or follow: sharonpeddieblog.com)
I’m so excited to get my book into the hearts and hands of teen girls, young women and the parents who love them. Let’s help our young women grow in their inner strength and inner beauty so they can live with more joy!
Paella and I began our long romance about 25 years ago when my dear friend Cristina, invited me to her house for dinner. It was that night, I was introduced to Paella for the first time through her Cuban family’s delicious recipe. When she opened her door to greet me, it smelled like a toasty warm hug that I can remember to this day.
Paella is one of the oldest and most well-known dishes in the world. It has a beautiful heritage back to farmers in Spain. They would make rice lunches out in the fields with whatever food resources were on hand. It’s hard working roots, make it a beautifully humble dish.
For Paella to be “traditional”, I’ve learned it depends on who you ask! Some say it can have seafood, some say mixed meats only, some say all the above! I’ve learned the many Paella “rules”, stories and variety of recipes are part of it’s charm.
My love for Paella grew to new heights when I visited my oldest daughter while she was studying in Spain. Every restaurant had it on the menu. Each time I dared myself to try something new, a waiter would walk by with a Paella that looked challengingly different than the one I had in the town before. The reason it never got old, is I quickly learned that Paella was not only a pan of fresh ingredients available to the town, it was an artistic canvas for the artist crafting it. Each Paella reflected the heart, resources and creativity of the chef.
I love to cook and I have made Paella many times over the years. When my kids were little they didn’t care for seafood so it became a romantic dinner for two on a Valentine’s day or a date night in. It’s cozy and perfect for a couple but Paella is also a dish of love to be shared with many! Paella has invited me to paint with it many ways depending on the taste preferences of who I’m cooking it for.
After years of making Paella in my iron skillet or dutch oven, I decided a few years ago, it was time for a real Paella pan. I was on the chase for the “Socarrat”, the toasted, crusty, rice bottom technique that can really only be achieved with a real Paella pan, because of it’s shape! So click click on the internet I went. I found a really fun website: www.tienda.com and over enthusiastically placed my order right away!
Fast forward to a giiiiigantic box arriving on my doorstep that my hubby found first. C’mon ladies, you know that feeling when you know you have some explaining to do. My husband and I both giggled at me pulling my new, gigantic Paella pan out of the box! Oops! I did not realize it would be THAT BIG! Of course my intention was to be able to make Paella for company, but the size of this pan took it to Paella Party level! What’s wrong with that?
Nothing makes me happier than having a kitchen full of family and friends and cooking for them! To me, that’s love at its highest level and that’s what makes a house a home.
While I might have thought I didn’t order the right Paella pan at first, I believe the right Paella pan found me!
1 package of trimmed chicken thighs cut into pieces
(I make chicken ahead of time, cut into bite size pieces, set aside to add later)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or enough to cover bottom of pan
2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced (you can use ground chorizo too)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Spanish onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 each, red and yellow bell pepper
Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, keep some for garnish
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups short grain Spanish rice (I like “Matiz Valenciano Paella Rice”. I get it at Whole Foods)
6 cups chicken broth (have extra on hand)
Generous pinch saffron threads
1 dozen clams, scrubbed
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 dozen rinsed mussels
Lemon wedges, for serving
PAELLA IS A PATIENT, ROMANTIC PROCESS:
Combine the paprika and oregano in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator. I like to have the chicken cooked prior to starting the Paella. When it’s done, I cut into bite size pieces and set it side to add later.
Heat oil in a Paella pan over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. If you used ground chorizo, you can leave it in the pan and move to the next step.
In the same pan, make a “sofrito” (sauce) by sauteing the onions, garlic, peppers and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture/sofrito/sauce caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld.
Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in broth, add saffron threads and simmer for 10-15 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. (Have extra broth on hand to add if rice isn’t as tender as desired…taste test!)
Add chicken and chorizo- mix it into the rice.
Add the clams, mussels and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done when it turns a beautiful orange. The clams and muscles will show you their done when they open.
When everything is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, the seafood looks done, turn the heat up for 40ish seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom. It will smell “nutty” and then it’s perfect. This is when Socarrat happens. “Socarrar,” means to lightly singe and toast. Be careful not to burn! This is the key to mastering Paella. It takes awhile to perfect the technique but think of it as a challenge! Regardless, it will be so delicious and colorful no one will know but you whether you achieved it or not!
Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. During that time, add the parsley and lemon wedges-Presentation is everything! You and your guests will not help but smile at this beautiful gift you are presenting!
Check the size of your Paella pan to determine recipe size.
Making Paella is a fun, patient, romantic process. Having a kitchen full of friends keeping you company and sharing laughs while you make it, is one of life’s best, simple pleasures. If you want to add some love and color to your life, learn to make to Paella! The hues of red from the tomatoes, red peppers and chorizo- coupled with dark black mussels and bright orange shrimp become the adorning accessories nestled perfectly in the beautiful golden backdrop of the yellow rice. Paella is colorful, romantic, fun, gorgeous and delicious. It is a dish that says come on in, I love you!