You may have heard me share about the positive experiences I’ve had and the authentic relationships I’ve developed with people (at least in large part) through the use of social media.
Social media is not only frequented–as some might say–by a wasteland of people glued to their screens, participating in superficial conversations and wasting endless days in their dark basements. I have lots of proof that goodness can and does come from time spent online.
There is evil and waste too, of course. But that is not by any means the only story to be told.
However, even for me–someone who actually gets paid to spend LOTS of time online and enjoys it–it gets to be too much. It can easily become all consuming. Too soon, I find that I have no moments in my day without an eye on the computer or without holding an iPhone in my hand.
And when I go to bed? I ask myself how I can possibly leave my phone downstairs out of sight, out of mind? What if someone needs to reach me in the night? So I think… I’ll just put it over here while I settle in…oh ok… maybe I will check my email just one more time before bed. I tell myself that it is not a big deal that I am filling every silent moment with activity.
Two experiences this month have reminded me of the importance of eliminating unnecessary distractions in my life whenever possible: Anna Dvorak’s Breathing Space Retreat–3 days in early November when I chose to leave all electronics behind, especially my laptop–and my brother Matt’s sermon last weekend, on the idol of entertainment.
Both offered plenty of inspiration and motivation to once again eliminate the noise and frenzy that I have allowed to fill all of the crevices in my life. I don’t have a lot of wide open spaces to fill with noise, but I have plenty of crevices.
I need to guard them carefully.
(From Reaching Out) To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.
I’ve been saving these Nouwen quotes for an appropriate occasion and this seems to be it. Not only do we simply “let” media clutter take over huge aspects of our time and money; we often actively seek it out in order to avoid all kinds of feelings and thoughts and callings we may not want to admit are right below the surface.
I’m grateful for these November messengers with compasses, pointing me back in the right direction. I have had an extremely busy fall, packed full of activity and late nights of working. I intend to unplug more during this season of waiting and Advent, allowing the chill in the air and the early arrival of darkness to lead me to quieter, more contemplative places. And to earlier bedtimes.
Even though I enjoy my work very much, I’ll be taking a step back from social media in the evenings and on the weekends. And, I’ll be listening to more music and watching less “reality” TV (yes, I do love it.)
This seasonal transition, from fall to winter, reminds us that it’s time to set aside the “outward-reaching cravings and to seek instead the inward-reaching search.”
It’s time to settle in and listen.
As soon as we are alone,…inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieities, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.
— Henri J.M. Nouwen (Making All Things New and Other Classics)
Here are a couple of the recipes I’ll be making for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast. Lucky us: The ingredients we’re using are fresh from our CSA’s (Hog Back’s Farm) last delivery of the year…yesterday.
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis (Food Network)
- 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 ounces paper-thin slices pancetta, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
Partially cook the Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 4 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until beginning to crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts to the same skillet and saute until heated through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the broth and simmer until the broth reduces just enough to coat the Brussels sprouts, about 3 minutes. Serve.
This recipe comes from one of my very favorite food blogs, La Tartine Gourmande. I have made this soup MANY times, with various adaptations…whatever squash type I have on hand (usually butternut) instead of the red kuri, no clams, and a walnut pesto or raw pepitas and freshly-grated parmesan cheese as optional garnishes. This dish offers a wonderful hit of curry and creaminess for family and friends who can’t have dairy. Lots of fresh parsley is essential.
Curried Winter Squash Soup with Red Lentil, Coconut Milk and Clams
(For 4 people)
For the soup:
- 1 lb 2 oz red kuri squash, seeded and diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced (5 oz)
- 1 leek, white part only, chopped
- 1 celery branch, chopped
- 1 zucchini (7 oz), cut in pieces
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) red lentils
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 tsp ground curry
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 + 1/8 cups coconut milk
- A splash white wine
- 20 clams (about 4 to 5 clams per person)
- Chopped parsley
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the tartines:
- Slices of baguette, or a bread of your choice
- Olive oil, to brush
- Fresh thyme, chopped
- Manchego cheese, grated
- In a large pot, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the shallot, leek and celery. Sweat for 2 minutes, until soft, making sure that the vegetables never brown. Then add the ground cumin and curry, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the rest of the vegetables and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the water, salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.
- Mix the soup. Check the seasoning, and add the coconut milk. Keep warm.
- In the meantime, cook the red lentils (1/2 cup lentils requires 1.5 cups water, plus salt; cook until soft, most of the water will be absorbed; set aside).
- Cook the clams with a splash of white wine on high heat, covered, until they are open; set aside.
- Add the lentils to the soup; mix well.
- To make the tartines, brush slices of baguette (or another rustic bread) with olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme and grated cheese, and place under the broil for a few minutes, to brown slightly.
Ladle the soup in a bowl. Add the clams and parsley, extra grated Manchego cheese, and serve with the tartines.
I gave a 20 minute speech this evening to my beloved Magic Wand Collective sisters. I’ve never delivered a speech like that before, unless my high school Valedictorian address counts. I don’t think it was as long, nor nearly as heartfelt.
I didn’t have it memorized, so I had to read (with my “now that I’m over 40” reading glasses.) But I read with emotion. Perhaps one day I’ll deliver a memorized speech. Never say never, as Justin Bieber would say. (And I concur.)
To read the speech I delivered, click the image above (red table and chairs.)
Click the linked image directly above (Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s quote) to see the slideshow I created to run throughout our leisurely dinner.
Please do not copy or distribute either of these documents. They are for your personal use only. This is my intellectual property, so I get to decide such things…or so I’m told.
P.S. All you proofreader/editor/writer types…remember that this was written to be read, not for publication. I’d have to do some more work if it was going to be put into print for general consumption.
My table for Rachel’s Holiday Shopping Boutique is all set up, I’ve finished all of the marketing and promotion I’m going to be able to do, and now I’m ready to party! I’m really looking forward to seeing a bunch of vendors at set up tomorrow night, and then the boutique doors open at 10 am on Saturday morning.
A few things you may not know:
1. The first two hundred people through the door will get our sponsor tote bags, full of even more discounts, coupons and giveaways.
2. The food is going to be incredible. We will have a Tea Room with scones, clotted cream and strawberries being offered by the Duchess, and the lovely Deirdre is making magic in the Michelle Cafe, with an incredible menu planned and made from scratch: Mini-quiches, cinnamon rolls, whole fruit, quinoa tabbuleh, my family farm meatballs, smoked salmon spread, baklava, caramel apple cupcakes.
3. There’s a Children’s Shoppe where kids have the help of a personal shopper to select gifts for family members and friends. Everything in the Shoppe is $1 or less!
4. On site gift wrapping is available in exchange for any size donation. For as little as a quarter, you can have your gifts beautifully wrapped before heading home!
5. We have a ton of fabulous door prizes (total value $1,000!) You don’t have to be present to win, but you do have to show up to get your slip filled out and added to the draw box!
6. If you can’t make it that day, you can still shop for this great cause: The Michelle Project. Here’s where you’ll find links to a selection of online shops, many of which are offering show discounts. And if you’d rather just make a donation, there’s a link at the bottom of the boutique web site welcome page, here, where you can do just that.
7. I’ll be selling the most beautiful, educational and entertaining books around: Usborne Books. And, I’ll be showcasing their new Greeting Card sets…30 gorgeous cards in a storage box for just $30 ($1 per card)…of the total retail price, 40% goes directly to the Michelle Project!
I hope to you come to see me!
Brown hoodie with fleece collar: Old Navy online (sale + 30% off coupon = $14.99!)
Pin: Gift from Janna (same as two weeks ago!)
Scarf: Gift from Noemi, Rosie Posie, Prior Lake
Earrings: The lovely Jennifer Kramm
Readers: Shop in the City
Skirt: know mexico (female designer), The Secret Mermaid, Tobermory, Canada
Loafers: Lands’ End online, sale + 30% off coupon = $17.99!
Tights: Marshalls, LOVE LOVE, LOVE printed tights!
If you’re local, I hope you’re planning to join me this Saturday (November 12th) at Rachel’s Holiday Shopping Boutique to benefit The Michelle Project. I will be the person who looks simultaneously exhausted and exuberant. I’m so grateful to be a part of this incredible event and to be surrounded by so many generous and loving souls.
If you can’t be there in person, you can still contribute while easily taking care of some of your holiday shopping online.
Here are some of the show specials our generous vendors are offering, including ones available immediately. You’ll want to check them out asap!
Thank you for your support of my sister friends in The Michelle Project through this event.
We’re also celebrating Margaret in a special way this week–she’s the one with the big heart who began this wonderful community of women by reaching out to a single mother and her five children to offer comfort and tangible support.
Happy 75th birthday, Margaret! You continue to inspire us all to greater acts of selflessness and love.
Vendor specials to be found at the boutique, and online!
Anna Dvorak Organic Skin Care
Get a FREE lip balm with any $25 purchase.
Lettergirl ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
Free shipping on any custom address stamp ordered at the Boutique, or use code HAPPY for free shipping through November 18th at http://www.lettergirl.etsy.com
Sewtropolis ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
15% off any ETSY order from Sewtropolis. coupon code: RACHELS
At the boutique: Buy $50 or more and receive a $5 gift card for future in-store purchases.http://www.sewtropolis.etsy.com
Silpada ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
10% off all orders placed by 12/9 and free shipping for anyone who books a Jan party.
Click on “Shop”, find the items you want to purchase, and add them to your bag. When finished shopping, click on “Checkout”. During checkout, select “View Hostess List” and choose Rachel’s Holiday Boutique. All orders placed via website between November 10th and November 14th that select Rachel’s Holiday Boutique as the hostess will have 10% of the retail price donated to The Michelle Project!
Jeanne Beatrice ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
All baskets will be 25 to 60% off retail. Here is a code for 25% off at Jeannebeatrice.com worth 25% off (one use per customer): BASK. Enter at checkout. Good now through December.
10% off all purchases of $100 or more.
10% off to all shoppers this coming Saturday!
Show special on children’s items just for this event. Instead of $8 each (or 3 for $21), they’ll only be $6 each, and 3 for $15).
A Simple Toast! ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
Boutique Special: When you pay with cash, we will pay the tax and give you over 15% off of one of our toasts. For $5.00 you can transform any bottle of spirits or non-alcoholic beverage into a lovely gift for a friend or client. Stock up for the holidays, birthdays, hostess gifts, etc. Give a gift that won’t be duplicated and will “fit” perfectly.
After the event, we will offer free shipping. Please enter the code NS (for no shipping) in the coupon box. Also, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “Rachel” on the subject line so we know to make our contribution to The Michelle Project. http://www.asimpletoast.com
Urban Halo ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
Buy 2 get 1 at the boutique, and for those who cannot attend can use code “25off” to take 25% off our website. http://www.myurbanhalo.com
Girly Muse ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
20% off of the “Create Beauty” necklace and 10% off the “See Beauty” bookmarks starting this Sunday and going through a week after the boutique (online), as well as the day of the show. http://www.girlymuse.com
Buy any one CD by The Sweet Colleens for $10 and get a second CD for only $5.
Pick up your flyer of Photography Deals and Workshop Details at the NoemiPhotography Table. Sign up for 2011 rates on Profile Pictures and Mini Sessions while they last.
Love Usborne Books ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
Cards for a Cause: Each boxed set of greeting cards costs $30 ($1 per card) and of this total, $13 goes directly to the Michelle Project. At the boutique, buy two boxed card sets for $52.50 (savings of $7.50) Usborne Books: 5% off all Cash and Carry. 5% discount on sales plus shipping will be refunded on all orders of $75 min. placed online at this link: www.myubam.com/HOS207487
Colette Paperie ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
Use coupon code RACHEL for 25% off orders. http://www.colettepaperie.com
Willow House ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
10% off $75+ order, excluding cash & carry. Stop by and enter your name in a drawing for a beautiful Willow House item. Use hostess name Sheila Jacobson to have your sales added to the total sales for the boutique and have a percentage of the order donated to the Michelle Project. http://sheilajacobson.willowhouse.com/
That Poe Girl ONLINE DISCOUNT AVAILABLE
10% discount online at ETSY shop. 20% off portraits for anyone who books at the boutique.http://www.etsy.com/shop/ThatPoeGirl
Suds! Bath and Body
5% off any purchase over $50.
Lifelong Health Chiropractic
Free chair massage.
Free chair massages and prize giveaways throughout the day.
It Works! Slimming Body Wraps: Purchase an Ultimate Body Applicator for $25 (retail value: $59)