Challenges

Challenges are a part of everyday life. They make us stronger and without them life becomes somewhat meaningless because we have nothing to compare the good times to.  But, regardless of the challenges, facing up to it is key. Doing so will make you feel like you can take care of yourself, it will also make you understand the value of what you have now.  Facing up to challenges and living through them give us the experiences that make up our life.

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Faith

I want to thank you all for your personal letters, cards, e-mails, texts, phone calls and your prayers. Thank you to those who stood by my side and let me be me – accepted me during my most difficult time without hesitation.

 

I am proud of how I dealt with my health challenges and continue to deal with them by reminding myself that life will get better no matter what!

So often we turn away from life rather than toward it. We are masters of avoidance! But if we want to be present—to enjoy life and to be more effective in it—we must orient ourselves toward facing reality. When we are guided by the reality principle, we develop a deeper capacity to deal with life more effectively. What once was difficult is now easier. What once frightened us now feels familiar. Life becomes more manageable. And there’s something even deeper that we gain. Because we can see that we have grown stronger, we have greater confidence that we can grow even stronger still. This is the basis of feeling capable, which I think is the wellspring of a satisfying life.

 

Chef EdieM

The World in 2017

Plant Trump

I would like to extend an extremely warm “Thank You” to Zanny Minton Beddoes Editor-in-chief, The Economist for this wonderful article. Shall we read…

Planet Trump – With Donald Trump as America’s 45th president, 2017 will mark the beginning 
of a new and darker global order, warns Zanny Minton Beddoes

LEADERS
For liberals 2016 has been a grim year. A wave of populist anger has swept through the West, leading Britons to vote for a divorce from the European Union and Americans to elect as their 45th president a property magnate with no previous government experience who ran the most divisive and ugly campaign in modern American history. Within a few short months voters on both sides of the Atlantic delivered a powerful repudiation of their political establishment; shifted the fault lines of Western politics from left v right to open v closed; and voiced a collective roar of disapproval of globalization, now shorthand for a rigged system that benefits only self-serving elite. These are body blows to the liberal world order. Just how serious they are will become clear in 2017.

Most important will be what kind of president Donald Trump turns out to be. Take his words before and during the campaign at face value and the outlook is bleak. Mr. Trump is a long–standing economic nationalist, a man who believes free trade has destroyed America’s economy, who has cast doubt on America’s commitments to its allies, and called for building a wall with Mexico and for restrictions on Muslim immigrants.

Although it seems unlikely that President Trump will try to enact this entire illiberal agenda, some of it will survive. His voters seemed to give Candidate Trump a lot of leeway, less interested in policy detail than the broad thrust of his message. The best outcome once he is in office would be for him to focus on his economic plans minus the protectionism. Big tax cuts coupled with a surge of spending from infrastructure to defense would bust America’s budget in the long term. But in the short run they would inject adrenalin into the economy. This might, just, be enough to keep the protectionism minimal, perhaps limited to a few token anti-dumping tariffs. The result would be a recipe similar to that of Ronald Reagan, a man whom much of the world viewed with alarm when he stormed to victory in 1980.

Even in this best case a Trump presidency would take its toll on the open world order. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the biggest trade deal in years, is dead.

Commitments made at the Paris climate-change accord look unlikely to be honored. The Iran nuclear agreement could well wither. And the best case, on closer inspection, seems unlikely. The Gipper was a born optimist who believed in America as the shining city on a hill, Mr. Trump’s appeal is rooted in anger and division. With Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress, his supporters will at a minimum expect barriers to go up, illegal immigrants to be deported and strict conservatives to be appointed to the Supreme Court. America will turn in on itself.

In the wider world, meanwhile, authoritarians will be ascendant, and keen to exploit America’s introversion. In China Xi Jinping, already the most powerful Chinese leader at least since Deng Xiaoping, will use the Communist Party’s five-yearly Congress to consolidate his autocratic clout. He will lose little time in trying to fill the geostrategic air-pocket left in Asia by the failure of TPP. In Russia Vladimir Putin will bask in Mr Trump’s attention, but will disguise his vulnerability at home with foreign aggressions. Don’t expect any end to his attempts to destabilize Ukraine and the rest of Russia’s “near abroad”.

Boosted by Mr Trump’s victory, Europe’s populist backlash will gather strength in 2017. Far-right parties will surge in both the Dutch and French elections and could, for the first time in the post-war era, take seats in Germany’s parliament. In what will feel like one long disgruntled election season, European politics will be dominated by scaremongering, about the dangers of migrants, the evils of trade deals and the nefariousness of the European Union.

More terrorist attacks, which seem all too plausible, would darken the mood yet further. So would financial shocks: a fiscal crisis in Portugal and a flare-up of Italy’s chronic banking woes both seem likely. In such a febrile environment the Brexit negotiations will be slow, complicated and cantankerous.

Tunnels End With Light
This adds up to a dark year. Liberals should be worried. But the gloom will not last forever. Populist and isolationist policies eventually discredit themselves, because their consequences are disastrous. In a cruel irony, Latin America—the region recently most associated with a backlash against liberal, open economics—is once again shifting in a more liberal direction. Having tasted the disappointments that populism brings, Latin Americans are understandably sick of it.

The danger that this angry bout of Western nativism will intensify is also offset by deeper forces. Technology is forging global connections, whatever the backlash against migration or trade. Students study at foreign universities via online courses; small businesses export via online markets; people chat and share news on global social-media platforms. Younger voters raised amid these digital opportunities are keener on globalization than their parents are; they voted against Brexit and Mr. Trump.
The question is not whether the world will turn back towards openness, but how soon—and how much damage will be done in the meantime. The answer to that question depends above all on one man: Donald J. Trump.

Zanny Minton Beddoes Editor-in-chief, The Economist

Tables Settings and Ideas

Perfect Table Setting
Sage | Black & Cream Table

Wedding season has long been consumed by the business of extras, but this season some couples are doing away with the glitz and glitter and buying into the personal touches.

On the surface, weddings are a bonanza for dressmakers, for photographers promising to freeze-frame love, florists arranging memorable bouquets and bakers offering four-tier cakes that will inevitably be smeared in the faces of newlyweds.

Chefs, DJs, makeup artists, designers and venue operators alike pour their resources and time into advertising wedding services because they know it rakes in the cash.

But instead of getting tangled in the extras, some couples are deciding to strip it down to the essentials.

Summer wedding season is officially in full swing. RSVP cards have likely been returned, and brides-to-be are in home-stretch mode. But with the end in sight, there are still a few important summer wedding mistakes to avoid.

It’s not the flowers or the centerpieces or the favors. It’s not even the bridesmaid’s outfits or the lighting. All of those things are important (especially the lighting – more to come on that topic soon), but they won’t do any good if the basics don’t look amazing first. When you walk into a ceremony or reception, the tables, linens and the chairs have the most impact on the overall look because they occupy the most visual space. This means you can use the linens and the chairs to quickly and easily achieve the feel that you’re going for. Think about the kind of impression you’d like to make with your wedding decor. Are you going for bright and fun? Swanky and modern? Elegant and refined? Vintage and organic? Chances are the tables, linens and chairs can go a long way in creating that look right off the bat.

Also, I want to point out two important notes. I’m not sure you can have one of these items look great but not the other – they kind of go hand in hand. Beautiful linens can get covered up by unattractive chairs, and pretty chairs probably won’t do much for plain linens. So keep that in mind as you navigate your decor decisions. Also, as you think about your linen choices, keep in mind that white linens aren’t a terrible thing. Much the opposite in fact. If white linens add to the bright, fresh look that you’re going for then they’ll be perfect. But don’t choose white linens simply by default.

Ideas for a Beautiful Wedding Table Setting

Using unique wedding table decoration ideas. Your wedding reception table settings and designs matter! If you’re looking for wedding tablescape ideas, I have put together a list of unique ideas to give your reception a romantic, distinct ambiance.

rustic style farm table setting
Rustic Farm Table
White n Simple Plates
Elegant White & Black Table

Consider using high rectangular tables instead of traditional round tables. The first step to a unique wedding table setup starts with your table! Using high rectangular tables instead of the traditional round tables adds some dimension and a splash of modern glamour.

consider high table 2
Consider High Top Table

Deconstructed flower arrangements displayed at different heights on tables make great unique touches. What’s a wedding tablescape without a centerpiece? Bouquets of flowers are very traditional, so instead of the norm, try a deconstructed flower arrangement. For added dimension, display the arrangements at different heights.

flowers

Don’t be afraid of mixing patterns and textures – In this tablescape, a mirror charger with art deco-style china was used, wire ball accessories, contemporary square wine glasses and silverware, crystal beaded napkin rings and a lot of clear, oversized round vases. The patterns and textures, though different, tie together beautifully and enhance the chic-ness of the high rectangular table.  Mirrors paired with candles (and other sources of light) increase the romantic ambiance at any table—especially during the evening—which is perfect for a wedding reception. Scattering tea lights around the table and each guest will feel special with his or her own twinkling light, and since the table centerpieces incorporate mirrors, the scattered tea lights will add even more romantic energy.

tea lights

Table Settings : Setting a table is not as difficult as it seems. The basic rule is: Utensils are placed in the order of use; that is, from the outside in. A second rule, with only a few exceptions, is: Forks go to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right. And finally, only set the table with utensils you will use. No soup; no soup spoon.

Basic Table Setting

basic table setting

For a basic table setting, here are two great tips to help you–or your kids–remember the order of plates and utensils:

  1. Picture the word “FORKS.” The order, left to right, is: F for Fork, O for the Plate (the shape!), K for Knives and S for Spoons. (Okay, you have to forget the R, but you get the idea!)
  2. Holding your hands in front of you, touch the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your forefingers to make a lowercase ‘b’ with your left hand and a lowercase ‘d’ with your right hand. This reminds you that “bread and butter” go to the left of the place setting and “drinks” go on the right. Emily Post could have used that trick–she was often confused about which bread and butter belonged to her–and sometimes she used her neighbor’s! In which case, when it was called to her attention, she would say to the dismayed lady or gentleman, “Oh, I am always mixing them up. Here, please take mine!”

Some other things to know:

  • Knife blades always face the plate
  • The napkin goes to the left of the fork, or on the plate
  • The bread and butter knife are optional

Informal Place Setting

informal place setting

When an informal three-course dinner is served, the typical place setting includes these utensils and dishes:

Our illustration shows how a table would be set for the following menu:

  • Soup course
  • Salad or first course
  • Entree
  • Dessert

(a) Dinner Plate: This is the “hub of the wheel” and is usually the first thing to be set on the table. In our illustration, the dinner plate would be placed where the napkin is, with the napkin on top of the plate.

(b) Two Forks: The forks are placed to the left of the plate. The dinner fork, the larger of the two forks, is used for the main course; the smaller fork is used for a salad or an appetizer. The forks are arranged according to when you need to use them, following an “outside-in” order. If the small fork is needed for an appetizer or a salad served before the main course, then it is placed on the left (outside) of the dinner fork; if the salad is served after the main course, then the small fork is placed to the right (inside) of the dinner fork, next to the plate.

(c) Napkin: The napkin is folded or put in a napkin ring and placed either to the left of the forks or on the center of the dinner plate. Sometimes, a folded napkin is placed under the forks.

(d) Dinner Knife: The dinner knife is set immediately to the right of the plate, cutting edge facing inward. (If the main course is meat, a steak knife can take the place of the dinner knife.) At an informal meal, the dinner knife may be used for all courses, but a dirty knife should never be placed on the table, place mat or tablecloth.

(e) Spoons: Spoons go to the right of the knife. In our illustration, soup is being served first, so the soup spoon goes to the far (outside) right of the dinner knife; the teaspoon or dessert spoon, which will be used last, goes to the left (inside) of the soup spoon, next to the dinner knife.

(f) Glasses: Drinking glasses of any kind — water, wine, juice, iced tea — are placed at the top right of the dinner plate, above the knives and spoons.

Other dishes and utensils are optional, depending on what is being served, but may include:

(g) Salad Plate: This is placed to the left of the forks. If salad is to be eaten with the meal, you can forgo the salad plate and serve it directly on the dinner plate. However, if the entree contains gravy or anything runny, it is better to serve the salad on a separate plate to keep things neater.

(h) Bread Plate with Butter Knife: If used, the bread plate goes above the forks, with the butter knife placed diagonally across the edge of the plate, handle on the right side and blade facing down.

(i) Dessert Spoon and Fork: These can be placed either horizontally above the dinner plate (the spoon on top with its handle facing to the right; the fork below with its handle facing left); or beside the plate. If placed beside the plate, the fork goes on the left side, closest to the plate (because it will be the last fork used) and the spoon goes on the right side of the plate, to the right of the dinner knife and to the left of the soup spoon.

(j) Coffee Cup and Saucer: Our illustration shows a table setting that would be common in a restaurant serving a large number of people at once, with coffee being served during the meal. The coffee cup and saucer are placed above and to the right of the knife and spoons. At home, most people serve coffee after the meal. In that case the cups and saucers are brought to the table and placed above and to the right of the knives and spoons.

The Formal Place Setting

formal place setting

The placement of utensils is guided by the menu, the idea being that you use utensils in an “outside in” order. For the illustrated place setting here, the order of the menu is:

  • Appetizer: Shellfish
  • First Course: Soup or fruit
  • Fish Course
  • Entrée
  • Salad

(a) Service Plate: This large plate, also called a charger, serves as an underplate for the plate holding the first course, which will be brought to the table. When the first course is cleared, the service plate remains in place for any other courses, such as a soup course, until the plate holding the entrée is served, at which point the two plates are exchanged. The charger may serve as the underplate for several courses which precede the entrée.

(b) Butter Plate: The small butter plate is placed above the forks at the left of the place setting.

(c) Dinner Fork: The largest of the forks, also called the place fork, is placed on the left of the plate. Other smaller forks for other courses are arranged to the left or right of the dinner fork, according to when they will be used.

(d) Fish Fork: If there is a fish course, this small fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork because it is the first fork used.

(e) Salad Fork: If the salad is served after the entrée, the small salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.

(f) Dinner Knife: The large dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.

(g) Fish Knife: The specially shaped fish knife goes to the right of the dinner knife.

(h) Salad Knife (Note: there is no salad knife in the illustration): If used, according to the above menu, it would be placed to the left of the dinner knife, next to the dinner plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the knives would be arranged (left to right): dinner knife, fish knife, salad knife.

(i) Soup Spoon or Fruit Spoon: If soup or fruit is served as a first course, then the accompanying spoon goes to the right of the knives.

(j) Oyster Fork: If shellfish are to be served, the oyster fork goes to the right of the spoons. Note: It is the only fork ever placed on the right of the plate.

(k) Butter Knife: The small spreader is paced diagonally on top of the butter plate, handle on the right and blade down.

(l) Glasses: These are placed on the right, above the knives and spoons. They can number up to five and are placed in the order they will be used. When there are more than three glasses, they can be arranged with smaller glasses in front. The water goblet (la) is placed directly above the knives. Just to the right are placed a red (lc) or white (ld) wine glass. A sherry glass or champagne flute (le), to accompany a first course or for an opening toast, go to the right of the wine glasses. Glasses used for a particular course are removed at the end of the course.

(m) Napkin: The napkin is placed on top of the charger (if one is used) or in the space for the plate. It can also go to the left of the forks, or under the forks if space is tight.

Buffet

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The buffet setting includes only the essentials. Typically there is no plate or charger placed on the table, as the plate is usually picked up at the buffet table for the guests to serve themselves. Alternatively, having no silverware on the table is common, as utensils are also commonly placed at the end of the buffet table line.

Center

  • Napkin – The napkin is folded and placed on top of the plate before service begins. Napkins can also be placed at the buffet table near the utensils.
  • Menu card – The menu card can either be placed on top of the napkin or inserted into the folds of the napkin for a more formal display.

Left-side

  • Salad fork – Salad is the second course that is served, so the salad fork is placed at the outer left edge of the table setting. The salad fork is usually smaller than the dinner fork.
  • Dinner fork – The dinner fork is placed to the immediate left of the charger or service plate. The dinner fork is typically the largest fork.

Right-side

  • Soup spoon – Soup is typically the first course so the soup spoon is placed on the outer right edge of the table setting.
  • Dinner knife – The dinner knife is placed to the immediate right of the service plate, corresponding with the placement of the dinner fork.

Top

  • Water glass – This glass is the largest of the glasses.
  • Wine glass – A single wine glass is all that’s needed for the buffet table setting.

Now that you’ve completed the guide, you are now ready to host your next event with confidence! Follow the table setting rules I’ve laid out in this guide, and use the place setting templates to ensure that you will provide your guests with the best experience.

Now that I have that out of way let’s keep this in mind table manners have evolved over centuries to make the practice of eating with others pleasant and sociable. With so many table manners to keep track, keep these basic, but oh-so-important, table manners in mind as you eat:

TOP TEN TABLE MANNERS

  1. Chew with your mouth closed.
  2. Keep your smartphone off the table and set to silent or vibrate. Wait to check calls and texts until you are finished with the meal and away from the table.
  3. Don’t use your utensils like a shovel or stab your food.
  4. Don’t pick your teeth at the table.
  5. Remember to use your napkin.
  6. Wait until you’re done chewing to sip or swallow a drink. (Choking is clearly an exception.)
  7. Cut only one piece of food at a time.
  8. Avoid slouching and don’t place your elbows on the table while eating (though it is okay to prop your elbows on the table while conversing between courses, and always has been, even in Emily’s day).
  9. Instead of reaching across the table for something, ask for it to be passed to you.
  10. Take part in the dinner conversation.

 

Enjoy,

Chef Edie M

The Death of a Sibling | Grieving

I am drowning in grief and experiencing emotional pain …shock, numbness, sadness, despair, loneliness, isolation, forgetfulness, anger, guilt, regret, depression, anxiety, crying, headaches, weakness, aches, pains, yearning, worry, frustration, detachment, isolation, questioning my faith…

When a person is estranged by a family member, they generally experience a range of immediate grief, loss and trauma responses. Responses such as crying and alongside emotional responses such as disbelief, denial and anger. People often ruminate over the estrangement event or the events that led up to the estrangement. Over time, most acute emotions and bodily responses seem to decrease in intensity, and generalized feelings of hurt, betrayal and disappointment might emerge. Even when the estrangement has continued for years or decades, many people suggest the pain persists or re-occurs at particular times. Some will call it “Triggers” which can sometimes cause a person to re-live and re-experience the initial grief, loss and trauma responses, while other times they can be managed.

…being estranged by a family member is one of the most painful events across the lifespan. I should know this and it is intensified by ten folds, its unexpectedness, its ambiguous nature, the powerlessness it creates, and social disapproval…

At first, when a person is estranged by another, they generally do not expect it to happen. Trauma is increased when it is enacted by humans rather than an act of nature and this is even more so when that human is a family member. We are biologically attached to family and socially acculturated into idea of family togetherness. We do not expect an estrangement nor do we?

Estrangement is ambiguous. It has lacks transparency, and it cannot be readily understood. It is not certain if the family member will ever return, so there is no finality or closure to the event. People who have been estranged by a loved one often describe feelings of incredible powerlessness. When someone has been cut off or like me I chose to be cut off; they cannot tell their side of the story nor ask questions or apologize. Without interaction the estranged person is often left wondering and ruminating about the truth, with no means of discovering it.

In the end, the pain of estrangement is often exacerbated because it is disenfranchised or poorly recognized by society. Many people who have been estranged feel an internalized guilt and shame about the situation, and this can affect the way that they interact socially. They might reduce or modify social interactions to avoid people finding out about their estrangement. This can be exacerbated by very real instances of social disapproval, misunderstanding and judgment, ranging from insensitive comments to actual exclusion from particular events.

If you have been through a personal loss you’ve probably experienced it firsthand. When your little sister, who was your bestie, is suddenly fighting you about everything, it can feel like your world is crumbling. Suddenly you’re trying to cope with the death and your support system is no longer supported, but a source of additional stress. You are grieving the death, while feeling like you are losing your family as well.

Let me be clear about one thing, what’s the number one source of conflict? Anyone want to take a guess? No, it’s not only money or material things! Its emotions and distance. As hard as it is for many of us to admit, countless families who never imagine there would be conflict over emotions are suddenly overwhelmed by disagreement and power struggles that are left behind, which leads to distance.

There are many other sources of strain and conflict that can also arise for families. There is no way I could cover them all here. There are many reasons that death can bring out the worst in people. But one important thing to know is that when we are under the stress and crisis of a death, our brains actually work differently. There are parts of our brain that think rationally and there are parts of our brain that think more on impulse and emotion (is it safe to say stupidly). When we are in a heightened state due to a death it is harder to think with that rational part of the brain. We default to using the emotional parts of our brains – parts of our brain that struggle with reasoning, memory, and long-term thinking.

Lost of LoveLosing and containing your control, one thing that is important to remember about death and grief is that it typically means a total loss of control. We all want so desperately to be able to control and change what has happened, but with death control is lost. This change, loss of control, and loss of stability can be terrifying. During this time certain family members will be seeking any way they can to regain a sense of control, and believe me it does happens to every family. This may take shape in immediately trying to plan the funeral without getting anyone else’s input, yep sad but true. It may mean immediately sorting through belongings or trying to take charge of finances. Understanding if desire for control is a factor in behavior can be important in how others in the family respond. Helping another family member to have a sense of control, while communicating how their actions are making others feel, can be helpful. If control seems to be a driving factor, other family members may be able to help guide this person’s energy into things that would be useful and that may cause less family strife.

missing you

I needed to take timeout and took a few steps. Grief makes us all do crazy, sometimes crappy, things that we often regret. It is important to cut people (and ourselves) some slack. People do all sorts of awful stuff when they grieve, so view these things as poor choices due to an impossible time in life. It doesn’t override the many years of wonderful things you know about the person. Try to remember that this may be the exception in their behavior, not the rule. Just like you need to be gentle and forgiving with yourself, you need to be gentle and forgiving with others. My search of mediation has helped me with my process of grieving and has helped me manage my inner conflicts because I could not do it on my own.

Carmen
My sister Carmen R.I.P. 07/04/17

Putting together a Garden BBQ Menu

“Miss Silvy BBQ Party”

Salad
Golden apples, Walnuts, Fresh Baby Spinach, Heart of Romaine, Radicchio, Yellow Pepper, Sun Dried Cranberries and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Fresh Raspberry Red Wine Vinegar
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Orzo Salad

Tri Colored Orzo, Fresh Baby Spinach, Roasted Elephant Garlic, DiLusso Genoa Salami, Aged Provolone, Black & Green Olives
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Spring Lemon Chicken
Sautéed Panko Chicken Cutlets with Shiitake Mushrooms, Lemon, White Wine & Capers
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Ginger Honey BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Small Cuts of explosively flavored Ribs using seasoning such as Lemongrass, Jalapeno peppers, Honey, Ginger, and Fish Sauce.
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Photos/video to follow By: Chef Edie M

Grass-Roots and Sensitivity
There have been many people whose sensitivity and passion for their mission has motivated others to join them in their cause/fight to make a better world. These movements are often called grass-roots movements and often led by men/women whose sensitivity and passion attract others to their causes. In my adult lifetime, I can say I had many! Yes, many. Some had an impact on me and others have drifted away. We have had depressions, recessions and productivity slowdowns in this century, we still expects to grow, change and achieve. We all want to make a difference. Sensitivity has values to us all, it inspires us to become better whatever we do, it gives us pride and hope!