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To freeze or not to freeze?

I am making very good work of my freezer resolution.  Especially considering I have been gone for five days of the month so far (and am now on a plane to LA and will be gone for another five).

Here are the highlights:

* Beef Bourguignon out of frozen sirloin

* Frozen Wild Caught Salmon used to make whole wheat pasta with blue cheese and salmon

* Mystery food discovered to be leftover stew … Still delicious!

* 1/2 of leftover taco meat used, along with defrosted cheese

You get the picture.

As it turns out using the food from my freezer hasn’t been that difficult.  I tend to make soups and stews and freeze extra portions.  I just have to remember to use them.  I buy seafood and meats from local farmers and freeze them for future use.  What has been more interesting, to be honest, has been learning about why I tend to have an overstocked freezer to begin with.

Here I thought I had discarded my over-planner habits and my tendency to want everything just right, you know, IN CASE. But apparently my habit of planning and preparing has never gone away where food is concerned.  It’s true that I don’t plan a week of meals at a time any more, but I sill buy way too much food than I need  in any given week.  While I have gotten much better about not wasting it, the end result is that a lot of it ends up in my freezer.

Fantasies about being able to whip together a four course dinner party from my pantry keep me over-stocked in everything from artichoke hearts to chicken broth, and I have a hard time justifying the abundance.  I am single.  I often cook for friends, but do I really need to have 12 four-cup containers of broth on hand for  entertaining emergencies?  I don’t think so.

So in addition to eatiNg from  my freezer, I’ve been trying to eat from my refrigerator.  You now, eat the two grapefruit I have before I buy another one.  Sounds simple, right?

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My Favorite Day!

Ah, the Winter Solstice. Some think it was yesterday. Some think it is today.
You know what? I don’t care which day it is!

All I care about is that TODAY HAS MORE DAYLIGHT THAN YESTERDAY.

And yes, Captain Precision, I did change that sentence from “today is longer than yesterday.”
Thank you for robbing me of my creative license.

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Scream!

You know those movies, where the teenagers are all hanging out at a camp or at a friend’s house and then suddenly: THEY HEAR A NOISE?  From the deepest corners of the house, a noise that is clearly not human and not mechanical.  A noise that says something is seriously wrong.

One brave soul (usually dressed in a really tight cheer leading uniform) goes to investigate, and opens the basement door.

“Don’t do it!” we yell!  DO.  NOT.  GO.  DOWN.  THERE!

But she always does.  She goes down there, and what happens?

She gets chopped up into tiny pieces.

Why can’t she just look away?  Run? Hide?

Well, that wouldn’t be much of a movie now, would it?

The funny thing is, in real life, I think we often do look away. We  do run. We do hide. But in the end, those monsters in the basement get us anyway.
Because my friends, the monsters are us.

They are our childhood dreams, turned into resentment at lost opportunities. They are our life’s disappointments, turned into anger that things didn’t work out differently. They are our missed opportunities, turned into fear that no more opportunities exist.

In the movies, there is always scary music to let us know that danger lurks below.  In life, though, there is no scary music to tell us to when those monsters are about to attack.  They lurk for years in our psychological basements until they grow so big and powerful that we cannot ignore them any longer.  And by then, it is often too late.

Who knew I could turn a simple organizational project into a metaphor for the darkest parts of my own psyche?

YOU DID!

Seriously, I think that we should all be in the discipline of cleaning out our basements – literally and figuratively – more regularly.  We shouldn’t wait until the basement is so out of control that it is unmanageable.  We should face it, regularly, so that it is not such a big f*ing deal.

In addition to enjoying an organized pantry and a workbench free of clutter, these past weeks of spending time with my basement monsters has provided me with some incredibly useful insights and lessons.  It has been painful and a bit scary.  It has definitely not been pretty.  But I am still whole.  And I don’t need to run and hide.  AND, I have a clean basement.

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BEFORE – Otherwise known as “The Mess.”

Just a few before photos.

The "pantry" - UGH!

This is supposed to be a gift wrapping station

 And yes, I took these with my new iPhone.

And it made me smile.

 

 

 

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Complete failure….

…or minor delay?  YOU DECIDE!

I admit it.  Since I named my October(ish) resolution, I have only gone into my basement once.

To get an extension cord.

To charge my new laptop (MacBook Pro!) and my new phone (iPhone 4s!).

So yea, I’m a little distracted.

Before pictures coming soon.

I promise.

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Local Food, Thame Style

Today started out with a hot chocolate at what has already become my favorite cafe in Thame. Accompanied by a cherry and almond bar and a good book, I could have stayed there all morning. Instead, I got to pretend I was house hunting as I accompanied A on a tour of two estates. Driving around the countryside is at once spellbinding and nauseating…I cannot quite get used to riding on the wrong side of the road.

We decided that both of the houses were not quite right, but it was fun to imagine the lawn parties and croquet games one could play on the expansive grounds. I could almost picture the game of lawn tennis that might have been played by ladies in long skirts and fabulous hats while the men discussed politics and smoked their pipes.

The highlight of my day was strolling around the Thame Food Festival, scheduled in my honor of course. It is not unlike the Grower’s Market in my own town, but there was lots more tasting and the addition of food stands. As one should when in England, we stopped for a spot of tea and enjoyed the sunshine.

I know that Paella is not a traditional English food, but it was made from local ingredients, ok?

Starting my trip this way is perfect. I get to adjust to the time change and ease my way into my trip. I get woken by friends who have already learned how I take my tea and bring me a cup to start my day. I get to enjoy the pace of a local weekend with friends and plan for my upcoming days as a busy tourist. I only hope that I make friends feel as welcome when they visit me.

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Cheerio(s)

One of my favorite things about travel is having the chance to try the local fare. Of course, International travel ups the ante a bit, and I try hard to push myself to seek out truly authentic, local eats. Some times I am more successful than others, and friend recommendations certainly help.

Try the Indian food on Brick Lane! I was told. Well, ok.

I landed this morning and freshened up before heading into Out into my day I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, but I have my Map Easy London and a decent sense of direction (thanks for that Dad, by the way). Off I went.

I knew I was getting close when I could smell the curry. Around the corner was a dream come true. Curry houses as far as I could see. For a girl from central PA where there is no ethnic food, this sight…this smell…it’s pure happiness.

I posted on Facebook that I was about to eat my first Brick Lane curry and shortly after friends told me go, quickly, to get some cookies from Ben’s. Complete with directions. I love living in the future. So as soon as I finish this post, off I’ll go.

My favorite part of the food adventure might, however, be buying treats for others upon request. Will you bring me some black current cough drops? Um, sure. Can you bring home some McVities dark chocolate digestives? Well, of course I can. Once I figure out what the heck that is.

What is it about the taste of something familiar from a former home that is so meaningful to us? Why does that taste bring us closer to that place more than anything else?

I don’t know, but I do know that the one thing my friend A wanted, my friend who is from the US but has Iived here so long she has a British accent, the one thing she wanted was a box of Cheerios.

Simple. Yellow. Fragile.

I’m proud to say I got a whole box (family size, even) here in one piece. Well, many pieces, but you now what I mean. It was not a bag of Cheerio dust when I got to her office.

I don’t know what it is about the cough drops, or the digestives, or even the Cheerios. But I do know that when my friend has her breakfast tomorrow, she will ….for at least a moment… feel like she’s home.

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By George I think I’ve got it!

I believe I have discovered the one reason I might survive a month without cheese.

Last night was my birthday, and I had my favorite in-season foods for dinner.  These foods are magical (for me, anyway) and will be in-season for all of August.  In fact, their peak month is August.

Thank you, tomatoes, corn, and blue-crabs.  You will save me from myself.

 

 

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Wow. I have a lot of free time.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a busy girl.  I have a job and errands and I exercise and I walk my dog.

I cook meals for myself, and often I do chores. I have lots of people in my life.  I even go on dates (occasionally).

Really, I have things to do.

But Wow.  I have a lot of free time.

You’d think that would make this whole resolution thing a ton easier.  But you know what I’ve noticed?

It is harder to pick a resolution when you have almost unlimited options!

I knew certain goals were just not realistic during this past year.  Now almost anything is possible and, to be honest, it’s a little overwhelming.  To demonstrate, I’ve made a mind map of my resolution brainstorming – 10 minutes worth – from just this afternoon.

Potential June Resolutions

That’s right, in just under 10 minutes, I identified 31 potential resolutions.

And I can’t rule ANY of them out because I don’t have the time, or they won’t fit with my study schedule, or I’m just too stressed out.

I DO have the time.  I DON’T have a study schedule.  And I’m NOT stressed out.

Except by the fact that I have too many damn resolutions to choose from.

Well, I’m here to tell you, I can’t do it.  I can’t pick just one.   But I can’t pick 31 either.  I think I’ll compromise with two.

My June’s Resolution(s):

  • Get Into the Woods – I’ve missed this the most, and whether it’s a short woods walk with Hannah or a real hike, I’m going to do it every week, at least twice.
  • Implement Finishing Touches – One of my friends has a routine she calls ‘Finishing Touches.’  At the end of every day, she takes 10-15 minutes to pick up the house.  I probably do this about 1/3 of the time, and I am SO MUCH HAPPIER when I am in this habit.  This month, I’m going to do it every night.
This doesn’t mean I won’t cook with friends, or take a piano lesson, or have porch nights in June.  It just means that I’m promising myself to do AT LEAST these two things.  For 30 days.  Here I go!

 

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