Tag Archives: creative

Not What I Meant To Cook

15 Aug

I am not a gifted cook.  I am lucky.

I “caramelize” (burn) things sometimes most of the time.  I don’t cook with recipes unless I’m in the mood for a Fun Project.  It is not unusual for me to go to the store and buy a bunch of things that happen to make me hungry, bring them home, line them up, and start musing (or googling) how I might put them all together.  It’s kind of a miracle I don’t end up with more Oreo-Dorito casseroles.

This week, I got an organic bone-in chuck roast from the farmers market (fancy, right?), some onions, a frozen veggie mix that was sort of stir-fry-esque, and some organic tamari (like soy sauce, but not).  I almost got ginger, but I was too lazy to turn around in the store and find it.  And I knew I had garlic at home.

I got home, noticed that I also had red curry paste and coconut milk, and changed gears.
The tamari is still unopened on my counter, and once I’d had my roast browned and simmering for about THREE DAYS in coconut curry, I discovered that my delicious veggies were teriyaki flavored.  Huh?  Gross.  I guess those will have to wait.  For a day when I am REALLY hungry.  I found some frozen broccoli and threw that in instead.

So my beef stir fry turned into coconut curry pot roast with broccoli.  It’s delicious (as judged by a jury of myself), but totally not what I thought I was cooking.  As usual.



22 Aug

I have a strange “weekend” setup.  Usually it starts around 5 on Saturday, and ends with work on Tuesday morning.  The Saturday night bit feels like a weekend, but the rest of it feels like a weekbeginning, filled with preparations for my upcoming workweek.  Sometimes that means cooking, sometimes it means cleaning, and it always means laundry.  Usually I try to squeeze in a new recipe or thing I haven’t tried before, like learning to crochet or fixing something.

This weekend/beginning is different.  My normal schedule has been condensed into 1.3 days, which has a strange effect on me.  Something like… I have nothing to do!  I guess I didn’t completely slack off.  First, I discovered that I’m pretty great at grilling big juicy steaks.  A friend told me about a rub he makes that gave me a much simpler idea… on one of my steaks, I did a pretty good seasoning of salt and pepper, and then sprinkled some granulated sugar and a little cayenne pepper.  Amazing hot caramely sweet crust.

Next was the final shift of our amazing garage sale.  I got off to a Very Early Start this morning, even though our first customer didn’t show up for a few hours.

I popped my weekly breakfast egg bake into the oven when I got there, had some coffee, and the day began.  After all was said and done, the gang brought in over $500!  An episode worth repeating, I think.  We saw some interesting characters, got rid of almost enough junk, and made a little cash.  The only downer?  The lady who walked away with some of my junk without paying for it.  Wouldn’t have bothered me so much if it hadn’t been set aside with some things that another customer wanted to actually PAY for.

After I got home with my compact carload of ugly Christmas plates and mugs (had two carloads at the beginning!), I threw in some laundry and decided my time would be best spent lying in the grass and making a little progress on The Help.

I thought our glasses looked like they were on an adventure.
I nearly got to take a nap in the sun, but Someone decided he was hungry.  We thought we could treat ourselves a little as we’d made a killing selling our junk to people who collect junk, and got rid of lots of junk in the process.  Plus, the great part about a 1.3 day weekend is that you don’t have much time to accidentally spend money you don’t need to spend.  We thought we’d walk to a “nearby” establishment for some supper, promising each other we would aim towards the cheaper items on the menu.  I say “nearby” because when you live as far from civilization as we do, every establishment you walk past is an entire block.  Home Depot, Best Buy, etc.  We walked just under 3 miles to a seafood restaurant (in MN) where we discovered that it was a little overpriced, but also industry night, and they counted us among the working folk.  Also, everything had a bit of a southern/bayou twist, so we got to douse it all in hot sauce and Cajun seasoning!  So our $32 bill became $16 and we left stuffed.  Score!

I didn’t have much time for culinary adventures or creativity, and I’m not really optimistic about finding time for that in the next several days.  But I’m beginning this week with clean laundry and a little cash in my pocket.  I can’t move my legs right now because of my 6-mile trek to dinner, but we can’t have everything, can we.

I Have Needs

11 Aug

Am I really the only one who feels totally overcaffeinated when the IKEA catalog shows up in July?  How about Restoration Hardware?  Or even just little ol’ Crate & Barrel?  I find it hard to believe that I’m alone here.  When he asks why I bother dog-earing the pages, I tell him that I’m just “getting ideas” for things like… paint color?  How to arrange the furniture, maybe?  I’ve never actually looked for these things in a yummy new catalog.  I’m sure I could get these ideas from the great staging they do, but what I actually see is gorgeous furniture that I need.  Wait, want.  I get those two mixed up a lot…  To understand how much I truly do not need furniture, you should know that until a few weeks ago, we owned five sofas.  Five.  This does not count upholstered chairs, of which we have at least that many.  I think I’ve mentioned that it’s a big, uncleanable house.  Holds a lot of sofas.  Davenports, if you prefer.

When we were cleaning up after our big shindig this weekend, we were looking around the house with a little bit of a critical eye, and he was telling me a few of the features he “hates” about the place.  We got on the subject of ceiling fans and other fixtures.  I have mixed feelings about ceiling fans.  I think they’re not the most beautiful design element available, but I love the option of moving the air around via something other than my expensive-to-run and highly-inefficient air conditioner.  There are two in the house, and sometimes we run them even though they’re in rooms we never use.  It’s our theory that the air circulates beyond those little rooms… but who knows.  We’re contemplating replacing one of the builder-standard gaudy “chandeliers” in the main room with a ceiling fan, but it is my opinion that it should be a non-hideous one, or it’s not really worth it.  Read: expensive.  That was pretty much immediately pointed out to me, but I quickly moved on to the next idea I had.  Take the gaudy “chandelier” in the kitchen and paint it red.  The question is whether I could swap out the glass “shades” for something that would be a little less 2001.
I saw this on Shabbie Chic Home‘s Etsy site and realized I might be able to make something cool…

And how cool would it be to have mason jar shades?  Okay, maybe a little much on an entire chandelier.  But I like the idea!  And cool of BootsNGus to recycle vintage jars this way.  I love that they tell me it will remind me of catching fireflies as a kid.  Agh!  Suckered again.

I don’t tend to rush out and buy housewares.  My bigger impulse issue is clothing, as my job is fashion conscious and it’s easy to justify.  I neeeed this dress.  Wait, is that justifying or whining?  Either way.  And maybe there’s a little truth my claim that the wardrobe needs constant updating, but I can still shop the closet.  I can turn wide leg pants into skinnies.  I can take that dumpy old jacket and have it cropped and tailored.  That’s usually cheaper than a new outfit!  And I can paint the things in my house that are ugly until they are bearable.  I have a hunch that the busy-ness epidemic and the consumption epidemic are close cousins.  I’ll be trying to consume less without adjusting my schedule at all.  Stay tuned, this could get interesting.


28 May

Committed can mean all kinds of things.  Since the underlying current of this blog is my marriage, you might think I’m referring to marital commitment.  I’m not.  I’m referring to the kind of commitment that happens in a psych ward.  Or on a weekly calendar.  Or the relationship between the two.

I think I work too much.  I don’t work too hard, just too much.  Four days a week, I leave for work at about 10:00 am, and get back home between 10:30 and 11:00 pm.  On the fifth day, it’s a more typical 9-5 scenario.  I have a job many people would kill for, but I find myself wishing I could spend more time writing.  Or making messes.  Or cleaning up the messes made by me and Others Who Live In The House.  A brief survey of my friends tells me that a common symptom of being too busy is a messy house.  You have just enough time to come home, drop your things on the floor, and get 6 or 7 hours of sleep.  Then you’re back out the door again.  There isn’t much time left for maintaining any standard of cleanliness, nevermind making a dent in the storage room under the stairs.  I realize I complain about the mess a lot – it’s really not that bad.  If you wanted to drop by my house, I’d like a phone call when you’re on your way, and in 20 minutes I could have it in a perfectly non-embarrassing state.  My goal, though, is to have it set up in such a way that I’m not always putting my energy into arranging and stacking and putting away, so that I can start vacuuming more than quarterly.  That is my goal.  I am committed.

Creativity is a big part of my life.  I dance.  I work at a dance studio.  I (try to) teach people to be creative in their communication and presentation of plans or ideas.  Sometimes I teach dancing.  Sometimes I make jewelry.  Sometimes I spray paint something old to make it look new… or older.  Sometimes I silver leaf something ugly to make it pretty.  Writing is my latest venture into creativity.  My goal is to do it twice a week.  I am committed.

I used to go to church every Sunday.  EVERY SUNDAY.  I also used to rely much more heavily on routine than I do now.  These days, my favorite routine involves a cup of hot coffee and a book or “the news.”  We’ve found a church that we like so far, and have gone consistently for a little while.  Shopping usually helps me stick to new ventures.  Some of you will understand this right away, some of you might need a minute to catch up.  A new outfit will always make your golf game a little better.  A new fishing pole and shiny pink lures might help you catch more fish (or at least you’ll look cuter when you’re pulling up weeds all day).  The same holds for getting back into my church routine: having a new bible makes it just a little more fun to get up early on Sunday.  So, I shopped and now I’m committed.

My calendar is full.  I’m constantly oscillating between simplifying and complicating my life.  These days I’m very committed.  And on the verge of being committed.  But there’s always the insanity plea!