Just things

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There are a million wooden spoons.  I’m sure I could go into any store, from a Walmart to a high-end Kitchen store, to replace the one I have.  But the one I have has a special function none of those other spoons would have. My spoon has the ability to transport me back in time.

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This wooden spoon is the spoon my mother used to stir her brownie batter and, when I was being good, was the spoon I was allowed to lick the leftover batter from until it was clean.  When I became old enough to take over in the kitchen, I was entrusted with the spoon and left on my own to make the brownies without my mom’s help. Even though I was far beyond those childhood years, I still licked the spoon.

This wooden spoon has had an epic journey and has lived in many kitchens but it now finds its place in my home.  It was one of the only kitchen items I chose to keep from my mom’s vast collection of kitchen gadgets after she passed away. It shares its space with the shiny stainless steel utensils, in just as shiny a container, on the counter in my kitchen.  It looks like a misfit toy lost in the pristine surroundings of Santa’s workshop but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There are times when I am afraid to use the spoon for fear that it will break and I will lose the last tangible part of the life I shared with my mother.  It feels like the last piece of her I can physically hold on to, have her feel close to me and be six years old again in our kitchen.

People will tell you “things are just things”, but when those things can keep you connected to people you have lost, those things become so much more than “just things”.

 

 

 

Party on Weight, Party on Girth! ~ Part Duh

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A couple years ago, I was in the same mindset and wrote this post and here I am again. Like most people who struggle with their weight, I have good moments and bad moments. Working in hospitality gives me even more of a challenge having to be around food all day, every day. And the icing on the cake (yes, I had to use a food reference) is that we just hired a new chef at the lodge and have been tasting all of his wonderful creations.

It has not escaped my attention that my body is not as willing or able to break down many of these treats complimented by cream sauces and bacon. Many years ago, I followed a very regimented plan where the only processed foods I ate were the meals I processed myself. I knew exactly what I was putting into my mouth and I could pronounce every single ingredient.

I have been slowly getting back into the way I used to eat. Every week, I make five or six salads in a mason jar for my lunches. It is a quick process to prepare lunch for the week and even easier to grab a jar and know I am having a very healthy lunch. I am going to make my own granola tonight for my breakfasts and my body will react well to the fact there are no preservatives that it has to figure out how to break down. I don’t need any more random ingredients stored in fat cells because my digestive system can’t come to the proper conclusion on how to dispose of the mysterious ingredients.

Weight and Girth (thank you Saturday Night Live) have been jamming in the basement of my viscera for far too long and the eviction notice is waiting to be served. Today I had my last Peameal Bacon on a bun from my Aunt and Uncle’s restaurant, at least for a few months. My fridge will be stocked with fruit and vegetables, whole foods and water.

It’s time to start the party in another room in my body and let Weight and Girth take up space in someone else’s basement. And by sharing this with everyone who reads this blog, I am making myself accountable to kick those two out on the street.  Party on Weight, Party on Girth…..just not in my world anymore. Schwing!

Boys will be boys, and then they make you dinner

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I stopped by my brother’s house on Saturday to pick up my empty Tupperware containers.  The rule is….if I get them back, I fill them up again.  I love to make soup and they love having homemade soup for lunch, so it’s a no-brainer.

My oldest nephew was in his car behind me and we pulled into the driveway at the same time.  After most of the family had an appropriate amount of time to make fun of his morning hairdo, I headed to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients for the three soups I was making that afternoon.  I was just about home when my phone beeped with a text message.  It was from my nephew asking if I had dinner plans for the evening.  His parents were going out for the night and he wanted to make something nice and have me join the two boys for dinner.

I have written two previous blog posts titled, “Boys will be boys and then they make you cry”.  I’m sure you can surmise what happened next.  Yes, the tears appeared at the thought of a 17-year old boy not taking advantage of an empty house to have his friends over.  Instead, he made steak, baked potatoes and a salad for his Aunt and his brother.

Suddenly, the dynamic of boys being boys was replaced by a dinner that the three of us enjoyed and gave us time to catch up.  There were no sibling shenanigans, my older nephew cooked, my younger nephew cleared and stacked the dishes in the dishwasher and I sat staring at these two faces who seem like they should still be seven and four, not seventeen and fourteen.

In a world where the character of some children can be questionable at best,  I sat in awe of the two young men sitting with me at the dining room table.  To say my brother and sister-in-law got it right is an understatement and I am so proud to have these two young men in my life.  Now, if you’ll excuse me…..I have something in my eye….again.

Do good, feel good

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Over the last few years, I have found myself very driven to spend a great deal of my spare time volunteering.  I have always liked helping people so this step was a natural progression in my desire to offer my time to help those in need.  With a background in hospitality and a passion for cooking, it came as no surprise to me that I have combined all of those things about myself and I have become very active with our local Food Bank.

When you weave your way into the world of volunteering, you see just how many people are right along side of you, driven by the same aspiration to lend a hand where they can.  The faces you see in your daily life suddenly become the hands behind the volunteer work that you didn’t know they were a part of.  They don’t do it for the recognition, they simply do it because they want to help.

I have been very fortunate to become a part of a group of people with a vision that continues to grow to serve our small community.  Sure, there are a few people who need more recognition than others and an occasional public pat on the back, but there are always a few of those people in every crowd.  Thankfully our intentions come from the same place and we put forth the same effort to achieve the desired results.

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If you have ever entertained the idea of volunteering, I highly recommend it.  Just knowing that your efforts make such a difference in people’s lives, regardless of where you volunteer your time, is a truly heart-warming feeling.   And there is no shortage of places that could use an extra pair of hands or two.  The amount of time you commit to volunteering is always up to you but every second you spend helping those who struggle is well worth the time you take to show other people that you care.

 

 

Soup for the soul

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There is something comforting about being safely tucked inside on a snowy winter’s day.  What makes it even better is having homemade soups simmering on the stove and having the house smell like home.  It is a nesting feeling for me being in my kitchen and having the aromas of what I chose to create permeate my house.

I love to cook and I absolutely love to make soup.  My dream would be to have a restaurant that focuses on soup and fresh-baked biscuits and goodies, allowing me to get back into baking and making wedding cakes again.  I also love to play Scrabble and I thought if I ever was able to own a restaurant, each table would have a Scrabble board and I would call my restaurant “Alphabet Soup”.

This weekend, I have been creating big pots of soup to portion out for meals and keep in my freezer, as well as give some to my brother and sister-in-law for their lunches.  Some soups are staples and the recipe is followed to the letter.  Others are made on a whim whenever I feel the need to pair flavors and see if it works.  These were the flavors this past weekend:

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  • Cream of Mushroom Soup with Sherry
  • Cauliflower, Pear and Blue Cheese
  • Broccoli, Peach and Brie

I keep holding the dream of having my own restaurant close to my heart.  Every dream needs a time and a place to come to fruition.  Perhaps now is not the time and maybe this is not the place, but I continue to hold onto my dream in the hope that it may become a reality.  Soup maker by day, writer by night.  What could be better?

 

Becoming a student of the law

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I have not decided to go back to school.  Instead, I have vowed to become a student of life and pursue the merits of the Law of Attraction.

I recently overheard friends discussing their desire to create a vision board.  Although I knew vaguely what a vision board was, I had never been entertained by the idea of creating one for myself.  I love to lose time dreaming about my perfect kitchen.  I have seen my future home in my brain so many times, and the idyllic life that goes along with it, but I have never felt the need to purchase a white board and post pictures of my idealized Arcadian existence until now.

my new kitchen

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I have envisioned myself cooking in this kitchen.  I have seen the faces of the guests in those chairs enjoying wine and appetizers while I artfully prepare the next course, amusing their bouche with each morsel.  My fully stocked pantry is organized so well, with labels facing forward, that it is only protected by a Muskoka-style screen door.  The wine cellar is filled with robust red and crisp white wines and the food is freshly cooked every day.  This is my bliss.

To add to my paradise there is a writing nook off in the corner, away from everything else, where my dreams are free to escape the confines of my brain and spontaneously arrange themselves on a blank page.  All facets of my creativity thrive in this space and my happiness is shared with those around me.

Vision boards appeal to both the conscious and subconscious levels of our instinct.  As I wrote this post, my vision board was staring back at me, daring me to make it a reality.  Those spaces invite me to live within them.  Those dreams want me to follow them into my new future.  And those images will pursue me in my sleep and be there in the morning to remind me that my desires are real and I should never lose hope.

Tofu or not tofu……that is the question

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I always had a preconceived notion of what it would be like.  I avoided it like the plague and since I have been enjoying my plant-based/Vegan eating, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would cave and try it for the sake of trying it.  And although my foray into Tofu may have done it a great injustice, it was just as horrible as I thought it would be.

On my day off this past Monday, I stopped into our local health food store to pick up some things to bring home for dinner.  The Polenta Bake was delicious and the Falafel, while tasty, was a bit dry.  I stepped outside of my comfort zone and bought a few pieces of marinated Tofu.  The woman behind the counter assured me that, when it was heated up, it would taste like a chicken nugget.  That should have been my first hint that it would be something that was meant to taste like food, but wasn’t real food.

(my home-cooked dinner…..without tofu)

In my quest to eat better and feel better, I have drastically changed the way I eat.  I have not, in over seven weeks, craved any of the processed food or meats that I used to eat before I embarked on this journey.  I have been truly surprised that I have not had any moments where I deviated from eating food that is essentially good for me and is in its purest form.

I get my protein from beans, nuts and oats, among several other foods, and I feel better than I have in a long time.  My quality of sleep is better, my energy is better and I have no physical symptoms of the stomach upsets that I had before I cut out all of the processed crap that I once forced my body to ingest.

I am not going to preach about plant-based eating but I will say it is a dietary change that made a world of difference for me.  And in that brave new world that includes foods that I could not have imagined enjoying the way I do, Tofu will never be one of those foods.