Well, I have my own website and while the website itself isn’t complete, I spent several hours today setting up my WordPress blog on it. I found a free theme that I really like (I tried several) and just finished tweaking it to my satisfaction (at least for now). If you subscribe to my RSS feed or via email, you will need to go to my new blog and subscribe there. I’ll see you over at my new blog!
Archive for November, 2010
I hope that my fellow friends in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day yesterday! I haven’t blogged until now because I have been so busy prepping for Thanksgiving. Our family had a wonderful day with our “crazy ass family”. 🙂 My husband mentioned that everyone at Thanksgiving dinner either lives with us or has lived with us at some point in our seven years here. My dad was not able to make it down here this year due to finances. While he was missed I kept focused on all the wonderful people in my life that were there to celebrate with us.
I have many many things to me thankful for and I truly do think about all the things that I am thankful and grateful for nearly daily. You never know when life is going to throw you a twist to change those things. When we all went around the table to say what we were thankful for, I did proclaim that I am thankful for my “crazy ass family”. We had seven people at dinner: myself, my husband, my other partner, my brother, my step-daughter, and my ex-boyfriend’s mom & son. That is a crazy group of people! And what is so awesome about it is how well everyone gets along and how low key the family actually is. There isn’t much drama around here and I am so grateful for the eclectic mix of people I get to celebrate with each year.
While the mix of people at the table is anything but traditional, we do a pretty traditional Thanksgiving feast around here: roasted turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls with butter and “stuffing” (we cook it separately and don’t actually stuff our turkey with it). Dessert was pumpkin pie with whipped cream and apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.
This year was the second consecutive year that Micah and I cooked Thanksgiving dinner. We are both pretty good cooks and we often cook dinners together. It is so wonderful to have a fellow cook in the kitchen (especially one you work so well with) on Thanksgiving day. Although Jim doesn’t do much cooking, he helped immensely with Thanksgiving preparations. He did a lot of housework including miraculously getting our living room carpet cleaned (our sweet little dog is now diapered), dusting the foyer chandelier that is WAY up high and doing a lot of the last minute clean up/vacuuming the day of). To have two wonderful, wonderful men to assist me on Thanksgiving day (and every other day of the year) is such an incredible blessing.
I was stressed in the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Even with the help of the entire household there was a lot of house and food prep to be done. In retrospect, the stress I was feeling was probably a little disproportionate – we did so much prep leading up to the day that while we were bust the day of, Thanksgiving day flowed very smoothly and everything turned out wonderful! In fact, it went so well that Micah and I decided that next year we will do the same dinner but add another “experimental” dish. Maybe a different type of side or a different stuffing or perhaps another dessert. I love all of the dishes we make now so rather than replace an item, we are going to add a dish with an unusual twist (that way if it is a flop or not to everyone’s taste, all the classics are still there).
Now it is the day after Thanksgiving and I am thankful that I have today to clean up and recover and then I still have an entire weekend before going back to work. Since I started stressing and prepping two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, I stopped working in my studio. Here’s what my worktable looks like after the two week hiatus. Now it is time to raid the fridge for leftovers and then it is time to clear off my worktable and get back to creating art!
Since April, I have been meeting with a great group of women bi-monthly at our women’s circle. I love our women’s circle. Ir provides the eight of us with a safe place to express our feelings and check in with each other. We also do various things like meditation, movement, EFT, breath work etc. This past week I was saying something about my chakra paintings or studio and one of the women excitedly said, “Are you an ARTIST?!” I started fumbling/stuttering. All of these thoughts were going through my head and I was trying to say things to minimize it like “oh I just…” or “Kind of…” and as I fumbled for a moment trying to minimize it, I realized what I was doing and took a breath and just said “Yes!” Everyone busted out laughing and started clapping for me. I was so glad I realized that I was trying to minimize it instead of just proudly saying, “Yes, I am an artist!” and it felt so wonderful to do just that.
A few days later, I bought the book Creative is a Verb: if you’re alive, you’re creative by Patti Digh. I recently became aware of Patti, her books, and her blog, 37 days through an small (online) creative community I belong to, Creative Coconuts. When I saw Creative is a Verb at my local Barnes & Noble the other day, I just had to get it! I started reading the introduction and I immediately connected with what Patti had to say! It reminded me so much of my own struggles to proclaim “I am an artist!” In the introduction, Patti shares a story about a time she had minimized herself as a writer. Patti’s business partner, David, asked her why, when people ask what she does, she doesn’t say that she is a writer. The next day Patti and David were out and an acquaintance asked Patti what she did. She answered, “I’m a writer” (Yay!) But when asked what she writes, she answered, “Oh, nothing, really. I just write these little essays every Monday.” The rest of the introduction talks about how we minimize ourselves in so many ways, diminish our SHINE, and deflect away from our accomplishments. Indeed it is time for us to let our lights shine, to be fully present and fully ourselves! Except when surrounded by those closest to me, I still struggle with being me and not minimizing who I am. It is something I am mindful of and working to change. There is freedom in sharing who you are rather than trying to diminish who you are. What areas of your life have you been minimizing?
Organized is not a word I would use to describe myself – neither is “Type A”. However, a few years ago when I was preparing to host my first ever holiday meal, Thanksgiving dinner for 9 people, I became very organized and “Type A”-ish in my planning and preparation. I knew from past experiences that I can easily get overwhelmed and if I didn’t have a well thought out plan, I and my eight guests would either be eating Thanksgiving dinner at 7 PM or not at all.
I learned a great deal about the many benefits of planning ahead that first Thanksgiving and I’ve put what I’ve learned to good use every Thanksgiving since then.
It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is now less than three weeks away. Now is the time to get planning in order to have a fabulous, minimally stressful Thanksgiving dinner. Here are my top five tips for a stress-free Thanksgiving.
- Make room in your pantry and fridge now – I use this time of year to go through items in my pantry and fridge and toss out things like opened 1/2 boxes of stale crackers, old spices and expired condiments in the fridge. I enjoy this yearly clear out. Not only am I making room for the onslaught of food that accompanies Thanksgiving but I know that I don’t have relish, mustard, etc. that are years old in my fridge.
- Delegate – You should not have to, nor be expected to, cook the entire feast. Delegate appetizers and desserts to friends and family members. I have a brother in his mid-twenties who lives alone. Even with his minimal cooking skills and sparsely equipped kitchen I found a dish to delegate to him – pumpkin pie! I gave him the Eagle Brand Perfect Pumpkin Pie recipe which is a very simple recipe that even a bachelor in his twenties can handle!Also, on the day of Thanksgiving, if anyone stayed in my kitchen for more than 45 seconds, they were immediately given a job to do (refill the ice bucket, bring these chairs into the dining room, set this on the table, take out the garbage, etc. etc.). It worked great to keep people from hovering and being in my way and things were getting accomplished too. I highly recommend this method.
- Use your slow cooker– Better yet, use two of them! There are plenty of recipes out there that can be made in a slow cooker on Thanksgiving. This saves valuable stovetop and oven space. If you don’t have a Crockpot or slow cook (or two) then borrow one from a friend or family member. Every year I make Sweet Potato Casserole in the slow cooker (and I always double the topping listed in the recipe). I’ve also made this Slow Cooker Stuffing recipe in the past and it turned out very well.
- Make items ahead of time – Not everything needs to be made the day of Thanksgiving. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, make some of your dishes ahead of time. If you are unable to make a dish ahead of time, at least do some of the prep work such as chopping and measuring ahead of time.
If you didn’t delegate your pumpkin pies to your bachelor brother then you can make the pies a couple of days before Thanksgiving (if your household is anything like mine, you may find you have to threaten bodily harm to anyone that dares eat them before the big day!). Here is a great mashed potato recipe that you can make several days in advance. One reviewer of this recipe wrote that she made these mashed potatoes the Monday before Thanksgiving and reheated them in a slow cooker Thanksgiving day. I think I am going to try that this year! Last year I tried a new stuffing recipe (Sausage, Dried Cranberry and Apple Stuffing) that can be made two days ahead. It turned out very well! Both my dad and grandfather are picky eaters. My dad was watching me make the stuffing and he wasn’t so sure he’d like it but he didn’t say anything at the time. It turned out so delicious that both he and my grandfather had second helpings!
- Have a detailed schedule for the day – This is where I become “Type A”-ish. Three years ago, I found a great “Holiday Dinner Timeline” from http://foodieview.com. I adjusted the timeline to break everything down into 15 minute intervals and by oven, Crockpot #1, Crockpot #2, Stovetop Burner #1, and Stovetop Burner #2. Yes it is extremely detailed but it helps me avoid having a meltdown the day of. Here is my timeline from last year: Thanksgiving Day Timeline
Thanks to The Graphics Fairy for the image used at the beginning of this post!