Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Overachiever Syndrome - A Self Diagnosis

I get overwhelmed.  

See, in a perfect world I'd be making six comfortable figures (that first figure a 2 or 3) while working Monday through Friday 10:30am to 2pm.  The house would be organized before I left in the morning and we'd be on a schedule so there was never more than one load of laundry that needed to be done.  Everything would be folded, put away, ironed or sent off to the dry cleaners.  I'd have our meals planned out weekly so I could take advantage of sales and the collection of recipe boxes and cookbooks that grace our front room.  I'd have a wardrobe filled with the essentials Tim Gunn says I should have, and my hair would be fabulous - daily and ALL DAY LONG - regardless of weather.  I'd be home in time to workout, refresh the makeup, work on the three course meal and take my mom to her doctor's appointments.  There would be enough time to plan vacations and friendly get-togethers.  There would be enough money to send out wedding invitations and I'd be wondering if a pale rose or champagne color would be best for the dress.  

Considering I've got a lot on my plate and even more than this in my head, one could argue it's no wonder I'm overwhelmed.  What I am noticing is that overwhelm seems to happen not because I have too much to contend with, but because I'm just not at all very good at honoring all that does get done.  

So today I put a stack of post-it notes in my purse.  I am writing down the good that happens.  An easy drive in the rain...  the bridge toll tickets that were forgiven because a call was made...  the meeting with the client that went well...  the $353 phone bill that was paid by someone other than myself... the donation to Wardrobe for Opportunity...  figuring out that my food drive was successful with 1,323 meals donated... all just today. 

I do a lot.  Way more than I ever consider.  And I need to consider all that I do do... because it will prevent me from hyperventilating because I have a crazy idea that I'm not doing much.  Overachiever Syndrome.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Say What You Need To Say

I'm learning sign language.  I have said when I have a baby I want to teach it to sign.  Babies can sign before they can talk, you know.  We don't have a little one yet but we are definitely nesting.  We casually go to the furniture stores for fun and look at cribs and rocking chairs.  We walk through the baby aisle now instead of around them.  A little piece of me and a little piece of him all in one adorable bundle... what could be more lovely?  Did I mention we have 2 copies of the girlfriend's guide to pregnancy?  One of my fabulous girlfriend's gave hers to me and one of the guys at work gave him one.

Today I was out with a new friend and she shared an OttLite. (An OttLite is high definition lighting indoors... with OttLite lighting all of a sudden you think, "Ahhhh! I can see!!!!") Her OttLite - learning sign language.  And since this little one, that isn't even a twinkle in her daddy's eye yet, is going to learn Spanish as well as English, I figured we could toss in signing.  Just think, when she's a teenager, I can tell her NO or "don't even think about it!"or "Ummm you forgot the other half of your outfit," without saying a word.  I LOVE that!

Signing is a beautiful thing.  And learning to say I love you in another language... that's just grand.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Very French Sunday

It was French for lunch. He and I went to the thrift stores yesterday. I have been on the lookout for a few things for the house. I found these lovely oval individual serving dishes for $2 a piece. They are oven and microwave safe. I love white dishes. They show off the food quite nicely. I try and do a bit of presentation with each dish I cook. I find it doesn't take anymore time than slopping a serving haphazardly onto the dish. The food looks so much prettier and as I'm proud of what I cook, I figure it should look as good as it will taste.

For Christmas my future mother-in-law had given me the Barefoot in Paris cookbook by Ina Garten. I love Ina’s books. Page 64 has the Herbed-Baked Eggs recipe. This specific recipe inspired the search for the individual dishes. It is a very simple and very French recipe. One feels especially French when eating the eggs with brioche toast.

If you have any questions about this recipe or about cooking in general, let me know as I'd be delighted to share. I think it's time for a cup of french press coffee and perhaps a crumpet. Yum... I love Sunday afternoons.

½ teaspoon minced fresh garlic (I use a mini grater to make this easy)

½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 eggs per person

1 tablespoon of heavy cream per individual plate

½ tablespoon of butter per individual plate

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Toasted brioche

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the top wrack six inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside.

Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

For the brioche toast, Trader Joe’s sells brioche buns. I took a brioche bun and sliced it, put it on a baking sheet, and spread the slices with a little butter. I toasted the slices in the oven with the oven set at 450 degrees until they were golden brown – about three minutes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany Happens

I linger. It’s Epiphany, January 6th, and in the corner of the cottage is the Christmas tree. I’m ignoring the brown needles clearly visible in the center of the tree. They’re really just the bright clear strung lights reflecting off the needles. The branches are not drooping… too much. The angel is only a little lopsided and I’m sure that was due to an earthquake. We do, after all, live in California. I’m seeing Valentine’s decorations and I’m still determined to say, “Happy New Year.”

It’s a really good life, this cottage living. For now it’s just the two of us, two frogs that have never told me their names, Fern and Lily - the fish, and two apple snails that are a bit shy to introduce themselves. A lot happens here - celebrations, decorations, crafts, tons of cooking and I even sometimes get a bug in me to garden. We do a lot of fun stuff – yard sales, trips to bookstores, long drives for fresh baked bread… this blog allows me to linger with all the good and loveliness that this cottage living inspires.