Saturday we celebrated “a day of summer.” I came home from yoga and spent the next four hours in the kitchen, while Leila thoroughly enjoyed sampling my efforts and taking her turn at the rolling pin. In the late afternoon we went outside. We filled our inflatable pool almost to capacity (well beyond the usual two our three inches) to make a “big pool,” which Leila and I went swimming in while Ben grilled hot dogs. Ben and I drank icy cold beer, and we all munched on salty chips and creamy guacamole.
We ate dinner outside and went back into the pool with our bellies full and the sun slowly moving closer to the horizon. When Leila said she was done, we headed inside. Ben and Leila readied the living room, spreading the green blanket and pulling down the pillows. Meanwhile, I layered the homemade graham crackers, salted almond dark chocolate and toasted the homemade marshmallows over the stovetop to top the classic concoction. Then we all gathered for a movie and s’mores.
I am not sure exactly when or where or why it started, but I’ve had this feeling. This thought, “Why not enjoy summer?” growing in me. Why not go to the beach? Why not play in the park? Why wait for the perfect day, the time when I am not tired or the moment I will try a new recipe without making a mess (or taking half a day to make it)? Why wait for what will never happen? Why not enjoy life like a three-year-old?
Here’s to summer – here’s to heat and humidity and mosquitoes and having fun in the midst of it all. Here’s to the joy of embracing summer, of trying something new and finding fun.
Three days before Leila’s Spanish class, I got an email with the class list so the children could exchange cards. Just a few days before I’d contemplated dabbling in a cute Valentine’s card DIY for Leila to share with her class. There are so many adorable options, and this is the smallest class size she’ll ever have (i.e. this is probably my best shot to actually do something more time-consuming in the DIY sphere). However, I read the email when I was knee deep in our taxes, and I quickly decided I’d just run by Target on the way to class.
Then Tuesday morning came, and I couldn’t help but do a quick search on Pinterest, just to see if I could find an incredibly simple DIY. I found my way to this.
I printed and cut out the cards, let Leila decorate them, punched a hole with a heart punch because I had one and packed it all, along with some twine and scissors in the car. We ended up making that run to Target on the way to class to pick up some Cuties and clear bags. While Leila happily munched on her Cheerios, I tossed everything together – in the car, in the Target parking lot.
It was so easy I felt inspired to throw together a little craft session for Leila when we got home with some supplies I had lying around. Another person less easily swayed by the dollar bins might not have conversation heart stickers and cardboard frames filling their cabinets, but I did, and we put them to good use.
And if you’re really in a rush, I loved how one mom put in the Annie’s snacks with a cute heart sticker on them, or another put a fruit-leather taped to a boxed valentine – how sweet and simple?
In the midst of the chaos that is my October, I am finding respite in the chopping and measuring and other menial tasks that turn ingredients into a meal. Sometimes a feeling is so familiar I think to check whether I have visited it before, which is how I found my way to this.
(Reposted from December 8, 2011)
A few months ago while chopping onions I realized something in the midst of my crisis. I enjoyed it – the chopping onions, not the crying. I knew I loved food and recipes and anything related to either. Sometimes though, in the midst of the everyday I forget that I really do take pleasure in cooking. Time constraints, budgeting, sifting through the junk trying to figure out what to buy and from where is exhausting. In spite of the distractions, every once and awhile I find myself getting lost in the process.
I got pleasantly lost this week. Yesterday afternoon I took the time to chop and wash and put away all of the turnips and beets and kale and collards and mustard greens that came in our weekly share. It felt good. Then I turned some of the greens and squash and sausage into a soup. The whole endeavor took hours. I needed to walk Wrigley and call about getting our furnace checked, but taking care of the food was just more enticing.
Then I spent all of today in the kitchen. I roasted a pumpkin and pureed the soft flesh into orange mush, which mixed with flour and sugar and spices became two fat chocolate chip pumpkin loaves. I kept the oven hot to roast the beets for a large salad on Saturday. Tonight I made fresh dough for pizza. I loathe the dishes it creates, but if I let myself forget about the time I find being in the kitchen soothing. There is just something empowering about maneuvering ingredients into a dish.