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Pollyanna Has Been Doing Time

It has been some time since I have taken the time to sit and regurgitate my thoughts to the ether.
It is not that I do not have anything to state, just uncertain of the direction I wish to set my keys to sail.

In the vast world of blogging I believe it is important that one should have a clear voice with a goal.

Over the past couple of years I have been exploring my soul and its reactions to art, cuisine and life in general. Somewhere along the line my inner Pollyanna was locked up and gagged.

When did I become so stoic? I don’t believe in such a lack luster approch to viewing life.

How does one convey such musings in a way that it is worthy of reading by another? I will attempt a hand a less structured but still focused blog with a bit of everything within the Art and Cuisine world.  The world I find delightful.

A simple one woman perspective on culture while working on regaining all the wonder and positivity she had for life.

I hope a few of you like it and gain something from this. Even my little snapshots as they are my silver lining.  The beauty in our world as I see it.  I suppose this blog will become about my soul searching through the superficial to find the beauty of our world.  Freeing my inner Pollyanna.  IMG_1091

Look Between The Thoughts

“It has nothing to do with effort. Just turn away, look between the thoughts, rather than at the thoughts.

When you happen to walk in a crowd, you do not fight every man you meet, you just find your way between.

When you fight, you invite fight; but when you do not resist, you meet no resistance.

When you refuse to play the game, you are out of it.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Thank you, Katerina Alexander for sharing this wisdom.

Stop your kvetching

I believe people to be generally compassionate, especially in dire situations.
But what about under everyday circumstances?  Do we always show patience and empathy then?
Please allow me to illustrate:

A man who is running late, yet again, is caught up at a red light that just seems to be taking forever to change.
In the car in front of him, there is a young lady who just found out her dear friend is terminally ill.
The light they both have been waiting at changes, the girl does not notice straight away as she is momentarily lost in thought.  The  man, short of fuse, lays on the horn. This not only makes the young lady jump, but sets her fragile mood down a grumpy road as well.  

How many times have we been in that situation, playing the roll of either character?
Is it necessary to lay on ones horn? Would not a small short courtesy beep be sufficient?
Instead of allowing ones mood to be dictated by that of a rude stranger, should we not bear in mind the anger expressed really has nothing personally to do with us and that angry man is dealing with his own issues.

My point is as Plato said so well, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Regale Reasonably

One of my absolute favorite activities is to host an intimate dinner party for four to six friends. Entertaining friends in one’s home is relaxing, fun, and a great way to socialize if you are on a budget. I learned very early on that I am able to feed four or more people depending on the dish for the price it would be for one or two people dinning in a restaurant. Perhaps even less if your guests bring the wine.

Start with a tried and true recipe. It need not be haute cuisine. Choose something that you enjoy making. The company and conversation at the table is what is most important.

When I was learning to first cook, the first recipes I wanted to attempt were my grandmothers. A true chef in her own right I would follow her recipe to the letter. Never did the dish taste as delicious as when my grandmother created it. How nettlesome, and what was I doing wrong?

It was simple, aside from being a new cook, I had yet to find the fun and passion of the preparation. My focus was on the destination, the end result and not the pleasure of the journey. The knowledge that I am cooking a dish that will connect me with my grandmother, as well as share such a favorite with my friends was forgotten in the nerves and exceptions I had set for myself.

As soon as I adopted the mantra, “I can always order pizza, I can always order pizza” as well as the encouraging words of my grandmother that she too has had mishaps with meals. I began to relax, have fun, and the food began to taste better and better.

Then one day after numerous dinner parties my cookery came close to tasting like my grandmother’s, but not exactly and I realized that I would never cook exactly the same as Grandmother. She was a different person, her pinch and my pinch could never be the same, and her experiences with food in life have been different then mine. Her perspective and pallet were slightly different. After all, I love sushi and my grandmother does not. My cooking became just that – mine.

My confidence grew and I felt the freedom of experimenting and trying new cuisine. I am still no where near as an accomplished cook as my grandmother but I have confidence and a true passion for food.

Next choose plates you would like to use. I believe strongly one eats with ones eyes first. Actually studies have confirmed this. Think of the table as the stage on which you set the mood for your dinner party.

The price and where one purchases plates is inconsequential. What is important is that they bring joy to one when looked upon. This basis holds true for the cutlery, glasses, table linens and accessories.

Since this is an informal dinner party, I will only need place settings for dinner and dessert. I like for my plates to have continuity throughout an evening, so I will stay with my favorite colour blue for the two courses.

I have decided to use my whimsical maritime plates. The color and the theme set the tone going forward.

Following the plates choose the glassware. I will be serving wine with dinner, and, of course, one must always have a water glass.

In keeping with the theme, and the casual easy ambiance I would like to achieve, I will use my cheap, cheerful, and hand blown glasses. The bubbles remind me of old glass lobster buoys.

The only cutlery needed is plased standardly, napkin and fork on the left, knife, blade iron the right. I could place the desert spoon at the top, just above the plate but I will bring them out with the dessert at the end of the meal instead.

The plates have touches of green. Thus, I pull the green color as an accent and use a green majolica pitcher for the wine, and some green and blue cloth napkins.

I love to decant wine. No one is ever concerned with the label when wine is poured from a lovely pitcher or decanter.

Then the fun bit, setting and accessorizing the table! Candles are a must! Everyone and everything looks better in candle light. I adore mixing and maching tapers and votives.

Have fun using your imagination to add accessories. Simple blue glass sea shells catch the light and bring another layer to the table scape. All set upon a blue table cloth.

I want to share with you one of my own recently and favorite recipes:Kale and carrots, sauce panwith lidKale, ripped up into bite side peaces, no stem, one big handful per person. It cooks down much like spinach

Carrots, chopped into disks, one good handful per person

Garlic, minced approx two teaspoons

Butter, tablespoon per handful or to taste

Lavender, teaspoon

Sea salt, a couple good pinches

Thyme, teaspoon

Lemon, teaspoon

Water to cover the bottom of sauce pan

Toss together cover, and cook down over low heat. You may also cook down like a spinach or other greens nice and wilted.

While the Kale and Carrots cooks, sauté the fish.

Simple provincial style fillets (as easy as chicken) Skillet

8 wild snapper fillets (bones removed)

Flour, enough to lightly dust fish

Butter, two sticks

Olive oil, a good swirl in the pan. Olive oil cooks at a higher temp and will help the butter not burn.

Herbs de provence, to taste

Garlic, at least three Hefty teaspoons. Minced

Lemon, half of a small lemon, to taste.

In a large skillet on med high, heat olive oil, butter, garlic and herbs. As soon as the butter has stopped frothing add the lightly flowered fillets. Let them cook until there is a light gold color and the edges have turned opaque white. Then flip over and cook the other side being sure to baste with the butter and herbs. I like to do this often. It will keep the fish moist. This does not take very long a few minutes each side.

All served on a plate along with some good quality crusty french bread.

A nice glass of white wine and some lovely company.


Care packages

We have all become so very busy, chained to our schedules, and most social interaction is done via keyboard.

However, one simple fact remains, everyone likes to feel they are cared for, especially when one is feeling a bit poorly or fatigued.

A simple way to lift the sprits, and show a friend or loved one you are thinking of them is with a wee care package.

I sincerely do not believe it is necessary to fill an extravagant basket full of expensive product. After all, it really is the thought that counts.

For example, when I have a sick friend, I like to fill a shoe box with pantry finds. Tea, a can or two of soup, a paperback novel or perhaps a dvd. I keep a box of blank cards for the times a quick note is needed. Tie it all together with some kitchen twine; and you get the general idea. A simple gesture to bring a smile and a bit of emotional comfort. You dont even need to disturb your friend drop it at the door and send them a text.

Another delightful gesture is a couple of muffins and a bottle of water for the weary traveler.

When flying one gets so tiered and hungry. The food on the aeroplane is not only awful but expensive as well. I bear this in mind when I make an aeroport run. That being said, time is short, and while I am more than capable of baking from scratch I find keeping a couple of boxes of muffin mix around is the way forward.

My friends never let me down, they happily gobble up the yummy treats without fail.

To be thoughtful and considerate in any way is always welcome. A gesture caries more weight than mere words. It physically illustrates to a person that they do matter. I don’t believe one has to go to extremes or expense to express caring, empathy, consideration or thankfulness.

Simple ways to lift a sick or tired friend’s day.

  • Care package
  • Offer to pick up some basics while at the store
  • A timely, baked snack
  • Personal note

Mobile Dependent

As I wait for FedEx to deliver my shinning new iPhone,  I realize a couple of interesting reality tid bits.  Today, in addition to being a slightly trying lesson in patience, it has also shown me how much I rely on my mobile phone.

After all, it is more than just a phone. It is mini computer connecting me with my contacts, my calendar of appointments, all the information the internet has to offer, my gosh, it is my connection to the outside world.

I am truly amazed at how much I rely on this small piece of technology.  I feel absolutely naked!  Somewhat vulnerable without this transmitter/receiver I keep by my side day and night.

Do not get me wrong there are times I am phone-less, when I turn it off for dinner, meetings, to work out, go on a hike, or a ride.   I love these times.  In fact, I relish them as much as I love going off the grid by getting back to nature. It takes me back to that simpleness I love  and cherish so very much.

This time is different, without control over the when and where, I am adrift.

I sit on the edge of my chair, waiting to hear the rumble of the truck.  Since I have no phone, the driver cannot call me from the call box.  I am chained to the seat nearest the street view. How did Rapunzel do it? Yes, it is a bit chilly, no, I cannot close the window, what if i don’t hear the truck?

As my day grows closer to the time I must run out, I grow more and more tenty. Any low grumbles from mufflers, or heaviness in sound from the weight of a vehicle slowing, catches my attention.  I fear I will have the nerves of a chihuahua by the end of this day.

I also realize this reliance annoys me.  I do not like to be controlled or too dependent on anything.  One could say I keep my list of vices very short.  Yes, I do look upon the reliance of a gadget, a habitual, albeit trivial defect in character.

My goodness, this habit has been going on for 17 years!  I was hooked the night my dear friend and I lost our way in Alligator Ally.  Gosh, was that really 17 years ago?!

My trusty Motorola Brick, never did that beauty drop a call, connected us with information, who then in turn, guided us to the proper exit.  All the while a toothless weathered man, kept driving , in a car with one headlight, along side us yelling for us to pull over.  I had heard too many stories of people being killed or worse in the swamp, I was not about to listen.

The 411 operator apparently had heard the stories as well, she instructed us to drive as fast as we could to the exit.  With her fellow operators in the background at the ready to contact the sherif, should we be in more dire straits.

As we turned off Alligator Ally to connect with I-95, and said our thank you’s to the cheering operators, I knew that I could never go without a mobile phone again.

I digress

Off I must run in my car to an appointment. To do so I must now write a note so that FedEx  will ring my neighbor.

Driving, I think of at least three different people I need to call, it will have to wait.  I feel that vulnerable feeling again. How would I phone AAA if my car should brake down.?

Driving back traffic is dreadful. I know I will be late to my 5:30pm appointment. With no way of phoning from the car I must wait until I return home.

Arriving home, I am sure the package with my phone will be waiting for me. With a smile on my face I bound up the stairs, two at a time.  Only to be disappointed.  I learn from my neighbor that FedEx has not come.

I finally decided to roll up my sleeves and take matters into my own hands.  I phoned FedEx; they track the package using my address.  The pleasant sounding young lady explains to me that the package should arrive at my doorstep tomorrow morning; no there is no guarantee of time, and yes it was sent out overnight. However, due to a “mechanical error” ( whatever that means) it was delayed by a day.  She asks me to hold while she transfers me to a different department where they will issue my company credit.   The phone rings and rings, finally a recording comes on and says that there has been an error in the call and that I must hang up and call back.

What I must do is ask, why does anyone use FedEx? Does anyone else have bad FedEx karma? I never have this issue with UPS.  The only way FedEx is consistent is in their inconsistency.

Enough, it is out of my hands.  I will have another night without a phone.  Worse things have happened.
I have bubbly and an episode of “Downton Abby” is on the DVR.
That should sooth my chihuahua nerves.   C’est la vie!