Thursday, August 11, 2011

Skidding in Sideways

Since my last two posts were about food (and each began with "mmmmm" - I need to be more creative), I thought I would shift gears and talk a little bit about other things going on in my life. 'Cause it's my blog! And if no one reads it, so what! My first couple of posts were pretty personal and that goes against my whole modus operandi - I am a private person and I mostly keep to myself. However, the older I get, the more I realize that sure, you can insulate yourself from hurt and pain and embarrassment by huddling in a turtle shell, but that is a lonely existence and as a person, you don't grow. I honestly think that is one of the lessons I have taken away from my last few tumultuous years. No risk, no reward. (10 years in the investment services world taught me that!) I love this quote:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO what a ride!"

After those first couple of blog posts, I felt icky. And while those posts were hardly confessional, they were definitely more than I typically let on. However, I talked to a few people who read those posts and they said how they felt in much the same way, or that it resonated with them. Not only did that make me feel better, but it showed me what reaching out can do - forge connections with other people. Sounds totally elementary, but admitting how you really feel, not that everything's fine and dandy, can be a good thing.

A roundabout way to get to the next point, but it goes along with stepping out of my comfort zone. I am starting my own business as an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot. They are a jewelry company out of San Francisco, specializing in direct selling via in-home trunk shows and online. I was invited to a trunk show a month ago and a light bulb went off in my head. Why don't I do something like this? It's flexible, you can work "off hours" (key with kids) and it can be as much or as little as you want it to be. I went to their website, watched the videos, read about the firm's founders, and was intrigued. It was more than just your average direct selling company. They jewelry is gorgeous, first of all, and the experience of the firm's founder, Jessica Herrin, was compelling. Add to that a $37 million investment by Seqouia Capital, and I was hooked. Could I do this? I'm a bit on the shy side, I'm not a fashionista, could I really get out there? Well, I definitely wanted to get out of the house, so that was a big motivating factor. Ultimately, I decided to take the plunge because of those very questions I raised above. Get over my shyness (it's not debilitating) and wear jewelry? Really, not too hard. I'm not a girly girl, but I'm not a total slouch, either. I viewed it as a way to earn money, get out of the house, and meet new people. And so far, it's fun. I actually want to go sit down and "work" although it doesn't feel like work. It feels like something I am doing for myself and selling a fun product that people love.

Between this blog and Stella & Dot, I'm trying to reach out, get connected again. Having small children can be an isolating experience - you don't have a ton of built-in opportunities to get out and meet people (you have to be proactive in that area) and if you have multiple small children, as I do, it can feel like a monumental task to take them anywhere. Plus, between short attention spans, naps, and all that, you're ready to go to bed when they are. So this is my attempt to get back into the world and try something new.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This recipe was just so good and interesting that I had to post it. From Rachael Ray, Meat-Free BLT Spaghetti with Butter Lettuce, Leek, and Tomato. I have Rachael's latest cookbook, Look and Cook and it has a number of yummy recipes in it. Back in the days when I was snobby foodie, I thought I was too good for Rachael Ray. And then I had kids and I soon figured out that my days of planning menus, leisurely shopping at Whole Foods and then lovingly preparing the meal were OVER. OVER. If I still wanted to cook good food and try new recipes, I had to find a way to fit it into my life. And so I went over to the dark side. The Rachael side. And I discovered that her recipes are fun and really tasty. Not always easy on the waistline - there's lots of "EVOO" and cheese but really, who can go wrong with that? Just don't eat her portions - they are ginormous. She often does riffs on popular things like a spinach artichoke dip and makes it into a meal. For example, she makes a Spinach & Artichoke Mac and Cheese that is pretty darn good.  Anyway, I had spotted this recipe in the book and thought it was interesting but passed over it - Ted was the one who had pointed it out (he made the Chicken Ragu and that was awesome) and I included it in our little weekly menu plan. Now, the recipe has you make a pesto out of butter lettuce, basil, mint, parsley, pine nuts, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, and EVOO. I was a bit skeptical. A pesto recipe whose main ingredient was lettuce? Sounded grody (yes, yes, the 80s called and they want their word back) but heck, why not? Lachlan helped me make the pesto and before I knew it, he was dipping a bowl scraper in the food processor bowl and eating it. Turned out to be refreshing, light, and a perfect complement to the tomatoes and leeks that you saute and then toss with the pasta and pesto. Very summery, very flavorful and I recommend you give it a shot. The best part? The kids LOVED the pesto. Since they are not apt to consume vegetables, I was a happy mama. The proof is below. In fact, I almost DIDN'T post about this because it was so good I didn't want to run upstairs to get my camera. I wanted to keep shoveling it in my mouth.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mmmmm, bread

Ok, so maybe you don't necessarily want to hear about baking bread in the middle of summer, but this is how I roll. To give you a frame of reference, my dad was known to roast turkeys in July. Full on Thanksgiving dinner. Not sure why, but perhaps this will help you better understand my pathos: it's genetic. Anyhoo! So at the Borders liquidation sale, I found a book called (you can excuse the irony for linking to Amazon) Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The premise is that you make a huge amount of bread dough and then store it in your fridge for up to two weeks. From that large batch, you can pull off smaller bits for various loaves of bread. And what's even better is that the longer the dough sits in your fridge, the more it will begin to develop a sourdough-like taste. No need to make and feed and cultivate a sourdough starter, my friends! Last weekend, Ted made the ginormous amount of dough - he had to go to Target to get a bowl big enough to store it. For whatever reason, we just didn't get to baking the actual bread (probably because the ginormous bowl was in our fridge in the basement - out of sight, out of mind), so yesterday I gave it a whirl. All I can say is, impressive. It was insanely easy. You pull off a one pound ball, shape it (no kneading), and let it rest and rise at room temp for about 40 minutes. You do need a pizza stone to actually bake it, but they are pretty ubiquitous these days. 30 minutes of baking and out comes a gorgeous loaf that looks like it came from a bakery (without the $3.99 price tag). There are lots of recipes in this book, mostly variations on the master recipe, so I think I may be baking my own bread from now on! So long expensive peasant loaves! Buh-bye Pepperidge Farm!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An Open Letter to my Chickens

Dear Chickens:

Well, we find ourselves here yet again. Some weeks ago, I chided you via Facebook for escaping and warned you that the consequences were life threatening. And they were - two of your sisters died, bringing the total loss to 3 chickens. Now we must have another come to Jesus - this on a different topic. Productivity. Yes, chickens, it is time to begin the process of cozying down in your Poulet Chalet or Chick'n Villa, whatever you call it, and laying some eggs. Since early May, we have housed you, fed you, and cleaned up your poop. (Never mind that I also do this for my children and I don't expect the same from them) We have also tried (operative word is tried) to keep you safe from the Wild Kingdom that is Mansfield. Alas, to no avail.

Yes, remaining five chickens, it is up to you to carry the torch for your lost brethren. Make them proud as they scratch and bawk up there in chicken heaven. Provide us with sustenance, show us how good farm fresh eggs can be. At this point, they better be. So get to laying. Ted is already making plans for Coq Au Vin. Get busy.