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Why I Nest When I’m Stressed

nesting“It was so beautiful out today!” my friend chirped at the other end of the phone as I sipped my soy latte and squinted at the setting sun from my favourite cozy Starbucks chair.

It was officially the first beautiful weekend that the weather here hasn’t sucked icepops since December. But where was I all day?

Not out running around the lake, or taking a leisurely stroll with my pal, no, not I. I was on a step stool scrubbing cupboards and sorting through lentils, nuts, and I kid you not, 29 kinds of tea.

Having 29 kinds of tea is overwhelming. It’s also a good indicator of how much I really needed to be taking stock of, and cleaning up my cupboards.

I was supposed to be enjoying the day today, writing, reveling in the great outdoors and reading the paper in the sunlight. But I’ve been feeling stuck.

Stuck as in; I need to tidy up the energy in my place. Stuck as in; every door I knock on gets opened a crack, and then slammed in my face. Stuck as in; something’s gotta give.

rejectStuck as in, I really need to get out more.

So, as luck would have it, on the first great, sunny weekend of spring, I trudged out to the Toronto Blue Jays’ Home Opener with a sore throat and fever, and carried that theme into work at 9am Saturday, and home to the couch for the remainder of the day.

After a 3 hour nap, 2 hour movie (slugging back some green veggie juice)  and 12 hour sleep, I felt somewhat better when I woke up this morning.

When I was in university, I cleaned  before I sat down to write a paper, or study.  I nest when I’m stressed.

I also nest when I’m getting ready to fly the coop. It’s been a few months of stop and go, should I or shouldn’t I, and, like the sign says, feeling like my best just wasn’t good enough.

After a winter of feeling rejected by the universe and being hopelessly  city-bound, I made plans to spend some weekends out-of-town.

There’s nothing better than packing a bag and hitting the road with some great music playing and your worries fading in the rear-view mirror. A weekend away with friends can feel like a week-long holiday.

Reality often hits the moment I come home and open the door on Sunday evening. I have lunches to pack, laundry to do, and (le sigh) an alarm to set for Monday morning.  Coming home to a clean house is the only thing that can make that ok.

So, staying in and cleaning my kitchen cupboards today was a small sacrifice to make for a season of being out and about. Next weekend I have a date with the dark kingdom of why-on-earth-do-I-need-this, in my walk in closet, and the black hole of kitchen gunk behind the fridge and stove).

It’s time for me to shake off the winter blahs, to hit the road, soak in the sunshine, have some fun, and remember what living is really about; The sun, the fresh air, good friends, and laughing. My goodness, how I’ve missed the laughing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Self Check-Out

Interior Grocery Store Design | Check Stand Ma...
Interior Grocery Store Design | Check Stand Markers | Waikoloa Village Market | KTA Store (Photo credit: I-5 Design & Manufacture)

The first thing I thought years ago when I encountered the very first ‘self check-outs’ at our local grocery store was, “Great. Now not only do I have to pack my own groceries, I have to check them out too.”

You see, as a youth, I worked for five years at the local grocery store. I was a shelf-stocker, check-out girl, grocery packer, carry-out girl, and even worked on occasion wrapping and weighing produce and meat (we didn’t have scales at the checkout, or a conveyor on the counter).

I wouldn’t even think of someone pack their own groceries or carry more than one bag to the car alone. But that was long, long ago darling, and far, far away.

Now, as the mother of a teenager, I seem to be the floor-show on a regular basis, and there’s nothing he likes to see more than his wise, sophisticated mother lose her cool. Tonight when I asked if he wanted to go get some groceries with me, he tagged along, secretly plotting our trip to the self check-out.

There’s nothing that can consistently make me lose my cool more than when I use the self check-out.

Basically, I’m faster than the machine that weighs measures, and makes sure I’m not shop lifting a bazillion extra pounds of food.  This inadvertently causes alarms and multiple calls to the self check-out police. Usually these folks are women putting in part-time retirement hours, or  teenaged boys who don’t need to shave more than twice a month and could give a crap less about who you are, what you came for, or where you’re going next.

The check-out is a measure of our quality of civilization, a short stop in your day to say hello to another human being, perhaps exchange opinions about the quality of whatever you’re purchasing and discussing what might be the topic of the day.

Not any more.

Our interactions are increasingly becoming automated and mind-numbing. Remember going to a bank to transfer funds, cash a cheque, or withdraw cash? Yah, I hardly remember it either.

We no longer discuss or question our purchases, we load the cart and scan ourselves out of the store.

Although the self check out has cost me the human interaction with the cashier and the ‘bag-boy’, it has helped create a bond between my kiddo and I. I’m always goaded into checking out my own groceries, and we usually giggle through the entire process.

It took me two trips over to the-kid-who-could-care-less in order to scan my baguette. One visit from the kid-who-could-care-less because I took the eggs out of my bag to make room for the peaches, and six attempts before the darn thing accepted my new, plastic twenty-dollar bill.

Ah yes. Self check-out, another illusion of freedom.

Self check-out, another opportunity to practice patience, have a giggle and bond with my teenager.

It’s all about perspective.

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Savoury Sunday: Pasta Carbonara

Vineyards in the Italian wine region of Tuscan...
Vineyards in the Italian wine region of Tuscany in mid November. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really had fun putting this post together for you. Be sure to scroll down and play the Louis Prima/Keely Smith tune to get you in the mood.

Pasta Carbonara is one of my favourite Italian dishes. It’s easy to make, delicious and satisfying. There’s nothing like this simple, comfort food to accompany a shared meal with great friends or a cozy lover.

Finish up this rich dish with a nice light lemon gelato.

You can’t possibly  have a civilized meal without including some wine and music.

Experts have suggested everything from sweet Riesling to dry Syrah. Is that possible?!  Personally, I abide Billy Munnelly’s philosophy about wine; drink what you enjoy within your budget.

I tried Porcupine Ridge Syrah from South Africa (because that’s what I had in the house). You may also try a classic Italian wine to go with your rustic Italian Carbonara; Citra Montepulciano D’Abruzzo.

For music, it has to be Louis Prima and Keely Smith. I’m Queen of nothing if I’m not Queen-of-Over-The-Top. ( I’ve included a link for your listening pleasure just below the recipe.)

I hope you enjoy this week’s Savoury Sunday.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta, such as spaghetti or rigatoni
  • 3-4 tbsp. olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan)
  • 1/4 pound chopped pancetta, or traditional bacon if you don’t have pancetta
  • 1/4-1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • Red pepper flakes to taste ( I use 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp)
  • 4 pressed cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Method

1) Put a large  of water on to boil. Add a liberal  amount of salt and the pasta. Cook to al dente (8-10 mins)

 2) Heat  a large pan over medium heat. Add the  olive oil and pancetta/bacon

3)  Brown pancetta 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes,  garlic, peas  and cook a few minutes more

4) Add wine and stir up all the pan  drippings.

3)In a separate bowl, beat yolks, then add about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

(This tempers the eggs and keeps them  from scrambling.)

4)  Drain pasta well and add it directly to the other ingredients in the pan

5) Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss rapidly to coat the  pasta without cooking the egg.

6) Remove pan from heat and add 3/4 cups of  cheese.

7) Season with  lots of pepper, and salt to taste.

8) Continue to toss and turn the pasta for a few more minutes  until it soaks up egg mixture and it thickens.

9) Add extra cheese for garnish.