Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice, 2011

Feeling rather pensive today, standing at the brink of the new year. There are so many things I want to do, sometimes it feels overwhelming.

Not for long, usually -- I am by nature or training a planner, and when things look insane, my instinct is to break them down, to chunk them out, to find a path toward the goal. At least, I do that sometimes, with things I really care about. Other things, well... they can fall by the wayside. I am wondering if I should take a page from The Happiness Project and try a different thing every month? Something to consider during the holiday week

Generally speaking, I'm a pretty happy person, but one thing I've never been happy with (for long) is my productivity. I am often busy, but am I busy in good and useful ways? How will I look back on this time in ten years, or twenty?

I have some firm goals in mind for 2012. I will revise Fury's Flight; I will apply to writing workshops; I will take up the next book (and find a title for the dratted thing). My Christmas present from D* this year is a precious one: time to myself. I'm going to use it to take a French class in the spring. I've renewed the gym membership that lapsed while I was pregnant with Mimi.

Beyond that? Things get vague. Things get, "I'd really like... someday." I'd like to learn to can, and to quilt. Yesterday a friend gave me a book on cheesemaking, even more packed with heady possibilities than most cookbooks. I'd like to plan a monthly day trip somewhere with the kids. I'd like to actually do a 365 project. I'd like to single-handedly revive the art of letter writing, decorate my apartment, learn to dress like an adult, throw dinner parties.

Beyond vagueness, the list devolves into questions. Do I want to listen to NPR, or do I just feel guilty about not being a better informed person, and would doing something about it make me happy? Should I put more time into blogging? Am I doing enough to develop my writer's voice?

Add to list: study the art of the possible.

I have an open notebook, and a spiffy new desk calendar. Time to plan.

Friday, December 9, 2011

2011 Goals Revisited

As we dive headlong toward the holidays, it seems amazing that the year is already almost over! Time to sit back with a plate of cookies and see how we did.

Do Things
After 2010's "lost summer" and an autumn consumed by a wonderful new small person, this was a major goal, and I'm thrilled to say that it was met and then some. While we didn't get around to everything on my list, we did quite a few things:
  • Vermont Cheese Festival
  • Visited friends in CT and ME
  • Visited family in RI, PA, and VT
  • Sandwich Fair
  • Gardner Museum
  • Walden Pond
  • Chinatown
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Museum of Science membership got used a lot (we re-upped for next year)
  • Nutcracker
So many wonderful memories. I hope we can keep it up next year!

I had two financial goals this year:
  • Start saving for the kids' college education. I set up automated deposits for all three of them, and they have been ticking away faithfully. No problem there. 
  • Improve the savings account. This one was an abject failure. I'd like to blame a series of emergencies (the cat, the car) and traveling, but at base I think it comes down to lack of discipline, and I'm going to make that a top priority for '12. 
I wanted to try one new recipe a week, and I wanted to blog about them. As I generally do, I started the year out strong and then lost my way. I seem to have reached a zone where I'm not as concerned with trying new recipes all the time; it's nice, but it's not a priority. As for the blog, who knows what I'll end up doing with it, if anything at all. So this area wasn't a big success, but it's also not something I really fret about. We eat well pretty much all the time, and I can be happy about that without stressing myself over it.

I had two goals for this area, too, and double success! I send out a couple dozen queries for The Inquisitor's Wizard--which netted me absolutely nothing, but I did it, and I have the rejection emails to prove it. I put my shoulder to the wheel and finished a proper draft of Fury's Flight, and then I rejoined critters.com and got myself a half dozen beta readers, who are giving me some very useful feedback.

Observe Birthdays
Umm... I started out well?

So there we have it. Obviously, I can't say that I met all of these goals, but it was a really, really good year. I have a wonderful family and friends, and many things for which to be thankful as we wrap up 2011.

Happy New Year (almost). May 2012 be everything you wish.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was looking through my old posts as I planned the meal for 2011. Last year I was too busy to even write down what I made? Never again! Not that this year was much of a stretch. We have the routine pretty well down, and I didn't even do any cooking ahead (I had planned to, but a gas leak at our place on Sunday put the kibosh on any notion of making rolls or cranberry sauce in advance.)


Bread Basket:

The turkey was slathering under the skin with an entire stick of butter mixed with dried herbs, and cooked in a startlingly short period of time. The gravy was from this recipe and may actually have been my favorite part of the meal.

The following day, having learned from painful experience that if I wait it doesn't happen, I hacked the carcass into pieces, piled them into my stock pot, added carrot, celery, onion, and a few peppercorns, and set it to do its quiet magic while the rest of us went about our day. Only a week later, nearly all of the leftovers have been used.

It was a good day. Until the mouse ran across my stove....

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

1 C sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large egg white
6 C unsalted nuts - walnuts, pecans, natural almonds, cashews

Preheat to 325. Grease 2 jelly roll pans,

In small bowl, stir first 5 ingredients together. In large bowl, with wire whisk, beat egg white until foamy. Stir nuts into egg white. Add sugar mixture; toss until nuts are thoroughly coated.

Divide nuts between jelly roll pans, spreading evenly. Bake 25-27 minutes or until golden brown and dry, stirring twice. (Check on them, you may need to rotate pans, one of mine gets done quicker than the other). Transfer nuts to wax paper to cool.

Store tightly covered at room temperature up to one month.