Do You Love Your Job TOO Much?

It’s wonderful to have a job that you love. One that makes you happy and productive, with talented people you enjoy working with. A job that springs you out of bed early and pays you well. One that you don’t mind staying late for, giving up weekends for, hanging up your shoes for. One that is more satisfying than a good book, a creative hobby. One that reliably substitutes for family and friends and the potential for a romantic life. One that has taken possession of your life and soul and time and identity. Wait a minute….what?

If some things ring true, see my latest post – Do You Love Your Job Too Much? on Huffington

 

Surprise Bed Camp

Today’s rainy morning morphed into the promised beautiful sunny afternoon. Much better than Saturday’s rainy morning, which decided to stay for 48 hours. With no hope for an improvement, I gave in. Impromptu Morning Bed Camp.

Looking out the window and confirming the cold rain would stick around, I opened the bedroom table and set some electronics and books on top, made the bed and went downstairs to make some coffee and breakfast. After a nice leisurely breakfast, I enjoyed a long bath, applied lots of foot cream, put on my new ‘manicure’ socks and gave into a morning of good reading.

I fully intended to get up after noon, but a nap just fell on top of me for an hour or so. And then I just stayed put. Reclining, reading, a movie, manicure and pedicure and snacks. Stayed put until 9:43 pm.

Yes, it’s always good to plan a Bed Camp Day ahead of time. But sometimes, you have to allow yourself the flexibility to take one on the fly. Go for it when you need and when you can. And wake up the next morning refreshed and hopefully in a sunny day.

 

Post-Christmas Bed Camp

There’s always a Holiday Bed Camp for me, either after Thanksgiving to refresh and prepare for what’s to come, or just after Christmas well, because most people need it by then. This year it was really needed — the heating system went two weeks before Christmas during a cold spell and heated only the bottom floor. It was finally repaired the day before Xmas Eve, during which water poured down from the radiator above my bedroom, coming through the ceiling I painted just last summer and onto my bed, soaking my comforter and linens…then the butcher messed up my ham order…. you get the idea….that kind of week.

It took all I had to keep my eye on the prize — Christmas here with my family — yearly regulars and new additions this year.  A house full, just like I love it. And other family gatherings planned here for the days after….and a Bed Camp just for me at the end of it all. Keep.Your.Eye.On.The. Prize.

Things to do

I went to bed late the night before Camp, planning on getting up late. Food was ready for the next day, my activity table was set with electronics, yarn, a loaded Kindle, a Netflix list of options, pad and pen, the best parts of the Sunday paper and coffee for morning and wine for the evening. It was a rainy day, which was good and, oddly or maybe not, helped keep me calm. It was 55 degrees and sunny the day before and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a good long walk on the River.

My Day Eyes opened at 10:34. I made the bed, showered and got fresh bed clothes on and went downstairs. Breakfast was coffee and Katie’s Christmas ginger cake toasted and buttered and brought back up on bed tray. My idea of leftovers. Yum.

Breakfast

Television, on my iPad and on the big screen, seemed to be on most of the day, and needles and yarn in my hands. One scarf finished. It all kept my mind from straying to lists of things to do.

Two episodes of the Pioneer Woman Cooks started it all. She has a well-followed blog and now a cable series on the Food Network. Her cooking style isn’t mine but I see the attraction for the masses. I did yell at the screen when she dumped a can of tomato paste into a meat sauce without letting it cook by itself alongside the vegetables at the beginning….but to each her own. Move on. Keep calm.

A Ted Topic (LOVE Ted Topics and recommend highly – something smart for everyone) with Jamie Oliver talking about obesity and good eating habits. Love his stuff!

Two episodes of the PBS Series ‘Mind of a Chef’ with David Chang. I’m a big fan, and his episode on Spain was fabulous.

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Somewhere in there I had a light lunch of St. Andre cheese, crackers and walnuts.

On to Netflix, where I watched, engrossed, the first five episodes of House of Cards. My boys were right that I would love this. (I love talk of this ‘new’ trend of binge watching television series in a single sitting/day. I’ve been doing this for years, with CD’s of the Pallisers, The West Wing, Joseph Campbell’s Mythology Series and, a favorite I take out every few years, the full 21 hours – takes two days – of Brideshead Revisited with a very young and very hot Jeremy Irons.)

The last episode of ‘Cards’ ran a half hour into this season’s first Midwives…

Loving House of Cards

…followed by last season’s final episode of Downton Abbey, the channel changed right before Mathew’s car crashes….couldn’t bear to see that again. Can’t wait for the new season to begin next Sunday.

Dinner of spinach lasagna was ‘served’ during House of Cards and Midwives and Christmas photos were organized into an album to share with the family.

Television finally off, I was ready to open the Gluten Girl Cookbook I got for Christmas and finish Amy Tan’s latest book before turning out the lights on a very good day.

Mission Was Accomplished. I use the word ‘mission’ because for me, Bed Camp is a mission, with the goal of getting myself refreshed, relaxed and ready to be back on track.

Every  Bed Camp is different, depending on my moods and needs. This Camp, I needed my mind to wander away from all the lists of things to do in the next few weeks and just roam into other spheres.

My mind is clear, my body relaxed and I’m feeling content. A Good and, yes, Productive Bed Camp Day. Well done!

I Give In. Summer’s Done.

October has been so fine so far. Just trace amounts of rain in the city, temps a few degrees above normal and lots of sunny days. It’s been easy to prolong that ‘laissez faire’ summer feeling. But, reality struck today when the heat came on this chilly morning. I give in. Fall is here and Summer is now something to fondly remember and look forward to.

My last batches of Chunky Cranberry Jam have been processed and the canning pots and equipment have been put away, summer clothes are stacked and ready for the trunks and closets, flip-flops and scandals have been traded for real shoes and boots and Apple’s fall announcements have been made and a new laptop is in my near future. Welcome Fall 2013.

Summer lends itself to feeling fresh and relaxed and loose. The Fall onslaught brings tighter schedules in shorter days, more meals that require actual cooking and the upcoming holidays with all the stress they can entail. This is when it is so important to commit to a plan to take care of yourself and make sure you schedule you-time. Put your first Bed Camp on the calendar now, especially if you’re hosting any of the festivities.

Holiday Tip #1 Make for yourself, or bring to the hostess if you’re a guest. Cranberry sauce is for the day, but Chunky Cranberry Jam is delicious on day-after turkey sandwiches. This recipe is processed but if you don’t can, you can make some the day or two before and refrigerate and bring a jar or two with you for the hosting family’s day-after snacks. (As always when bringing food to someone, let them know when it has nuts in it.)  I’ve made several batches so far and have enjoyed it on turkey meatloaf, chicken breasts and toast. Delicious. I found the recipe in Kevin West’s book, Saving the Season. He also has a blog of the same name – www.savingtheseason.com. Both worth checking out. Here is my version.

Chunky Cranberry Jam

1 pound cranberries (Don’t rely on package weight. Use a scale.)
1 cup water
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 inches cinnamon stick
peel from 1 orange, chopped very fine
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon Citron Vodka

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Rinse the cranberries, removing any stray stems and discarding imperfect berries. In a heavy bottomed saucepan (I use my favorite heavy copper pot), add the cranberries, diced apples, ginger, cinnamon stick, orange dice and the cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, until the berries pop.

Add the sugar, stir well until it dissolves and return the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Add the nuts and cook for another 3 minutes, still stirring constantly. At the gel point, add the Citron Vodka, and cook for another 3o seconds.

Remove the cinnamon stick and ladle the jam into prepared 1/2 pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headspace. Seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

NOTE: I’ve assumed canning skills here. You can find instructions online at the Ball site at freshpreserving.com or, just make it a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate.

Out-of-Bed Camp

Lugging out the big pots, peeling, chopping, stirring, boiling, canning, then cleaning up before starting over with something else might not be your idea of a Bed-Camp Day but, this time of year, it is for me.

Bed-Camp Days don’t always have to be in bed. Sometimes, it can just be making the time to do something you’re passionate about. When the Union Square Farmers’ Market is flush with the best offerings of the year, when the threat of the end of the summer starts to show itself with the late summer strawberries and the earliest gourds, I love to bring home the bounty and start canning. Produce at its peak is so beautiful and aromatic and delicious. Peaches. All kinds of berries. Juicy plum and beefsteak tomatoes you buy by the 25-pound box. Once home, you know you have to take your time and just settle in.

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Alone in the kitchen with my thoughts and good (loud) music, creating winter treats for me and family and friends, my mind clears, and body and soul relaxes. This is, in a different sort of way, for me, as relaxing as reclining in bed with a good book…and the house smells like a summer version of Christmas.

I have just a small galley kitchen. Even with the back door open, it gets hot. It gets cluttered. It gets splattered and messy. It gets sticky. It fills up quickly.

Oh Happy Bed-Camp Day.

PEACH JAM WITH ROSEMARY

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Begin at least one full day before processing.

Just four ingredients

  1. 5 pounds of firm and ripe peaches
  2. 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
  3. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  4. A few springs of fresh rosemary

Wash and halve the peaches, removing the pits. Cut each half in half again and place in a large and deep pan. Add remaining ingredients.

Place over medium flame and let cook for about 15 minutes, letting the juices flow. Allow to cool and transfer to a container. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least overnight but not more than four days before processing.

Remove the container from the refrigerator and bring the peaches to room temperature. Pass the mixture through a food mill fitted with the coarse plate into a heavy bottomed pot. One of my best purchases last year was a Maslin jam pot. Stirring in a smaller bottomed pot is much easier and there is less splattering on the stove.

Bring the peaches to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 215 degrees. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer to sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace and process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 6 half pint jars.

I’ve assumed reader knowledge of the canning process. If incorrect, please refer to canning safety instructions and processes at http://www.freshpreserving.com/getting-started.aspx

A Really Good Bed-Camp Breakfast

For the last few weeks I’ve been eating Chobani lowfat lemon yogurt with fruit for breakfast or lunch. Whole Foods sells a pretty fruit salad, with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries and it’s perfect served atop the yogurt. Nice, healthy and colorful…and very delicious, not to mention fun to arrange on a plate.

Earlier this week, I found a ‘Mediterranee’ coconut yogurt from Liberte’. O.M.G. This yogurt with my fruit combo elevated my simple but very good breakfast to dessert status. If you’re a coconut lover like me, you will go to heaven for a little visit while you enjoy this. I think I had it four or five times this week. And no ‘pleasures of diminishing returns’. It was as good today as it was at the beginning of the week. Yum.

Too Good to be True

Too Good to be True

Too good to be true — healthy yogurt, so so tasty and so easy to put together?

Yeah, turns out it was.

Rinsing out the yogurt container today, I saw on the back of the 6 ounce container that it once held 260 calories, 120 from fat and 90 mg. of sodium. Off the charts compared to most other brands and not something I will allow myself to partake with such frequency.

I could play around with substituting plain lower-calorie yogurt and adding shredded coconut, but instead, I will reserve that wonderful Liberte’ coconut yogurt and fruit salad treat for Bed-Camp days and tune-up breakfasts in bed. And I’ll only serve it on my special breakfast china and favorite bed tray.

Bon Appétit!