“For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is
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Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there's nothing else. It's here, and you'd better decide to enjoy it, or you're going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever” ~ Lev Grossman
I spent Sunday evening in the post-weekend rhythm of folding towels, doing a bit of meal-prep for the week, cleaning out my car. I unpacked my backpack and returned a pile of books that were scattered around the sofa. A welcome reminder that even hobbies pale in comparison to spending time with friends (old and new)
The truth is, the past couple of months, I've stayed pretty much to myself. Between moving, starting a new job, getting oriented, and generally wanting some quiet, I haven't made room for much else
This weekend though, I found myself wishing for time with some of the people I've missed the most. Time and togetherness, granted.
Spam recipes were shared, moonshine sipped, and dive-bar lunches eaten. Living room fetches with a very squeaky monkey. A farmer's market bouquet delivered to friends who said goodbye to their 23-year old(!) kitty. They sent me home with a tissue in hand
A heart-to-heart on a park ledge overlooking the city, road trips on perfect fall days, and a rousing Saturday night Bingo game at the Halloween party next door
( Won $20 on a double-double, spent it all on tomato soup and a margarita )
It was all so necessary, this last October inhale, and I found myself filled with gratitude more often than not
Now that I'm home, I find myself feeling a singular shift in a familiar direction. It began tonight with the ever constant worry that something I'd said had offended. I found myself tossing and turning, throwing hard thoughts around a soft pillow.
At 3 am I'm puttering around and staring at the lights of the city outside my bedroom window. Finally falling asleep, thankful for a few hours rest.
It's the beginning of an acceptance (internalizing, really) that I can't fix all things alone. Knowing, my nature is to make everyone around me happy and to smooth all situations. That after doing so for decades, the dynamics are far too ingrained. It's simply become expected
Knowing the expectation of opening hard conversations, and keeping them going, has become more of a burden than I'm able to bear. Knowing I'm not capable of offering apologies if I'm expected to guess what for. The constant threats of losing my relationships have taken an incredibly large toll
Knowing it's time to create a new dynamic
Feeling (mostly) a huge sense of relief
My favorite moments from the weekend were those shared with a friend in Iowa City. One whose warmth and kindness have helped me re-find my center (again and again and again ..) We went for a long walk and shared a piece of the best apple pie I've witnessed yet
Because of her, I've finally felt a small lifting. The clearing of the sky, the making of a new way. The reminder that our time here is so very short, and we really do get to decide how we want to spend it.
But at the same time, how important it is to be mindful. Not to harden our hearts or stop making efforts. Because the connections to other people, and the memories with them, are truly what makes life worth living.
Sometimes, it all it takes is just the right weekend to discover something you'd really never lost
Brussels are everywhere right now and I've been stocking up at the farmers market every chance I get. I thought today might be a great time to share one of my all-time favorite brussels sprout recipes with you. Although, calling it a recipe is a bit of a stretch.
It involves a sheet pan, less than five ingredients, minimal culinary skills, and about a half-hour of baking time.
Roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper, the sprouts and the pancetta crisp up in unison, with the fat from the pancetta flavoring the sprouts, whose crispy surfaces emerge caramelized and glistening. As soon as the pan comes out of the oven, everything gets tossed with a few tablespoons of syrupy balsamic vinegar
I've been cooking them two or three times a week, and don't see an end in sight
Even if you're a skeptic, this golden-crusted version has the ability to turn the even most vigilant brussels sprout loathers around
A few notes about the recipe
Depending upon the thickness of your balsamic vinegar, you may want to reduce it a bit. You're going for a consistency that is along the lines of a heavy syrup.
If you're making a smaller pan of sprouts, I'd probably start with 1/4 cup. For a larger pan, 1/2 cup
~ Barely adapted from Ina Garten's Foolproof Cookbook
Ina Garten's Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
- 1 ½ lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core
- 4 oz pancetta, sliced ¼ inch thick
- ¼ cup olive oil
- kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp syrupy balsamic vinegar (see notes above)
- Preheat the oven to 400° F
- Place the brussels sprouts onto a lined sheet pan, making sure to include all of the loose leaves, which get crispy when they’re roasted.
- Cut the pancetta into ½-inch dice and add it to the pan
- Add the olive oil, a strong pinch of salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Toss with your hands
- Spread out the brussels sprouts in a single layer
- Roast for 20 - 30 minutes, or until they’re tender, nicely browned, and the pancetta has finished cooking. (Toss once about half-way through roasting)
- Remove from the oven, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar, and toss again.
- Taste for seasonings and serve hot.