It wasn't long ago that my parents gave me
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a large folder filled with papers I'd written, tucked away for the past 20+ years in a box in the basement.
“We've had such a great time reading through some of your old college essays. Do you remember? We thought maybe you'd want to have them.”
She too has a folder with my name on it, or at least she used to, this one from the digital age, and filled with emails. A close friend during a troubled time, somehow we'd managed to help pull each other through.
I’d write my thoughts to her, in long and rambling emails, penned late into the night. She always read, instinctively knowing most didn't demand a response, and understanding my need to type. I'll always be grateful for her gift.
When our friendship faded, she doesn't know, but I kept writing to her, with a slight twinge of sadness each time I couldn't/wouldn't click Send.
As time went on, I decided it might be nice to share some thoughts publicly. A new and different digital file of sorts came to life, this time the final click being .. Post.
I've been adding to this site for a little over two years now. It's become virtual scrapbook, if you will. A space for ideas, thoughts, things I'm learning, food, and photos. A place that's wholly mine. With no requirements to clock in at a certain time, adhere to a set of deliverables, or outside expectations
As time has gone on, I've been genuinely surprised by the number of people who ask why I do it and have yet to find an answer that seems to satisfy. How can I adequately capture in a soundbite, something that's become such a part of who I am? Instead, I've simply stopped trying and smile as I say
“I hope you enjoy reading. Oh, and whatever you do, please make the Greek Yogurt Pancakes. They're delicious.”
Maintaining the site isn't something I've ever thought of as a chore, every day giving it a little bit of care and feeding. It's not an obligation, success defined by something far deeper than arbitrary readership goals or the superficial Facebook like.
When I write, sometimes the words are shorter, other times they're deeper, depending on what's been on my mind. Whenever I think about what to cook next, or stand by my window taking pictures, or sit down to type, it's a good experience.
Photo Credit: Death to Stock Photo
There's the practical side of me also that approaches the process with an eye toward practice and stretching myself out of my comfort zone. Contributing something new forces me get better in areas that I love, creating, cooking, writing, and taking pictures. The only way I know to improve is with experience, experimentation, and doing.
Admittedly, when I started, the level of effort was non-trivial. The learning curve far greater than I ever expected. Although my career is in IT, website development wasn't an area of expertise; I had no experience with a camera, lighting, editing software, or best practices when it came to blogging.
Happily, somewhere along the way, I've found a rhythm to it all. A pace I can imagine maintaining for a long time to come, and a way to thread it into my daily life.
When it comes to individual posts, like most of life, certainly, some attempts are more successful than others. There are days when I feel one aspect is off or could be stronger. Some days I have something I'm thinking about but have to set it aside until I'm able to articulate it in a way that I'd like. Others, I realize the pictures could stand some further editing
All in all, I think there's a lot to be said about watching for sparks of inspiration in the every days, practicing something you love, and chipping away at it regularly, as an ongoing practice. I want to put forth my best efforts at that moment, and learn as I go along.
As time has passed, I've noticed, more people are visiting the site, which has been a lot of fun. Maybe they're inspired by something I've written, or maybe they're hungry based on what we've been having for dinner, either way, I'm glad they're here
With the increase in traffic, have also come the questions of money.
Some people ask if I'll display ads (I won't) Others ask if I'll do “sponsored posts” (I won't) Maybe I'll ask for donations, or there's some sort of way to make money based on the fact that more people are reading every day(?) (please stop asking me this)
Then there are those that say “But look at the time and effort you're investing(!) You should be making something for your efforts” (I love you extra for wanting the best for me, I really do, and for now I'm pretty ok)
I do have my reasons, of course
A good deal of my life is already dedicated to a full-time career, and I'm not interested in another thing in my days that feels like work. It doesn't sit quite right to take something I love to do, and turn it into yet another endeavor meant for making money
Life lesson #7032 – When money enters the picture, it always has a way of clouding things. No matter the best of intentions. It just will
I fear I'd be treading on the slipperiest of slopes, in a world that's unfamiliar. A world that I'm unwilling to devote time to learning its rules. A world that has the potential of making me feel as if my work were somehow reduced, even if just by a little bit. Maybe it's age, but I'm not interested in being to accountable to strangers, nor do I want to feel beholden to anyone.
For those who know me, one of the things I always ask is, “How do you define success?”
For those who know me, my definition rarely fits one the world would consider to be mainstream
For me today? Success is creating something beautiful, something I love, without the goal of transacting or offering it up for bid on the open market. To see this space, not as a missed opportunity, nor time wasted. Success is having peace with the decision that there are some things I'll do, some things I'll create that will be just for me
to file away in the latest chapter of life's collections of writings
This recipe for Slow-Cooker Chicken Gyros is not only one of the easiest, but one of the best we've made in quite some time. Prep time is ten minutes, with the crockpot doing the rest. In the end, you'll end up with chicken that is perfectly moist, with flavor-infused throughout.
I couldn't resist the addition of Gourmet's cool garlicky tzatziki and cucumber salsa, along with soft homemade naan. The leftovers made for a great lunch, one we definitely looked forward to the next day.
A note about the cucumbers, the food processor, worked beautifully to shred them. I'm sure there are several great ways to do this, but I've found simply wrapping them in a few layers of paper towels and squeezing works well.
Slow-Cooker Chicken Gyros With Cucumber Salsa and Tzatziki
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 onions diced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
- 2 tsp lemon pepper
- Tzatziki Sauce
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup diced cucumber seeded and diced into tiny pieces
- 1 Tbsp dried dill ** or 2 Tbsp fresh dill
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain salt + more to taste
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper + more to taste
- Cucumber Salsa
- 1 Kirby cucumber
- 1- pint grape tomatoes quartered
- 1 small red onion halved and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley chopped
- 1/4 cup mint chopped
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp fine-grain sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Extras for Serving
- 1/2 head lettuce
- Naan ** homemade is pretty hard to beat
- Slow-Cooker Chicken
- Place chicken breasts inside the slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and mix until well-combined. Pour over the chicken breasts
- Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW 6-8 hours (** Ours were done in 6 1/2 hours on low)
- Shred chicken
- Tzatziki Sauce
- Combine yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, salt and pepper in medium bowl.
- Stir until creamy and combined.
- Serve with gyros
- Cucumber Salsa
- Cut kirby cucumber into 1/4-inch pieces and combine with the tomatoes, onion, parsley, mint, lemon juice, salt and pepper