I have some random thoughts running through my head…so thought I’d just do a chatty type post and see where we end up!
Today was my birthday! It’s a little too close to Christmas, but I still enjoy each new year with a certain kind of proprietary feeling. This year I didn’t make a cake; instead Michael and I went out for coffee and each got a pastry. So much better than having a cake sitting around taunting us. And I love coffee dates and Michael rarely wants to do that, so that part was lovely, too. I extracted a promise that part of his birthday gift to me could actually be MORE coffee dates throughout the year. We’ll see. 😉 We had planned to go hiking this morning, but it was rainy and just dreary and chilly all day so that never materialized. We’ll try to go next weekend, I think. And on Tuesday we’re going to the movies to see Rogue One, assuming it’s still there. I like having my birthday treats spread out. Oh, and tomorrow there will be yummy steaks for dinner. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying these simple, beautiful cakes. I thought I’d share some of my favorites here!
I made Hearty Lentil Stew for dinner this evening, which is my new recipe for the week. I’m always skeptical about lentil soup recipes because they are always so bland when I taste them during the cooking process. And of course, either my skepticism is rewarded and the soup is bland and lentil-y and I understand why people don’t like lentils OR it’s totally knock your socks off amazing and I want to share it with everyone. Oddly enough, there are rarely many ingredient changes between the soups/stews that are bland and those that are amazing. Anyway, I now have two lentil soup/stew recipes that I really like. This was one of them, hooray!
Cooking the stew tonight I was thinking about how I tend to approach recipes as guidelines not set in stone mandates. And then one of the cooking blogs I follow posted on the same topic. I love both David Lebovitz and Jacques Pepin, so this post is a lovely gem for me. But I also think it’s a really good reminder for when the cake you’re baking takes twice as long (or worse…burns before you think to check it) as the recipe indicates or your onions don’t seem to soften in the time the cookbook says they should. As someone who is capable but slapdash (or at least…flexible with instructions), it is nice to think of this trait as inherently good for cooking and not, say, lazy or lackadaisical.
I’m also thinking about the Compact and just how often I experience the impulse to purchase things before thinking about other solutions to the problem or need. I had this idea that the first week of January would be pretty much no spend, but that didn’t happen. I had to buy books for classes and I both needed and wanted some fresh produce. I got gas for the car and we went out for coffee today. Among other things. But even among all of that, there were still many times when I thought…oh, I can just get that at Target/Kohls/Amazon/Publix before checking myself and asking — do I really need it and do I maybe have that exact item here and just don’t feel like putting in the effort to find it? Embarrassingly, the answer was often yes. And I think that I have actually become so thoughtful over the past few years about purchases and checking impulses! I’ve also been thinking about those items that I foresee that I will actually need this year…and how comfortable am I, really, with the idea of buying a used version of that item? In theory I have no problem with and even enjoy Goodwill and other thrift stores. Other times I am impatient and slightly skeeved out. Not because things are used, but because even though thrift stores are a way to limit over consumption, they are also such a testament to the massive over-consumption in our society AND I am reminded of all the things in my own home that I don’t need and actually plan to donate to just such a store. It can all make me want to crawl under a rock and just blindly shop online. Anyway, I’ll talk more about my specific purchases in my goal accountability post tomorrow, but these are some of the thoughts going through my head.
Birthday freebies. Do you guys sign up for these? I have signed up for I think almost every single program out there. I do NOT use all of them, as making a special trip across town for a BOGO milkshake or whatever is actually not all that smart, but I do like to take advantage of these when I can. Still, when they all start coming in…I get slightly overwhelmed and also get a bit greedy and want to use them ALL. One of the things that I think I get caught up in is thinking that I just “deserve a treat.” But deserve is not a word I particularly like (for a number of reasons, the biggest being that I think this attitude is in no small part responsible for…hmmm…a general trend toward massive self-centeredness and entitlement in the world) and so then I get annoyed with myself for getting caught up in that trap. Also…while I appreciate that these programs are meant to entice you into the establishment and hopefully buy MORE than just the free item, I feel weird about visiting a business solely for their free product if I don’t at other times during the year also patronize that business. I don’t think it’s ethically wrong to do so and obviously if the program hurts their bottom line, the business will either change their program (and I’ve noticed that many have) or…not survive. But I think this is all tied in to my feelings about my own contribution to over consumption and so on. I’m not quite sure where I totally fall on this, just kicking these thoughts around, I guess. Because tomorrow morning I am definitely going to get a free doughnut from Krispy Kreme! 😉