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Archive for December 12th, 2006

Throw-Away-One-Hundred-and-Five-Things Day

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

msufarmdec06.gifIn September I posted that I was going to have a Throw-Away-Five-Things Day. I was really getting clear on how much stuff I had that I was NOT using and that I needed to let go of. I am terribly sentimental, especially about clothing, and clothing is the most extreme thing I had too much of.

Since that post, I have tried to toss things I didn’t like much, that I don’t use enough, or were worn out. I started in the right direction, but I ended up with one pile upstirs and one down, waiting to be hauled away. Not really big, but a sort of mess-shifting rather than eliminating.

A Major Turning Point

Today I was given the gift of love. A huge gift. My friend April came over for most of the day and helped me throw away TWELVE paper grocery bags full of stuff. Well, not throw. Those are going to charity. Another three or four are trash.

The give-aways are all in Brian’s car. One of our favorite charity thrift shops is very close to his regular path to work. He’ll take them on the way tomorrow.

Not only that, but yesterday when I spent a day with Eric and Diana (Brother and Sis-In-Law who I mention here so much), we went to IKEA and I got a small metal cabinet with six drawers big enough for my mailing envelopes. My kitchen has turned into my mailing center and yarn-winding area. This means that almost always I have one to three kinds of tape on the table, a few pairs of scissors, several types of writing pens/markers, envelopes, stamps, and other assorted related clutter, on the kitchen tables.

The new cabinet is just what I wanted. It was really affordable and yet it was exactly what I wanted. It looks like it’s from 1940 but it is not all scratched up. Since so much of our furniture is “retro” (original, not reproduction, much of it from MSU Salvage) the new piece works well without sticking out too much visually. Not only that, the six shallow drawers were the perfect setup for putting away tape and scissors, etc. I was able to really make a dent in the tabletop clutter and I’m very happy with the results.

Clearing the Kitchen Work Area

It was getting hard to function in the kitchen even before I had to start cooking most of my meals. With the new focus on home cooking in this house, the horizontal surfaces need to be available for food-related activities more and more. Not long ago I ate than half of my meals in (excellent, healthy) locally-owned restaurants but now I need a well-functional kitchen. It’s not really a space set up for two cooks but we are getting used to working together on meals from time to time.

Tonight after the cleaning push, Brian made fish and I made roasted rutabagas. I had been encouraged by many of you here to roast root vegetables (and we eat a lot of roots these days). I think my favorites are sweet potatoes and rutabagas, though we often make carrots and parsnips together and they are a great combination. Brian notes that we never ate this well before. The quality of our food is incredible these days and I’m really having fun eating new foods I had never tried before. The tasting of new veggies is a blast!

Nerves

However, the cooking/roasting is not yet fun for me. I don’t know why, but I can get really nervous before trying a new activity. I had never roasted veggies although I really enjoyed them when I have been able to find them in restaurants or at parties. (Zingerman’s deli in Ann Arbor often offers these in their deli case and they are wonderful). I was just sure I would chop them the wrong size, bake at the wrong temperature, put too much or not enough olive oil on them, turn them over too much or not enough or whatever. I think I’m just programmed to worry sometimes!

I was just sure I could not do it. I’m not afraid to try many types of things, and I’m pretty good at experimenting with baking cakes and quick breads. However, making main meal items is very unfamiliar to me, and thus still uncomfortable. I know how to make pasta in a hundred ways, I know how to cook a zillion possible meals with any bean or legume. Right now I can’t have those items very often and so I feel like a fish out of water, trying to learn new types of lunch/dinner meals. However, you can not get good at anything from avoiding it.

Success

The rutabagas were wonderful! It was a lot like eating potato french fries, but much much better. More moist, a little sweeter, a lot more tasty. I’m doing that again!!! Maybe on Friday when Brian plans to make another duck (he made one for Thanksgiving that turned out really well), just maybe I will try to roast some sweet potatoes.

The photo? Nothing to do with this post. It’s a photo of one of the farms at Michigan State University, last Saturday. There was snow that day. Today it is rainy and there is no snow anywhere. But I thought this was a great photo and thought you might like to see it! MSU is a beautiful place, I’m lucky to live so near the campus and see these fields so often. This farm is not a whole mile from my Post Office box, which is at the main mail-processing center (factory for sorting papers very efficiently).