Thursday, June 14, 2012

Homemade

I've been tending to a sick kitty and visiting with friends, and the week got away from me before I could blog.

One of the things I've talked about more than once is my concern about American consumerism--the focus on "having" over "being," to adopt psychologist Eric Fromm's (very apt) terms.

If we limit ourselves to "having" things that help us to "be," I think we'd be far happier as individuals--and perhaps as a community as well.  In my initial sadness about my feline friend, the impulse to shop myself numb was nearly overwhelming: it doesn't help that so much is readily available at a moment's notice.

Just scroll, scroll, click, and it's on it's way.  So I decided to limit myself to things that would cheer me up in the moment, but also provide some use-value in the future.

When I saw these pretty new wooden knitting needles were available as a modular set, I just had to have them.

They're so beautiful, working with them helps to heal my soul.

Sometimes I take on big project, sometimes a small one.  My mom used to hassle me about "finishing one thing before you start something new," but over time, she realized that I eventually finish what I start.

The reason I start new things is because I like the stimulation of having different projects and processes that I can choose from.  There's no reason to sit and be bored with one project, if you can discipline yourself to come back to it after recharging your brain elsewhere.

So, for example, this blanket project that I began (seriously) in 2008 and that I'm almost finished with.  (Finally.)

I have to finish the edging and clean up the loose ends on the back, and then it's done.  I can hardly believe it myself.

It took time and patience, but it was definitely worth it.  Those are spouting little whales in the grey-blue row, in case you can't tell.  It fits perfectly with my love for all things Rhode Island.

Yay!

As you've probably noticed if you read my posts regularly (or if you know me), I love making or doing things myself.  I just do.  I don't know why.

When I discovered I would probably "need" a tablecloth, instead of going out and getting one, I decided to see if I could knit with crochet cotton and create one.

I can.  So that's what I'm currently doing.  I'd take a picture of it, but it's big, so it's jammed on a huge circular needle right now.  There's no way I could spread it out without risking having it slide off the needles, and there's simply no way I'm going to risk that.

When I get it done, I'll put up a picture of it.

I also doubled the size of my vegetable and herb garden this year.  I added two more raised beds to the three I already had, so the produce is currently cranking along.   

The tomatoes are looking happy, and I've got carrots, spinach, zucchini and eggplant on the way.  Not pictured are my little herb bed and my pepper plants, since they're still quite small.

But in a few weeks, I'll have basil, dill, thyme and cilantro, and that's never a bad thing. 

As my friends know, I'm notorious for insisting on cooking for people.  Why go out to a restaurant, when I can make it?  That's half the fun.  It always tastes better and costs less.

And then there are the leftovers...

So this past weekend, I made zuppa di fagioli--also known (to non-Italians) as "bean soup."

It tastes good, it smells good, it is good.  In this case, "having" is "being."

Here it is in its first step.

I apologize to the vegetarians out there, but yes, that's bacon in there.

I'm an old-fashioned girl.  One who's not ashamed to admit that she likes bacon.

The greasy, high-fat, high-cholesterol, salt-lick kind.  The kind that everyone tells you not to have anymore, because it's so "bad."

Fifty Shades of Grey is "bad."  Twilight is "bad."  American Idol and Survivor are "bad."  Bacon is just bacon.

I feel happy every time I see this picture, because that's fresh rosemary from my herb garden in there...

It's the little things in life that will always bring you joy.  Seriously.  Large-scale attempts at "happiness" often fail because our expectations are almost always set too high to match the reality of our circumstances.  We have to scale back our efforts, and stop kidding ourselves, I think.

Small, royally amazing things: that's the ticket to a rich, successful life.

I love the mix of colors when you first start cooking something, and the way the colors change and merge to make something appetizing when you're finished.  So here's the finished zuppa in all its delicious glory:


Of course, no meal would be complete without dessert. 

I made a sour cream pound cake, and topped it with some of the fresh cherry jam I made last year.

If you warm up homemade jam, you make... homemade sauce.

I like this picture because that's one of the royally amazing plates my friend gave me several years ago to celebrate the fact that I've aged gracefully for a full forty years.

No small feat, that.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."