Back in May I started a gratitude journal. My life was changing and I wanted to focus on the positive instead of the negative (the negative always seems easier to focus on, doesn’t it?). The weather was getting warmer and I was spending my evenings on the deck. I would take my gratitude journal with me, take in the summer evenings, watch my soon-to-be-husband work in the yard and write down everything I was thankful for during the day. The last time I wrote in my gratitude journal was the 31st of May, my last day of work. After that, life got much busier. I was focused on planning for our wedding day, our backyard reception the following day and everything else in-between. Summer itself is always a big distraction. I found myself outside more, leaving my poor little journal behind in the drawer of my nightstand.
I did a big cleanup in the bedroom yesterday. So big that my husband popped his head in while I was on the bed sorting out jewelry and asked, “Are you okay in there?” During my clean up, I went through the bottom drawer of my nightstand where my books are kept. I finished reading The Help and picked out Safe Haven to start next. Peeking out from underneath Safe Haven was my gratitude journal. I revisited the pages I had written and smiled to myself. I am very blessed. I want to continue to remind myself of this every day. Every now and then I write my husband a note at night for him to find when he wakes up in the morning, telling him how much I love him (he got a three page note just the other day). But every now and then I need to remind myself of our love, the love of my family and friends and little things that make me appreciate life so much. So starting tonight, I will be writing in my gratitude journal again. It’s such a great little practice to keep. Every day I wake up, put on the news and am faced with disaster and tragedy in the world. It’s a lot to be hit with before even having my first cup of coffee! It’ll be nice to end the day on a happy note; to reflect on the blessings received throughout the day and to let go and release all of the negativity that we tend to carry with us.
It’s September so summer’s basically over for me. It’s been an incredible summer. I got married. I turned another year older. I got a new car. I even managed to check a couple things off on my list of things I wanted to do this summer. While I never got my pedicure, went antiquing or had the chance to make sun tea, I was able to visit the beach more than once (I’m getting one last beach day in tomorrow) and go to a farmer’s market. There’s a new season approaching and a new list to be made.
Go apple picking. This shouldn’t be a hard one to accomplish since I go apple picking every year with my sisters. Last year wasn’t the greatest year to pick apples due to Hurricane Irene so hopefully this year we’ll bring a lot more home!
Pumpkin picking. Again, this shouldn’t be hard since it’s something I do almost every year. There’s nothing better than a cool fall day, hot cider, a hay ride and walking through a field to pick your own pumpkin.
Roast pumpkin seeds. Usually when I get pumpkins for our home, we just set them out on the steps for decoration. This year I might take the time to gut one, clean out the seeds, toss them with some oil and spices and roast them.
Save enough money for a really good pair of boots. I’m talking to you, Vince Camuto. These boots are awesome! They’re tall and have this great studded detail running down the back of them. They will be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine.
Try a new fall recipe. How about Thai Pumpkin Soup or homemade apple butter? I have the time this fall to try new recipe adventures. I can’t wait to utilize some of the season’s produce. I love the warmth and flavors that come from fall foods!
Visit fall festivals and craft shows… There always seems to be some kind of craft show or festival happening in New Jersey in the fall. It’s always nice to walk around and take in the atmosphere, do a little shopping and enjoy the day out.
…and have a fresh cider donut while I’m there. I had my first fresh apple cider donut last year in Lancaster. A couple of Amish women were selling them outside of the farmer’s market. The donut was fresh out of the oil and still warm at first bite. Yum-my!
What’s on your Fall to-do list?
I was curiously watching my old neighbor shuck clam shells yesterday at my parents’ house. He doused the open clams with cocktail sauce, a little squeeze of lemon and slurped them down. I used to be grossed out by clams on the half shell. I mean, let’s face it–raw clams are not too appealing. They look like little, juicy, slimy blobs in a seashell. Otter food. It’s really no wonder that they’re covered with cocktail sauce and lemon juice. When I asked my sister how they taste, she simply said, “Like a booger.” Yummy.
Maybe it was the two glasses of Pinot I had, but I was feeling brave. I was down right intrigued and feeling adventurous. So when my neighbor offered a clam on the half shell to me, I didn’t decline this time. It wasn’t like the time I tried escargot fra diavolo. I stared at the nasty little snail sticking off the top of my tiny fork. I remember being told, “Just eat it!” So I held my nose, closed my eyes and tried not to be completely grossed out by what I had just willingly eaten. My experience with my first raw clam wasn’t like that. I was confident that there might be a chance that I’d really like them. I mean, I like them cooked. I like them with bacon and garlic. I like them in a lemon and wine sauce. I like them with red sauce. How much different could a raw clam be?
I’ll tell you–at first
bite slurp, raw clam is not at all what I expected. I wasn’t sure if I should just swallow the clam whole or bite down. So I kind of did both. The texture is much softer than a cooked clam. I was expecting some sort of fishy flavor to it, but there wasn’t any. It tasted savory and sweet all at the same time. The juice left in the shell provided the salty/savory taste, but the clam itself has a mild sweetness. It was exactly what I picture something fresh from the ocean is supposed to taste like. Paired with cocktail sauce and lemon, it almost reminded me of shrimp cocktail. Definitely a pleasant experience! So pleasant that I ate two more before running around the other side of the house to find my husband and tell him what I just ate. His reaction was simply, “Good for you! Now you have sushi poisoning.” We know who is the adventurous eater in this relationship, don’t we?
For the record, I am not feeling poisoned by the raw clams I ate. I am looking forward to more foodie adventures. Someone find me an oyster!
|Illustration by Larry Roibal|
It’s funny how Sunday mornings have changed. They used to be for sleeping in. I’d wake up around 8:30-9:00, yawn, stretch and throw the sheets off. I’d wander sleepily into the kitchen, find Mike making pancakes or french toast and plop down at the kitchen table. Now it’s like we live in a firehouse and the alarm goes off before 7. We shoot out of bed, if we’re lucky we get french toast (a task I’ve now taken over), I heat up the Keurig for a cup of morning Joe, and we immediately get dressed and ready for the day.
I kissed Mike off for a day of fishing at 7-something this morning. I noshed on a croissant and sipped a cup of Mudslide coffee (paired with vanilla coconut milk, it was delicious!), then cleaned up around the house, got dressed, grabbed my shopping list and headed out the door. If I want to sit and watch a little morning television, I do so early in the morning when I become restless. Today I watched an episode of Batman (the old series with Adam West playing the caped crusader) followed by a small marathon of I Love Lucy. I dashed out the door around 8 and made my way to the grocery store. I’m making dinner tonight at my parents’ house. We’re having eggplant parmesan with garlic aioli spaghetti and garlic bread. You can’t have garlic bread without a crusty Italian loaf so my grocery trip was followed by a visit to the bakery. While I was there, I picked up dessert; the fresh blueberry crumb pie the entire family has fallen in love with. I may have also purchased a small box of chocolate chip cookies since I had a major craving last night (a warmed up cookie would have been so nice with my tea). I’m taking a break from frying up eggplant and some zucchini. The house stinks like grease and so do I. But it’s worth it to make a delicious meal for my family. The sauce will be made next with some crushed tomatoes, parmesan, fresh herbs and a splash of Merlot. As much as I enjoy my husband’s company, I am enjoying this easy Sunday morning pace, letting the kitchen mess sit a little longer, letting the laundry sit in the dryer a little longer. Aside from some political TV and some bugs buzzing outside, it’s peaceful and quiet.
But if you’ll excuse me, I really should get to that sauce.