I should be writing…

It’s 10:30 p.m. and for the last two hours, I’ve been thinking “I should be writing.”

I got off of work at 5, went power grocery shopping, came home, ironed my son’s curtains, made dinner while teaching my sons to cook and loaded the dishwasher.

About 8, I sat down to relax.

But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “I should be writing.”

The laundry list of stuff I have to do just repeated in my head. Organize a meeting for Pints for the People (our non-profit event group), add to my blog, finesse the budget for the Zombie Pub Crawl, work the numbers for a plan at work.

But instead, I was out on the porch reading and drinking a beer

It’s not always been this way.

I remember before the kids were born, I thought I was busy. And then, when they came, I thought “Oh, my LORD, how can I get any busier than this?”

But now, I’m busy. Even though the kids pretty much take care of themselves and help out around the house, I’m still crazy busy.

And it’s all my own fault.

Back then, I worked as a marketing director or a writer. I’ve been writing or 20+ years, either in marketing or as a reporter. And when I got home, my nights were – make dinner, give the kids a bath, put the kids to bed, relax for a few hours and go the heck to sleep.

Then, I commuted 45 minutes to work, one way, which included dropping kids off to daycare.

Then, my days weren’t quite so filled.

Then I thought I was busy.

Somehow, spending nights at council meetings and board meetings translated to working at night. On the nights, I wasn’t reporting, I started working on books, and children’s books, and articles until 11 or so at night, and then spending another hour or so relaxing in front of the TV.

Now, I run a non-profit with friends and organize events in my spare time. I write. I help others with their events. I apply for grants and events to come to our area. I work on, well… work. And that’s after work and home life.

I think it stems from a deep commitment to not watching TV and being easily bored.

Seriously, I think I just got to a point where I can’t stand not having something to do.

I mean, I LIKE not having anything to do, but on the second day of a weekend when the house is clean, there’s a lull in events, I’m not going out to help someone else with their event… well, the joy of freedom lasts about 2 hours and then I just get this annoyed feeling like I should be doing something… anything…

I think this stems from my Mom.

She is nearing a milestone birthday that she doesn’t want anyone to know about because she thinks it will make people think she is old.

And even though she retired when I had my first son, she still works days at the clothing bank she founded and as the treasurer for her local Salvation Army chapter. The woman is busier now that she doesn’t have a job than she was when she did!

And she’s always been that way. Collecting for the Mountain Mission, working at the church nursery on Sundays, raising a teenage problem child by herself (uhm, yeah… that would be me), all while working full time and running a household.

I’m pretty sure I’m the same way now. I didn’t have a choice but to learn it from her. Except for the fact that I still have a job and I get easily bored so I have all these things I come up with to do that keep me from watching TV.

They can’t, it seems, keep me away from those books though. Which is, oddly, also like my mother…

I should be writing…

But first, I wonder if I can download a copy of “Gone Girl” to my husbands kindle….

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2014

Dear women’s magazines, I give up

Okay, women’s magazines, you win.

can't I give up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop reading you, I’m just not going to succumb to your particular brand of torture anymore.

I’ve read women’s magazines since I was a little girl. I drooled over recipes and wondered what it would be like, as a teenager, to have the freedom to make “Pan-seared Duck with orange confit and a bed of microgreens.”

I’ll admit it, I’ve been a foodie since I was knee high to a Kitchen Aid, but now… I just don’t think I can take this anymore.

You’ve all just gone over the top.

Like any good foodie mom, I read your “How to make a gourmet dinner for your family in less than 30 minutes” and I want to be able to do that.

Making a dinner for my family that would please the palate of Gordon Ramsey in half an hour using only 15 simple ingredients? So doable, I thought.

Gone are the days of salmon patties with buttered egg noodles and corn. Tomorrow, it’s Korean beef lettuce wraps with soba noodles and edamame. I can do this!, I thought.

But now, you’re just being silly. Now, you’re putting in your magazines things no kid who isn’t starving or on a forced diet would eat.

It’s just that, recently, reality has hit me.

I don’t care what your cooks do in your kitchen, no matter how hard I try, there’s no way I’m making a three course dinner for four in less than an hour. I know, I know, you’ve got all those timing things outlined in your directions, but honestly, how you do all that chopping when you’ve got to help with homework and clean the house is beyond me.

And another thing, do you think you could start printing recipes that use ingredients I might actually have in my kitchen?

One recently included mashed parsnips.mashed-parsnips

Parsnips?

Really?

Who the hell buys parnsips on a regular basis?

I’d like to make gourmet meals, really I would.

But I think if I were to serve pomegranate, watercress and roasted macadamia nut salad my guys would look at me like I had stepped off of the pages of Bourgious Kitchen and straight into the world of la-la land.

And as much as I’d like to make a panko and peanut crusted chicken breast with orzo and a side of pan roasted broccolini, I’ve only got stove top stuffing mix, a can of cream of mushroom soup and some french-style green beans in my pantry.

I can’t go out spending $40 on one dish that my family will say “Eh. It was okay” to, when I’ve got another 13 dishes to make and only $300 to spend, over the next two weeks – and that includes money for pizza night!

A quick look at some of my cookbooks proves my point. In the Betty Crocker Family Dinners in a Hurry cookbook, circa 1969 (yes, I’m well aware that some of my cookbooks are just as old as I am – almost), there’s a recipe for Broiled Round Steak with Mustard Butter and Herbed Tomatoes that lists 8 ingredients for the main and side combined – and that’s INCLUDING the round steak! – that takes less than 20 minutes to make and serves 6.

In Southern Living’s May 2014 edition, the recipe for Flank Steak and Cucumber Salad lists 16 ingredients, including Asian chili paste (“such as Huy Fong” it says) and English cucumbers (in my head, I swear I was thinking “I say, are you a regular cucumber, or do you come from across the pond, dear chap?”).

Sixteen ingredients. For a salad. That takes nearly an hour to prepare. And serves 4.

Are you kidding me?

When the boys were younger, I was an industrious chef.

witches fingersI’d make Halloween dinners that looked like witches’ fingers with ghostly shaped mashed potatoes. I made weekday dinners of tuna melts that looked like little boats with American cheese slice sails. I made decorated cupcakes for school birthday parties.

(Just a note – when you make cupcakes in ice cream cones decorated to look like.. well, ice cream cones… uhm, there’s no way you can ever get over the look in your kids’ school friends’ faces when they realize it’s not, in reality, ice cream.)

But today, … uhm… not so much.

Tonight when I went into the kitchen, I had no idea what I was making until I found a freezer bag of the poultry variety, a box of long grain and wild rice mix, some potato chips, shredded cheese and a can of mushroom soup.

Thank God, for cream of mushroom soup.

Throw that together with sauteed onions, pimentos and frozen peas, and viola! Casserole surprise!

Still took an hour though. And that’s not counting the time spent pondering what the hell am I supposed to make tonight.

But it was affordable. I would say I probably spent $7-$10 on the whole meal, and that’s including the meat substance – whatever it was.

And they ate it! They actually ate it and said “Not bad, Mom.”

Running to the store to buy the ingredients of the aforementioned flank steak and I would have easily gone through $40, and that’s not including Huy Fong (whatever the hell that is, and depending entirely on whether my small town Southern grocery store would have actually had anything remotely resembling it).mom in store

It’s just too much.

If I’m honest, I just don’t have the time for that crap. Heck, I don’t even know where I would find pomegranates in my hometown.

I’m all about good cooking and living with nice things, but enough is enough. I’m not ever going to host a party where my friends are going to turn up their noses at my cornbread salad, or homemade guacamole. I like all your stuff, but, damn, it’s just too over the top anymore. Can’t you just print normal recipes?

I want my family to be happy, but not at the cost of spending beyond my means. And I’m not alone.¬†Making a gourmet dinner for my family at the cost of their college funds? Not likely.

You all go ahead and make your spinach infused fish fillets with cous cous and sauteed Italian eggplant.

I’ll be the one making fried chicken in my cast-iron skillet and smiling when my kids actually eat it.

Course, that does cut down on the money I save in eating leftovers though…

 

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2014