July 5, 2002
That seems to be the theme for 2011. Pick up any magazine on the newsstands today; everything from Real Simple and Oprah to Success and the Rob Report. There are tips and tricks, lists to follow and exercises to try. There are ways to streamline your daily routine and ways to help you identify and attain your goals. There are rules to happiness, definitions of happiness, in case you don’t know. So much happiness overload! Do all of these things and you, too, can be happy!
I balk at these kinds of things.
The media would have you believe that no matter who you are, where you are and what you do, you’re unhappy. I would much rather think that there are a handful of people out there trying to make a better situation out what they currently experience, but that most of us are doing just fine. You pick up these magazines and what it boils down to is people telling you to make changes and voila! — Happiness abounds.
Call me cynical, but I don’t think it works that way. Aristotle said that happiness depends upon ourselves. When I think of my happiest times, it’s been when I’ve chosen to simply be in the moment as it unfolds in front of me. I’m laughing over sushi with my brother. I’m watching my girls streak through my parents’ house in nothing but head bands and smiles. My husband cups my cheek in his hand, kissing me as though it’s the only thing he’s allowed to do.
That’s when I’m happy, no tips or tricks required.
The oven is on, the cookie sheet is out, so as far as I’m concerned, fall has fallen. Truthfully, the temperatures are starting to dip, albeit very slightly, but fall is right around the corner. I absolutely love fall.
I love the leaves starting to blush into shimmering crimsons and startling ochres. I love the slight bite in the air that makes you dig your hands into your pockets on the walk to school. Soccer games, football games, hearing the ODU marching band practice as the sun dips below the neighboring houses. Loving it! Crunching fallen leaves underfoot, smelling that woodsy, smoky sky — for many, this signifies the end of things. No more summer. No more long, languid days under the sun. The pool has closed, the beach is just a fond memory. For me, though, I’m just getting started.
Even though the days are shorter and the mornings are darker, I love opening the door for an early morning run and stepping fully into the crispness of a cool, calm daybreak. I don’t consider myself a nature girl, or outdoorsy by any stretch, but I really crave being outside. I’m a New Englander by birth, so I guess it’s in my blood.
This time last fall found me dutifully studying body systems and the like. I remember taking study breaks at the kitchen table while the girls napped. The sun was starting to fade, the colors of outdoors were sharp with slight softness around the edges. The neighborhood kids would be coming down the sidewalk, hooting and calling to each other as school closed up for another day. I had the windows open, but the slight chill was more like familiar fingers skipping across my arms and back of my neck. The shadows played tag across the walls, stretched lazily over the floor before disappearing altogether. I gave myself 20 minutes for throwing myself back into my work, but for those 20 minutes, I lost myself in the Norman Rockwell-esque feeling of it all.
I look forward to packing up the strappy sandals, floaty maxi dresses and piles of shorts. Opening the closet to pull out stacks of sweaters, unrolling corduroys, and polishing off boots can be a chore. Still, finding that forgotten about sweater, is like opening that last present tucked way back behind the the tree, the one just peeking out from under the Christmas skirt. “What’s this? Awww, yeah– cowl neck sweater!
The past few years, the turn of the season has found me in the kitchen, baking and using kitchen tools that I keep forgetting I have (hello, crockpot). I have a long standing love affair with
pumpkin — bread, cookies, pie — which I plan to rekindle. I got the ingredients for Rice Krispie Treats and presented those bricks of ooey, gooey goodness to the girls for snack yesterday afternoon. Sidenote: for a long time, I was under the impression that these were really hard to make. I mean, why else would my mom only reserve them for bi-annual bake sales? Surprisingly easily, as delicious as I remember, I will definitely be making these again.
I have been pulling recipes for chili, one-pot suppers, and things that involve butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I culled pages out of my recipe stuffed filo-fax and actually went to the grocery store with concrete dinner ideas in mind. We eat a lot of beef, probably more than we should, but I’m finicky and it tastes good. Real Simple magazine (LOVE IT) has been running a series of recipes called “10 Recipes Ideas for (insert pantry/refrigerator staple)”, which I have dutifully ripped out month after month. Seriously –who can’t use a new take on chicken cutlets, ground beef, or Italian sausage?
So yesterday, I tackled a major (overdue) grocery shopping, got my supplies and whipped up this:
Mmmm, spinach stuffed steak roulades. The recipe is here. I subbed pesto instead of olive tapenade, but really? I think it was more flavorful. It was considerably easy and super tasty. I felt very Top Chef as I filled, rolled and tied off my flank steak pinwheels. I was so determined to make this dinner, I did all my prep in the morning, fired them off on the grill before taking the girls to swimming lessons and then finished them with a quick blast in the oven when we got home. Added a nice salad of mixed field greens and some rice? Delish! I almost licked the plate.
I will definitely be going back to the well of “10 Recipe Ideas”. Next up, ravioli with grape tomatoes and wine.
Mmmm. . .wine. . . .
Anyway, the Rice Krispie treats weren’t the dessert that I had initially planned to serve up with this meal, but I was pressed for time and these pies-in-a-jar that I read about over at another awesome blogger, Gibson King, required ingredients that (for some reason) my grocer was completely lacking. Who doesn’t have pie filling? But I digress. How flippin’ cute are these things?
These definitely going into the rotation. I may invest in a special pie-in-a-jar spoon to just eat them with.
So, I am officially declaring the season of fall open to enjoy for all the goodness that it brings. We’re kicking things off with Morgan’s very first soccer game tomorrow morning — Go Larchmont Mermaids! It may be too soon to break out my Danskos and my vest– they’re talking temps in the upper 70s after all. Still, you can bet that when I lace up my sneakers for my miles through the neighborhood, I’ll take a deep breath to absorb the autumn breeze and let it fuel me in the days ahead.
Here’s a sneak peek from the first RTK Feel Good photo shoot. More to follow!
Our cover girl giving us coy and shy, her pucker courtesy of RTK’s Sweet Vanilla Lip Balm.
The Only Thing Between Me and My Lover is RTK.
Getting ready to bring the fire!
The Only Thing Between Me and My Lover is RTK.
It went really well considering this is my first foray behind the lens. I did some homework before hand, picking the brains of various photogs that I know. I read some books, and drew upon my own knowledge from my stint at a model. There is still so much to learn, but it’s fun and I’m off to a great start. I think of the 624 shots — yes! — we certainly got some good stuff, and the editing I will do can help where we’re lacking. I’ve got some work ahead of me, but I will definitely post them when I’m done.
You know, my big hair is what got me into modeling, what kept the bookings coming, and since I’ve cut it, I haven’t heard much. At first, I was kind of ticked, but now I’m getting all Zen. What if my modeling experience was just the first step towards where I am now, behind the lens? What if that experience then, that experience yesterday is lining me up for where I’m going next? I don’t know where that will be, just as I didn’t know where the modeling was going to take me. Still, I’m going, one foot in front of the other, camera in hand.