Monthly Archives: January 2012

Aspirations

Over the New Year, I felt like I kept reading articles about how I should be goal setting and how wonderful it was for me.  It all rang a bit hollow and empty to me.  My goals for the next couple of years involve generally surviving have a fantastic, yet very demanding, little guy and then getting pregnant again and having a little one all over again.  Needless to say, it will be a tumultuous and wonderful couple of years all at once.  However, it doesn’t lend itself to a normal “goal setting” routine of sorts.  So I started thinking down this path and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that instead of goals, I have more daily aspirations to help me be the woman I wish to be.

You see I have this vision in my head of the person I want to be.  She is poised and well put together (despite the fact that yes, indeed, there is spit-up on her shoulder).  She is a fantastic cook and gardener and is able to bring the bounty of each season in to the table. She has created a home that is both visually lovely while also feeling cozy and inviting.  She is an accomplished Ashtantgi and an engaging yoga teacher.  She manages to balance her home and her family while still carving out time for herself both to teach and to do little necessary things like pedicures.  She has a dynamic relationship with her husband and despite the years that continue pass them both by, they are able to maintain that little bit of wonderfulness that drew them together in the beginning both inside and outside the bedroom.

Needless to say, I fail in achieving this vision most of the time.  Then there are times when I have this moment of wonderfulness where I feel like I actually am the person I want to be.  The good news is that I am generally able to achieve some part of this most of the time.  To this end I have realized that I have a couple of things I am currently emphasizing to make this vision more of a reality more of the time and I am going to list them because boy do I love lists!  A therapist once told me to stop making them because they were adding to my anxiety, but that is a whole ‘nother story!

1) Get dressed.  This is defined as: showering, putting on clothes that fit and match, fixing my hair and putting on a bit of make-up (because somewhere inside of me there is a Texas woman that I have fought against for too long – I am conceding – she is right, I feel better when I look decent)

2) If it has sugar in it, don’t eat it.  Sugar is my weakness and I have an awfully hard time stopping eating it once I start.  Walter is at an age where he wants to eat things that I am eating.  I would like whatever I am eating to be something I am comfortable feeding to him.  If I don’t want him to eat it, why the heck am I eating it?  The one exception to this is caffeine.  I will tackle that beast when the munchkins learn to sleep in.

3) Make a menu and then buy the groceries required to cook it.  I am capable of pulling together about one, maybe two meals a week out of whatever happens to be in the fridge.  I am not capable of week’s worth of meals.  Therefore, I should accept this, make a menu (shoutout to Lauren and her tasty blog for making my menu making easy,  I tend to just cook whatever she has recently.) and then cook it.  We will be happier for it.

4) Do my best and let go of the rest.  This is my mantra of late.  I have grand schemes, but I feel like it is just as important to realize when the grand schemes are just too grand for my britches and need to be tossed aside.

What are your daily aspirations?

Alex’s Beef Stew

We have a wonderful realtor, Phil Lopez.  He bent over back wards to help us buy our house this summer (the sellers were mad that they were losing money and took it out on us – thank goodness that is over!) and we wanted to do something to thank him and his wife, Gabby.  So, of course, we had them over for dinner.  It was a good excuse for us to cook up something tasty!  We had guacamole and margaritas with Alex’s beef stew.  I know, I know, the menu doesn’t exactly match, but avocados were on sale at Whole Foods that Friday and avocados lead to guacamole which leads to margaritas in my mind!  Here are the recipes.

Guacamole

This makes a large batch because the avocadoes were too cheap to turn down and it always makes a good snack.  Did you know you can prevent the brown on top by placing the pits into the guacamole?  I put in 3 for this recipe and it kept quite well.

  • 6 avocados
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 limes
  • 2 teaspoons salt (preferably sea salt)
  • 3 tomatoes

Peel and de-pit the avocados.  Then mash them up in a large bowl.  Dice the onion, garlic and tomatoes and add them to the avocado mixture. Then juice the limes and add it along with the salt.  Jalapenos or cayenne pepper can also be added to give it some kick.  However, Alex is allergic to the capsaicin in the pepper so we are a pepper free household.

Real Margaritas

I don’t like the super sweet mixes you usually get so I stole this recipe from my brother-in-law, Will.  It is quite potent so don’t plan to do any driving anytime soon after drinking them.  I usually plan them for an appetizer drink so that everyone is sober enough to go home.

  • 6 shots tequila
  • 6 shots lime juice
  • 3 shots cointreau
  • 3 shots grand marnier

I prefer key lime juice where possible.  However, it isn’t always possible.  This time I used half meyer lemon and half lime juice.  Mix everything together and drink!

Alex’s Beef Stew

This recipe got its start in Alex’s early days after college, when he lived at the Oakton Community Center with the Brads. Originally this was made in a crockpot, using bisquick and cheap burgandy wine. I made some additions influenced heavily by Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon and now it is quite hearty, fatty, and gourmet!

  • 1 lb. thick-cut dry-rubbed bacon
  • 1½ lb. lean stew beef
  • ¼ c. flour in a small bowl
  • 1 medium onion, medium diced
  • 1 bunch small-medium carrots, sliced in 1-2” chunks on a diagonal
  • 5 medium yukon gold potatoes, cubed similarly to the beef
  • 4 c. beef broth
  • ½ c. Red wine (we like Cabernet Sauvignon) – reserve the rest for the meal and be sure to have a glass while cooking
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh sage if it’s in season, ground/dried otherwise
  • whole cumin

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Lay out the bacon slices on a jelly roll pan in a single layer, and place them in the oven. Check them at 20 minutes. They should get nicely crispy at the edge.

Drain about 2T. of the bacon fat into a large sauté pan. The exact measurement isn’t important, just use enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Pour the rest of the fat into a heavy cast iron casserole pot (with a lid, aka coquette pot), and set the bacon aside.

Heat up the bacon fat in the coquette pot until it is nice and hot.  Then add in flour until there is no more grease left.  The flour and grease mixture should be fairly thick and brownish in color.  This is called a roux in french cooking. Stir the roux and let it cook for a few minutes until it begins to turn a darker brown.  Then add in beef broth.  Stir vigorously for several minutes.  Put the heat on medium and stir it occasionally as it thickens up.

While the roux is heating up, heat the fat in the sauté pan. Pat the beef dry with a kitchen towel, and roll the chunks in flour. Then drop them in the heated bacon fat. Brown on each side for about 3 minutes, then add the beef to the coquette pot. Chop up the onion and then sauté it in the remaining bacon fat until it becomes translucent.  Then transfer it to the coquette pot with the beef.

Add the carrots, potatoes and rosemary. Grind the sage and cumin, and add those along with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, pour in the wine, stir, and place in the oven with a lid on it for 30-45 minutes.

When ready to serve, remove from the oven. Rip the bacon into chunks and toss in, stir again. Purée some of the stew for babies as needed (This is a Walter favorite!).

What’s your Story? How does it affect you?

I had a woman (potential employer) ask me why I was teaching/interested in teaching a Mom and Baby yoga class because I didn’t have any specialized training in it.  It struck a sore spot with me at the time.  I thought how dare she question what I was doing and indicate that I shouldn’t be teaching this particular type of yoga just because I didn’t attend a particular training.  I read the e-mail just before I lay down to go to sleep and it kept me up for a bit. I kept wondering why this was bothering me so much.  On the surface it seemed an innocent enough question so what was it setting me off?  The next day it came to me.  The e-mail required a story from me, it required an explanation of where I had been and where I was going.  This particular type of story is emotionally loaded for me.

You see back in DC, political jobs don’t last for whatever reason they just don’t and believe me I feel like I have been through every reason at least once and maybe twice.  The most fun definitely being the layoffs.  I lived in DC for 3 1/2 years and I did 4 job searches.  Fortunately, I am quite good at networking when I want to be so I generally could keep myself employed enough that I paid all my bills and didn’t end up in credit card debt.  I also had a wonderful boyfriend, who is now my husband, who took care of me when things got really bad.  I hate looking for a job, even now when I am working just a bit on teaching a couple of yoga classes, the nasty emotions still come back.  In the process of looking for a job in DC, each time you have to develop your own story about your previous experience.  Why this job ended or why you left there.  Generally the real reason sucked – your boss was a witch and dealing with her was unbearable, someone stole your work and your boss decided that you weren’t necessary, etc.  However, somehow you had to come up with a plausible enough sounding way of glossing over it all and giving your scattered jobs some cohesion.  Every time I told this story it always sounded fake to me and I wondered whether my interviewer would see through it.  Even now, 3 1/2 years after we left DC, as I type this I am feeling a bit shaky.

When we moved to California, I tried to shed the story I lived in DC.  I tried to pursue a life that actually made me happy and I would say that I have succeeded in large part.  I have a wonderful husband and beautiful baby boy and I am enjoying motherhood far more than I thought would.  My yoga practice has progressed in a way that I wouldn’t have thought possible back in DC.  I am blessed to have a wonderful community of friends, both yogis and non-yogis, here who are always there to help out if I need it.  But every once in awhile something strikes me in a way to remind me that wound is still there.  It isn’t as fresh as it used to be, but it still requires some love and attention.  Now off to do some digging in the sunshine- it is hard to be too sad with sunshine on your back.

A Minor Rant

This is off topic, I know, but I am a wee bit pissed.  I promise to go back to our regularly schedule some erratic blogging shortly.  I have worn Lucky jeans since I first decided that I was grown up and needed a pair of expensive jeans that actually fit well which I believe was around 2006.  They were fantastic.  They fit my ample bottom and hips and I felt stylish in them, but they could still be paired with a t-shirt and flip flops.  In September, I decided that 6 months post Walter it was time to buy a pair of jeans that didn’t involve the word maternity.  So back to Lucky I went,  I found a decent pair of basic jeans and felt like a real person again.  About two weeks ago, I realized the crotch and the inner thigh of them were almost worn bare.  Let me elucidate that I had worn these pants for about 3 and a half months at this point. So I took them back to the store, explained the situation to the sales guy, expected them to say, “Oh no, that is awful, we sell a quality product, let me replace those for you.”  Instead, I was informed that since I didn’t have my receipt they couldn’t do anything to help me.  Evidently other stores, besides Lucky sell them and they couldn’t be sure I had bought them there and therefore evidently they weren’t responsible for them.  Awesome.  I felt like informing the guy that I would no longer be buying their jeans and yelling about how awful that particular piece of corporate policy was.  However, I have done retail before and know it isn’t in his hands, so I didn’t.  Thanks for letting me unload.