Carpe Diem As Passionately As You Can!

“Do you remember spreading your trick-or-treat candy on the floor with your brothers and sisters and trading with each other for your favorites?,” my husband asked me last evening as we watched a Netflix show portraying this tradition.  “No, my brothers and sisters were away at boarding school. Maybe, if I got lucky, one of them drove me around town to trick-or-treat,” I replied.  “That’s so sad, I can’t believe with so many siblings you never had that,” my husband replied.  He’s usually not this sentimental.  But we are both raw in a happy, sappy, parent-y kind of way.

We just returned from a college visit with our daughter, our precious jewel who is approaching her time to move away for college.  That was the conversation we had just before bed on the day we took Isa to the University of Arkansas.  When I woke up this morning, I was drifting out of a panicky dream of trying to keep all of my loved ones inside a bowl.  The bowl was imbalanced and my loved ones were unhappy being crammed in it against their will.  But I selfishly wanted to keep them there to hoard the good times forever.

When I was much younger, I used to create collages for family and friends to capture funny memories and special photos and create something permanent.  I would glue magazine images to coke bottles, homemade cardboard footstools, cigar boxes and more, so happy to have created something permanent out of moments from the past.

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If you lived through the 1970’s, you most certainly recognize this collage of images to capture the essence of that decade.

 

I think aging can sometimes feel like a struggle to create permanence – maybe out of fear or sentimentality – but mostly from the desire to comfort and reassure ourselves of many things.

After all, when we are young, we are encouraged and supported to “try new things” based on the assumption we will devote a lifetime enjoying and perfecting the things we choose when we are young.  When we are older, however, because of the uncertainty of time and limited energy and resources, the tendency to accept or try new things feels risky and pointless.  After all, shouldn’t we just reach a magical age when work is over and all we have to do is sit and bask in the splendor of relationships we have worked our lives to create?  While this is one of the assumptions that traditional American retirement is based on, I know that, at least for me, it is not going to work.

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This is a literal translation of the musical sign for resting.  I love it because music has been a part of my life, I still remember my first piano lesson in kindergarten.  A rest in music, perfectly timed, can elevate an ordinary sound to a glorious experience.

 

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Ripened peaches make me drool, just like life sometimes!  They are the perfect metaphor for aging well to me – we are supposed to continue to experience life and savor everything with gusto.

Aging well is more about accepting impermanence and knowing when to do the 2 most important things in life:  1.  Resting; 2. Devouring the ripened fruit.

 

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My creative photographer husband, Michael, captured this image one summer Saturday morning as we enjoyed watching our beautiful, round and ripened baby girl, Isabella, enjoy her first bagel.

My sweet little baby girl has ripened into a young woman – it is time for her to transition from living with me to expanding out into the big world.  She no longer fits in a bowl, the world is her bowl and I have prepared her for it.

 Painful as it is, launching a child into the world is a beautiful act of creation.  Our daughter is her own person, influenced by genes, experiences and love from home.  She belongs to herself and her footprint in this world is original, unique, and borne of her own spirit energy.

Takeaways from all of this?

  1.  It isn’t sad that I never swapped Halloween candy with my 6 older siblings – at least I never felt that loss until my husband, who is much closer in age to his 2 younger sisters, pointed it out.  Obviously, that experience from childhood meant something to my husband that continues to bring him joy today.  Any time we can grab a fleeting moment of warmth from our past, it’s a divine experience – like eating a ripened peach – that we must stop and enjoy;
  2. Denying the sadness I feel over my daughter’s emerging adulthood would prevent me from fully experiencing what is happening now, and I don’t want to miss the parade. Literally, she is in a parade in 2 hours

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” Anais Nin

Dinner for a Droopy Day!

I’ve been feeling “droopy” (a “Miss Rhetta-ism” – my Momma’s signature speaking style) lately.  The heat and humidity of summer persist, fall schedules and allergies are pressing down on me, and I have a serious case of the “I don’t Wanna’s”!  Weighing heavily on my mind is the fact that it is my beautiful daughter’s SENIOR year of High School.  I am overloaded with scheduling ACT tests and tutors, college visits and organizing volunteers and resources for all her Drill Team fundraisers this year.  This girl needs some delicious, cream-based sauce and crusty bread for dipping!!!!

That’s when I go to the kitchen for comfort.  Sometimes, it is a tried and true recipe that comforts me, other times, it is a new one I’ve had my eye on that I will try.  Of course, leave it to me  to take a Cooking Light recipe and make it unhealthy and delicious!   I am ready for crisp weather and my French Girl dipping sauces made with scrapings of lovely browned bits from my saucepan.  I am at least 1/8 French (Grandmother’s maiden name is De Lisle, my legal Middle name), so craving delicious sauces is natural for me!

Here is the FREAKING OUT OF THIS WORLD pan chicken recipe I modified from the January/February 2016 Cooking Light magazine for my family last night – prepare to drool.

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Skillet Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Skillet Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots 

(Cooking Light Magazine, January/February 2016)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 8 ounces baby carrots
  • 8 ounces small, red potatoes, halved (*I did not include this in my recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (*How I wish I had an herb garden!  I used dried).
  • 8 thin lemon slices, seeds removed
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided (*I went for it and substituted one pint of heavy cream)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock (*all I had on hand was vergetable stock)
  • 1/3  cup fresh flat-leaf parsley (*I never have this so I don’t use it)

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees;
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil, swirl to coat.  Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes or until golden brown (*I always cook a few minutes longer because I am scared to death of food poisoning); Turn and cook 2 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan.  Place carrots and potatoes (*I just used carrots), cut side down, in pan; sprinkle with thyme.  Place pan in oven; bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Return chicken to pan; top with lemon slices.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 12 minutes.  Remove pan from oven.  Place chicken and vegetables on a plate.
  3. Combine 1/2 cup milk (*remember heavy cream is WAY yummier – lol!), flour, and the rind in a bowl.  Return pan to medium-high heat (do not wipe out pan).  Add flour mixture, remaining 1 cup milk, and stock to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits (this is where your heavenly taste will come from); cook 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add chicken and vegetables to pan.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Razzle Dazzle Your Diners With This Simple French-Inspired Dish

Bon Appetit!