Experience Has Made Me Rich

[This is a post that I started at the beginning of the month but never quite wrapped up. Just going to publish it as is, too busy to edit further!]

I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It is not what I expected. I thought it would be a hippie-dippie, let’s-all-chill-out kind of book, but instead it’s a Type A personality’s grade-grubber, extra-credit approach to learning about happiness. I.e., she read every book ever written about happiness and her project involves lots of charts and self-assessments and metrics and formulae. That said, I’m mostly enjoying it. Today’s nugget of wisdom, gleaned as I rode the train to work, was that happiness involves a certain ratio of feelings. She calls it the First Splendid Truth: “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.” You try to add in good feelings, remove sources of bad feelings, and also “feel right”: “the feeling that I’m living the life I’m supposed to lead.” Positive affect and negative affect rise and fall independently of each other, and so does “life satisfaction.” This makes sense. Every day has good stuff and bad stuff, but it’s all taking place against a larger background, a continuum. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that it made me realize that I definitely feel “right” these days. More right than I ever have before in my life. I would not want to be 21 again for anything, seriously. Not even 31. I know what’s important to me and what isn’t. And although one day might be great and another day pretty terrible and so on, that confidence is there and it does feel pretty darn good. But, I have to always try to remember what it feels like to be confused and insecure and bouncing from one thing to the next all the time, untethered by any kind of certainty… so that I can parent these kids of mine. I suppose some of you have kids who are “old souls,” wise little folk who know just what they’re all about from day 1. I’ve heard of such creatures, but we don’t have any living here.

Two of the things that continue to feel “right” to me are reining in spending and cooking at home as much as possible. I haven’t been super on target the past two weeks. I definitely partook of the cafeteria at work quite often for lunch. But I can’t think of anything else frivolous that I bought.

I finally had my first delivery from Philly Food Works, last Thursday.  Pretty neat.

I got Brussel sprouts, eggs, mushrooms, arugula, carrots, garlic, onions and potatoes for something like $42 (which includes a $5 delivery fee). This week, my mom joined in the fun and I think we ordered enough to not have a delivery fee. This time, I ordered eggs, Honeycrisp apples, and everything-style “Philly” muffins (square, sort of like an English muffin, very fresh and good).

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So I had arugula to put on turkey sandwiches for a few days, and also to put on my piza masterpiece Saturday night. I was trying to recreate a pizza I had recently at this place called Birra. It was a white pizza with arugula, garlic, ricotta, and pears, and drizzled with honey. The kids and I whipped up some more pizza dough, and while they had a regular pizza, I had mine, which was amazing… except that I did not use enough cheese. It doesn’t seem possible that I could skimp on cheese, but somehow I did.

Along with the pizza, I tossed the Brussel sprouts in olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted them, following an Ina Garten recipe. In it, she says that when they’re done, she puts more salt on: “I like them salty like French fries.” I did too. I wolfed them down like McDonald’s fries. So good.

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Sunday, I made meatballs for the first time since the Great Fire. I stuck to frying them on the stove top. Gravy came next, followed by… carrot cake. I believe this was Gemma’s idea. Now, some might not call it true carrot cake because we did not use nuts (allergies), raisins (barf), or cream cheese frosting (Gemma was suspicious of this). But it did have carrots plus homemade vanilla buttercream. Everybody enjoyed it except for Aidan. There’s always one.

I took pieces to work for a few days, but I don’t think anyone else ate it after Sunday. The rest got sliced and frozen. It definitely makes a tasty treat for my coffee break. Also, we used whole wheat pastry flour, plus carrots, so you know, healthy!

So the only thing I didn’t use from my box was the mushrooms. I was going to make some kind of stir fry for dinner on Sunday but I hit the wall after the cake. And I need to use the potatoes ASAP.

This weekend, I’ve got two social functions of sorts, but I should have time to mess around in the kitchen some more. Plus the usual laundry, grocery ordering and bill paying. The bedroom herbs are coming along, but I found two parsley leaves bitten off this morning. GRRR. Might need a lock for the door. The parsley is usable now, but there’s not that much of it. I need to plant more. The basil won’t be ready for a while. I think I’d have to turn the heat up in the room for that to grow faster. The cilantro sprouted and is doing well, but not the chives. Only three little chive spikes came up. (Those were the seeds from the Goodwill kit, so I’m not surprised. No idea how old they were.)

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