More and more often lately, I’ve procrastinated, put off, avoided, and straight-up phoned in a number of daily housekeeping responsibilities I should have been taking care of regularly — because, y’all, burnout is REAL.
I’ve been working with/for a certain arts nonprofit in our community, which I won’t name right now but can probably be figured out if you a) know me IRL or b) have seen the name dropped in a previous post (I can’t remember if I did ever name it). I’m a volunteer with this organization in a number of ways, but my main role is that of secretary for the board of directors. I joined as a musician several times off-and-on over the years, but started back as a regular in 2015. From that, I became a representative of that musical ensemble to the board, then they elected me as a board member maybe a year later (the time kind of runs together). I do not remember whether I jumped from ensemble-rep to secretary without ever being a “normal” board member, and it really doesn’t matter that much in the long-term.
What does matter is that, for the last five years at least, we have been in some form of crisis mode, and I basically got my feet wet as a board executive by just jumping right into the deep end. 😆 Or being pushed. It’s hard to say this far into it…
I get to resign this coming June, and to say that I am looking forward to it is something of an understatement. It has been one of the biggest learning experiences of my life, professionally, and — to be fair — what I have gained probably outweighs the frustrations, and not by a small margin. I am definitely grateful for the friends I’ve made, the things I’ve learned, the growth I’ve experienced as a person, and the people skills I’ve developed — all of which are priceless (even if it would be nice to get paid for the work that I do).
But crisis after crisis can wear on a person, and I think I’ve had my fill by now.
BUT! That is not what I intended to write about in this post. It just sets the stage. 🙂
Because I’ve been so burnt-out and tired, my creativity for anything other than problem-solving and firefighting for this organization (and maintaining survival for my family) has been pretty much nil. I’ve written down story ideas here and there, but I haven’t squished any clay for months or done as much music-making as I’d like (there has been some, and it’s been great, but I’m getting rusty despite all that), and let’s just say cooking anything more complicated than toast, frozen pizza, pasta, and ground meat has been a big challenge.
But something feels like it’s shifting. Maybe out of necessity, because I’ve felt SO VERY crappy the last week or two — bloated, fat, painful insides, sore joints, etc. — and maybe also because I’m sort of reaching a point where I may be jaded enough that I’m becoming numb to the drama and don’t care as much as I used to. I’m also getting fed-up with the hoarder’s den I call a house. My energy levels have allowed me to at least get food made and dishes done every day, but there is precious little left over for purging and organizing the mountains of junk cluttering up my living space (which is a heavy (and sometimes embarrassing) albatross I can’t work up the energy to get rid of).
One thing at a time, then. Today I’m not exactly fasting, because I ate eggs for breakfast, but I am consciously — and deliberately — hydrating. I will probably fast through lunch, but I need to cook and eat dinner, because I started something I’ve been thinking of doing for some time: Subscription meal kits!
I have a friend who has been doing Hello Fresh for a long time, so she sent me a free box offer, with further discounts attached, and I took advantage of it. I’d occasionally bought Home Chef boxes from the grocery store (a brand that also has a subscription service), and they were delicious and introduced some new cooking skills that were fun, and not super-challenging (which is good, when I’m fed up with being challenged). I’ve wanted to try a subscription service for some time now, so I would cook at least twice a week but wouldn’t always have a fridge full of random extra ingredients left over from that one meal I wanted to try (I do not have a good rotation right now; I’m a terrible meal-planner). However, I couldn’t choose which company to go with. The free-box coupon and discount made the choice easy, and now I have a little variety in my week! (Also, there was some escaped rice from one of the kits, so I reported it on the website and they gave me a credit that will go on my next undiscounted box!)
In addition to meal kits, I’ve been trying to get more vegetables into our bodies that aren’t just celery or potatoes, so I occasionally will buy the little bagged salad kits at the grocery store and add some kind of protein to it — usually canned chicken, browned and seasoned in a pan. They’re just so yummy, even if they’re more expensive than making my own salad at home (again, I don’t need a whole head of lettuce in my fridge if I’m going to eat salad maybe once a week). I don’t think I’ve ever bought any at full-price, though; they’re usually on sale when I choose to get some.
The chop salads sometimes contain a lot of the harder-to-digest cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, etc), and as delicious as they are, I don’t really want the bloat and stomachache that follow. So the other day I decided on a whim to stir-fry the green stuff after browning the chicken, and it was sooooo goooooood. I still think I may have had some difficulty digesting it afterward, but it was SO much better than trying to make a stir-fry from frozen veg, or produce I don’t use all of at one time (or have to chop, myself!).
So here’s a little cooking hack that I’m going to play with, mainly to see if I can get it to a point where it’s more digestible (even if that means I just take an ACV pill beforehand and some activated charcoal after 😉 ), but which turned out delectable the other night, and was a meal all by itself:
- Large fry pan or wok
- Bagged salad kit containing non-lettuce, cruciferous or dark-leafy greens & veg (e.g. cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, chard, carrots)
- Salad-kit contents (like sunflower seeds, dressing, etc)
- Oil for stir-frying (I used avocado and coconut for a Thai-flavored salad)
- Kirkland (or other trusted brand) canned chicken
- Oil or butter for browning chicken
- Seasoning of choice for chicken, even if only salt and pepper
- Drain the can of chicken and brown in a pan with oil or butter, seasoning midway (for the Thai-style salad, I used Sriracha and lime juice, which we keep stocked in the fridge, and some salt).
- Put chicken aside in a large bowl and heat oil(s) in the pan. Add greens from salad kit and stir-fry until caramelized and/or soft.
- Pour greens in the large bowl with the chicken.
- Add salad-kit ingredients.
- Stir to combine and serve!
And it just occurred to me that this ended up being one of THOSE recipe posts that take you through a meandering example of life before actually getting to a recipe. 😆
Fortunately, it’s not much of a recipe. Also fortunately, this is not technically a recipe-blog post. 😉
But maybe I’ll start sharing some of my cooking adventures, because I’ve come up with a bunch of hacks and cheats that don’t entirely suck (though I have cooked some food for myself that is…subpar… “Dubious” if you play Breath of the Wild at all 😉 ), and it gives me a little more motivation to update this blog more often, if not become some great home cook.
I need to share some clay adventures, too, because I’ve put off being creative for too long… I miss making things!
I actually can’t wait to cook my first Hello Fresh meal tonight! But in the meantime, I have to do some housecleaning and keep up with my hydrating plan…
If anyone is still reading this blog, what are some of your favorite cooking/cleaning/productivity hacks that keep you from just giving up and phoning it in for the week?
(EDIT: 3:30pm and one liter of water down! Time to go refill and drink another…)
4 thoughts on “New Attempts”
Congrats on being able to unload a responsibility which has become burdensome!
We’d had a Home Chef membership in the past, and although we generally liked the meals, we couldn’t justify the expense over time. We liked that their grocery store boxes didn’t require a commitment.
We’d also tried another (budget) meal plan – I forget which offhand. The meals were simpler, so the kids were able to help [somewhat]. Ultimately that one ended up lacking in variety, so we canceled it too after we grew tired of it.
A couple things we do which works for us:
– We’ll do a cooking marathon night where we can prepare many meals in advance and freeze them – it helps to have multiple freezers.
Low maintenance vegetables & sides so all we need to focus on is a quick entree: steam in bag vegetables and our rice cooker is our go-to. But then, we are a rice family.
I’ll share the salad I make myself for frequent lunches (it’s nothing fancy, though – but surprisingly filling):
– One heart of romaine – tear by hand and toss in a bowl. You could take from a full head of romaine, or substitute your bagged salad mix of choice – I just find that one heart is about the right portion, and we tend to have them on-hand.
– One bell pepper (preferably red/orange – diced).
– One roma tomato (sliced round or diced – to preference).
– Handful of halved walnuts (can crush slightly by hand when you toss them in, if you prefer smaller pieces).
– Handful of dried cranberries.
– Olive oil & balsamic vinegar to taste.
I’ve gotten fairly practiced at putting it together such that it really doesn’t take me more than a couple minutes. It helps that the vegetables involved are all things that we tend to keep on-hand. Thanks to Costco, I never seem to run out of the walnuts or cranberries either.
I prefer my vegetables raw, which allows me to get my daily quotient as quick snacks. It’s hard to get enough servings in a day otherwise.
Follow up: the other plan we’d tried was EveryPlate.
I wish I could eat salads all the time! My stomach has gotten more and more sensitive, and my digestion crankier over time, so I’m never sure when I’ll be able to fully digest raw veggies or if they’ll turn into rocks in my stomach. 😣 But that salad sounds YUM! I love all those ingredients. 😊
And thanks for the names of the meal kits you used. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of EveryPlate (but I’ll probably get FB ads now that I’ve typed it 😆). For now, the meal kits are affordable, because we’re only ordering two servings per meal, and it’s new enough that it’s still discounted. What it definitely saves money on (so far) is wasted ingredients. If I ever level-up my planning game, I might be able to plan multiple meals a week around perishable items I can only buy in a certain amount (e.g. cilantro, which I love, but can never use up before it goes bad), but for now I need someone to do it for me. Helps with portion control, too (another challenge, especially this time of year). I also need to up my freezer-clearing game, because they’re pretty full, but I keep not using items. I kind of hate having a chest freezer, honestly… I need to see things in order to remember they’re even in there. This close to retirement, I’m not likely to buy another one, so I’ll just have to rely on my organization skills (SNORT). 😆
Our rabbits go through a ton of cilantro, so it’s another of our “always on hand” ingredients. We frequently joke (with all seriousness) that they eat better than we do.