Thanksgiving is upon us. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving meant turkeys, Pilgrims, lots of food (including lasagna- hey, I’m Italian), and a couple of days off of school. Truth be told, I only thought about what I was grateful for because it was usually a school assignment. However as I got older, especially once Macho Man and I got married and we had our daughter, I developed a deep sense of gratitude for our many blessings. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for our family- well, except maybe on those days when I want to run away to a tropical island and drink daiquiris with my girlfriends. But mostly, I am in awe of the gift with which I was entrusted- another human life. I hardly feel worthy. Which is probably why I only got one. In all (sort of) seriousness though, there is a lot that I feel thankful for, especially this year. Please indulge me as I recall my elementary school days and present my numbered list to you.
I am thankful for…
1. My daughter. Without waxing too sentimental, she is absolutely the biggest blessing of my life. Even when she’s aging me prematurely, she fosters such joy in my soul that I can’t imagine a life without her. Ask me again when she’s 16…or 30 and still living at home.
2. My husband. He gets my humor, appreciates my quirks, is really smart (we’re still working on the common sense part though), works long, hard hours to provide for our family, is quite the looker, and he loves my blog. Bonus points for loving the blog even when I’m poking fun at him.
3. The Boston Foundation for Sight, for helping me to see clearly again (literally) and giving me my life back. Plus I look way hotter in contacts (PROSE) than with my Mr. Magoo spectacles.
4. My friends. Better than any therapist (because they’re free), they listen when I bitch, offer sage advice, make me laugh, and get me through the day. They also let me know if I have spinach in my teeth.
5. My mom and dad. It was only after I became a parent that I realized how much they both sacrificed for us kids and how much we, sadly, didn’t appreciate it. Well I get it now, Mom and Papa. I was a feisty, headstrong kid and now karma is biting me in the tush. Thanks.
7. A roof over my head and ample food to eat, as evidenced by my need for Spanx.
8. The fact that there is a Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and independently owned coffee shop all within 4 minutes of my house, one being within walking distance.
9. My family, who have always loved me, even when I went through that really geeky phase from ages 5-20.
10. My readers. If you’ve read this far, thank you! I know you are all very busy being awesome, taking care of your families and working hard. I’m truly appreciative knowing you take time out of your day to read what I have to share. Thank you!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I bought a giant bag of organic carrots today at Costco. It’s not the first time I’ve done that and, sadly, usually a fourth of the bag spoils before I can use them all. Lately I’ve been on a kick to be more efficient with meal planning in order to be both budget friendly and environmentally conscious; thus, decided I would use ingredients I had at hand in my pantry, along with copious amounts of carrots, to come up with something new for dinner. MFP suggested carrot soup. I’m not sure where she came up with the idea, but it sure beat having glazed carrots for the millionth time. I originally posted the recipe on my Miss Fancy Pants Facebook page, but a friend suggested I also include it in my blog so that the recipe could be saved onto Pinterest boards.
Both MFP and MM have a milk protein sensitivity, so I decided to use coconut milk to add creaminess without using dairy. It can be made vegan by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock. I often have homemade stock available since I use leftover rotisserie chicken carcasses to make broth, but tonight I used organic chicken stock from a box. You can amp up the flavor by adding more ginger, but I decided that MFP’s palate might be averse to a strong ginger taste. As is, it has a well balanced flavor profile, without one particular taste dominating. She helped season it, which I think made it all the more appealing to her. It’s really easy to make, especially if you use an immersion blender, which I normally have but it is now lost somewhere- likely in a really high kitchen cabinet. I used my Vitamix instead, which worked just fine. I served this as an appetizer (although MFP had three bowls) to our entree, which was a grass-fed beef sirloin steak with rosemary and garlic roasted fingerling potatoes.
It took me like five times to get that coconut milk leaf design right, but MFP was highly amused by its fanciness.
Hope you enjoy!
Claudia’s Carrot-Ginger Soup (Miss Fancy Pants Approved)
32 oz chicken or vegetable stock
7-8 medium sized carrots roughly chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
sea salt to taste
7 oz (about 1/2 can) coconut milk
Simmer all ingredients except coconut milk for about 25 minutes or until carrots are fork tender. Turn off heat. Use immersion blender or puree in blender (in batches) until soup is creamy.
Return to pot. Stir in coconut milk until well combined.
I resisted joining Facebook for years. “Facebook is for kids,” I’d protest, “And besides, I don’t want to put so much personal information out there on the Internet” (My FB friends will find that latter sentiment highly ironic now). But my sister moved to Germany and insisted that the best way to keep in touch with her family, which includes my adorable niece and nephew, would be to join FB. This way she would also get to see MFP grow up, if not in person, then at least virtually. At the time, I was also part of a mom’s forum on another website and they were going to dissolve that group (since it required a paid membership) and switch over to FB. Not wanting to lose my mommy support network and motivated by the promise of prodigious amounts of family photos from Germany, I finally came over to the dark side, otherwise known as Facebook.
I was instantly immersed in a social network made up of some of my dearest and closest friends and family. Having moved several states away from my family of origin when I married Macho Man (MM), FB filled a void I had been feeling since putting my career on hold to raise our daughter. Prior to MFP’s birth, my work had provided me with much of the social interaction and intellectual stimulation that I needed to stay happy and sane. Now as a stay-at-home-mom, my days consisted of feedings, diaper changes, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and crying, mostly MFP, and on occasion, me. Facebook was my watercooler talk and I became like Pavlov’s dog, salivating at every notification and private message ding. It wasn’t enough just to lurk either. I had to show support of my FB’s friends’ endeavors by “liking” and commenting whenever I saw something pleasing, offering advice when questions were posted, and of course, admiring all those wonderful photos of cats, dogs, babies, and children.
Fast forward two years later. I was, as my dear twenty-something male cousin once called me, a “Facebook whore”. Not in a scandalous, I’m posting duckface selfies of myself in a low-cut shirt at the bar sort of way, but in a “Look at every picture I’ve ever taken of my daughter!” and “I’m making grass-fed beef stew today with organic carrots we planted in our garden!” kind of exibitionism. Some of my acquaintances quietly unfriended me. Others probably took me out of their news feed. I knew I had become “that mom”, but I couldn’t help myself. I mean, I’m just so lucky to have MFP, I need to document EVERY.WAKING.MOMENT of her life! But FB hadn’t just become my online baby book- it was also a place to share recipes, promote social causes, tease friends, crack jokes, keep in touch with family and friends around the globe, reconnect with old friends, stay on top of the news, meet like minded people (shout out to my FF Moms and Perfect Health Diet peeps)…
But MM was complaining- and loudly. If all the laundry wasn’t folded or dinner hastily made, in his mind, it was the fault of FB. And even though my time on FB usually consisted of idle minutes stolen here and there, like while waiting in line at Costco, and didn’t interfere in my “duties” as a SAHM, to MM, it was the root of all evil. But his complaints weren’t enough to make me stop. He was being unreasonable, of course (ahem…), just looking for something to moan about at the end of a long, stressful workday.
Until one day, after a Bitstrip frenzy, I realized that I had been reduced to a FB cartoon, no longer sharing anything of real meaning, but just looking for a laugh. I was one click away from posting this beauty.
Potty humor. I had stooped to jokes about lactose intolerance. Mortifying. Yes, I realize I’m sharing it on my blog. But it illustrates my point.
[For the record, I still love Bitstrip and consider it a nice supplement to my FB status updates. It’s fun, it’s cute, and I can give myself an instant boob job.]
But enough was enough. I needed to purge. I would take a one week FB break to examine the impact on my daily life. I didn’t tell MM about it. I wanted him to see if it made even a bit of a difference to our homelife. Would there be a gourmet dinner waiting for him every night? Would the laundry baskets be perpetually empty and dishes always put away? Would I find the time to teach MFP Latin? Would I suddenly obtain the energy, motivation and childcare to become a gym rat?
Not quite. Here is a neat, tidy summary of my week. Minutia of daily chore routine and most of MFP’s weekly scheduled activities excluded to prevent reader boredom and stalker activity.
Day before my purge: Sense of apprehension that I’d become socially isolated. Quickly inform friends of plan, pass out cell phone number, and plan usual play dates and activities.
Day 1 of FB fast: Sense of freedom. No longer tied to my smartphone, I enjoy a sunny fall day at the park with MFP. We did not get there any earlier than we normally do, but I wasn’t “that mom” checking my cell while kid is precariously hanging from the monkey bars or accepting candy from strangers. Hike around the lake. Come home and start texting friend from Las Vegas. She tells me about Snapchat. We start sending silly photos back and forth. Note to self: Next time, take break from all technology. Leftovers for dinner. Put kid to bed, finish chore, work on sleep consultation, start Jane Austen novel. Fall asleep an hour earlier than normal.
Day 2: Starting to feel withdrawal. Are friends who know of my fast posting ridiculous things on my wall to test me? “Hey, let’s post a picture of her wearing her Coke bottle glasses in 7th grade and see if she bites!” Start to find myself wandering in circles by the laptop. Occasionally visit Pinterest. Make organic, crock pot beef stew for dinner. More Jane Austen at night. Fall asleep early. Laundry left unfolded.
Day 3: Withdrawal symptoms continue. Remember that the only Latin I ever learned was Pig Latin. MFP is out of luck. Send out a few emails to friends. Pilates in morning. Delighted when an good friend, with whom I normally chat on FB, calls me and we have a wonderful conversation, only interrupted four times by MFP whining about wanting more tiny gluten bombs (a.k.a. Annie’s Bunny Grahams) and a cartoon. Grass-fed beef hot dogs and frozen veggies for dinner. Chores completed. Email clients. More Jane Austen before bed.
Day 4: Spend two hours working on research for future book while MFP is at pre-k. When MM blames the prior night’s hot dog dinner on FB, I triumphantly exclaim, “So not true, dear husband! I have been off FB since late Sunday night!” He tells me that the shabby dinner I served, despite not spending time on FB, is nothing of which to brag. I inform him if he continues with his diatribe, I will serve him hot dogs every night. He ceases to discuss meal preparation. Salmon, potatoes, and roasted organic vegetables for dinner. Spend late evening (after MFP is in bed) with MM discussing business. Jane Austen. Dishes left in sink.
Day 5: Vegas friend sends a Snapchat photo of her FB wall to taunt me and asks if she’s broken my fast? MFP and I attend a play date at a dear friend’s house and for once I have news for her that she hasn’t already seen on FB. Roasted cabbage, pastured chicken, potatoes, and salad for dinner. Client emails and read more Jane before bed.
Day 6: Getting used to not having FB but eager for my fast to be over. Lovely afternoon spent with family and being “productive”. Take-out for dinner. Quality time with MM in evening after MFP is in bed. Chores done.
Day 7: Woo hoo! Almost time to get back to my FB friends! Outing with MFP in morning, followed by “me time”, during which I took a long walk. Some sort of protein (from the Farmer’s market), veggie, and starch for dinner but for the life of me, can’t remember what since I forgot to write it down. More Jane Austen before bed.
What did I learn from my Facebook fast?
1. For me, FB fills those otherwise dull moments during the day. Unless I proactively think of ways to fill those moments with something more enlightening (such as mediation or admiring a crisp fall day), I’ll just find other “stuff” to fill those moments, like text messaging, Pinterest, or eating gelato.
2. My productivity did not go up because I already have a busy, highly scheduled day and don’t want to spend my free moments doing more housework.
3. If I want to work out more, I’ll need to build more activity into my routine. I manage to get to Pilates weekly, but power walks depend upon whether I can wrestle MFP into a stroller.
4. If MFP is going to learn Latin, I’ll need a Latin teacher. 😉
5. FB helps me stay connected to out-of-state friends and family that I would otherwise not be able to “see” or “talk” to on a regular basis.
6. It might be nice for me to start being more selective about my status updates instead of plastering my FB wall daily.
7. Barely anyone noticed I was gone, but some had wondered why I hadn’t “liked” or commented on their family photos, signed their petitions against Monsanto, or shared any good hypochondriac worthy articles lately.
So what did I do this week, my week back on FB? I posted two pictures and a video of MFP, a Snoopy cartoon, a recall of E.Coli tainted produce, a home remedy for migraines, and a list of “8 things that you may or may not have known about me” (see below) that I was informed I had to do because I had “liked” someone else’s list.
My eight things (just in case you were curious)…
1. At age 28 I got my navel pierced and only took it out at age 35 when I was 5 or 6 months pregnant with MFP.
2. My real first name is Josephine. My mom wanted it to be Claudia but my dad filled out the birth certificate and put “Claudia” as my middle name. My 8th grade English teacher tortured me by singing, “Josie and the Pussycats” to me.
3. I love pizza with anchovies and capers. In Italy, this combo is known as Pizza Napoletana.
4. I had a crush on Alton Brown from the Food Network for many years, until he got so skinny that he started to look a little sickly. MM thinks that is gross.
5. I want to be a published author by the time I’m 40.
6. In my will, I have specified that my body should be cremated and my remains scattered over the Island of Capri. I also want a smidgen tossed in my home state and a bit at the Vatican.
7. I’m afraid of eternity. It seems like a long time.
8. If I could live anywhere, I’d live at the beach.
Um, I’m still working on that whole “being selective” thing.