Monday, January 5, 2009

Starting off on the right foot (and not knowing where to start)

Happy new year! I'm a few days late with this post, but the sentiment remains: a new year, and hopefully a fresh start? As you might have guessed, one of my resolutions is to blog more regularly (and hopefully more frequently), but I'm off to a slow start. I haven't even gotten around to the aforementioned site redesign!

The reason, however, is sound--at least if you ask me (and the Suitor). For the last week, from 10am last Monday morning to 10pm last night, I've been spending nearly every waking moment and thought making our house a nicer place to live. The overhaul was long overdue: the house was overrun with piles of mail, clothing, miscellaneous paper, books, and unidentified junk. It was embarrassing, not to mention a source of stress and anxiety for both the Suitor and myself. We not only weren't organized, we had so much stuff that we couldn't possibly become organized.

And so, the purge. I am a pack rat by nature, but this week I tapped into an alien ruthlessness. Clothing was flung unceremoniously from my dresser and closet (and then folded neatly and placed in bags for donation). Mementos from my study abroad and subsequent whirlwind tour of Europe, which I always meant to collect in a scrapbook but haven't thought about or looked at in years, were thrown out. The only classes of items that were immune to my purging fervor were books, cds, and dvds. (Even so, there are a couple of cds that I'm considering tossing into a donation bag.)

One week, one full-station-wagon load to the dump, two full-station-wagon loads to Goodwill, two trips to Fry's, three trips to Office Depot, six or seven trips to Ikea (three of them in one day, if you can believe it), and countless loads of laundry later, our house is clean, clutter-free, and organized. A place for everything, and everything in its place. I can't think of a more satisfying way to start off the new year than making one's house a better home.

Meanwhile, my CSA is taking a few weeks' break for the holidays, and I am at loose ends. At first, I didn't notice the difference. We spent some time in the snowy Midwest with the Suitor's family, and as I mentioned above, ever since we got back we've been waging war on entropy (leaving me with no time or energy to cook). Now that I'm back in my own kitchen and back to having time to cook, I feel lost. For the last several months my meal planning has been guided almost exclusively by the "What's in the box this week!" section of my weekly farm newsletter. I hadn't realized until a few days ago just how much I've come to rely on my box's contents to tell me what I'm cooking and eating. I'm looking at my blank meal schedule, my blank "what's arriving this week" list, and the refrigerator's nearly-empty vegetable drawer... and drawing a blank. What do I want to eat this week? I have no idea!

I've found some delicious-looking recipes in the latest issues of Bon Appetit and Eating Well, but my menu still lacks direction, and I'm having trouble coming up with a coherent (let alone efficient) sequence of meals. Fortunately the box fairy returns a week from Wednesday, so I only have another week or so of being lost in the boxless wilderness. I'm sure I could re-acclimate to this strange flexibility, but for now, I feel uneasy buying vegetables at the grocery store. I'm looking forward to the arrival of next week's farm newsletter and a return to farm-dictated meal planning.


Bee said...

I hope that the Ikea is near to you! Honestly, your household purge sounds like one of the very best ways to begin the new year. The website, although it will be appreciated and looked forward to, can wait.

I found your comments about the organic box interesting. Our box has been suspended, too -- mostly because we were away -- and I have not missed it. I don't think our box is nearly as good as yours, for one thing, but I've never managed to get into the swing of letting the box's contents dictate my cooking. We've always had an excess of carrots, for instance -- or a cabbage/eggplant/squash that never got used. I still have to supplement with fruit -- as we don't get much of it. Anyway, I've been thinking about cancelling it altogether. Best intentions or not, sometimes it is difficult to get back into the swing of a new year! (We aren't really back to normal until next week, when my oldest daughter goes back to school. Are you back at work yet?)

Anne said...

The Ikea is close by, maybe a 15-minute drive. A mixed blessing: it's not a big deal if I realize that I've bought the wrong item or that something isn't going to work out, but I think that the prospect of a longer trek would make me more careful about when I go and what I do or don't buy.

Pity that you're not satisfied with your box--the fruit is usually my favorite part. I sometimes wind up with excess box contents, too. The carrots are good for soups if you're making those; I also like to peel and cut them up for snacking at work, which takes care of them in a few days. Do your girls like carrots in their lunches? I'm no help with cabbage, or certain kinds of squash (acorn--blech! bad childhood memories), but I'm really starting to enjoy butternut squash.

I wonder if what you say about it being difficult to get back into the swing of a new year is part of my meal planning problem: I haven't done much cooking in weeks, so maybe I'm just out of practice with the planning! There's hope yet...

I am back at work. Sigh. I wish I had a few more days to relax and enjoy my clean house! What with going to Iowa and the war on entropy, the number of hours I've spent relaxing since my last day at work before Christmas can probably be counted on one hand, two at the most. It seems too soon to be back to the hustle and bustle of the work week.