Good Sunday to everyone!
I love Sunday! For some reason, I seem to get more done on that day than I do on any other day. I try not to sleep beyond 8 a.m. if possible and get up to prep meals for the week ahead and whilst everything is in the oven, crock pot or whatever kitchen gear that I might be using, I head into my studio. Julie Anne Rhodes (@JulieAnneRhodes) has me hooked on her personal chef approach to meal preparation. This plan rocks and gets me working for a couple of hours on prep work and end up with dinner ready for later in the day and entrees to freeze for subsequent meals. Right now I have a soup bubbling away in the crock pot, a whole chicken ready to roast a little later along with a tray of meatballs to go in the oven with the chicken. I package everything up in meal sized containers after they are fully cooked and cooled, then off they go into the freezer. I do this every couple of weeks and end up with a balanced meal that I might not normally put together if left to cooking a full meal each day. When you live alone, I find that you lose the motivation to cook real meals for yourself. That is so wrong! Even if you live alone, you still deserve to have a good meal to look forward to and a healthy one at that.
Julie Anne is a personal chef in California, U.S.A. and cooks up meals for her customers so that they can pull out the prepared entrees and just reheat. The instructions are provided for the clients and Julie Anne meets with them for a consultation about their food preferences, allergies, any foods that they do not especially like and so on. From there, she develops a menu personalized to that particular client, cooks up her amazing food, packages it up and voila, a weeks worth of food is ready. Imagine being able to go to your fridge and pull out the containers for the evening meal, heating up the food and sitting down to a family dinner. That is such a nice thought to me and many others. So, Julie Anne has started up a new web site that includes her blog and so much more.
If you sign up for a membership at http://julieannerhodes.com/, you get access to a week of menus which change each Wednesday so that you can get the ingredients you require and take some time on the weekend or whatever day you choose to do your prep work for the recipes you plan to make. The web site also includes other recipes such as the Bright Eye Muffins that I plan to make this evening and freeze. I love being able to go to the freezer and pull out a single muffin to take with me when I am out for an afternoon of appointments. That along with a frozen juice box is handy to have when you are waiting for a doctor's appointment that always seems to be delayed. Vending machines are expensive and usually do not have a healthy choice amongst their contents and what selection of goodies contained within generally costs an outrageous amount of money without the benefit of even being remotely healthy. I am so happy with this new approach to getting meals on the table. I am eating better, including meat and some vegetables that I might not normally consider. I do not have to do anything major to make a meal each day since I have an assortment of single meals all packaged up in my freezer. Just by spending a couple of hours on Sunday morning and chopping everything I need in one go, I can multi task and have soup bubbling away with other entrees cooking in the oven. This is getting the most out of your time and surely is the best way to plan your meals for the week or for me, even longer. Julie Anne has me hooked on her personal chef approach and I owe her big time for making me realize that I am worth the effort to put a good meal on the table. Even single gals need to eat and should make healthy meal choices. Check out her web site and join in on the chatter about recipes, learn about meal planning and read her wonderful chatty blog that keeps you up to date on Julie Anne's adventures. This is a blog and web site that you do not want to miss!
Sunday is also a day when I seem to have more clarity with regards to my artistic pursuits. I can spend hours in my studio puttering with paints, collages and reading about some techniques that I want to attempt. Right now I find myself mesmerized by some amazing Japanese papers and am playing with them to see what I can create using them. Right now, I am impatiently waiting for a small shipment of special papers to arrive. In this little package is a special paper, etchu hagaki. This is a thicker Japanese paper that is the required medium for an exhibition that I plan to participate in later this summer. It is wonderful to have enough time to develop an idea, experiment and then work my way to the final version. I cannot wait to actually feel the texture of this paper and to be safe, bought a few extra sheets of it to have on hand. I am not sure whether my project will be painted, collagedetchu hagaki. When I have some samples ready on less expensive paper, I will put them up for you to see and maybe get you to tell me which piece you prefer and why it calls out to you.
I have also been playing with other artistic ideas. For some reason, I love coloured pencils and have a collection that is truly varied and encompasses the spectrum of colours. Coloured pencils can be inexpensive like the ones most of us used in our school day projects or once you get your hands on some of the better pencils, you get hooked on the creamy flow of the artist quality ones. Prismacolour and Derwent are the tools of choice when coloured pencils capture my attention. It is so easy to put a grab and go bag together along with a sketch book and off I head to the mall for a cup of coffee and some time playing and working on new ideas. It may sound a little strange for a grown woman to be entranced by her coloured pencils, but I am not really concerned with what others may think. Coloured pencils are a legitimate tool in the art world and there even exists a society devoted to art work done in this medium. I have found out that the colours can be blended nicely, either with the pens made especially for this or, if you are on a budget like me, just use a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab and run it over the area that you are working on. It is an inexpensive way to get the same effect. The nice part about working with coloured pencils is that you can mix the brands you use. Sometimes you find colours amongst the cheaper pencils that work nicely in a piece where you have been using the more expensive counterparts. Never think that you have to start off with the best quality when you are starting out with any medium. You can work your way up to artist quality over a period of time and add to your collection gradually. It has taken me a few years to put together my collection and coloured pencils last for a long time so you do not have to get replacements as often as you would when using tubes of paint. Economical and effective, what more could you ask for?
I have not been making greeting cards for a while and feel an urge to devote a morning or two this week to making up an assortment of them to have in reserve for unexpected birthdays or any other occasion that might require me to send a greeting. E-cards are convenient and can be sent so quickly when you hear of a last minute occasion that necessitates a greeting. But, I like to make a card that reflects what I see in the recipient, uses colours that they enjoy and is truly personalized. I find it sad that so many people do not send greetings or even just a well written note through the mail. To me, a card or letter is such a treat to receive and I usually save them in a special box set aside for special memories. I will pull out cards that I have received and read them again, feel the texture of the card stock and feel the same delight that I felt when I opened my mail box to find this particular greeting. So, in order to encourage family and friends to embrace something from days gone by, I send greeting cards fairly often, sometimes just to tell someone that I have been thinking about them and inviting them over for tea. Yes, I think this is the week to make a box of greetings to have on hand. I can use up all sorts of scraps of paper along with paint, rubber stamps, coloured pencil and maybe a few small embellishments to add another element of design. It is so satisfying to sit back and see that I am prepared for any occasion or no occasion at all. I am predicting that card making may take up a significant amount of time this week. At least until the Japanese paper arrives and my attention wanders over to prep work for the exhibition piece. My attention span is easily swayed by the prospect of working with another type of paper or a complete turn to a different project.
I hope you have found some time to work on something that appeals to you. Try to find that time in your day to just dream and then capture those dreams in a sketch, a painting or even a greeting card. There is something satisfying about making a dream into an actual piece of art. So often we forget about taking time to do something we enjoy whether it is making art, baking some cookies or a cake just because we enjoy doing these things. We focus, with great concentration, on getting projects from the office completed, rushing to get to appointments, making the most of our time doing all the chores that life requires of us. But, should we not devote some time to doing something just because we enjoy the process and even more, the results? Setting aside time to work on our dreams, to make them into reality is important, just as important as it is to set up any schedule that keeps us in sync with the requirements of daily life. Please do something this week just because it interests you or is something that you have put aside because life has taken up too much of our personal pursuits. You will feel refreshed and ready to tackle balancing the cheque book and just might find yourself looking at some of the many things you think must be done and re-evaluating how necessary they are in your life. You just might find yourself setting aside some time each week to get back into your studio, making a library run or just kicking back with a cup of your favourite beverage on your patio watching a spectacular sunset. Now, that is living life the way it is meant to be lived.
Have a wonderful week! I would love to hear what you are doing to make your life more an expression of who you are underneath the business suits, business casual attire or uniform.