Monday, October 17, 2011

Life is getting back to normal!

Okay, life is getting back to normal after having been ill for the past six weeks.  Just when I thought I was feeling better, I was body slammed by the flu bug, landing me right back into bed.  That is all in the past and I am gradually getting back to full strength and able to participate fully in life.  Amen!

Suffice it to say that all things art related were left to gather dust in my studio.  Molly Cat spent more time in there than I did.  But, now that I am up and moving again, studio time is gaining momentum and with any luck, I should be able to make up for the lost time.  I have some fall wreaths in progress with one of them decorating my front door to welcome visitors to my flat.  I have plans to alter it a bit to bring in a bit of a Hallowe'en theme and spice it up just a little.  I know that Hallowe'en is really not celebrated so much, but being the quirky woman that I am, I like to push the envelope and bring a little of the supernatural into daily living.  Enough said!

I am also going full tilt in the production of making greeting cards.  One special batch that is in production right now is some that I am giving to a group who raises funds for breast cancer survivours.  The cards have a holiday theme with a little angel dressed in pink, decorating a sparse little holiday tree with pink ribbons.  This is a design of my own making and I am happy to donate packages of these to the group to sell at a bazaar that they are holding in a few weeks.  Time is the biggest element in the making of the cards, time well spent.  I can totally lose myself when I am making cards and have looked up to find that I have lost all concept of time and that the clock on the wall reads very late into the night or very early in the morning, depending on how you view the actual time.

Whilst I was down with the flu, I spent my time watching movies on my little DVD player along with some old time television programs that have been brought back to life with the new technology.  The hands down favourite of all I watched was "Julie & Julia."  For those who have not seen this movie, it is about a young woman, Julie, who needed to challenge herself and decided to work her way through Julia Child's cookbook on French cooking, recipe by recipe, and to blog about the experience.  Meryl Streep played the part of Julia Child and her performance was amazing and so true to life.

What a wonderful way to challenge yourself!  I was so impressed with Julie's way of approaching each recipe and sharing her ups and downs of the process with the readers of her blog.  Julie told her readers the ups and downs of her methodology and in the end, transformed herself into a true foodie with a great appreciation for the art of cooking and an even greater appreciation of Julia Child.  Cooking is truly an art, but it is one that each of us can master if only we put a little time and thought into what we are preparing.  I spent a few days thinking about this movie and actually watched it three times in one week.  Cooking is the way we express our love to others.  Whilst we eat because it is necessary for us to survive, cooking can be a way of expressing feelings, a way to challenge ourselves to learn new methods of preparing something that we have only ever eaten in one particular way.  It was interesting that in the movie Julie gained a new appreciation of eggs.  She had only ever eaten them when they had been incorporated into a recipe and never on their own.  And so, Julie learned to poach eggs and after hours of practice, she poached the perfect egg and savoured the simple taste of a food that we all take for granted.

Cooking for many of us is something we do, but we do not really enjoy the process.  We think of cooking as being the means to an end.  We are providing nutrition and not really interested in challenging ourselves to try different ways in preparing them.  Finding time to cook is getting more and more difficult with our lives being held hostage by jobs, time spent commuting, finding time to do laundry, tidy up our homes and spend time in a relationship with a significant other.  Consequently, we hang on to the tried and true methods of cooking our meals and do not look for ways to bring in new tastes and keep the prep time to reasonable blocks of time.  Enter Julie Anne Rhodes (@JulieAnneRhodes on Twitter) who can teach us all her Personal Chef Approach to getting meals on the table and having time left to spend doing things we really enjoy.  Julie Anne's approach is to make several meals in the course of a few hours, package up the meals into the appropriate portions and freeze these and bring them out as needed.  To learn more about the PCApproach to preparation and cooking with the bonus of having having healthy meals on the table in minutes each night.

Take a look at Julie Anne's web site, and you will see that she writes a wonderful blog about cooking, life and so many other things.  There is the cyber living room where premium members can connect and talk about problems or successes they are having with their meal prep.  If you decide to join the community, for a nominal monthly fee, you have access to a library of recipes, menus and advice.  What more could you ask for?  This is just like having your own personal chef standing beside you, helping you prepare meals ahead of time and safely storing them to bring out when needed.  You are able to sign up and receive just the weekly menus, but I strongly urge you to sign up as a premium member in order to get the most of your membership.  You can sign up for a trial three month membership and see how it will help you change up your meals, learn how to prepare foods that you may never have tried before and connect with other members who share the same challenges on a daily basis.  Thinking ahead, a trial membership might be just the gift for a special someone this holiday season.  We all have a few people on our gift lists that we can never think of what to buy for them.  What could be better than to give them the gift of time which is what the Personal Chef Approach is all about.  By following this approach, you can take a few hours on the weekend and translate them into meals for the upcoming week.  Take a look at Julie Anne's web site and see how she can help you make meal prep into a time that you actually look forward to and most of all, enjoy.

Watching Julie & Julia made me think a lot about Julie Anne's approach to cooking, but most of all the enjoyment in making real meals that are healthy and taste amazing.  I have been following her approach for a few months now and knowing that dinner is only a matter of minutes away from being on the table frees me up to spend more time in the studio.  The approach really made sense when I was ill for so long.  I had made a huge pot of soup, some meatloaf, and a few other mains which were all stored in my freezer prior to becoming ill.  Thank goodness I had prepped all these meals and the soup was my main stay over the past few weeks.  I defrosted countless bowls of a hearty vegetable soup, and that along with some toast, was just what I needed to warm my body.  I am planning a morning of cooking and prep for this upcoming week in order to fill up the freezer again.  Every Wednesday, Julie Anne posts a new menu with five mains, side dishes, recipes, cooking and reheating directions and how to package up your meals safely.  She has a grocery list done up for you and other bits of information that you need to make meal prep a breeze.  You have nothing to lose other than the wasted time and money spent on take out meals which never really satisfy you.  Take out a premium membership on a trial basis and use the approach to simplify your life.

Julie followed Julia Child's approach to cooking and gained a whole new appreciation of what had been a daily chore.  Her blog inspired countless others to take on cooking as a challenge and learn to enjoy meal preparation as a way of expressing love to their family and friends.  Julie Anne's approach simplifies meal prep and in a few hours, make meals for a week leaving you time to spend with your family and friends.  Involving your family in the meal prep is such a great way of teaching life skills, a way to connect with each other and so much more.  For the single people in the community, think of getting a few friends together and spend a morning cooking together with everyone taking home a week's worth of meals.  However you use the approach, it's a win/win situation.  You will save time, money, and eat healthy meals.

So, that is how my week played out last week.  A little art, some cooking, and some time spent enjoying movies.  This week, I plan to spend more time in the studio, but I also plan to devote one or two mornings to cleaning out the fridge and refilling it with lots of nibbles.  I hope you take the time to wander over to Julie Anne's web site and see what it has to offer you.  With the holiday season coming up, you will be in good hands and have a personal chef helping you navigate through family dinners, both casual and formal.  The best part of it all will be that you will have the time to enjoy the family gatherings because you will not be tied to your kitchen, you will be the hostess enjoying the pre dinner chatter with your guests or just be able to sit down with a cup of tea and catch up with your own family about what happened during their day.

Well, I am heading into the kitchen to make a cup of tea before heading off to bed.  I will be in the studio for most of the day on Monday prepping cards for the holidays, making some more autumn wreaths and hopefully get a few holiday decorations made.  It is a welcome thought that I have enough energy to do the things I enjoy.

Wishing you a healthy week!   Rutheemac

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