Positive Change and My New Food Project

For those more astute readers, you may have noticed that a) I was talking about wedding planning a lot and b) I’ve been mysteriously quiet for the past month. That’s right- my cat went missing. Oh and I got married and went on my honeymoon.

The missing cat timing was just dreadful. Everyone was asking how excited I was for my wedding (in a week’s time!) but all I could think about was my little furry baby lost or hurt or trapped somewhere and slowly starving to death. We were out every evening, every hour of the weekend, calling for him, searching, posting up flyers with a reward, knocking on neighbours doors for streets around the house, all the time with a horrible lump in our stomachs made of grief and anxiety. We received several calls, all for the wrong cats, until on the 8th day- a break through! Our cat had been see behind our house, crippled and thin. It was him. My then fiance dashed around with the cat basket whilst our other cat took a short cut through the garden and beat him there. Several trips to the vet and a few thousand pounds later, our little cat is home recovering in a borrowed dog cage with pins in his leg, his displaced hip re-aligned, just in time for us to go away for the wedding. Poor little thing. A few weeks later, he’s fleshed out a lot and keen to get outside, not that he’s allowed- doctor’s orders.

So that was the Wednesday that we got him back from the vets. On the Thursday I finished work and we went out for dinner, just the two of us. Friday morning came and we were off for our long-anticipated wedding weekend of fun, a massive weight off our chests for being reunited with our pet.

Anyway, I may write separately about the wedding itself but my main purpose for writing today was to put some plans in motion. This blog was always about motivating myself to Do rather than just think about and plan things. Life is for living and trying something new, even if it does not work out.

My last post was about selling used items on eBay. Well, post honeymoon, I have now set up an account, photographed my starting items, waited patiently on hold for the lady at eBay to verify my account (apparently my name had changed- duh!) and started selling. Or rather, as soon as anyone buys anything I will have started selling. I have had an offer but I’ve decided to hold out for more- testing the water. It feels good to be following through on plans and hopefully it’s something I can do more.

Recently I have been feeling a little frustrated with my lack of career. It’s a reoccurring stress that rears its head every year or so when I recognise that my career is still not going anywhere and I’m just that bit closer to wanting to have kids, which means that afterwards I’d have to start from scratch rather than rejoining an amazing job. It’s a pain and a worry and my (now) husband gets sad when I’m upset about it. He loves teaching and it’s a shame I haven’t yet found something I love to do.

But several things are helping me. I started writing this blog because of something I read the last time I was stressing about this. ‘Your passion is the thing you do when you’re not working.’ I read that when I was frantically searching for ways to discover your work passion. As if the internet could tell me that. It was suddenly obvious. I like to write, I like to plan things, ideally carry through those plans, I like to go on Pinterest and cook and watch movies. Okay, those aren’t hugely money-making habits but the writing has been very enjoyable and motivational to start with.

Every morning I start my day with a cereal and some Gilmore Girls. I don’t drink coffee and they are the TV equivalent of coffee to wake me up in the mornings. Everyone in that show is incredibly well read. They have references up the wazoo. It got me thinking, because I used to love reading, to the extent that every waking hour, eating, on the bus, under the table in class, was spent reading a book. Now I have a shorter attention span, but why can’t I try to get that passion back in my life.

I went to the Oxfam second hand book shop and treated myself to 4 books for £10. That’s total. Second hand books are a bargain. The first one I’ve read was Tina Fey’s ‘Bossypants’. I loved it. She’s such a funny writer and it was so easy to read. Plus, being a working (her butt off) parent, she inspired me to think differently. So I can’t afford childcare- does that mean I can’t try to work? I just need to open my mind to new ideas. Yes she had a nanny to help her, but she worked crazy hours and was still offering childcare advise that made sense. What a goddess!

So I started thinking, what other opportunities do I have if I can’t get more from my day job? Well, my dad is trying to set up a business- I can help with that. I’ve made him a simple free website to clarify his ideas and he’s now invited me to a meeting with some potential partners, (better buy some new smart trousers!) I’ve also offered to plan events and tournaments for the wargaming club my husband goes to. It’s not like they would pay me, but it’s something to say I’ve done.

Also, I watched Julie and Julia last night, because I heart Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. They were fantastic and considering I wasn’t familiar with Julia Childs as a cook, I was in love with the concept and totally inspired to get back in the kitchen. My husband was claiming not to be watching but asked me to pause it when he went to make a cup of tea so draw your own conclusions. Afterwards he turned to me, “you like to cook. You like to blog. Why don’t you blog your way through a cookbook like Amy Adams?” My response was a scoff I’m afraid. I love cooking but I can’t stick to a recipe to save my life, even if I wrote it.

I love to experiment, to try new things. And that’s when my brain presented a new proposition. Could I go a year without repeating any dinners? I have over 100 pages of my cookbook, many with several receipes on a page, and tonnes of inspiration on Pinterest to go through after that. Are there enough different ways of making things that I could go 365 days with my limited skills and patience (I won’t be de-boning a duck or boiling a lobster) and still make a different meal every night?

Part of me loved it straight away. That would show people who cook the same 7 meals each week, regular as clockwork. Sure it’s simpler, but look what you’re missing out on! And even when we eat out, we’d have to pick carefully. If you’ve already had lasagna this year, you can’t order it again. It would make us try lots of new things.

Part of me fretted. That’s a lot of pressure to put myself under. What if there comes a time when I’m just too busy to make more than something basic? A year is a long time to commit to.

But I think I’m going to go for it. I’ll get organised first of course, you know me. I’ll make a list of 370 meals (5 spare, just in case) then split them into seasonal (soup) or quick and basic for when I need them. Then I’ll do what I normally do and plan a week or two in advance for the food shop and to ensure we get a varied diet whilst minimising food wastage, but from that list of meals. Hopefully I’ll be able to write about it at least once a week and post photos.

They won’t be super fancy and I bet some of them will be rubbish, but it’ll widen my horizons and it will be a challenge to talk about if I can complete it. My husband asked the obvious question- what counts as a ‘different’ meal? I think I’m going to have to judge that myself when I make my list. I can make at least 5 types of lasagna, e.g. normal, veggie, chilli, pepper and feta, etc etc. so I don’t want to limit that, but I also can’t just make sausage and mash and change the sausage flavour, and add mustard to the mash and call it another meal.

If you are prepared to follow me, say “Aye!”

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