Courtesy; Fancypants

This sounds like common sense, I know but we can all use the reminder. My Need. Want. Crave. posts are my own attempt to slow down and ask myself on a regular basis what I am really needing on a very regular basis and hopefully it inspires you to do the same, even if you aren’t needing or wanting ice cream in your coffee (who DOES that?) or crazy (awesome) house slippers.

Not that we judge those who do, thankyouverymuch.

So I noticed in the crazy busy flurry of last week; family, holiday and holiday-related events, that I was not pushing as hard as I normally do and that as a result, the things I chose to do were mindful, thought out and well enjoyed.

A while ago, we talked about How Many “Tabs” we are keeping open at any given time in our minds and how a little planning helps us focus on what we need to and keeps away all of those distracting, downer feelings of being overwhelmed.

Having a plan, even a loose one, for the big things in life and the small, does wonders for empowering yourself and combating stress.

I thought ahead about how much time I have, my level of commitment and level of fussiness (check out my Potluck Finest post for tips!) that I was willing to put into cooking and event planning and I came up with a plan. Friends, darlings, I am so happy to report that it helped me SO MUCH not to cry or lash out at those I love. In fact, for one family event, I won the cocktail contest AND I went in with 5 pounds of pulled pork and left with none. It was a “Tapas Party” (because it’s now a cocktail potluck.) At lunchtime. Every year. Tapas are fabulous, but I promise you; a cheese and charcuterie plate at lunchtime, mixed with vast amounts of wine, only makes my family hangry and after last year, Hubbs refused to come again unless there was “real food.” I cannot tell you how happy it made everyone for there to be real food there. There was dancing. You know the kind.

I planned effortless dishes and drinks that required next to no supervision. As a result, I was able to relax.

I did karaoke.

And that is all I have to say about that.

There is NO WAY on Earth that we can stop the barrage of life from coming at us all at once, but loves, comrades, brothers and sisters, we can plan. Let’s all try! We can have our ducks in a row, we can estimate what is coming at us and we can be that asshole brown-noser from school.

We can brown nose life.

It will not stop all stress or prevent us from being blind sided from time to time, but it will help us to enjoy the present. It will help us to free up time and since Winter is the time to be really gentle with ourselves, we will need that time to focus on ourselves.

Here are my usual “be gentle to myself” suspects:

Dog walks. Every day that I can, no matter the weather. The outdoors and the social interaction are the best ever for clearing the mind. Honestly, if you ever want to practice your networking skills, the dog park is THE place to start.

Acupuncture. Sure, I still tense up when she goes to poke that thin skinned place behind the knee, but I leave feeling great. Those 20 minutes when I am laying there like a pincushion are so refreshing. Not even kidding.

Writing. For you beautiful people and for myself.

Running. Currently trying to fit more of that in my life.

-Finding ways to spend time on my appearance. I would file this under “pride of ownership” and not selfishness. It makes a person feel a bit more confident when you are actively doing things for yourself. I thought it was ridiculous when a friend loaned me a book about maintaining my curls (whole books have been written about this! With chapters!) but you know something? It works. One less thing I have to worry about and it makes me feel pretty.

-A sleep ritual: About an hour before I go to bed, I make myself some tea. I wash my face and brush my teeth, I get comfortable. No electronics in bed, I call up the doggie and I may find something soothing on tv. If there’s nothing on, I may listen to the radio, reading is the magic bullet, though. I read until my eyes close on their own.

Most importantly, if you need this quality time for yourself, don’t make other plans. Tell everyone that you are busy, it’s not always easy but your life will improve as a result.

How do you get life under control?



I feel like when the question is asked “does your family have a weird recipe that always shows up on the Thanksgiving Day spread?” that there are two camps; the “No! What a weird question. How weird can these recipes be? What kinds of bizarre things are showing up at other celebrations?”

And then there is the “Ooooooh, the weirdness” camp.

I would be apart of the second camp because of the Aspic. The tomato aspic.

Like this, only more ugly.

Like this, only more uglier.

As you can see, it’s like a Jell-o but with more “Ooooooooh” and then followed by shudders.

You know in that movie Julie and Julia where Amy Adams is making gelatin out of a calf’s foot and you are sitting there wondering why anyone would ever do such a thing? I wonder that, too. This is what aspics were originally made of. My mom thankfully uses lemon flavored Jell-o.

Sigh. I can’t believe that’s the trade-off here.

-Aaaah, Doughmesstic. You say it so well; Aspic. There’s a Reason No One Makes it Anymore.

No one ever believes that a) it exists until they Google it or b) that such an antiquated recipe would ever make it’s way to the King of Feasts. Surely something so ridiculous is filtered out in the (very) early planning phase?

If only there was a planning phase; Our day is a free-for-all; Folks show up all willie-nillie and plop down their Costco offerings buffet-style, sit…Somewhere and make awkward conversation, usually inspired by the aspic. It’s tradition.

So, no. No planning phase to speak of.

Anyhoo, my mother is a lovely and well-intended woman and yet she horrifies us all with this Aspic and it’s accompanying garlic cream sauce every year because “it’s tradition.” Her mother made it for the sisters and now she makes it for us while we tease her relentlessly and poke at it’s wiggly bits.

She adds tons of olives and doesn’t use a mold so it ends up looking like this:

moms aspic

Courtesy; Fancy Pants

And I end up looking like this very confused and skeptical man:



So I’m dying to know what freaky stuff is on your Turkey Day plate!