Monday, April 11, 2011

Finding HAPPY

After speaking out of town this past weekend  - and nearly 6 hours worth of flight delays yesterday - I woke up this morning wanting to do two things and only two things:

1) mop my kitchen floor
2) make a simmer-all-day marinara sauce from scratch

Now, both things are very "me." I'm slightly obsessive about the cleanliness of my kitchen floor. The rest of the house?  Well, let's just say notsomuch.  But my kitchen floor has to be clean or all is not right in my world.

I also like to cook. I haven't always liked to cook. I've grown into it.  Or I'm growing into it - I think I still have a way to go. (Actually, I made the decision to grow into it more than I just organically grew into it.) I am still not, however, the type who wants to spend her entire day making one meal.  Until this morning. This morning, it was all I cared about.

I should have known that strong urge to cook and nest was the beginning of a tidal wave of estrogen that would hit me full force by lunch time. By lunch time I couldn't remember anything, including why I wanted to cry.  You had those days? Please tell me you do. It's annoying!  And exhausting.

I did mop the floor but I couldn't make the marinara because I had an article due this morning and a meeting with my co-author to prep for this afternoon.  Oh, and my taxes to finish - that's probably what made me want to cry.

I didn't get home from my afternoon meeting until 5:00.  Not enough time for homemade marinara.  But still I just wanted to turn on music and cook.  So that's what I did.

I sauteed an onion in olive oil.  Then added some garlic. Then added some chicken breast, browning both sides. Then I transferred all of that to a 9 x 13 baking dish.  I deglazed the pan with a mixture of 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar.  I brought it to a boil and then simmered it awhile.  Adding half a jar of sun dried tomatoes at the end before pouring it over the chicken and onions.  I covered with foil and baked at 350 for 20 minutes.

I loved it.  Rick really loved it. Caleb tolerated it well enough.  And my pickiest eater, Alaina, loved the chicken - even had seconds (although she didn't eat much of the onions or tomatoes).  The extra sauce with the balsamic and veggies made for terrific dipping or bruchetta topping on the sour dough bread I served with it. Plus, a side salad with a few of the spinach leaves I grew on my window sill.

Finally, I am a happy woman today. (Though there could still be a 20% chance of irrational tears.)

Today really wasn't about the eating so much as about the cooking.  I just needed to chop and saute, combine and stir, and then taste the results.

It pays to know what will reliably make you feel happy. And to be able to make that happen. And if you can't make what will make you happy happen, it pays to learn to be made happy with what you can make happen.

I hope that makes sense.


  1. I like your HAPPY post. And your recipe...I'll have to try it. Thanks for the happy reminder, though. I think, as Christians, we get so hung up on cultivating JOY that we feel like happy is superficial. But, God gave us emotions and happy counts. I wish I got happy from a clean kitchen floor, I would probably make sure that happened more often.

  2. Your HAPPY made me smile. I found my happy yesterday evening when we were at the last meeting in the preparation for my eldest sons graduation (we homeschool, so we have spent the last year with a group of parents and kids preparing for May 13th). Seeing my son making sure we have everything in, all "t"'s crossed and "i"'s dotted. It was my happy and my sad all at the same time. Last night after we got home, he tried on his cap and gown. I wanted to cry, but it was the good kind of cry. The cry of the accomplishment I have as a mother, and the accomplishment he has had for the man he is becoming. He has come so far, and still has a lifetime to go. God truely blessed us with this one!

  3. Posted your last comment to my Facebook status!! Too true.


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