Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m really looking for some support on this.  Does anyone else dread the office potluck? 

Here are my concerns.  First, I have to make something that other people will enjoy.  Everyone knows that I do a lot of from scratch cooking so there’s a certain expectation that I will make something really good.  There’s a high probability that I could make something really good, if I wasn’t doing it after working a ten hour day.  My skills and level of creativity dwindle with each passing hour of the day.

Even if I make something I’ve made dozens of times, it sometimes doesn’t turn out right.  Once I attempted an apple pie.  In my lifetime, I have made a lot of pie crusts and they’ve turned out great, however, on this occasion I could not get the dough to roll out properly.  I ended up making two double crust recipes just to have enough bits of usable dough to make the thing.   It tasted good, but it was not my best work.

In addition, there’s the concern that people won’t care for what I’ve prepared, or they’ll find an egg or nut shell or something unsavory in my offering.  There’s also the slightest bit of fear and trepidation that I might cause some type of food poisoning that will send everyone to the emergency room.

Assuming that I’ve somehow managed to make something that is edible and somewhat visually appealing, then there’s the challenge of transporting my creation to work.  There’s a lingering aroma of crockpot cabbage rolls in my car from the last potluck, a direct result of taking a curve too quickly on my commute and having some spillover. 

Lastly, I’ve been trying really hard to use up things in my pantry and avoid going to the grocery store, which makes it very challenging to come up with something delicious.  Here’s what I came up with for tomorrow.  Yeah, I know.  Okay, maybe it doesn’t really look like a turkey – I may need to just add more ketchup in the morning.


The other side of the coin is partaking in that which others have brought to the potluck.  Sometimes it’s very awkward when I can’t actually tell what something is.  Or that moment when someone urges me to try their dish and when I do, it’s something I don’t care for and there’s no way to gracefully spit it out and I have to finish it.  When I end up tossing something, I feel terrible about it.  There are also certain processed foods that I just can’t make myself eat, and I feel guilty that I’m unwilling to eat something that someone took the time and energy to prepare.  And again, there’s the slightest bit of fear and trepidation that I might eat something that gives me food poisoning and sends me to the emergency room. 

Even though I’ve prepped my meatloaf, I still need to make sure I get up on time to cook it before I go to work, sample it to make sure it’s edible, transport it safely without harming myself or my car, and get it inside the building to the snacking area.  No doubt it will all be fine, but I will be glad when the day is done and all I have to do is take my empty dish home. 

So am I all alone here?  Do you share my concerns about the office potluck?  I’d love to hear what you have to say about it!


Distracted Meme

This is the day of the week when I usually share some pictures and a recipe for some culinary delight that I prepared over the weekend.  That did happen, but it wasn’t until I was putting the finishing touches on the meal that I realized I’d completely forgotten to take pictures, even though I intended to do just that. Oops. So I made a fantastic soup that is beautiful and delicious, but you’re going to have to take my word for it since there is no actual visible proof.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now – most of it good, really, really good, but unfortunately, I can’t share any details just yet.  As soon as I can, I will, I promise.  In addition, I’m trying to do budgets and goal setting on top of all the normal stuff that needs to get done every day, plus my full time job, and I’ve promised myself that I would get more rest since I still haven’t adjusted to the time change and I’m waking up around 4:30 every day!

Because there’s so much happening, I’ve made several lists and they are all over the house, on my iPad, my iPhone, my desk, the table, the fridge – all necessary because there’s so much to keep track of.  Whenever I accomplish something, I cross it off the list with a flourish and a huge sense of relief.

Despite all the list making, I’m still feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything on my multiple to do lists.  Apparently, I’m not the only one who is distracted – the other day Hannah came tearing into the kitchen to bring me a tennis ball, but when she realized the fridge door was open and there were tasty leftovers inside, she put her ball on the shelf and sat down and waited.  My patient explanation of why tennis balls don’t go in the fridge fell on deaf ears – I’m sure all she heard was blah, blah, blah. 

The problem with this distractedness is that I’m not really experiencing the moment that I’m in.  I was halfway home tonight when I realized I hadn’t paid the least bit of attention to the road, I was just going with the flow of the other cars.  When I sat down to dinner, I ate a big bite of food before I remembered that I hadn’t yet thanked the one who provided it. 

There’s a book called Be Here Now by Ram Dass.  I admit, I didn’t actually read it because I am apparently not enlightened enough to understand it, but I really like the title – it reminds me that I need to be fully present in the moment and not let myself be swept away by all the distractions.

Hopefully I can dial things down a notch before I become a danger to myself or others, but I’d love to hear your advice on how to keep from being swept away by all of life’s distractions.  Please leave a comment at the top of this post or add a reply on Facebook. 

The Art of Simple, The Non-Consumer Advocate, and Hands Free Mama

Fall Reads

After being out of town this week and spending the day catching up on laundry, errands, and work, my brain has requested a holiday so instead of sharing stuff I’ve been thinking about, I am sharing some of my favorite bloggers. 

All three of these women are interesting, funny, and say things that get me at my core. If you’ve got a few minutes to relax today, I encourage you to check out what they have to say.

Tsh Oxenreider: The Art of Simple

Tsh is the author of Notes from a Blue Bike, One Bite at a Time, andOrganized Simplicity. She also records a podcast called The Simple Show, which was a New & Noteworthy podcast in iTunes.

The Art of Simple has been mentioned on Apartment Therapy, HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, Food Network, CNBC, CNN, NPR, Parents magazine, Real Simple magazine, and more. Tsh is also an advocate for Compassion International, is a contributor at (in)courage, and has spoken at various events around the world. But she’d still rather be snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef with her kids or puttering around her own backyard with a beer in hand.

Katy Wolk-Stanley: The Non-Consumer Advocate

My name is Katy Wolk-Stanley and I am the “Non-Consumer Advocate.” By this I mean that I am here to help people learn to live on less, and to do so in a way that lessens their environmental impact. I define myself not by my purchases, but by my goals and actions. I am a library patron, leftovers technician, Goodwill enthusiast, utility bill scholar, labor and delivery nurse, laundry hanger-upper, mother and citizen.

I don’t buy anything new. I have decided to challenge myself with being part of “The Compact,” which is a movement of people all over the world who are choosing to think outside of the “big box” and buy nothing new. This does not mean that I am filling my house with lots of used stuff, it has mostly meant that I am buying very little at all. I do have a few personal exceptions to the compact though.

I am also an advocate to help people learn to live on as little income as possible. Whether this means being able to sock away massive savings, or simply to have the freedom to work in a fulfilling but low paying  job. By making a choice to live this way, I have been able to work only part time for years as a labor and delivery RN, even when my husband was in school full time.

Since starting with “The Compact” in January 2007 I have worked very hard to de-clutter my house and this has very much helped me see how the mass of objects weighs a person down. Is my house clutter free now? Umm . . . . Not quite, but I no longer spend such a huge amount of time keeping the house up. Having friends and family over (or even houseguests) is no longer the anxiety producing event that it once was.

My journey to live well on less and to not buy new is far from over. I am constantly learning new ways to support my goals. I look forward to sharing my insights and foibles with you. I also look forward to hearing ideas and inspiration from my readers.

Rachel Macy Stafford:  Hands Free Mama

Hello. I’m Rachel. To know me is to know my personal list of what really matters

*My daughters matter. My older daughter is 11. She is my brown-eyed girl with an enormous heart. I learned what matters in life by watching her walk right up to the suffering and extend her hand. “Because when you have the important things in life—like love, faith, and family—there is nothing you own that you can’t give away.” I penned those words by watching my older daughter live. My younger daughter is 8. She is my Noticer. She remembers where I parked the car and often leads me by the hand to the right spot. She notices friends’ new hairstyles and gorgeous sunsets before anyone else. She looks for the child struggling to sharpen his pencil or the one who’s off in the corner alone. She hops right up to offer her assistance. That’s probably what I love most about her noticing gift—she doesn’t just notice things, she notices emotion. Her way of life inspired these words: “We are all just waiting for someone to notice—notice our pain, notice our scars, notice our fear, notice our joy, notice our triumphs, notice our courage. And the one who notices is a rare and beautiful gift.”

 *My husband matters. He provides me with the grace and love that I freely give others, but often neglect to give myself. His love constantly reminds me of the beauty inside me.  I am certain that his love has added an extra ten years to my life.

*Writing matters. My second grade teacher, Ms. Paluska, led me into the world of writing and it has been home to me ever since. Writing for others is my joy. My favorite gift to give someone is a note or a poem that highlights the best qualities about that person. I am humbled (and touched) when someone tells me they have saved every note that I have ever written them.

*Teaching matters. Before I was a mom, I was a teacher to special education students. I can still remember all their names and wish I could see how each one turned out. I love sharing information in creative and inspiring ways to those who want to receive it.

*Encouraging others matters, probably because so many people have encouraged me in my life. I remember the name of every person who encouraged me to publish my works so that as many people as possible could read my words.

*Recognizing angels matters. I strive to notice the angels that come into my life when I need them, and then later telling them about it. Every single day, I want to be somebody’s angel.

*Faith matters. I have faith that there is plan for my life. In this case, I believe that God chose me to have a revelation about how I want to spend my days here on this earth.  And it is because of my faith that I understand why God chose me. I was chosen to tell this story because of what really matters to me. Being a mother, a wife, a writer, a teacher, and an encourager has prepared me to show others how to let go of their own daily distractions and grasp what really matters.  Maybe through this blog, I can even become somebody’s angel.

Which brings me to my last and most recent item that really matters to me…

*Being Hands Free matters.  Before, I was holding on to the wrong things and missing out on life.  Finally, I am holding on to what matters, and it has given my life new meaning. Come on and join me; grasp what really matters to you and then start living.