Like many people, I'm guessing, when I worked full time I was often too tired or dispirited to spend hours in the kitchen when I got home. It was easier - and cheaper - to buy pre-prepared food and bung it in the oven or microwave than prepare my own meals, and I have to admit that over the last few years we haven't eaten that well in my household.
Well, lately, that's all changed! It started when the Silver Fox started watching Tasty videos on YouTube, like this Easy Chicken Alfredo Penne:
He keep nudging me and saying, "Wow, look at this one!" and showing me easy one-pot recipes that mostly didn't include thousands of ingredients but that were made from scratch rather than bought in a packet. We tried a few - and that started off a new interest in cooking I had never expected existed in us!
The interest was exacerbated by watching various TV shows such as Chef's Table (which is brilliant), and Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, which is a food/travel show that we just love. We also watched Cooked, and the episode about bread inspired me to have a go at making my own bread, which I haven't done before. I loved kneading the dough, but unfortunately my hands have been a bit achey lately, so I ended up buying a bread machine to knead it for me, and then we put it in loaf tins or into rolls.
Over the past few weeks while the Foxcub has been away, we've made all sorts of pasta, rice, and noodles dishes, and tonight I made some bread dough and we made our own pizzas, including rolling some mozzarella into the rim to make stuffed crust!
They were absolutely amazing, full of flavor, and so much better than the ones we normally have straight from the freezer, which tend to be rather "plasticky".
I'm sure for many people this new adventure with food will seem rather "tame", but it's a real step forward for me to making meals that don't contain hundreds of preservatives but only fresh meat and vegetables.
I've reorganized my kitchen to include a few shelves containing our new jars of herbs, and I've bought a lovely new pot that goes from hob to oven for those lovely and easy one-pot recipes.
One nice thing has been that it's something the two of us have been able to share. We spend time watching programs, looking at recipes, and shopping for ingredients, and then we prepare the food together in the kitchen.
When your kids leave home, it's a strange time (and ours is, hopefully, just temporary!) Suddenly it's just the two of you again, and you have to find new things to enjoy, especially when you're at home together.
Anyway, the pizza was lovely, especially with a glass of Pinot Noir! And I don't feel so bad eating it because I did a 30 minute workout on our treadmill today, so I burnt off a few calories I had to replace!
So I'm starting a new blog - here I am! All fresh and new. If you've ever read any of my other blogs over the years, you'll know I have a habit of starting them, and then my introverted-ness takes over and I end up deleting them, so I can't promise this will still be here in year's time, or even a month's time, come to that.
But I hope it will, because this one is going to be different. It's going to be more of a journal. My happy place, as the title says. It might feature articles about my books, about writing, about romance, and about New Zealand. But I'm also going to talk about other things that are important to me: science fiction and fantasy books and movies, spiritual things like Reiki healing and the Tarot, cookery (a newly discovered delight of mine), travel, and whatever else comes to mind.
These things might not be important to you, but that's okay - I guess the blog is more for me than for anyone else, and that's why I've called this post Me, Myself, and I.
I've been publishing romance novels for five years now, and the biggest lesson I've learned through all the ups and downs is that although it's important to me to please my readers, pleasing myself is the most important thing. I'm learning to write for me, from my heart, and that has been a big step forward for me. And that's why I want to write here about the things I love.
Anyway, today I want to talk about chakras. I bought some beautiful chakra vinyl stickers to go on my window, and here they are! Aren't they gorgeous? (If you're interested, I got them on Etsy.)
I've been trying to do some meditation lately, mainly to try to help me deal with any anxiety and stress (because there's always some floating around, no matter how great your life is!), plus I also do Reiki healing, which focuses on the chakras. I've been searching for a mantra to focus on while meditating - I tried lots of different phrases in both English and Sanskrit, but nothing seemed to feel right.
And so I sat down and thought long and hard about what's happening in my life at the moment, and what's important to me. Firstly, my son is currently travelling in Europe. It was hard to say goodbye to him at the airport and watch him fly away, and to deal with just being a couple again. My husband has recently retired, and I'm now entering a new phase of my life. I'm 48 this year, moving gradually, I suppose, from "mother" to "wise woman" (although the wise bit is highly debatable.)
It came to me that the thing I want to focus on at the moment is Letting Go. I'm a bit of a control freak, the plan being that if I organize as much as I can of my life, there won't be any horrid surprises. But of course it doesn't work that way - life has a habit of throwing you a curve ball when you least expect it, hence the fear and anxiety that plague me and so many of us on a daily basis. But I want to let go of that desire to control, and of my anxiety. I want to let go of my son and let him do his own thing and trust that he'll keep himself safe without having to check on him every five minutes - I don't want to be that sort of mother. I want to let go of the past, and let go of fear.
The Sanskrit word for release or liberate is Moksha, so this has become my new mantra. I bought some mala beads to count while I meditate on this (from here if you're interested).
That's all for today - I just wanted to write my first post, and I'll see where the journey takes me :-)