It’s Not About You

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Depression sucks for everyone involved. The patient is suffering, and if they’re not careful, friends and family will exhaust themselves in vain attempts to ‚do something‘. Trying to cheer the other person up, attempting to make them feel better and look on the bright side – it can get frustrating because that’s just not how it works.

When one of my closest friends got sick, my own approach (after silently freaking out for a while) was to detach myself enough to be able to be or do what she needed. It took 3 very long weeks of allowing her space to find out for herself what the heck that even was. I found a way of letting her know I was thinking of her without pressuring her, but the incommunicado was not easy for me. What helped me was to tell myself every day that it wasn’t about me. In the meantime, I learned that there will be good days, and there will be very bad days. It gets more complicated the more you love the depressed person, because you’ll see them fall apart, and there won’t be a damn thing you can do but listen, hold them, be there and pray they’ll eventually find it in themselves to climb out of that bottomless pit.

In the beginning, it was such a paradigm shift to understand that what is troubling her has absolutely nothing to do with me, or with what I did or didn’t do. This is probably even more difficult if you’re a spouse or a parent, because these relationships are more codependent than a friendship by definition. Not that friendships never are, and not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. Depending on friends is what they’re there for, thick and thin, good times or bad. Right now, my job is to be there for my friend while being mindful of my own needs at the same time. And while it seems illogical to detach yourself in order to stay close, it seems to me that that’s one of the few things that can work.

I’m not entirely new to this. An ex-boyfriend of mine was both depressed and drinking. Our relationship was an absolute train wreck, but at the time, I genuinely believed he needed me, so narcissistic of me. In the end it was him who ended it, which, from today’s perspective, was the sanest thing he could have done. It broke my heart, but it was clear we really had nowhere to go – and I wasn’t even helping him with his issues. He did what he needed to do.

Then, there was a friend who became depressed over the course of a brief marriage that ultimately failed. There was really not a lot I could offer but a couch, a friendly ear and encouragement to seek professional help. She did, and she got better, and she learned to be happy again. But it took me years to accept that there was nothing else I could have done, and to be OK with that.

Interestingly, it was only recently that I understood the difference between feeling empathy for someone and trying to absorb their pain. It’s probably the secret weapon that enables therapists to do their jobs without going crazy themselves. This may be a bunch of BS from a professional standpoint, but for the current situation with my friend, it’s my strategy for standing by her to feel her sorrow but not own it.

Sorry for dumping this heavy business on you, stitch readers. I know you probably came to see some crafts projects, or check for new recipes.

If any of you know more about depression though, please let me know, I’m sure I still have a lot to learn. I read that doing crafts is being offered as a part of therapy in psych wards – guess we’ve come full circle there. Anyway, here’s my current WIPs:

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Birthday socks for my friend C., mom to my Most Excellent Godson R., in a lovely shade of soft pink called ‚Winter Sorbet‘ – poetic name, right?

The Dotty Granny Blanket may or may not, depending on my stamina, become a cushion instead. It’s a lenghty process, making all those pretty dotty granny squares. We’ll see.

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The one above is definitely a cushion front – a color explosion in rows of half double crochet, complete with bobbles that add to the Seventies lava lamp feel of the piece ;-).
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The back will look like this – a deep shade of blood red, also in HDC but without bobbles.

That’s all I got for today. Thank you for dropping by and reading.

OK, you asked.

If you’re like me a firm believer in chicken soup for basically any ailment from germs to a broken heart, you tend to have excess meat on your hands once the dregs are slurped up. Sick people (especially the little ones) don’t usually have huge appetites, and all they really want is the broth anyway. As a rule, I’ll be saddled with 1 leftover chicken breast and thigh minimum. There are a number of ways to put that meat to good use. Chicken fricassee (I just don’t love it, there, I’ve said it), enchiladas (yum), chicken-tomato sauce pasta with lots of basil (yum again) … or you make a chicken salad, one of my husband’s all-time favorites. Here’s how I do it:

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Chicken Salad for G.

Leftover boiled (or fried) chicken (1 chicken breast and 1 thigh, for instance), meat boned, skinned and cubed

1 shallot, chopped

1 apple, cubed

1 egg yolk

4-6 TBSP Cooking oil

Dash of olive oil

1 TBSP white Balsamic vinegar

1 TBSP Dijon mustard

Pinch of sugar

Lemon

Salt

Black pepper

125 g plain white yogurt

Watercress

1 TBSP pink peppercorns

Home-made Mayonnaise

Never made mayonnaise from scratch before? Well, it’s really easy if you pay attention to a few little things. I assure you that, once you’ve got the technique down, if you’ll ever look at the Miracle Whip jars at the store again, it will be with well-deserved, snobbish foodie disdain.

When it comes to making your own mayonnaise, there’s a lot to be said for some really anal prep – it’s most annoying when you have to hunt in the back of the fridge for your jar of mustard, cup of yogurt or lemon while your mayonnaise may begin to curdle. I usually start out with setting out all my ingredients on the counter, plus a bowl large enough to hold the salad later on, and my flat wire whisk, the one I also use for stirring sauces. (Which is of course what mayonnaise really is, albeit cold.)

Peel and chop the shallot, cut up the apple and meat, then set aside.

Now for actually making that mayonnaise. Separate the egg and put the yolk in your bowl, saving the egg-white for something else (whether you use it – and another 7 or so – for a supple cheesecake or for making a modest egg-white omelet is entirely up to you!). Add salt, pepper, sugar and mustard. Beat vigorously – the yolk needs to absorb all those ingredients, as well as the oil you’ll be drizzling on it in a minute. Keep beating until you’ve incorporated all the oil. Your mayonnaise should now be pale, yellow and thick – the consistency not unlike the store-bought variety you’re familiar with. Now add vinegar and lemon juice to taste, keeping in mind that you’ll be diluting the mayonnaise later on with yogurt (or cream cheese, should you find it too liquid after all), so it’s OK if the flavor is tangy and intense. Keep stirring, then add the yogurt and pink pepper. Taste frequently but don’t double-dip, you’re dealing with raw egg after all, and don’t want any bacteria in there. Add more salt/pepper/lemon juice/sugar/mustard/vinegar to taste. And, of course, other spices, if you want. Some people like curry powder or chili powder or even smoked paprika in this.

When you’re happy with your mayonnaise, add the chicken meat, chopped shallot, apple and pink pepper. Sometimes you need to add more yogurt at this point, in case you have too many solid ingredients. It’s a matter of taste, really, how much mayo you like in your chicken salad.

Cover your bowl and place it in the fridge. Only add the watercress shortly before serving with some really good bread. This is perfect for sandwiches, as a starter, as a dish for brunch, or as a late-night snack – my husband would probably say that there’s no such thing as a bad time for a good chicken salad.

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There is little else to report from the past few weeks. I was editing the heck out of the latest translation project, a cookbook, and it was a big deal to me (even more so than all my translation projects are anyway), because I was working for a new client, one of the Big Publishing Houses, and of course I want them to be happy and come back with more work. Fingers crossed – I submitted the translation yesterday, and as per usual, I’m feeling a bit brain-dead in the aftermath of such high-level concentration over a longer period. Battling a bladder infection at the same time did _not_ help.

But I did manage to watch a few shows with the 2 dudes, and you know that means I needed something to do with my hands. Here’s what I made:

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Another pair of SUCH PINK socks, this time for the little squirrel burrowing under my duvet on a lazy Saturday morning. And, while waiting at the doctor’s office on Monday, I started on these: IMG_1704.JPG

Yarn was picked by my glitz and glam loving daughter (Lurex!) a while back, for practicing her crochet skills. She did that for a while, too – but doesn’t seem to find it as fulfilling as I do, and the yarn was abandoned soon after the first enthusiasm had worn off. So I grabbed it and let muscle memory do the rest while I was waiting to see the doc. The colors are interesting, and the socks will turn out gorgeous, I think. You can never have too many pairs, living in this climate, that much is certain.

I’m signing off today with a very cool shot of gracefully executed Double-Dabbing by my daughter and her friend S.

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Enjoy the first days of March, and the rays of sunshine peeking through. Spring Is Coming!

My First Crochet Pattern

A small step for all seasoned DIY people out there, I’m sure, but to me it feels huge to actually feel brave enough to do this. But here we go: Today, I’d like to share my first ever crochet pattern with you, stitch readers.

Seeing that it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and seeing that my three chocolate monsters will expect something for their stashes, and seeing that I’m kind of more into the flowers and anything handmade, I’ll do a combination of both. Check it out: IMG_1627.JPG

Cute, right? It will look so pretty on any chocolate box or bag or bar … kind of like this:
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This little heart takes about 5 minutes to make, tops, and here’s how to do it:

Chain 4

Crochet 3 TC (triple crochet) into the first stitch of your chain, another 3 DC (double crochet) into the same stitch.

Chain 1, crochet 1 super-tall QC (quadruple crochet), chain 1

(That’s half of your heart shape made, already. See how easy that was? Now for the second half.)

Crochet 3 DC into the first chain stitch, then another 3 TC, also into the same stitch.

Chain 3 and join with a slip stitch into that ol‘ first chain stitch, cut your thread and darn in the two tails you’ll have in the back.img_1626I totally forgot how much I love crocheting little motifs, haven’t done it in ages, what with all the socks I’ve been knitting lately. But this winter turned out to be a long one, so those were needed!

Here’s the last pair I finished during a movie marathon/teenage sleepover (Ocean’s 11-12-13, great choice!) my son hosted last Saturday night:img_1622May they keep my girl J.’s feet warm until the spring. I think they’re really funky. Neon Pink is an awesome color, which I never appreciated that much before, as a baby Goth/Punk Rock/Emo from the Eighties. Then, it was all about wearing Black, Black and more Black. And it’s kind of been my favorite ever since, creature of habit that I am.

Decades later however, when I had my daughter, I finally needed to come to terms with all things Pink and glittery. I’ve learned to embrace color, first for her, and then eventually for myself also. I must admit I still feel safest in Black and Grey, fashion-wise, but I do add splashes of brightness to it occasionally now.

Well, this has been a most lovely and productive lunch-break, you guys. Maybe you’ll read this before tomorrow, and if you do, please let me know how my pattern worked out for you – have fun trying your hand at these little heart shaped motifs :-). And of course have a happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow!

About Pain

 

img_1513As the daughter of a rheumatoid arthritis patient, I’ve been familiar with chronic pain from a very young age. I’ve seen it reduce my sophisticated, witty, creative gorgeous hunk of a dad to a barely hanging in there shadow of himself – until the next dosage of his meds would finally kick in, and there he’d be, back again, (almost) his old self.

So, I basically grew up with a firm belief in Daddy’s Little Helpers, because I experienced empirical proof for their effectiveness on a daily basis. No wonder I’m generous with the Ibuprofen myself. Gotta watch that, I know.

I also know pain isn’t necessarily a physical phenomenon only. At least, it’s not the actual pain that makes it horrible but the way it eats up who we are, the way it makes us crawl into ourselves and hide like a frightened young child. It’s scary to feel overpowered like that, and as a migraine patient I’m aware it can hit you out of nowhere at any given time, and hold you in its clutches for days if you’re too late in taking your drugs. Some might argue that migraines are the worst, but after a while, you learn that they have a certain dependable rhythm, and that they eventually will go away again, a perspective that makes them bearable.

This isn’t the case when you’re unlucky enough to have a condition like my dad did. I got a taste of what that might be like when I found myself with an aching jaw last week, which I first assumed was another symptom of the bad cold I was recovering from, and maybe due to the chilly first nights at our country cottage (I think we had 3 °C in there when we arrived. My daughter and I both wore our knit hats to bed!).

img_1534It wasn’t so much a toothache. My whole lower jaw was hurting, and it gradually got worse. Unfortunately, there was no doctor to see out there, and besides, I was busy with wood-burner maintenance, catering for the brood and occasional strolls through the snow-covered forest.

Also, I was mentally gearing up for my son’s 15th birthday, so didn’t have a lot of time to think about myself. Finding him a cool present the last minute because he couldn’t make up his mind which new bike to choose … left me with no present, which was unheard of. Thank God for amazon prime! Have you guys ever heard of Fidget Cubes? They’re awesome. One of my son’s teachers actually allows him to play with his in class because she thinks it enhances his concentration. Well, as long as it doesn’t drive the others bonkers, right? I’d certainly kick his ass if I were to sit next to him trying to work on my French grammar or a math problem while he was click-click-clicking away …

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We went back to town on Friday. Can you believe I really only see how beautiful it was out there now when looking at the photos? I’d been popping Ibuprofen for 2 days, and when we got back, I was barely hanging in there as the pain got more debilitating by the hour. But my husband made me use our infrared lamp, and that did help a little, so when midnight rolled around, I had baked a pretty cake, organized our folks to come over for brunch, made a very yummy chicken salad and when we toasted with champagne around midnight, I was tired, but doing alright.

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Family brunch was great and the Fidget Cube was delivered on time. But as I was relaxing into our Big Boy’s Big Day, the pain came back with a vengeance. It hurt when I had salty things, sweet things, apples, hot beverages – in fact, everything I put in my mouth made my whole jaw hurt. It was starting to wear me thin, and by nightfall, I was actually considering going to the ER – but then changed my mind when I thought about how I’d be sitting there next to stab wounds and broken bones and traffic accident victims – with what exactly? A toothache? Come on. So, more painkillers.

My son’s friends came over, we gave them his favorite Chili and cake, they gave him a cool teeimg_1579

and then they watched a Marvel movie, munching on popcorn. I have to say I really don’t like the Cap very much at this point. He seems very … um … Republican? I get how he would be a bit conservative, and thinking inside his little pre-war-values-do-the-right-thing-box, because he was frozen for decades, I really do. But screwing over Tony Stark like that? Who does that? Anyway, after a fascinating post-movie discussion of superheroes and Avengers and whatnot and whether Marvel was superior to DC (duh!), eventually the youngsters retired to my son’s lair for the slumber part of the party, and I went to bed too.

I slept OK, and it actually seemed I’d gotten better in the morning – that is to say until I had my first sip of hot tea. The pain flared back up, and from then on it only got from bad to worse, and it’s no exaggeration when I say I was a complete mess when I finally sat in the dentist’s chair on Monday. They checked out my teeth, which seem to be alright, oddly, in fact the doc said they looked great. Plus, there actually are no maxillary sinuses in the lower jaw, so the source of the pain remains a mystery. Neuralgic something or other. Uh-huh. But I left there carrying a prescription for high-dosage Ibuprofen and an antibiotic, and praise be for Sir Alexander Fleming: after taking my meds like a good little patient for 2 days, I’m actually better, and my brain is waking up.

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So why am I writing about all of this? Because I find it interesting. I couldn’t have put down any of this yesterday – although I’ve reflected on the subject a great deal. But my brain kind of shuts down when I’m in pain, to the point where all I can do is exist and wait for it to stop. I’ve had two babies the ’natural‘ way, the first one without an epidural and the second one with, and I can’t even put into words how different the experiences were – complete helplessness, pain and horror versus feeling in control and actively participating in giving birth. I know many women don’t take any drugs and they can handle the process, too. And while I admire that, I’m self-aware enough to know I simply could not have done it. I don’t know how I would have delivered my son without medical assistance and a vacuum extraction. After 19 hours of constantly increasing pain, I was completely exhausted and unable to do anything but say ow, ow, ow – I didn’t even have enough strength left to scream. I think a few decades back, one of us wouldn’t have made it, probably me. Or they would have given me a Cesarean, which would have been absolutely fine with me after hours and hours of labor pains ;-).

So, pain management – a fascinating topic. I just read a novel about a soldier who is captured and interrogated under torture – grim stuff. He is part of a special ops unit and actually trained to withstand pain. What makes him break in the end (for, as his torturer informs him in the beginning, everybody does eventually, and I believe it) is that they tell him the love of his life is dead, thus taking away the one safe place in his mind, the perspective of reuniting one day. It made sense to me, even though I don’t know how that whole mind over matter thing even works.

My therapist once asked me what pain meant to me, and I think I answered that it was the most powerful force in the world. It dictated my childhood because everything in our lives revolved around my dad’s pain. And it’s a thing I feel I have no control over. Dr K. helped me see that the unusually frequent migraine attacks I was experiencing at the time were actually code for my feeling overwhelmed by other issues in my life. Pain, to my subconscious, seems to be a way of telling me to slow the hell down. It was easily the most enlightening of all our sessions over the 2 1/2 years I was seeing her. And of course it has to be noted that the migraines actually stopped after that session. How’s that for successful treatment? I’ll bet I made it into being a case study for her own supervision ;-). And I’m so grateful she always knew which questions to ask.

So now that I’ve shared all that with the class, I’d like to know about your own perspective on pain. I’m sure you must have something interesting to add…??

Also, I’d like to show off socks I made over the last 2 weeks – the green pair was finished while I was getting all annoyed with Captain America ;-).img_1591

And the first Very Pink Sock for my girl J. is done – I like it. And of course, so does my daughter who told me I needed to make her a pair just like that when I was done with J.’s.img_1529

Wishing you a completely pain-free February, I’m off to catch up with writing I’ll be paid for, too!

Choices

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If only every mistake in life were as easy to undo as a piece of knitting!

That up there was supposed to be a gauntlet. I swear this time I even looked at patterns before I started out, and then decided the ones that I liked were too complicated for me and went with a simple single cable. And when the first one was as good as done (which took about 3 episodes of Lethal Weapon) I decided it looked boring and ripped it back up. It felt good, because it just wasn’t right.

All the things I wish I had had the courage to go through with that easily in the past would probably fill a book, and it would not be a fun read either. Suffice it to say that I’ve lied to people by omission (to spare their feelings, or to spare myself having to lock horns with them, probably a bit of both), I’ve said things in anger that I regretted later (and apologized for some but not all of them), I’ve pulled back from people who depended on me when I couldn’t handle the extra pressure anymore (again to avoid confrontation), and I’ve dropped out of people’s lives altogether when I found greener pastures (how exactly would you even tell someone you’re going to do that without coming across like a major asshole?)

I’m supposing many people have done – or decided not to do – stuff like that themselves. As we get older and more experienced, we learn to avoid engaging with people we don’t find all that interesting in the first place. We learn to say what’s on our minds without being rude. And we know when taking a break can be more beneficial for a relationship than trying to work out issues for which there’s no solution that will make both parties happy anyway.

Assuming we’re for the most part responsible for who we are, how we feel and how we act is one approach (not my own, duh. The credit for the principles of Nonviolent Communications obviously goes to Marshall Rosenberg). Our actions may impact others, but ultimately it’s their own choice whether to be bothered by what we said or did.

Take He Who must not be Named on my blog who moved into the White House over the weekend. If he’s done one thing consistently over the past years, he’s been badmouthing immigrants, especially from Mexico, and women. And yet he had a whole community of Latino women voting for him. Their choice, I suppose, even if I don’t get them. At all. If I were an American, I’d have been on the streets just like all the others who marched on January 21st, more power to them.

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Apparently, making America great again began with taking (among other minor issues such as climate change^^) the LGBT rights page and all mention of LGBT acronyms off of the White House’s website. Approx. 9 million people, erased, just like that. I can’t help but find that appalling (my choice entirely!). And once again, I feel so lucky to be living in this very awesome city where seeing two guys kissing in front of the store just last week made me smile, as young love always does, whatevertheheck the gender.

Oh well. Crafts are comparatively easy ;-). I decided to set the red yarn aside for now and start on my new socks project instead:

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Very pink socks for my girl J in Frankfurt who asked for a new pair – at least here I know what I’m doing, knit 2 purl 2… but isn’t that shade of pink really something else? As you can see, I’m combining two thinner yarns in electric pink, one pure new wool and the other a very soft baby alpaca quality, which will result in seriously cozy socks, I’m hoping.

How about you? How have you chosen to begin the year, crafts-wise and in general? Let me know!

A Pure Food Post

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Bircher Muesli. Yum.

4 large apples, peeled and grated

4 TBSP ground almonds

6 TBSP oatmeal

250 g yogurt, plain (or more if you wish)

1 TBSP maple syrup (or more if you wish)

aaaand, as of last December, 1 orange, filleted, and its juice

A delicious, wholesome breakfast food, easy to make, and only using staples we almost always have at home. Therefore it’s OK to decide you absolutely need this spontaneously whenever you feel like eating this rather than other weekend breakfast foods. Have to confess I wouldn’t do this on a school morning. Those extra 10-15 minutes it takes to make go a long way around 6.30 in the morning. But on Saturdays and Sundays, it’s a thing I enjoy doing, for my husband, my teenager, and last but not least myself. Obviously my daughter detests it – mixed, no clearly discernible ingredients … no way José is she going to eat that and like it. Cereal for her, toast and jam, granola if we’re lucky, and fruit on the side please, only no oranges, no khaki fruit, and absolutely no kiwi. I’m hoping it’s a phase, sigh.

But about that famous Swiss concoction. You grate your apples, add the almonds and oatmeal, yogurt and syrup, then you fillet the orange, catching every bit of juice, so use a plate rather than a cutting board when you slice it, add that, fold everything in carefully, let sit for a few minutes, taste, add more of any ingredient you feel it needs. Then get out the bowls and spoons and call in the hungry clan members. That’s how it works around here anyway.

The orange was something I never used to do before my goddaughter J told me about having stayed at this fancy resort once where they soaked the oatmeal for their Bircher Muesli in fresh OJ overnight. That gave me pause because it never would have occurred to me to add orange to that mix. But I was curious enough to try it, and was instantly convinced I never wanted to change that recipe ever again. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! And by all means, enjoy  :-).

Oh, you want another? Hm. Why not eat our way through a whole day while we’re at it? Let’s make some lunch next, assuming I was good and productive for a couple hours in the meantime.

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Sauteed Winter Salad

1 bag baby spinach leaves

1 small head radicchio, sliced

1 handful pine nuts, roasted

400 g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup Mozzarella cheese (I used the baby sized balls to match the cherry tomatoes, but you could easily use the regular size and cut it up into cubes)

1 clove garlic, sauteed, then crushed in the garlic press later on

Very good olive oil

Dash of dark Balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Wee bit of sugar to taste

The way this salad came to be was literally by accident. What happened was that I had been storing all my veggies on my awesome shelf on the kitchen balcony – still proud of this, it was my son’s birthday present for me, yay! img_0183

Sadly, those days with the blooming oleander are so over, which brings me to the reason I sauteed the spinach and radicchio rather than use them fresh and crunchy: all my fresh produce had frozen out there over night, and the spinach in particular looked pitiful. I felt pretty damn stupid when I looked at the stuff as I was preparing dinner – and then it occurred to me the salad might be saved if I just threw it in a hot pan with olive oil, garlic and a wee bit of sugar – and it actually worked out beautifully.We had my mother in law staying with us over the holidays to boot, who hates throwing out food with a passion – so nothing was tossed, no precious food went to waste, grace was saved and nobody was any the wiser. Do I sound smug? Well that’s because I was. Everyone was praising my barely salvaged salad, hehe.

I sauteed the spinach and radicchio, sliced the tomatoes, roasted the pine-nuts, crushed the garlic I had sauteed with the leaves, added a generous amount of decent olive oil, baby mozzarella and a dash of Balsamico, black pepper and a bit of sugar to taste, and there it was. A nice winter salad. Next time, I may add some croutons like you do for a Caesar salad – that would be a whole meal right there. As you can see, recipes are, as so many things in life, a fluid thing.

So, that could have been lunch, with some nice, crusty Italian bread.

Now again, please assume I was busy working on my cookbook assignment in the meantime. The kids will have come home from school by now, making hungry puppy eyes at me. And as it’s so cold and dark outside, and we’re still processing the untimely death of our sweet kitty, we’ve been in dire need of comfort food lately. Which obviously brings me to my version of

Mac and Cheese

500 g macaroni, boiled

4 handfuls of grated cheese (anything with a bit of a stronger flavor will do – Cheddar, Parmigiano, Gruyère, Swiss … whatever you have at home will work just fine for this)

250 ml cream, plus 1 cup of milk

2 eggs

2 shallots, cubed

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and black pepper

Olive oil for brushing the casserole

Since at our house, this is True Comfort Food, I’m usually on my last leg when preparing this meal. Therefore, I don’t make a fuss with preparing a roux, adding mustard or other condiments – what I do is I boil my pasta, cube my shallots, crush my garlic, grease my casserole, grate my cheese and whisk together eggs, cream, milk, salt and pepper. Drain pasta, add to casserole, add cheese, eggs-cream-milk mix, shallots and garlic and carefully combine. Cover casserole and stick in a 160 °C oven for about 25 minutes. Not much longer, and not much hotter, because I like the pasta to be soft and coated in a cheesy, creamy, yummy substance, but still have a bit of a crust if you know what I mean. In the end, it usually looks like this:
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Please forgive the very slice of life photo – the kids were way too hungry to take a picture before digging in.

There was, as you can see, a cucumber salad on the side. Oh, you want that one too? Come on, you guys know how to make cucumber salad, right? At the risk of being really redundant, here’s

My Kindergarten Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 small shallot, very thinly sliced

3 TBSP cooking oil

1-2 TBSP white balsamic vinegar

Sugar, salt, white pepper if you have it, if not, don’t worry about it and use black

2 TBSP chopped dill (this you do need, and not the frozen variety either!)

100 ml plain yogurt

Dash of Worcestershire sauce if you like

I used to make this for the kindergarten kids all the time, who were really into it -hence the slightly nostalgic name.

First, slice your cucumbers. After a couple minutes, press excess water out of the slices by taking them by the handful and squeezing. Great for your hands‘ skin, too, as not many things in a kitchen are, so enjoy that!

Add the shallot and dill, make a salad dressing and combine. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to mix.

It truly is the perfect salad for Mac and Cheese, in my book. And what do you know, even my daughter eats it, so it must be really something else!

All these recipes feed 4 or 5, btw, in case you were wondering.

Wow. That was one long, food-y post, wasn’t it?

Crafts will probably be up again next time – for I have not been idle, knitting away some of the grief I guess.

Signing off today with an awesome piece of art by my son who is one lucky kid to actually be taught graffiti in school, look:

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and the sweetest birthday present ever – my daughter made this for her daddy end of December. Gotta love those kids :-).img_0847

Rest in Peace, Beautiful Friend

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Those of you who read my last post will probably guess what happened. Our sweet companion of 11 years is gone. I have no words to really express how much I’m missing her, but I’ll try anyway. Maybe some will find it weird that I hardly make a distinction between my kids and my pets, but I really don’t. Unlike my kids, this cat slept in my bed every night – come to think of it, even more regularly than my husband who travels for work a lot. How do you not miss someone who purred you to sleep and whose beautiful amber eyes you woke up to for such a long time?

Putting an animal to sleep is as awful as it is unspectacular. The first shot makes them very tired – it’s like the good stuff they give you right before the actual anesthetic you get for an operation. They go all limp and relaxed in your arms, and after a couple minutes, they get another shot that actually kills them, right into their rib-cage. They kind of curl up in fetal position, drawing in their limbs, it’s a reflex, nothing more, and then their hearts stop beating.

I’ve been through this with three cats, and I’ve sat with my mom when she died. And every time it struck me how absolutely unique death looks. It’s impossible to confuse it with sleep, and every time I see a corpse in the movies, I feel it looks completely wrong.

My children went with me to the vet’s yesterday. They wanted to, that is to say my son wanted to come and my daughter who as the (much) younger kid always worries she might be left behind for Something Important, wanted to go too, and so I respected that and hope the teachers will too. If they don’t, they can all take a hike. It was important to us.

Our vet is as much of a people person as he is an animal person – which certainly isn’t true for all of his ilk. I like him a lot, and he has the exact amount of reason and empathy I needed to be able to go through with everything yesterday. He seemed really moved by our little family affair – I think I saw him blink tears away himself. Dr S rocks, he really does.

Needless to say, we had a black day after we left around 10.30. We went straight back home, cuddled our bereaved (now only) kitty, made hot chocolate, watched movies and took turns crying all day. At my age, this leaves a highly unattractive puffiness around the eyes, and my son’s acne broke out like you wouldn’t believe. It’s fair to say we both looked like shit this morning when I woke the kids. But my therapist used to say that tears are good, and since I can’t stop the waterworks anyway, I’ll just let myself cry whenever the tears start flowing …

… and maybe write some of it out of my system. Thanks for reading, and thanks for calling and texting, everyone – you know who you are. You’re the sweetest, kindest and most understanding bunch a girl could ask for. Thank you for being my friends, I love you.