Posts tagged ‘renewal’

July 6, 2010

Target on a Tuesday

This is it, the last day of my Renewal.  I had one main goal for today: to go to Target.  To me, the best part about not working a regular 9-5 job (or retirement!) is that you can go to Target on a weekday – a Tuesday, perhaps – at 10:30 in the morning, when NO ONE ELSE IS THERE.  You can park right next to the entrance, choose whatever cart or basket you’d like, and stroll the store at a leisurely pace buying things you need (toilet paper), things you think you need (travel-sized Clorox wipes), and things you can admit you don’t need at all, but really, really want (parmesan goldfish crackers).

Mission accomplished.

And actually, that applies to this entire six week experience.  I had to make some tough choices about where I wanted to be when, but think I made the right ones.  I know I’ll get back to the Hudson River Valley to see the Roosevelt home; I’ll spend more time at the beach next summer; I’ll get back to NYC to see my buddies who live there.   And if I must go back to Spain to see the Guggenheim in Bilbao, or explore Ronda and Cadiz, then I’ll just have to make it happen.

What I appreciated most about this time away from work was the time itself.  While it did fly by overall, it moved slowly enough for me to enjoy.  I got to write and be carefree and put 100% of my energy into the things that interest me most – spending time with friends and family, cooking, reading books.  I also had enough time for reflection, to look at what I’d like to continue to improve about myself, like letting go and worrying less, letting whatever happens, happen.  The best part is that will be helpful at work too!

My friend, Lauren (Rhetta), told me that the main partner at her old law firm used to instruct his staff (upon returning from their sabbaticals) to make a list of things they wanted to accomplish and/or improve about their work and working styles.  I thought that was a great idea, and I’m going to take it one step further by sharing my list with all of you.  Yes, you can help keep me honest (especially those of you who work with me)!  Again, my overall theme is, “letting go.”

  1. Leave work at a reasonable hour so I can spend more time doing the things I love – being with family and friends, yoga, cooking, blogging(!), etc. (which will ultimately make me a happier employee).
  2. Delegate, delegate, delegate (see # 1).
  3. Remember that it’s ok if some people aren’t happy with my decisions, especially when I follow my gut and know the decisions are right for me, for my team, for our work, etc.
  4. Leave the office – and all it’s glorious trappings of work and worries – at the office (will also help me enjoy # 1 more).
  5. Focus on the parts of my job that I really like – managing staff, developing new ideas and ways to advance my team’s work, and providing project leadership.
  6. Take a walk around the block during the day from time to time.  Stand up to take phone calls and even answer email. (I don’t miss sitting all day.)
  7. Take at least a two-week vacation next year.  One week is not long enough to unplug completely.  (Neither is two, but it’s better than 1!)
  8. Schedule lunches, coffees and meetings with co-workers and colleagues I either admire or whose company I enjoy, especially on days when my calendar is more open.

I could probably add ten more, but I am trying to let go and all.  This is a great start and will be a good reminder list down the road.  In the meantime, I do plan to keep blogging here.  I really enjoyed writing about this adventure, and want to see if I can transition to sharing the everyday now.  Thank you again for all of your comments, emails, and encouragement.

Parmesan goldfish, here I come.

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July 6, 2010

Nothing Could Be Finer

Last stop, North Carolina.  It was a wonderfully relaxing way to end the travel portion of my renewal, and great to spend so much time with my family in places I love – Atlantic Beach and Raleigh, NC.

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June 21, 2010

Good Sport Award

The award goes to Adam, who got drenched from behind by a wave that crashed unexpectedly high against the sea wall in San Sebastian. I did manage to ask if he was ok before I started laughing.

June 9, 2010

A Good Stand-in for Cooking

Oh how I love a food market. This is the one off the Ramblas in Barcelona. This fruit juice was one of about 100 varieties available.

June 9, 2010

Spain photos, coming right up

I’m taking advantage of some free time and amazing wireless access to share photos from the trip thus far. I’m going to break it up into a few posts because I tried to upload 8 at once and think I broke the internet. We do miss you all…some.

Here is the incredible Casa Mila. I couldn’t get enough Gaudi architecture in Barcelona.

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June 4, 2010

Anyone seen Adam?

Here he is!

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May 31, 2010

The 5 Day Chef

Boy am I the happiest kind of TIRED you can be.  Thank you for your comments, emails, words of encouragement, and even your wildly high expectations of me (i.e. – suggesting I try out for “Top Chef”).  I’d like to take this opportunity to remind those of you expecting greatness that I attended culinary school for 5 DAYS.

I did learn some great tips and tricks I can apply to my home cooking, like how to make pasta from scratch; the best way to “skim” stocks (use a skimmer – I get to buy a gadget – woo hoo!); and even how to cut a mango.  Mostly it was confidence building – I knew a lot of the techniques covered, but learned how to do them better and why.  But I also learned that having restaurant-quality, “mac daddy” equipment sure does help.  I’ve never seen a big pot of water boil so fast and as unhealthy as it is, it’s pretty awesome to use a fryolater machine.

Looks like my kitchen at home

Each day we began class at 7am sharp (I got to sleep in until 6 after the first day!) with a lecture.  Topics included techniques like knife cuts, roasting, grilling, pan-frying, sauteing and deep-frying.  Then we went over the “production assignments” for each team, meaning the recipes we had to cook using the methods covered in class.  After a short coffee and holy-crap-that-is-the-best chocolate banana muffin/lemon poppyseed cake/strawberry scone-ever break (the latter courtesy of those pesky pastry students), we cooked our little hearts out for 3 – 4 hours straight.  Here are some of my team’s results:

I made the goat cheese croquettes on the left, the pasta, helped with the green beans, and provided moral support for cooking that tasty 40 clove chicken pictured.

In addition to the platters, each team had to prepare a “demo plate” of their completed meals for discussion and critique after lunch.  So we cooked, ate each other’s cooking (along with the freaking pastry student’s extra desserts from class), and then talked about what worked and what didn’t.

The demo plate for the platter above

The last day we cooked from our own production plan.  We were given a “market basket” list and the assignment to create a complete meal, including soup, from the ingredients.  Appropriately enough, our ingredients were Spanish and begged to be made into paella and tapas!  So my team trudged off to the library to peruse the biggest cookbook collection next to the one at the Library of Congress.  And guess who my little soup angel was?  Jose Andres, of course!  Jose, Amy T. (a work buddy) and I go way back.  We are trying as hard as we can (along with our friend, Lisa, who missed the Jose sighting/fawning) to become family at Jaleo, the delicious tapas restaurant near our office downtown.  His cold tomato soup was delightful, and he inspired our peppers stuffed with goat cheese and patatas bravas – fried potatoes in romesco sauce.

Tomato Soup for 14

Our Spanish demo plate

Can you tell I had fun?  It was all I hoped it would be and more.  I’ll start saving my pennies for the next class, as soon as we get back from Spain.  (I hear the Euro is weak and it may be a good time to shop…)  I do hope to post updates from Spain, and fortunately for you they won’t be this long!  Here are a few more photos of the cooking part of my adventure.  Adios!

One of our stations

A fellow team at work

A small part of our typical lunch buffet. The staff started popping their heads into the kitchen around noon each day, especially after they realized we weren't terrible cooks.

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May 25, 2010

CILT Program – Chef In Lots of Training

Oh my goodness am I having fun!  This program is EXACTLY what I hoped it would be – lots of learning and hard work.  And that’s just the eating part!  It’s an embarrassment of riches here, and my only mistake was taking this course right before bathing suit season.  You can start the day off with a full breakfast of you’d like, then you eat a huge lunch that includes desserts that the pastry students made in their classes (we share the same building, unfortunately), and at night we’re making our way through 3 course dinners at the CIA’s amazing restaurants on campus.  It’s almost too much to take.  (I can hear the violins, I know.)

Thyme Terrace - all the streets on campus are named after herbs. Cute!

This next section is for my mom, Lyn Satisky, and Anne Sherman who I know are just teeming with questions:

  1. There are 13 people in the class
  2. There are only 1 or 2 annoying people in the class so far, and neither are in my cooking group (thank goodness)
  3. Yes, they divided us up into 4 groups and we cook together in the same group all week
  4. Yes, I get to do plenty – just today I made macaroni and cheese from scratch, assisted a teammate with the salad, and plated our “demo” plate to be evaluated by the chef
  5. No, the chef isn’t like Gordon Ramsey – he’s quite nice and happy to provide guidance and help
  6. I get to bring all the recipes home
  7. Yes, I’ll cook for you, but don’t expect greatness – it’s just one week!
  8. The best part is dirtying tons of dishes without having to wash them myself (yes – just like at home, Adam)
  9. Fun fact/observation: the campus used to house a Jesuit school, and the dining hall reminds all of us of the Hogwarts dining hall in the Harry Potter series

And now for the photo I promised of me in my “whites” and toque.  I took this in the mirror in my hotel room, so it’s pretty goofy.  I haven’t had time to ask one of my classmates to take one, so I’ll try to get another soon.

Yesterday we spent the day learning knife skills and cuts and got to smell and taste a lot of new and exotic sauces and condiments.  (Needless to say, we all shied away from tasting the fish paste.)  Today we learned about high-heat cooking, and then were let loose in the kitchen where we cooked our hearts out for three hours straight.  We essentially cooked each other lunch, and got to taste each team’s dishes.  Tomorrow it’s grilling and I’ve called the lamb dish my team was assigned – wish me luck!

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May 25, 2010

For David (and the other non-believers)

My co-workers, and especially my boss, give me a hard time because I’m not exactly the early bird in the office.  Mind you, they’re former bank staffers and one is an Air Force retiree…and I came from an ad agency.  9am at an agency is dawn; for my colleagues it’s lunch time.  So they got a big kick out of my start time for culinary boot camp on Monday – 6am.  In their defense, my family was chuckling some too.  So to them I present the proof: this is the time I LEFT my hotel room yesterday.

Departure time

Nothing bad happened, except I lost the keys to my rental car sometime during the day yesterday.  I also forgot a bag I checked at dinner –  which I realized right as we pulled into the hotel parking lot, and had to go all the way back to the restaurant.  The good news: the keys turned up this morning, and the poor classmate who’s staying at my hotel and chauffeured me around last night is still speaking to me.  I think sleeping in until 6 helped.

May 22, 2010

Eat, Pray I Don’t Gain Too Much Weight, Love

Today is the day!  I’m staring my six-week “AARP Renewal” adventure of cooking, eating, drinking, traveling, eating, spending time with family and friends, and eating some more.

I’m mostly excited with a dash of overwhelmed.  Honestly, I’m just feeling plain lucky – though I worked hard for this privilege and completely deserve it!  So thank you for thanking me, AARP.

Speaking of thanks, I have the best co-workers ever.  They took me out for a bon voyage lunch yesterday which you’d think was wonderful enough, but it wasn’t for them.  Check out my cute new apron, one of many thoughtful and useful gifts for all my travels.  David even parted with that bottle of Spanish Rioja eventually, though it did involve some prying of fingers.  (Jeanne is on the left, and Julie insisted on taking the photo!)

Yes, we dress alike as much as possible because it promotes team spirit.

I’ll be in NYC with the U of R crew tonight, and then I’m off to Hyde Park, NY via Poughkeepsie tomorrow.  Wheeeee!

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