I have now been retired for two years. That in itself is something pretty amazing, but what follows amazes me even more. This past year has been a whirlwind of learning and growth, settling into my new life as a full-time artist.
It was only 18 months ago that I took my first drawing class – I wrote about it in Me? An Art Student?. I look back on those posts in this blog, and laugh at how awful I was at drawing. Today, my paintings are selling, and selling for a whole lot of money. If you had told me that I would be a successful artist at this time two years ago, I would have laughed in your face.
When our son went to UC Santa Barbara, he discovered just how bad dorm food can be. Faced with pedestrian choices day after day, he and his friends used to talk about their parents’ cooking, and share what they missed the most on the culinary front. His food memory was my meatloaf, and his friends couldn’t believe that was what he was missing.
Fast forward to his sophomore year, when he and his friends moved into a house in Isla Vista. One night he made this meatloaf. By the time it came out of the oven, all 7 of his housemates were in the kitchen, noses quivering. Our son ate his meal, and put the rest in the refrigerator with stern warnings about pilfering.
The next morning, all his leftovers were gone. Yes, it’s that good.
Winter is best known for it’s delicious comfort food, and I look forward to this time every year. Grilling and light summer fare is fun, and enjoyable, but there is something so satisfying in crafting a warm-in-your-tummy meal in a warm kitchen when it’s blustery outside. Even better when you can toss it together in under 20 minutes of active prep time. This is one of my favorite “Tuesday Night” dinners.
Any major life change provides an opportunity to grow and learn, as well as the dangers of stagnation. Retirement is no different. When I started this journey, I decided I wanted to explore something I have never done before. I chose learning how to draw and paint. Being good at it was irrelevant. The important thing was to try something new and perhaps find a passion that would carry me through the next chapter in my life. The cover photo is a pastel I did 2 weeks ago in drawing class. I never would have thought I could produce anything of the quality of that little pastel – especially not dashing it off in 3 hours during class.
With the holidays coming up, special dinners are looming over us all. Coming up with fun variations to the tired dishes served year after year can be challenging. Few things can be as boring as mashed potatoes. I’ve tried many recipes over the years, and have come up with this recipe as a cure for “Potato Boredom”. If you like truffles, you’ll love this. It’s easy to make, and your family and guests will love it.
One of the things I love best about the Holidays is the excuse to spoil my family and friends with freshly baked goodies. This recipe is one I created when our son was little, wanting to incorporate his two favorite sweet things – marzipan and strawberry jam – into one cookie. He’s 27 now, and these are still his favorite – hands down. I do half the batch with strawberry jam, and half with raspberry, but pretty much any jam that goes with almond flavoring would work well. These cookies are small bites of rich, buttery goodness that have become a main staple of my holiday baking. Friends and family start asking me in November if I’m planning on making those ‘awesome jam cookies’ in the next few weeks. They all love them, and I hope you enjoy as well.
During my genealogical journey, I have found several surprises, a few of which I’ve written about here. However, this past week’s October Surprise has surpassed all the others.
My Nana had a baby daddy.