Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Yesterday was a lovely day, full of simple pleasures. To start with, the weather was absolutely beautiful here. This is the time of year when Michigan is at its best. I get an hour for lunch, so when weather is this nice one of my favorite things to do is to use 20 minutes to eat my lunch and spend the other 40 taking a walk. I'm very fortunate, my company is located in an office park with walkways, trees, ponds and tons of wildlife. In addition, the surrounding township has built some lovely walk and bike paths, so I can walk through the office complex and down through a nice wooded area. It's a great way to spend part of the afternoon - it gets me out in the fresh air and refreshes my spirit.

Monday was also the first day of the new schedule that I didn't have to work afterward! I mentioned last week that my work schedule has changed from 10-7 to 9-6. However, last week I had one of my part time jobs every night after work, so I went straight from one place to the next. Last night I got out at 6:00 p.m., and I have to say, though I still miss coming in at 10:00 a.m., getting out at 6 was awfully nice. When I got home I found some furniture on my porch that my sister had offered me. She and her husband are rearranging their basement area and had some pieces they didn't need, so they offered them to me. What can I say? I love free furniture! Not to mention that what I got is rather sharp and will look great in my house. However, before I brought it in, I decided to take advantage of having seating on my front porch and have dinner outside...

Dinner was pretty funny, actually. Once again, I had bean soup, and once again, I didn't want to eat it. Unlike the last time*, this soup wasn't delicious, in fact, it was pretty bland. A few months ago I ran across some of those soup starter kits on sale. You might have seen them, they contain all the beans, pasta, rice or whatever and the seasoning you need for soup. This one was for Tuscan Chicken and, in addition to the kit, all it called for was tomatoes, chicken and stock. It sounded great - but didn't live up to the bill. After eating a few servings, I decided to put the rest in plastic containers and freeze it for quick meal emergencies. Well, this weekend with being as busy as I was, I thought I was going to need it so I pulled on container out of the freezer. It turned out I didn't. So, there it was - thawed in the refrigerator. I hate throwing food out, so I had decided it was going to be dinner. Honestly, I wasn't too excited about it, until I remembered Trent from A Simple Dollar's post on Frugal Lessons From My Parents. In the post he talked about how his folks keep a variety of leftovers in the fridge, then when they are hungry they have a smorgasbord of things to choose from. I was thinking about this and that if I had something really good to go with my bland soup, the meal wouldn't be so boring. Then I thought about another part of that post where Trent said that his folks would creatively use leftovers in other dishes - turning last night's chicken into chicken salad or sandwiches. I got to thinking about what I could do with the soup.

I happen to have some slightly stale bread, some olive oil, garlic and some recently acquired goat cheese. Fellow chefs see where this is going, right? Yep, goat cheese crustini. The bread, sliced thin and toasted was brushed with olive oil and rubbed with the cut half of a clove of garlic. Then it was spread with a bit of goat cheese and popped back in the oven until hot and melty. As for the soup, I had some fresh mushrooms in the refrigerator, so I sliced those and added them. I also chopped up the clove of garlic from the crustini and added that and about a half of cup of leftover white rice. A splash of olive oil, another of balsamic vinegar and generous amounts of fresh ground black pepper improved the flavor immeasurably. I took my now very tasty Tuscan soup and goat cheese crustinis out on the front porch and enjoyed a fabulous dinner al fresco!

After dinner it was still gorgeous out, so out I went for another long walk. My sister gave me a iPod Nano for Christmas two years ago, and I had it loaded it up with my favorite NPR podcasts. I clapped that on and got in another hour walk, chuckling to Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and enjoying the sight of all the blooming flowers and trees. It was lovely.

I even decided to pamper myself more by going to bed early - the first time that has happened in months!

As I was thinking about it, in many ways it was an unremarkable day - I went to work, went home and went to bed, and yet, it was also a really lovely day. I was productive at work, I got some excerise, I enjoyed some wonderful food and beautiful weather, and I did the things I love - all without spending one single dime. I need more days like this.

*I still owe you that recipe, Catie. I will try and post it here soon.

Photo by: iansand


catie said...

Redefine "remarkable". Given your schedule lately and the hard work you do, I would say a day of leisurely enjoying dinner, a long walk and good sleep is quite remarkable!!

Dawn said...

You're the best, Miss Catie. It was a lovely day.

Miss M said...

You are a machine, no way could I handle two jobs. Working long hours at my current one is bad enough. Glad to hear that spring has finally arrived for you. I enjoy taking walks at lunch too but around here it's just the concrete jungle and there is plenty of wildlife, just not the kind with fur and feathers.

Dawn said...

Well Miss M, I bet you could do it if you had too. Besides, my part time jobs are fun and I work with fun people, which makes it a lot easier. The fact that I don't have a regular schedule with them helps too. I worked a lot on the part time jobs last month, but this month I don't have anything lined up yet. If I had to do it every week, it would be harder.

Your comment about the wildlife was pretty funny!! I am glad I don't have to worry about that too much and can still get some good walking time in.

Frugalchick said...

Sounds like my kind of day! Very lovely and serene.

Dawn said...

Frugalchick - it was my kind of day too, funny that I don't get many of them. I guess that just makes me appreciate it more.