What I’ve been reading: Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte

Overwhelmed_BookCoverI finally finished Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time by Brigid Schulte earlier this week. It had been on my to-read list for over a year, which feels about right given the subject matter.

I continued to align with the subject matter as I read the book. As I was going to bed, I checked my email one last time to discover that the ebook was finally available from the library. I set a reminder on my phone to remember to load the book onto my ereader at 6:15am the next morning so I could have it for my commute. When the library’s website wouldn’t work after multiple attempts, I went to make Flora’s lunch and came back to try to download it one more time. That’s when I missed my train and was late for work.

I spent several train trips home reading this book. I was visibly emotional more than once during the early parts of the book. I related to so much of what Ms Schulte was talking about: the fragmented bits of time (called Time Confetti), the feeling that nothing was truly getting done. The Overwhelm. My sadness turned to anger as I read – and related to – the data, stories and anecdotes spelling out what I’ve believed for a long time: the way we work – and by extension, live and play –Β  is wrong, and we can do better.

I was relieved when the end of the book didn’t end with big promises of a new life, if only you did the following three things. It didn’t read like a self-help book and it didn’t feel overly academic or dry. It was readable and relatable, which explains my occasional crying jag while reading it.

I am so grateful to Ms Schulte to writing such a thoughtful, readable book on something that is so close to my heart at this stage in my life. I am a serious fangirl of her work that I’ve seen and read online. I’m still working on how to apply what I’ve learned but isn’t that always a work in progress for all of us.

Here’s some further reading:

 

Buckley

Buckley, Buckwheat, Mr Bucklesworth, Bucky, Wheat, Buck. It’s amazing how many names one cat gets.

Back in July, we lost Buckley, our beloved family cat. At nearly 15 years old, he had had a long life, but a sudden illness paralyzed the back end of his body and we had a difficult decision to make.

Buckley was a crabby little kitten, and was actually returned to the pet store by a woman who said he didn’t get along with the cats she already had. Sean overheard her and thought “That’s the cat for me!” and promptly brought him home. When someone picked him up, he’d take a flying leap out of their arms. He eventually settled down but I’d say he adored Sean and tolerated the rest of us.

When Sean and I lived in a first-floor apartment many years ago, we came home one night to see a little black cat wandering around.

“Aww. That cat looks like Buckley.”

“That cat is Buckley.”

And the chase was on to get our indoor cat back inside before he got lost or was run over. When he escaped the house, he liked to hide just far enough under cars so that we couldn’t reach him.

Buckley generally avoided Flora. Like many older cats who suddenly have to share their home with a baby human, I think he was horrified by all the new noises and activity. Flora was taught to be gentle with Buckley from a young age and remarkably, she didn’t chase after him too much. I caught him sleeping on her bed when she was away on at least two different occasions. I like to think he loved her from a distance. I know Flora loved him too.

We all loved him. He was a good cat and an important member of our family. We miss him.

Summer’s not over yet

Β < Insert long, drawn-out, trite paragraph about how I haven’t been writing because I’m too busy Enjoying My Summer With My Family here. >

That’s not quite how not writing here for two months happened, but at least that’s out of the way now.

This time of year feels filled with promise but I still end up with a case of the sads. I love summer and the end of Labour Day always feels like such a buzzkill. I’m the one reminding everyone that summer isn’t actually over yet, but everyone else is too excited about their new school supplies and sweaters to really listen.

My end-of-summer melancholy comes with a side of guilt too. My birthday was on SaturdayΒ  and Flora’s is on Wednesday. Hello thirty-five and five. I shouldn’t be sad around my birthday! And I really shouldn’t be sad around Flora’s birthday either. I like birthdays and getting older doesn’t trouble me much (yet – let’s be honest here). Because this year’s birthdays are significant (in that they’re easily divisible by five), I keep looking at the two of us and wondering “When did it all happen? Am I a good enough mum? Do I do enough for my family?” Then I wish for the proverbial Room of My Own so I can just sit down and create something without everyone hanging off of me and listening to the soundtrack of my choosing. I need to toughen up on that stuff. If I wait for the time to be right, I will never make the time to write.

/end tangent here.

It’s been a good summer. My tomato plants grew taller than Flora and are now drooping over their cages. I’ve harvested the yummiest cherry tomatoes ever for a couple of weeks. I will probably have tomatoes of various types well into September if not longer (weather-dependent of course). We spent lots of time outside. We barbecued. We were just another Ontario family enjoying their summer. And I’m not ready for that summer to be over yet.

What I did on my vacation

May they always look at each other like this
The crowd I spent my vacation with.

Team Mitchell was on vacation last week. We laid low at home and it was wonderful.

Highlights of the week include:

Sean’s birthday. We picked up dinner and had our neighbours over for dinner. I made a cherry cheesecake and it was pretty good for someone who doesn’t bake. I made it from a box, but still, I made cake! I should have made him wear the Dora party hat we have in the cupboard from Flora’s 2nd birthday.

Our ninth wedding anniversary. We didn’t do much to celebrate it, but we did acknowledge it.

I read six novels.Β  I have completed my challenge for 2013 to read 35 books. Now I need to up the number since there’s a lot of 2013 left. Some novels were trashy, but that’s what summer reading is all about.

I played with Instagram video. I’m not sure if I love it yet, but it is fun.

Embedly Powered

Embedly Powered

I took Flora to the ROM. The train trips to and from were big adventures, but an unexpected highlight of our trip was the bat cave. I was convinced she would be terrified of it, but we walked through that thing at least six times in a row.

Train ride
Pink Teddy enjoyed the trip too.

Lots of time spent outside. We went to the park, the splash pad and spent lots of time in the backyard. My favourite afternoon was spent in the backyard just enjoying my family, talking, hanging out and playing.

We’re back to our regular routine today – Sean and I at work and Flora at her school for summer camp. I think our return to routine was almost welcome, but I’ll still look forward to the next backyard party this weekend.

Slacker Recipe: Perogies Alfredo

I feel like I should introduce this post by reminding everyone that I am not the best cook. Better cooks: please proceed with caution.

I was trying to come up with a family-friendly dinner involving minimal effort on Sunday night. It was the last day of March Break and we were all feeling a little worn out and ready to go back to our usual routine. My googling led me to a Pierogies Alfredo recipe I found on Feels Like Home. It looked tasty, but I didn’t have any broccoli. Flora probably would have fought me on it anyway. I simplified the recipe even more to appeal to the pickier eaters in my household (read: Flora and Sean).

Pierogies Alfredo

Ingredients:

  1. 1 package of frozen pierogies (I used potato and cheddar, but use what you like.)
  2. 1 jar of Alfredo sauce
  3. fresh black pepper
  4. bacon bits

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Pour a package of frozen pierogies into the baking dish.
  • Pour a jar of Alfredo sauce over the pierogies and mix it all together.
  • Grind fresh black pepper to taste and sprinkle bacon bits over the pierogies. You can also do this step at the table if like me, you have picky eaters that will flip out if there are spices in their food. Being allowed to customize it at the table is fun too.
  • Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

I didn’t take any pictures because I’m not a food blogger or food stylist. The pierogies were delicious, but completely un-photogenic. I made the whole package, so there were leftovers for our family of three and we had the rest last night. Flora liked sprinkling the bacon bits on them, but she picked at them as four year-olds like to do. Sean and I ate them with great gusto and I will probably make them again. If I was cooking them for more adventurous eaters, I’d add some onion. If I had more time, I’d have probably fried up real bacon to put on them (I did that with my leftovers and it was a good idea.) These are a substantial side-dish so make sure your main is light. We had it with ham slices and mixed veggies and they were good companions.

This would also be a good dish to take to a potluck. I’m writing this recipe down so I remember it the next time I need something easy, quick and comforting.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.