Archive for the ‘procrastination’ Category


Things I Won’t Be Doing Any Time Soon: Alphabetizing My Canned Goods, Ironing My Socks And Underwear So They’ll Take Up Less Room In The Dresser, Making Edible Paint From Avocadoes And Peppers, Pureeing Parsnips, And Sautéing Brussels Sprouts In Duck Fat

July 6, 2010

The trouble with simple living is that thought it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn’t simple. • Doris Janzen Longacre

Katie Brown strikes again while we eat breakfast. I’d promise that I will never write about her again, but since I’ve only seen part of her show–Next Door with Katie Brown–twice and this is the second post she’s inspired, I suspect that there will be more KB in my bloggish future.

She’s decorating serving platters (mirrors) with squeeze bottles filled with three colors of edible paint made from avocado and red and yellow peppers. I missed the avocado paint, but the yellow pepper paint she made took two cups of olive oil and she told us to repeat the instructions for deskinning red peppers and making them into a decorative vinaigrette too.

That’s four cups of olive oil, folks, making this recipe neither simple nor cheap. That’s a lot of plate paint. (Her website slogan, you may remember, is “Keep It Simple.”) And all this effort is for decoration that will be messed up the moment someone removes one of the carefully placed hors d’oeuvres from the carefully decorated mirrors. Squirty stuff for the crowd. At least on an individual plate, the goodness can be smeared and savored.

I’m reminded of something I wrote down while watching Martha Stewart the day before Thanksgiving 2005. A woman asks Martha what she can fix ahead for the next day. Here are Martha’s suggestions: Brussels sprouts sautéed in duck fat and parsnips pureed with pears. These would not be crowd pleasers at our house even if we could find the duck fat. We love veggies, but parsnips and Brussels sprouts aren’t hanging around in our fridge.

You might wonder how this is related to anything I do since I have made it pretty clear that I don’t dust very often and I seldom cook any more, having gotten that sort of thing out of my system in my years of writing a cooking column, imagining that I would major in home economics, and sublimating my creative talents in service to making home.

The homes I write about now are mostly classroom homes, although The House of Stuff still gets my attention since our living space is a retreat into a world of our own creation. Here’s something I know about creating home. It isn’t about serving fancy food or making sure the house is spotlessly clean. It isn’t about culinary (or lesson planning and delivery) perfection. For me, it’s about surrounding myself with things that make me smile and things that make me think. It’s about being welcoming and relaxed and enjoying the people I’m with, whether they’re friends or family or students.

This is also good advice if you’re a student who wants to cultivate friends and study buddies plus it’s peripherally related to my research into procrastination since I’m pretty sure I’d be very good at putting off making edible paint for the next party I give.

Each of us things we choose not to do in order to make more time for the things that matter most to us. What are your left-undones and your must-dos?

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
• Lin Yutang