Big Ben: one gigantic time keeper
Time is a curious commodity. We often wish we had more, and we often waste it. Sometimes, we wish it would go faster, and other times we wish it would slow down or stop all together. We want to protect it and sometimes have a hard time sharing it or giving it away.
Lately, my relationship with time has been changing. A few months ago, I left my full-time day job so that I could devote more of my time and focus to my art and jewelry. When I worked my 9 to 5 job, time was a constant source of frustration. I never felt like I had enough of it inside my job to get all my work done or outside my job to do what I loved to do: be creative and be with friends once in a while. I longed to free up more time, especially for my creativity.
When I finally left my job, I expected to feel this immense time-frantic weight lift. Strangely, it did not, and I still find myself wishing there were more hours in the day and another day in the week so I could be in my studio longer getting more done. What I'm learning for myself is that, as long as there are things to do, I will always feel like I could use more time. I know others have the opposite struggle of not knowing how to fill the hours of the day. But for me, I'll always long for more time and wish I didn't need to sleep so that I could have more waking hours.
So in recognizing that my frustration with time has not changed despite the change in my life situation, I realize that I need to work on my relationship with time. I'm trying a few things to do this:
Mrs. Bristol Cuts Ham (from old-photo.com)
Before grocery superstores were a quick drive away and take-out was a quick phone call away, people had to carefully plan their eating. Cost and versatility were important considerations. People had to work with what was available from their local grocer, butcher and baker.
I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Approaching eating in this way forces you to slow down. First of all, you must take time to plan: determine what and how much you can make with what's available. You need to carve out a pretty good chunk of time to shop. And then of course you need time to prepare the food. Preparing and eating food this way seems so much healthier: it involves less rushing around, gives you a deeper appreciation for your ingredients and the people who've prepared them, and is more cost effective.
So in my own life, I've been trying to go more old school with managing the household food supply. It's less complicated for me because my household is small: just my husband and me. Since I've been planning a bit more carefully, we have both noticed a positive difference in our culinary lifestyle. We eat waaaay better, for less money, and spend more time eating together.
One thing I'm learning is how to use meat more resourcefully. Instead of buying small packages of meat, I've tried buying larger cuts and using them in multiple ways. One of my favourites - especially for winter - is a hefty bone-in ham. I usually buy a half, weighing between 7 and 10 lbs. (I'm guessing), and I can get about five meals out of it. I start with this awesome recipe: Old-Fashioned Ham with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze. After smelling it cook all afternoon, we'll have some for dinner, and then I have tons left over. I put some in the fridge for the next few days for lunches and meals, and some goes in the freezer. Here are some of the things I've done with the leftovers:
Give it a try yourself and have a ham.
Sometimes when I work in my studio, I like to work in quiet with only a subtle soundtrack of outdoor sounds of birds, kids playing, or garbage trucks rumbling by. Quite often, though, my work soundtrack is Radio Paradise, an internet radio station run by Bill and Rebecca Goldsmith from Paradise, California.
Bill is the voice of Radio Paradise. In a radio universe dominated by obnoxious voices, crude and disrespectful banter, and noise, Bill's soft-spoken and infrequent interjections are refreshing. He comes on air maybe twice an hour, just to let you know what songs you're hearing, and his commentary is limited if any. The focus is completely on the music. He takes thought and care in organizing the playlist, as it evolves sonically and thematically from one song to the next.
Rebecca manages the content of the playlist, combing through multitudes of albums and listener suggestions to bring interesting selections to the listeners. I absolutely love the variety and uniqueness that Radio Paradise offers. This is what I'll hear in a given day of listening: my favourite acts like U2, REM, Van Morrison, Arcade Fire and the Avett Brothers; classic artists from Duke Ellington and Al Green to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and David Bowie; the good stuff to come out the '80s, like Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, The Smiths and The Cure; folk, reggae, rock, classical, jazz and blues from all over the world; an array atmospheric and sonic experimentation music, like Sigur Ros, Hooverphonic and Thievery Corporation; and countless lesser-known but incredible artists who never get regular radio play. In fact Radio Paradise pretty much steers clear of the usual Top 40.
When I describe to people what kind of music Radio Paradise plays, I usually say that the unifying characteristic of their playlist is good and true songwriting. So, if you think of any great song writer (or even composer), Radio Paradise probably plays their music. I've been introduced to some wonderful artists by listening to Radio Paradise: Madeleine Peyroux, Elbow, Gomez, Anna Ternheim, Snow Patrol, Ray Lamontagne, and Antje Duvekot to name just a few. It has also helped me rediscover some of my forgotten favourites . . . too many to list. Some of these artists are well-known, but many I wouldn't likely have encountered (or re-encountered) had I not listened to Radio Paradise.
So if you need a break from the auto tuned, over-processed and hectic world of regular radio, give RP a listen.
p.s. My many hours of enjoying Radio Paradise are thanks to my friends Jonathan and Julie Hunse who introduced me to it.
In any studio, organization is a continuous process. I constantly tweak my workspace to make it more efficient, comfortable and navigable.
On my desk is a flower pot in which I keep all my paper cutting tools, and it has always been a mess. One day, I was Googling around, and I stumbled on some posts and photos about organizing stuff with empty toilet paper rolls. Aha! This would be the perfect solution! So I dumped out all my tangled tools, and put four empty toilet rolls inside the pot, and voila!, it was divided into nice neat sections. Now I have easy-to-find sections for (going clockwise) scissors, my fancy cutting contraptions, punches, and x-acto knives. And there's still room left to hang more punches on the side of the pot. I love this so much: I never have trouble finding my tools. Now I'm going to find some other stuff I can organize with toilet paper rolls.
My Mom was upcycling before it was a big deal . . . before it was even called upcycling.
On top of that, my Mom has always had a deep love and sense of responsibility for the earth. It's a love she and my Dad share. My parents see the earth as God's masterful gift that he entrusted to us. Nature has always been a place where they meet God and feel renewed. Most of my childhood vacations and day trips were spent exploring the land, hiking, canoeing, skating or cross country skiing.
Wherever we lived, my Mom usually found a way to have a vegetable garden, and she took great joy (and still does) in caring for it and harvesting its yields. She canned and froze what she grew, and my family ate her harvest late into the winter. What she couldn't grow herself, she picked at local farms to preserve for the rest of the year. I always loved how my Mom's cold storage looked, with its neat rows of colourful jars and baskets of potatoes and apples.
She taught my brothers and I to be grateful for what we had and regularly reminded us not to waste. And she lived what she spoke. Before recycling was commonplace, my Mom tried to recycle in her own way by turning waste into something useful. In our house, bleach bottles were turned into trash cans, tin cans became containers or baking pans, bottles were reused as jars for her homemade jam, and paperboard from packaging was reused for recipe cards and crafts. We always had a kitchen drawer overflowing with every variety of plastic bag so they could be reused. (It made me very cranky to wash all those bags, but my Mom persisted.) She worked hard to make food go as far as possible. (The More with Less Cookbook by Doris Longacre was her culinary bible.)
Little did I know that all my Mom's choices would leave such a mark on me.
myself, "Why is this so important to me? Why do I feel such a need to do this?" And I began to realize, it's mostly because of my Mom and her bleach bottle trash cans, vegetable gardens and frequent reminders to be grateful and responsible for what we have.
Now, my Mom helps me at art and craft shows, and she's one of my best "garbage collectors". She always asks me, "Where do you get all these ideas?" I usually say, "I don't know." But really, it pretty much started with her.
Jane Hogeterp Koopman
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