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Simple Pleasures

 

In a recent post I wrote about the importance of gratitude. Part of gratitude is enjoying the here and now; the simple pleasure of just existing. Slowing down long enough to notice what we are doing and seeing right now. The simple pleasure of enjoying the ordinary things and activities of everyday life is what I am talking about.

So often we are consumed with fear. We are afraid we won’t have money to pay our bills or put food on the table. We are afraid we won’t find a job or if we have one that we might lose it.

We often fear we might lose our good health. Recently I have been reading that Americans fear that America itself is in decline.

Fear is an energy sapper. On the one hand we need to be prepared for all eventualities. But on the other, we can’t let fear consume us either. It is a very delicate balancing act.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said during the Great Depression that, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

In that spirit I offer some simple, mostly inexpensive, pleasures we can enjoy everyday no matter what.

Warm clothes straight out of the dryer.

I chose this simple pleasure first because when I was in between jobs and first learned about and began to live in gratitude as told in the Telephone Books post,  my dryer died on me and I could not afford a new one. Fortunately I had a washer so I did not have to go to the Laundromat for that. Many things I just dried by line drying over the shower curtain rod or the backs of the kitchen chairs. But there were a few things I could not dry that way, like bed sheets. So I had to go to the Laundromat. The Laundromat has never been my favorite place to be. But, I had no choice.

Eventually I was finally able to purchase a used dryer. First time I dried some clothes in it I went to remove them. Oh my!!!! I felt the warm softness and smelled the sweetness of those towels like I had never felt them before in my entire life! The experience was part physical. But mostly it was psychological and emotional. Pure joy!!  I put a warm towel around my neck and just soaked the warmth in until it was ice cold.

I had to be without for a while to really know and understand what pleasure there is in the small, ordinary every day activities of life.

Following are a few other simple pleasures that we can enjoy during these rough economic times and anytime for that matter:

Playing card games with your children

Seeing a beautiful nature scene while out walking or driving

Doing something for someone else 

Baking cookies with your children

Blowing bubbles with small children – or adults

Sleeping in on a rainy or snowy day

Watching the sun rise or set

Going on a picnic

‘Goin Fishing

Playing board games with family and/or neighbors

Reading a book to a small child

Listening to a young child read a story book to you

Having a good laugh

Watching people

Volunteering your time for a good cause

Volunteering at a hospital

Playing in the fallen leaves

Looking at old pictures and laughing and giggling

Playing with your pet.

Working jigsaw puzzles.

What activities would you add to the list?

Simple pleasures are all around of us if we just take the time to slow down, observe, and enjoy.

Featured Recipe   Roasted Red Pepper and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

This dip is a wonderful addition to a buffet table for any holiday, or any time really.

Here is what you will need:

2 red peppers (or 1- 7 ounce jar roasted red pepeprs drained)

About 2 ounces sun dried tomatoes (not in oil), give or take  

6 ounces cream cheese

1-2 tablespoons sour cream

1 good squirt lemon juice

Salt & pepper to taste 

 

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS: You can use jarred roasted red peppers. The dip will not have that wonderful, delicious, roasted flavor though. No matter how expensive, or even inexpensive, I have never found a jarred roasted red pepper that is as good as fresh from your oven. However, sometimes time is of the essence. I understand.

You can also mix all of the ingredients together in a processor if you like your dips perfectly smooth. I like my dips to have some crunch to them and I like something to chew on too. But that is a personal preference. Make your dip any way you like it.

I like red peppers, especially if I am making this for Christmas. But yellow or orange would be just as good. I think yellow and orange peppers are perfect colors for Thanksgiving.

The recipe can be doubled.

Here is what you do:

Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

Then you need to roast the peppers. This is the same procedure I gave you several months ago when I shared a Roasted Red Pepper Salad with you.

In short, this is what you do.

Cut the peppers in half and clean out all the seeds and white membranes on three of the halves. On the fourth, remove the seeds and membranes, but leave the stem on – see the pepper above the bottom three.

Place only three of the halves on a foil lined baking sheet and broil till the skins black.  Place that fourth half in the fridge till serving time.

The broiling will take at least 15-20 minutes. Do not rush this step. This is what makes the roasted peppers so delicious.

While the peppers are broiling cut the sun dried tomatoes into to small pieces. This is best done with scissors. In fact, it is darn near impossible with a knife. Trust me on this.

I don’t cut all of them just in case I don’t need them all. But don’t worry if you cut too many. Just put them in a plastic bag and the next time you make spaghetti, or chili, or stew, or noodle soup, throw a few in. It will make whatever you are cooking one-hundred times more delicious. Every one will think you are the greatest cook in the world. That is what sun-dried tomatoes can do to a dish.

Set the cut tomatoes aside for now. When the peppers are black, like this………..

……………… remove them from the oven and place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until they cool completely. You can also put them in a paper bag to cool. Either way is OK.

When the peppers are cool you must peel them. It is important to get all of the skin off of the peppers. There are few things worse than biting into a piece if hard, burned skin from a roasted pepper. Yikes!!!!

Fortunately, peeling these little sweet morsels of wonderfulness is pretty easy if you have blackened them enough. The skins just peel right off. But do run your fingers over the flesh several times just to make sure you got every last bit of skin off.

Once all the skin of off the peppers, dice them.

Next place the softened cream cheese into a bowl.

Add a good dollop of sour cream. A dollop is a big, over flowing tablespoon full. You may need more later. But start with this amount.

Then squirt a bit of lemon juice into the bowl, too. A squirt is about 1 teaspoon, or there abouts. And even though you probably cannot see the lemon juice in the picture, it is in there, yessireee!

Now mix this stuff all together until it is the consistency of a dip, adding more sour cream and/or lemon juice till you get a nice hippy-dippy consistency to your dip.

Next mix in your chopped roasted pepper and any of the juices from the bowl they cooled in.

Then add and mix in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a dash of salt and pepper and mix well. But do reserve some of the chopped tomatoes for garnishing the finished product. It will make the finished dish much prettier. And pretty is important. It is a simple pleasure discussed above.

Cover with some plastic foil and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

When ready to serve take out that fourth red pepper half – you didn’t think I would forget about that one, did you?

Scoop as much of the dip as will fit into the pepper half and mound nicely.

Remember those chopped sun-dried tomatoes we reserved? Now is the time to sprinkle some of them on top of the dip in the half red pepper.

Place the pepper half we saved way back when we first started this recipe on a serving dish and surround with crackers and crudités. Don’t forget to use some of your baked tortillas that we made last post. I think the salt and/or the salt and pepper ones would be best.

Now isn’t this a lovely red and green plate for your holiday buffet?

Take some dip, take some veggies, take some of your baked tortillas and dig right in. I did! So delish!!!

Bon Appetit!!!!

Cost

2 red peppers                                $2.12

2 ounces sun dried tomatoes           $1.80

6 ounces cream cheese                  $2.12

1-2 tablespoons sour cream            $0.26

1 good squirt lemon juice                $0.07

Salt & pepper to taste

Total cost = $6.37
Cost for 6 people = $1.06 per person

Quote of the Day: 

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back
and realize they were the big things.

Robert Brault

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5 comments to Simple Pleasures

  • Warm clothes from the dryer are very nice. I leave the basket of warm clothes sitting out for my two cats. One of them in particular likes to make a little nest and sleep there for hours. Some of the clothes may get quite wrinkled because I didn’t hang them up right away, but that’s a small price to pay.

    I have slept on a water bed since 1976 (they were much more popular then and I find it’s the best thing for my back). In the winter, I put the clothes a plan to wear the next day under the blankets at the foot of the bed (I’m short). When I put them on in the morning, they’re toasty warm.

    • Roberta

      Toasty warm clothes in the morning sounds wonderful. I can not do water beds. Motion sickness. For real. Glad to hear it helps your back though.

  • Back in 2007 I was pretty unhappy, very filled with stress and anxiety. We got a dog. There is nothing so calming, so pleasing as walking Yogi. Even after the worst days of my last job, I would feel so much better after just taking Yogi around the block.

    Now I’m home with him and I have the time to take him farther, to better places to walk. It gives me the opportunity to explore my local area and to see some of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen. Even when my inclination is to sit at home and watch reruns of “Bones”, I’m not willing to disappoint Yogi. So we go out, and I always, always feel better for it.

    • Roberta

      Fearless ~ What a touching post. Thank you for sharing. Brought a few tears to my eyes. Pets are so wonderful. They give so much and ask so little. Yogi is very lucky to have you as his friend, and you him.

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