There is a woman that lives on my street who I see walking to and from the bus stop every day. I see her in any kind of weather – the most sweltering days of summer and the most brutal days of winter. She rides the bus to her job at our local big box department store, where I have seen her several times. I don’t know her name, and I’ve never met her. But I envy her.
It seems to me that she has a simple life. And sometimes I wish my own life were this simple. She doesn’t drive and, as far as I know, doesn’t own a car. And yet it appears that she is managing just fine. Wouldn’t that be great? No car payment, no insurance payment, no gas bill, no repairs. Ah, such a relief!
The grass is looking greener to me right now because my own vehicle has broken down once again. I just had it in the shop a week ago for a few minor repairs that cost me $350.00. One week later, I’m calling my auto club to request a tow truck. And this time, it isn’t something minor. With more than 227,000 miles on my Subaru, I’m faced with the prospect of having to replace it. Bus fare looks like a much more affordable alternative.
In suburban areas of the US, we are a society that has become dependent on private transportation. Owning a vehicle has become a necessity, rather than a luxury. I consider myself very fortunate to have driven this car for 13 years. There are not many people who can say that. I certainly got my money’s worth.
But let’s face it, I’ve gotten myself into a dilemma. I haven’t planned for a way to replace it. There’s no room in my current budget for the expenses of a new car. I’ve carried on for years, spending money that should have been saved for a moment just like this. I admit I’m a terrible saver. Like many Americans, I happily ignored my impending problem and have lived beyond my means. I have some tough decisions to make.
I keep thinking about why I need all this stuff. How did I become this person who NEEDS cable, phone, Internet, cellular service, rent, gas, electric, water, insurance, garbage removal, lawn service, gym memberships, salon services, clothing, clothing, clothing, food, food, food! Are all of these things really critical to my quality of life? I have begun to question almost every purchase I make. I think 2015 is going to be a year for re-prioritizing — how I use my money and my time.
I started this blog as a creative outlet, but also as a way to bring my attention to things in my life that I wanted and needed to change. To go on this spiritual journey, I have to shine the light on all areas of my life that need work. I’ve shared stories here about the emotional heartaches that I’ve gone through and how I’ve overcome them. I’ve blogged about setting intentions to focus on my physical, mental, and emotional health. Looks like it’s time to also add financial health to that list of intentions.
With all these things on my mind, I knew it was time for some Kitchen Therapy! Christmas is a few days away, and it’s a great time to make some sweet treats to give as gifts.
Kitchen Therapy: Session Five
Sometimes it’s OK to be a cheater. At least when it comes to cooking! Today I took some easy short cuts to make two traditional holiday cookies. Thanks to ready-to-use cookie dough, I made Christmas cut-outs and peanut butter blossoms. The sugar cookie dough was packaged in sheets. Just cut, bake, decorate. We have a collection of antique cookie cutters that were my Grandmother’s. I love to get them out at the holidays. A few more modern ones mix in. I’m not the most creative cookie decorator — egg wash and sanding sugar are good enough for me.
I tried a new twist on the peanut butter blossoms. As they came out of the oven, I topped each cookie with a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup instead of a Hershey Kiss. So yummy! Trouble is, the chocolate softens on the warm cookies. My trick is to put the cookies in the refrigerator for a few minutes to re-harden the chocolate. Once cooled, you can pack them into containers.
I did not cheat on making these coconut confections! I absolutely love coconut, but this recipe took some muscle. It used two cups of confectioners sugar, four cups of unsweetened, finely shredded coconut, and one 14oz. can of sweetened, condensed milk. I mixed by hand. Then divided the mixture into two equal parts. I used red food coloring to dye one part. Mixing the color thoroughly was a lot of work! Using a 9 inch square pan lined with non-stick foil, I pressed the red layer down into the pan first. Then topped it off with the white layer. It firmed up in the fridge. Cutting was easy with a wet knife.
Everything is better with chocolate. So it seemed fair to soothe my spirit with a little melted Ghirardelli today. I cut a small slit into each dried apricot, then slipped a whole roasted, salted almond inside. I melted 60% cocoa chips in a glass bowl in the microwave. Only about 20 seconds at a time, then stirred to melt the chips. I dipped half of each apricot into the chocolate and placed them on parchment paper to harden. Can’t let any chocolate go to waste, so I used up the leftovers on marshmallows.
These little gems make great hostess gifts or a nice addition to a Christmas cookie tray. I packaged up small portions in plastic wrap and Christmas themed cardboard boxes.
I didn’t come up with a solution to my car dilemma, but I enjoyed getting lost in the kitchen for a while. Somehow I also managed to finish most of my gift wrapping. I think I’m almost ready for the holiday to arrive. I know I’m ready for some peace and simplicity to arrive!
© Vulnerable Path, 2014