Thankful Thursday: Chicken Dinner

Dear Alton Brown,

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to you for showing the world how to butcher a whole chicken. For a few reasons, I like to buy a whole chicken instead of just the parts. For one, that carcass makes for a tasty stock, and I do enjoy a good bowl of homemade chicken soup. For another, I’m sure you realize the price per pound is more like a couple of dollars after the butchers do all that work for you. I know you shop at Publix — you can black out the name of the store all you want, I know what their herbs, milk, etc. look like — so I know you know boneless skinless chicken breast can go for $3.99/lb, whereas a whole chicken goes for about $1.29/lb. I’d say that’s a pretty steep up-charge for letting the guys behind the counter do the messy work for me.

Now I admit it was a little tricky at first. I’ve never used your techniques before, so you do mention that it takes some practice. However, it went smoothly after I got a bit more confident. That second drumstick and thigh? Came apart just like you said. Now I can buy whole chickens year-round, knowing I won’t have to turn the oven on just to cook the whole darn thing! Tonight, I’m able to cook the dark meat with some root vegetables. Tomorrow, I can turn my boneless skinless white meat into a delicious stir fry. And on top of the stove, I’ve tossed the carcass and a mirepoix into a pot of water to boil down into a stock. Thanks again for taking the guess work out of butchering up a very versatile meat! You’re the best!


P.S. By the way, you also gave me the courage to chop my own garlic. And you shared a great recipe that can sometimes keep the boxes of brownie mix out of the house — I say sometimes because sometimes when Publix has the buy one get one free deals on Ghiradelli, I can’t resist the unmentionable ingredients. Hey, we’ve all got our guilty pleasures, don’t we?


Grateful for the Experience

I recently learned that my time at the University of Florida’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering was actually fairly impactful — the department’s graduate program was ranked number 2 by the National Research Council. In order to rank a school each year, the previous year needs to be taken into account. This would mean both of my designed-from-scratch newsletter, my brochures, and my work on the 50th Anniversary booklet all were taken into consideration when evaluating the program. How much clout these publications had in ranking the program, I’m not sure. What I am sure about, however, is that I feel proud to have had a hand in the ascension of the program. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to work with such great people, too. I’m proud of their impact on the program. Most of all, I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to put my creativity and talents to use, both gaining experience and bettering the department I worked with for two and a half years. As soon as I can find a link to the rankings, I’ll gladly share it.


Thankful Thursday: Sleep!

Last week you’ll recall my sleepless plight. This week, I’m rejoicing in the delightful feeling of sleeping for 7-8 hours for the past few nights. Monday night I got to sleep for 7 cumulative hours, Tuesday night I got to sleep for 8 whole hours, and last night I got to sleep for roughly 7 hours again. The baby’s teeth are through the gums, therefore meaning he’s in much less pain now — presumably, anyway. It’s such a glorious feeling to wake up feeling mostly refreshed. Granted, I’m still running on a deficit and trying to catch up, but I’m so relieved to not see the wee hours of the morning. The lack of sleep has been affecting me physically and mentally. I’ve been feeling slow and sick, and my mind isn’t as quick and sharp as usual. I highly disagree with the saying “sleep is for the weak” — actually, weakness is the result of sleep loss, Mr. or Ms. Inventor-Of-That-Saying. And chances are, that person’s disdain for sleep led to a much earlier demise than if s/he realizes that a good night’s sleep (or enough naps to equal that good night’s sleep) functions to restore a person physically and mentally. In fact, some prisoners of war have been tortured by being forced to stay awake for prolonged periods of time. Lack of sleep leads to more car accidents. While you are sleeping, your body goes to work repairing and rejuvenating. Without sufficient sleep, people can literally go crazy. I for one believe the strong understand that sleep is an important part of living a healthy life. Knowing your body’s limits is most definitely a strength, not a weakness.

And now, I’m going to take advantage of the baby’s nap by napping myself. Ah, delicious sleep!


Gratitude # 77

At this very moment in life, I can count many blessings that make any uncomfortable life changes that much more tolerable. This life change itself is a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t happy with the job change I made, and I had several red flags warning me that it was the wrong move to make even before beginning the process of counter offering. However, we all know what they say about hindsight. There’s only so much living in the past a person can do before moving on and absorbing the lesson – and that’s exactly what this was. I learned a valuable lesson about trusting my instincts over looking to others to justify something that just doesn’t feel right. I learned not to trust someone just because they seem personable. I learned that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than I truly deserve, regardless of how “good” it might seem on the surface. I learned once again that minutes are most definitely worth more than money, and that the people you surround yourself with are more important than the digits before the decimal point on your paycheck. I discovered that right now I’m in a place where I haven’t been before. You see, I had a life changing moment like this nearly three years ago, and I didn’t handle it nearly as well as I’ve handled this. Brian has noted that I seem happier than I did in a long time. I have shocked myself with how happy I am despite the fact that I’m involuntarily unemployed at this juncture. Imagine that!

I think I have grown and changed in such a way that I trust that everything will be as it should. I have experienced enough uncomfortable situations in my life thus far that I know determination and perseverance can carry you quite a long way. I’ve learned to live in the moment, to value the present. While I still have moments of rehashing the past in my mind or agonizing over the future, I’m becoming much more mindful. I’m focusing so much more of my efforts on making my dream – the dream to become a consultant and freelancer – become a way of life. I don’t doubt it will still take some time before I can consider it to be a fully supporting way of life, but everyone has to start out small at some point or another. This is my time, and I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity. I am so grateful to have built a network of good friends, and I am grateful for each one of my readers. Life is much better than it seems.