Use what you got!

In the past few weeks, I have found myself tossing empty spice containers into the dishpan for washing (to then be recycled).  It struck me that for many years I rarely tossed out a spice container because I didn’t use most of them (other than garlic powder, pepper and salt).

My spice and herb usage has changed since I began cooking with mostly fresh ingredients in earnest when I moved into the little house in Dorchester six years ago.  I made a decision to prepare dinner and sit down with my then new husband at the dining table to eat it.  I also have had a steady stream of friends and acquaintances over for home-cooked meals.  Since making these decisions, I’ve regularly run out of all sorts of herbs and spices.

It feels good:

  • using them up
  • finishing and replenishing
  • honoring a commitment I made to myself
  • feeling confident
  • exploring new tastes and recipes

While it’s tempting to veer now into a discussion of how my cooking confidence has blossomed because of cooking shows, cookbooks, cooking blogs, etc., that’s not what my original intention for this post was so I’ll resist.

This post is about using what you’ve got.  Like most citizens of the USofA, I have a lot of stuff, despite:

  • having pared-down (necessitated by the miniscule closets in my home and the realities of being a freelancer in this economy),
  • freecycled,
  • donated to Morgie’s, and
  • nearly eliminating most non-essential shopping.

I am now an advocate of using what I’ve got, meaning:

  • Stuff I own (discovering, reusing, renewing, redefining)
  • Stuff around me (public spaces and other places)
  • My noggin (pulling out ideas, acting upon them as well as sharing my thoughts with others)

I now use all of my dishes and napkins for me versus only for company.  I am now perusing old cookbooks and magazines for recipes to try new dishes. I am reading the books in my possession that I haven’t yet read (in addition to those checked out from the library).  I am pulling out and wearing necklaces, earrings, and other accessories that I’ve had but rarely used (sometimes never used).  I’m coming up with new outfits from the clothes I’ve owned for a while now.  And, new for me, I’m rearranging furniture, cabinets, cupboards and table-scapes instead of just keeping things the way they’ve always been.

I’m using my stuff, y’all.  I’m using what I’ve got (internally and externally) and it feels wonderful.  Like my sister advocates:  “wear out not rust out.”

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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