“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” (Annie Dillard)
I read the above quote a few years ago, back when I was compiling a 25th anniversary scrapbook for my parents in which people wrote and told of gifts and memories and experiences they’d had with my mom and my dad, and I was reflecting then the way I’ve been reflecting lately, about what are the most meaningful things we do, about what we really want. I’ve been asking myself: How am I spending my days, since that’s how I’m spending my life? And then, is the way I am spending them good?
Of course the easy way to define our days is by our full-time gigs, be it school or work or motherhood or something else that requires most of our time, and I’ve done that before: I’ve sat down to dinner with friends and explained my class load. I’ve called myself a copywriter. I’ve mentally calculated some kind of personal net worth. But the older I get, the more I see those things—while important—are not the only things.
Now when I look at my days, I look instead at harder questions: how am I pursuing things that matter? what am I accomplishing? where’s my passion? whom do I love? how is my life improving someone else’s?
I am convinced and convicted that these are questions we can ask from a cubicle or a kitchen, in our teens or in old age, no matter where we’re working or whom we’re working with. And in my particular case, these are questions that have prompted some pretty major changes.
So. Are you ready for this? Here is my news: as of tomorrow morning, I am self-employed. I have left my job, my regular paycheck, my health insurance for the time being, and after three years of working in an office—managing and copywriting, blogging and editing—I am going to be writing strictly from home. I’ve got one steady client, and I’m eager for more (Need a writer? I’m your girl!), and I’m excited about so many byproducts of this decision, from the opportunity to cook and blog more to possibilities for travel and moving.
Working from home is something I’ve always dreamed of doing, and while I may not do it forever, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to do it now. As my (encouraging, inspiring, always-my-cheerleader) dad told me, Now is the time to do these sort of things. You are young.
I love him for saying that, for believing this is possible, for pushing me to just do it. Truth is, I don’t want to look back on my life and know I was too scared to step out, too afraid to take what feels like a risk. So I am doing this.
In some ways, it feels like my entire world is changing; in others, it’s like things are exactly the same. I have always wanted to spend my days profitably; just now I’ll be doing so in the offices of my bedroom, a random a coffee shop, a library, anywhere I want, maybe wearing blue jeans, maybe eating ice cream. Why not?
Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream
Adapted from Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book, as seen at The Splendid Table
This has truly been a June worth homemade ice cream. In every way.
This version, based off Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia recipe, is tweaked to be a little healthier/more natural, as well as packed with extra cherries and chocolate. But for the strong taste of honey, it has been absolute heaven—you’ll see below about how much honey I used to make the syrup; next time I’d probably leave it out or reduce it, but the choice is yours.
1 (or if you’re like me, 1.5) of those 3.5-ounce very dark chocolate bars (I love the ones by Trader Joe’s checkouts), chopped into fine pieces/shavings
1/2 cup fresh Bing cherries, halved and pitted
1/2 cup Sucanat (or you could use sugar)
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup sorghum syrup (or you could maybe use maple syrup)
2 large eggs
2 cups organic heavy or whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
Place the shaved chocolate flakes and the cherries in separate bowls. Cover and refrigerate.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine Sucanat, honey and sorghum syrup, letting the mixture thicken into a sweet syrup. Add the cherries as it cooks, so they can infuse the syrup with flavor and to give them a nice glaze. When finished, strain the cherries and put them back in the fridge. Let the syrup cool slightly.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the syrup mixture, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend.
[At this point, you can put the mixture in an ice cream maker and follow its instructions; I chose to go a more traditional route this time.] Transfer the mixture to a freezer-safe container, cover and pop it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Take it out and blend for five minutes with a hand mixer. Repeat this process three or four times, until the ice cream is the thick, creamy texture you want. Between us, I used no timer with this and popped my ice cream in the freezer for three hours at one interval. This method is forgiving.
After the ice cream is stiffened (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the chocolate and the cherries, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready. (If it’s too frozen, just set it on the counter to thaw a little before adding the cherries and chocolate, no problem.)