Saturday, November 7, 2009

Getting Small

Remember that Steve Martin comedy routine from the seventies, Let's Get Small?

Well, I thought of this today as I was cleaning out my closet, ridding myself of old clothes and getting organized.

To understand where I am going with this, you must first understand where I am coming from.

About a year ago my husband lost his job due to a corporate restructure.

And after we recovered from the initial shock, something strange came over us, we began to look at it as an opportunity.

Both our kids were in college and we were ready to downsize.

So in a matter of weeks we sold our home and half its furnishings and cleaned out the attic and had a giant garage sale.

We only kept those things of greatest necessity and extreme sentimental value. Everything else was out the door. Riding lawnmower - no longer needed. My daughter's Little Tikes dollhouse - sold. A couple of rusty bicycles - gone. Those afghans Grandma crocheted back in 1970 - I think those went to Goodwill.

Downsizing forces one to edit.
We no longer have space for that formal dining room table or a ten foot Christmas tree. Also, my closet space is one-third what it used to be.

But I don't mind.
What I lost in counter tops and closet space, I gained in free time.
Oh, I do get busy sometimes and let things pile up.
So once in a while I purge.
I go through closets and drawers and clean like mad.
And when I experience a Feng Shui attack, watch out. My husband will never forgive me for tossing out that Sports Illustrated Kids magazine with the Tiger Woods card in it.

Today everything in my life is smaller than it used to be - from my home, to my wardrobe, and even my spice drawer - well, except maybe not my spice drawer.
I think getting small, or downsizing, is a good thing. It simplifies life.

In the news we hear that retail shops are not doing so well.
As a society, I don't think we've stopped shopping and spending just because of the current economic crisis. I think we are craving a less hectic, less materialistic lifestyle. We want to enjoy the important things in life like food and family.
Wouldn't it be great if let's get small could become the new slogan?

Steve was on to something.

In honor of Steve and the seventies, and because I was craving it, I made a modern day version of Rotel Dip - without the Velveeta.

I am all for living a simpler lifestyle, but I am not ready to go back to eating that stuff again.

Rotel Dip (Without the Velveeta)

1. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a heavy saucepan.

2. Add 1 diced onion, 1 chopped jalapeno pepper, and 1 chopped poblano pepper and cook until softened for about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of Ancho Chili Powder, a pinch of Cumin, and also a pinch of salt if you like.

3. Add 3 cloves chopped garlic and cook for another minute.

4. Next add 2 Tablespoons flour to pan and stir around and cook for a minute.

5. Then add 1 cup of milk, and cook until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Then plop in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.

6. Now add whatever 16 ounces of shredded cheese you prefer. Monterey Jack is excellent! But a mixture of Monterey Jack and Cheddar is good too! Remember to add shredded cheese a little at a time - patience grasshopper - you want a smooth dip.

8. Lastly, add 1 can Rotel. Stir on low heat until mixture is melted, smooth and creamy.

Note: I used original Mild Rotel - so I added the jalapeno for a little extra heat - and this still wasn't too hot for me. So if you prefer a spicier dip, you could always use Hot Rotel tomatoes - or add more jalapenos instead.


Linda said...

How funny. The thing is, for me, I never upsized. We moved to a small town, away from the expensive big city that I grew up near, when I was early on into my first marriage and our daughter had just been born. 1st Husband moved back to big city area, and daughter and I stayed here, in the small 3-bedroom, 2 bath, comfortable-for-us 1200 square foot home that we love.

Moved my parents here next door in a similar sized home (except they have the luxury of a basement and a 2-car garage - we only have a 1-car garage).

I'm glad that we never upsized. There are times I wished for the large old home, but many more times that I've been thankful to live in a home that I can pay the mortgage in half of a two-week paycheck and our mortgage payment is far, far less than most peoples rent. It's a blessing to live small.

That being written, we splurge when it comes to many other things because we comfortably can.

I loved your encouraging post and I think it's a sentiment that many would share now or hopefully would lean to in the future.

Glad to read your blog again. :)

Elaine Warner said...

Brilliant -- I love your attitude! I also love Steve Martin and I'd forgotten about getting small. We all should try it -- then I think how our economy is built on wanting more, more, more and the people whose jobs depend on this system and I think we can't win for losing! Thanks for the great recipe -- but I think it will make my butt bigger. And just when I was gearing up to GET SMALL!!!

Michelle said...

Linda -
Thanks for stopping by, I always enjoy reading your comments.

Elaine -
It certainly does seem like a can't win for losing situation when it comes to the economy. And I agree, cheese dip doesn't offer much help in the way of "getting small". I actually thought of that after I wrote the post - as I am on a diet this week. Everything in moderation - food and spending - I guess. Think I'll have to come up with a low-cal soup recipe for next week.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Well said Michelle, The older I get the more I hate clutter. I've been purging my pantry and kitchen drawers recently, I mean, how many spatula's does one need? And you knw what, it feels good. I'm glad all is well with you my friend.

P.S. I use to make that with veleeta, loved it back in the day!

Hungry Passport said...


I'm so glad you and your husband have landed on your feet so, well, elegantly (at least it sounds that way to me). We may not know each other, but I've had you both on my mind. Each time I've heard another story of a downsizing or someone being let go, I've wondered how you two were doing. You've certainly inspired me to be a little more dispassionate in my cleaning and culling.

As for the rotel--WITH velveeta, for me, thanks--that's my one rather low-rent indulgence I refuse to give up. In fact, when a group of us had a 70s theme/fondue party earlier this year, I decided to go the rotel & velveeta route, since that pretty much WAS fondue for the average college student circa 1976. As luck would have it, no one's fondue turned out right, so my R&V was a hit!

Have a great holiday season.