Self Care In Stolen Moments

grilled-ham-cheese-and-tomatoIn an unexpected turn of events, both kids ended up at grandma’s.

She could do laundry, rake leaves, return phone calls or unload the dishwasher.

She could clean the cat box, change the water in the fish bowls, pick up the remnants of thread from last night’s craft fest, or run errands.

Without giving it any more thought, she jumped in the car and headed for the wine shop.  She re-filled a bottle with basil-infused olive oil and selected an every-day bottle of red wine.

When she got home, she kicked off her shoes and ignored the mess.

She cued Nora Jones on Pandora and stood at the kitchen sink looking out the window at the crimson leaves waiting for a strong gust of wind.

She spied a ripe tomato on the windowsill and went to work.

She put a cast iron pan on medium heat; thinly sliced the tomato; thickly sliced the Monterey Jack, grabbed two slices of bread and butter.  She gathered deli ham, balsamic vinegar, Italian Seasoning and a jelly jar.

She layered ham on one slice of bread, added cheese and tomato, and covered with the other slice of bread.  She spread one outer side of the sandwich with butter and placed it in the warmed pan.  She buttered the remaining side.

She kept the heat at medium so the cheese would slowly melt, sealing the tomatoes to the ham while the bread slightly toasted.

She poured an inch of cabernet in the jelly jar.

She turned up the volume on Pandora.

She glanced again through the kitchen window, took a deep breath and didn’t let herself think about laundry, raking, dishes or bills.

She flipped the sandwich and took a sip of wine.

She cleared a place on the kitchen table, moving things aside, not putting them away.

Once the sandwich was toasted and the cheese was melty, she moved it to a plate and separated the sandwich to reveal the warmed tomato slices.  She drizzled balsamic and the basil-infused olive oil over the tomatoes, soaking the toasted bread.  She dusted the tomatoes with Italian Seasoning.

After another sip of wine, she took her first bite.


It’s not often that she has a moment to herself.  She seldom takes the time to fix herself something yummy to eat.

As she savored the sweetness of the tomatoes, the richness of the cheese and the earthiness of the balsamic, she tried to direct her thoughts.

In her mind, she tied a wide, crimson-colored satin bow around the things she ought to do next.

She pushed them all aside.

Instead, she imagined opening a gift.

The gift was a present to herself.  As she unwrapped the package, images began flying out of the box.  The images represented all the things she was grateful for:  her happy, healthy smiling kids; their cozy little home; good friends and family and her own health.

She took another bite as she visualized more images flying out of the package.

There were the projects she’d completed; the trips they’d taken; the book she’d finished; and the new goals lined out.

In this rare quiet moment, she had the space and time to take stock of, and enjoy her accomplishments.  Instead of fretting about what needed to be done, she thought of the tasks and projects she’d managed to complete.

She allowed herself to be proud of those completed projects.

She had set her own goals and standards, and proved that she could meet them.

She could feel the momentum that comes from making changes and completing projects.

There was more to be done.

There would be more to be thankful for.

And then she heard their footsteps on the front porch.

The door burst open, letting in two kids and a flurry of leaves.

“What’s that smell? Mmmm….  Will you make me one?”


Grilled Ham, Cheese and Tomato

  • Italian Bread
  • Deli Honey Ham – thinly sliced
  • Monterey Jack Cheese – thick slices
  • Tomato – from the garden, if you are lucky
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Basil-infused Olive Oil – Extra Virgin Olive Oil will do nicely
  • Italian Seasoning – or Oregano
  • Butter

Layer ham, cheese and tomatoes between slices of bread.  Butter the top and place buttered side down in a cast iron skillet that has warmed on medium heat.  Toast slowly to melt the cheese and warm the tomatoes.  Butter top before flipping.

Once the sandwich is toasted, remove from heat and separate.  Lightly drizzle the olive oil and balsamic over the tomatoes, letting some soak into the bread.  Sprinkle with seasoning.

Take bites of sandwich and sips of wine while picturing all the things you are grateful for.

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  1. Sounds like a lovely “thanksgiving” meal!!

  2. Good for you! I took the day to work for myself and am proud of what I accomplished today. Self-negligence has kept me from sleeping well the past 2 nights. I have one more thing to do and maybe then I can catch up on some zzzzzs. I feel the peace creeping in already. Tomorrow is a new day and back to the work grind, but today I needed the pause from the demands at work to focus on my needs. Important (hard at times) lesson to learn, but I am getting better. I will be better. I see the light…

  3. Z,

    One day – sometimes one moment – at a time.

  4. or one grilled cheese…

    My elation for grilled cheese was left off my last post. I will definitely try yours! It sounds great. My fav has been similar with rye bread, provolone, basil pesto on the inside of the bread and tomato in the middle. yum yum.

    There is a new restaurant opening here with 40 varieties of grilled cheese. I can’t wait! :D

  5. Z,

    Mm… we might have to move to your neighborhood.

    Another fav is Grilled bacon, tomato and 2 cheeses. Yeah. Bacon. I went there.

    Isn’t grilled cheese the ultimate in comfort food?

  6. I could eat grilled cheese every day! Especially with a cup of homemade soup. I made chicken noodle broth (I freeze some and boil with the noodles at the last minute) AND chili last night. We are set for the rest of the week and weekend. I am sure a paired grilled cheese will be just what we need to cozy up in the warm house after running around all day. I need to pick up some tomatoes though….and maybe some bacon…Trader Joe’s peppered turkey bacon to be exact. Neither tomatoes or bacon lasts long at my house. :)

  7. Z,

    I SO wish we had a Trader Joe’s here.

    The cooking, baking, stocking the freezer and filling the house with the smells of simmering soup or fresh brownies… all of that goes into making my home a haven for myself and my two.

  8. I think that is why we look forward to the cooler weather and the holidays. The kids know the season is not complete for me if I didn’t make all the goodies that come around once a year. And as much as we like to go out and eat, the food from home is so much better. Guess it’s all that love in it!

  9. Jesse,

    One of the first steps I remember taking in finding my voice again was a shift in thinking. I started to remind myself that I was worth hearing–that my opinions mattered–and that I needed to take care of myself so I could be whole for those I loved and love.

    I am still learning and will always be learning, but thank God I am better off today than I was a year ago. It is an unexpected journey I never thought I would be taking, but I am thankful I do not walk it alone.

    Be well–sleep soundly–laugh heartily–live freely

  10. PS Trader Joe’s totally rocks!! I love that store!!! They have the best coffee, chocolate chips, and affordable good wine : ).

  11. Z,

    We just got back from a couple days away where we ate every meal in a restaurant. Lots of fun. We love to eat out, too. By the end of the second day, we were all looking forward to our own cooking – the curse of being good cooks. ;)

  12. Lynn,

    I completely agree with you about the shift in thinking.

    We get so used to being ignored, or not being heard, that we forget we have anything valuable to say. It took me awhile to find my voice, but once I did, that was when I started to feel like a whole person.

  13. Ugh…the apathy I had to overcome to make a change in my life was overwhelming. I didn’t care to have an opinion because what did it matter??? Of course that made me “boring” and “unmotivated”. Fortunately, now I am heard and appreciated at work and home.

    The grilled provolone on rye with tomatoes and spinach sauteed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar was just what I needed this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Do you know Trader Joe’s sells a decent (cheap! $10) alternative to Bailey’s? They rock!

  14. Z,

    Apparently, all those Ns speak from the same script. Haven’t we said that before?

    He often suggested that I was boring, too, unless I agreed with his opinions – then I was brilliant.

    I’m starting to feel the need to whine about the not having a Trader Joe’s.

  15. Your moment sounds lovely! Good on you for your accomplishments! I must make the sandwich!

  16. You know, when I was in Hawaii, I longed for a Target. Walmart was on the other side of the island, but that was all we had. The clientele was right for the area I was living and there was open land near the local mall. So, I wrote them and told them the details. It didn’t happen in my time there, but they put a Target right where I told them to. Funny coincidence? Or a pay it forward to my friends that are stationed there now? :)

    Maybe if you whine about it enough, someone will hear you!

  17. Hey Marci!

    Nice to hear from you. Enjoy the sandwich with your sweetie!

  18. Z,

    That’s amazing.

    I’m convinced we don’t have the right clientele in our little town.

    Trader Joe’s is one of the many good reasons to head west and visit my brother and his family.

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