Friday, August 26, 2011

You can never have too many tomatoes

So I have this problem.

I know I should be writing every day and every day I think of great things I want to write about but then I get busy and then I think of even more things I want to write about and then I have so much to write about that I don't even know where to start.  So I don't write anything at all.

Its like a balloon getting bigger and bigger and bigger until it just…pops.  And then there is nothing.

I get overwhelmed with things like this a lot: family, cleaning, marking math tests, returning phone calls, you name it.  I just get so overwhelmed with stuff to do that sometimes I can't seem to do anything at all.  It is just too much.  Every few months, my bubble just bursts.

I thought I was on the road to solving this problem last spring when I started reading  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (which I loved, BTW…it is one of my new bibles).  She says that one way to lead a happier life is to reduce the clutter in your life, both the clutter of stuff and the clutter of stuff to do.   How?  Well, anything that takes less than a minute to do, do it.  Don't save it for later because it will only take a minute.  Things like returning an email or putting a glass in the dishwasher.  You see, all these minutes add up to clutter and, in my case, feeling totally overwhelmed.

So I followed her advice and put the glass in the dishwasher and returned easy emails and all those other things that only take a minute to do.  Unfortunately, family dinners, cleaning my entire closet, getting ready for the new school year, and about a million other things take more than a minute to do.  So once again, it was just becoming too much and my balloon was getting dangerously big.

Sort of like a bumper crop of tomatoes.

Confused?  Let me explain.

A few weeks ago, my tomato crops began to ripen and at first I had one, maybe two tomatoes a day.  Then it was three.  Then it was five.  Then it was more than me, my sister Sari, and her daughter, Kate, could carry at once.  I panicked and told Kate to stop picking the tomatoes.  It was too much!I was overwhelmed. What could I possibly do with all these tomatoes?  At this point, I was willing to let some tomatoes get overripe on the vine rather than add to the burden of my bumper crop. 

Grilled Tomatoes with Basil
Use firm, not too juicy tomatoes for this.  Roma, Plum, or San Marzano (what I used) work well.
1.  Cut tomatoes in half the long way and put face up on a piece of tin foil.2.  Brush with a mixture of olive oil, minced garlic, and salt.3.  Put tin foil right on the grill and grill on a medium heat for about 10-15 min.  Or until they get warm and a little dried out but still keep their shape.4. Carefully transfer to a serving dish and top with chopped fresh basil 5.  Enjoy!  They are smokey and sweet and soft and so so good! 
But then my sister pointed out how lucky I was to have so many beautiful tomatoes, that instead of being a burden, it was a blessing.  She pointed out all the amazing things I could do with the tomatoes: tomatoes on the pizza, tomatoes in the guacamole, tomato and feta cheese salad, tomatoes in the salad, and grilled tomatoes. And that was all in just one meal!  And it was amazing. And you know what?  Not one person complained that night that I had served too many tomatoes for dinner.  

The next day, I thought about this as I picked even more tomatoes.  All of a sudden it hit me. I didn't have too many tomatoes at all.  I had been feeling overwhelmed because I was looking at the tomatoes as one giant tomato that was seemingly just getting bigger and bigger instead of appreciating each individual tomato for the delicious gift that they it really is.  

Sort of like life.

I am lucky that I have a wonderful job that I am good at.  I am lucky that I have a big and loving family that likes to get together so often.  I am lucky that I have the ability to buy so many shoes that I can't even keep them all in order.  My life is not a burden,  my life is not overwhelming.  It is just really, really full.  Like a giant bushel of beautiful tomatoes.
One day's tomato harvest
Notice how each one is imperfect and beautiful in its own unique way?


  1. Amazing.
    The staff room table is a great place for an over flow bumper crop :)

  2. Does that mean you're back, Cheng?