This weekend I took some time on a gloriously rainy Saturday afternoon to putter in the kitchen and make some jam. This seemingly simple project was one literally years in the making. There was a tea bar years ago that served a lovely afternoon tea, including homemade spreads and preserves. One of my very favorites was their strawberry black pepper jam, and I missed it when they closed up shop. Cue the very-occasional brief longing, and then the inspiration to make some myself, and then the busyness that inevitably made me forget about it for another year, and then another… and another. How many times do we think, “I’d like to do XYZ,” and then it hits the back burner as life and to-dos and work take over indefinitely?
Well, my friends, this was the day. I used this recipe from Epicurious, doubled the quantity, and added a good amount of cook time to get the jammy consistency I wanted. It turned out delicious, and I spent a very happy weekend eating my preserves on toast with a bit of chèvre. I also now have 8 little jam pots (very Meg from Little Women, although mine jelled!) sitting in the fridge, ready to be enjoyed or distributed to loved ones.
Not only did I finally get my jam, but the whole little adventure got me thinking about the want-to vs. the have-to. We’re all very busy, all the time. We have tons of things we have to do. I commute a long way, so it often seems that my downtime is even more scarce than most. But the immense satisfaction of enjoying something you really want to do outweighs even the most efficiently handled to-do list every time (and believe me, I love a tidy finished to-do list). Let’s resolve to find more time for the want-to. Schedule it, prepare for it, treat it with the same priority as the rest of your to-do list. It may seem like less “fun” if it is something you have to schedule, but it will be so enjoyable to actually get to paint that watercolor, go explore that new bakery, make that jam, or learn to knit when you finally do make time for it. Trust.