Pajamas at Work & Chicken Provencal

It’s a busy week; taxes are due. More important, in case you’ve forgotten, Wednesday is National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day. Maybe it’s part of the thank-goodness-I-got-my-taxes-done-on-time celebration or a light hearted protest against a crazy hectic life. Some of us don’t need a holiday to wear our pajamas to work. We wear our pajamas to work on a regular basis. Like almost every day.

You may be wondering, who are these pajama clad workers? And how do they get away with it? Some are part of a new invention, the telecommuter. More than fifteen million telecommuters have been delighted to dump the cubicle and ditch the traffic. Instead, they shuffle into their home office every morning. Fiber optics links them to their employer, colleagues and customers. Like air traffic controllers, headsets are permanently affixed to their noggins. They may look like ground control but the headset is just an extension of their telephone. Most telecommuters split their day between talking on the phone and tapping away on their keyboard. Come to think of it, a good part of the time they are doing both; which may explain all typos, misspelled words and grammatical errors. Not to mention the hemming and hawing when asked a direct question during a conference call.

I used to be a part-time telecommuter. I’d go into the office on Monday, just to make sure that no one forgot what I looked like. Then I’d be gone, on the road for three, sometimes four, days. Fridays, I’d work from home. Working from home was great, especially if I didn’t get in until late Thursday night, which was more or less every Thursday. If you don’t have to drive to the office or worry about looking professional (details like combing your hair and putting on a suit), you can manage at least an extra hour of shut-eye, probably two.

I spent the day tethered to the phone, checking spreadsheets and writing emails. Sometimes, if I was lucky, I had a little extra time late in the day. When that happened, I took a break and picked up my goddaughter at preschool. By some lucky chance, her school was two doors down from my house. We shared a little time together, maybe took a turn on the swings and slide or squeezed in a story or project before her mom collected her. Then it was back to conference calls, spreadsheets and emails.

I still work in my pajamas but I’m no longer a telecommuter. Now I’m the other kind of pajama-clad-work-from-home person. We are freelancers, consultants and small business owners. What kind of businesses? Really small businesses, so micro that it’s a one-man or one-woman show operating out of a garage, basement, kitchen or spare bedroom. In my case, a spare bedroom and sometimes my kitchen.

And my look? Most of my work ensembles are not technically pajamas, meaning I don’t actually sleep in them. Unless of course I accidently doze off in the middle of the day. However, when I’m writing my attire could easily be described as bedtime. No, not silky “I’ll slip into something more comfortable” nightwear, I’m much more ratty-tatty. When sitting down to write, my outfits are best described as anti-fashion statements. When it’s cold, I favor baggy sweatpants, old turtlenecks, misshapen sweaters, fleece, heavy socks and slippers. In the summer, I rely on old shorts, sloppy t-shirts and flip-flops. The kind of clothes your mother never let you wear out of the house or even in the yard.

Whether you toil in PJ’s, earn your living buttoned up in suit or something in between, I hope you enjoy your day at work today and every day. I know I do. Have a great week!

Bon appétit!

Chicken Provencal
Just because you stay in your PJ’s all day, doesn’t mean you have to eat breakfast for dinner. Why not try this quick and easy dish; it’s filled with the sunny flavors of Provence. Enjoy!
Serves 4-6

10 – 12 black oil-cured, Greek or Niçoise olives
1 1/2 – 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 anchovy fillet, mashed to a paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
16 ounces canned crushed tomatoes (in season use fresh plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped)
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon finely chopped, fresh basil
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Pit the olives. If you are using Greek olives cut in quarters, if Niçoise cut in half. Reserve.
  2. Combine flour with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pat the chicken dry and dredge it in the flour, shake off excess flour. 
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat; cook the chicken, turning once, until golden and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and cover.
  4. Add the onion, chili pepper and herbs to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook for another minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits. Stir in tomatoes, stock, capers and olives. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.    
  5. Add the chicken and any juices back to the skillet and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve. 

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Do you work from home … and do you wear your jammies? Feel free to share an idea, a few thoughts or opinion or ask a question. Let’s get a conversation going. I’d love to hear from you! To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

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Feel free to browse around my website. You can learn more about my philanthropic project Eat Well – Do Good, link to magazine articles, find more than 200 recipes and more. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

April Foolish & Spicy Olives

Even though there is more than two feet of snow in my yard the calendar says it’s spring. Maybe it’s all part and parcel of the annual celebration of April foolishness. April Fools’ Day is as good a time as any to act just a little foolish. Heck, if April has its usual showers, we will need something to lift our spirits. Why not enjoy a month of silliness? Think of it as random acts of foolishness.

There is no need to go overboard, stay away from anything too crazy and definitely avoid anything dangerous. Don’t go investing in a Ponzi scheme or play in traffic. Don’t run with scissors and definitely don’t run up your credit card. If your thoughts are turning towards a drastic new haircut or pink dye, you might want to think twice. Or not. After all, it’s only hair. It will grow out and think of the laughs you’ll share for years to come.

In any case, concentrate on small acts of foolishness, anything fun and just a tad silly. A little bit of silliness will energize you. It shouldn’t be too hard, most of us have done some pretty foolish things in our lives. In fact, some of us are practically an expert when it comes to acting foolish. For example, I dated Mr. Wrong, not once but twice, have sung karaoke until dawn and bungee jumped.

The list of possibilities is almost endless. Perhaps you decorated your neighbor’s lawn with pink flamingos, lived on grapefruit for eight days or frantically waved to a friend or neighbor only to discover it was a perfect stranger. Maybe you channeled Lucy and dyed your hair red, decorated your own lawn with pink flamingos or bought a new dog, when you already had three.

If by some fluke, you are one of those perfect people who never, ever act the least bit foolish, well, you have my sympathy. I would suggest that now might be a good time to give it a try. Here are a few silly ideas to help you live foolishly, if not every day, well at least from time to time.

Chase a rainbow, literally or figuratively. You never know where you will find a pot of gold. What’s your definition of gold? Shiny coins or a day filled with golden sunshine and no To-Do list?

Sing at the top of your lungs when one of your favorite songs comes on the radio. My personal favorites are Aretha Franklin or Donna Summer, but anything Motown will do.

Dance to the too-loud-music in one of those mall stores for tweens and teens. Your children may not be too happy with this tip. Most teenagers are embarrassed by public displays of silliness by their parents. Luckily, I know a few who are able to tolerate this kind of foolishness from an eccentric aunt.

While you are in the mall, if your budget can manage it, buy a new pair of shoes. At least in April, stay away from anything too sensible. If you must be practical, at least flirt with frivolity. They don’thave to be expensive. You can probably find a pair of shiny red heels, frilly flip-flops or pink sneakers at a discount store for less than $25.

Host a pajama party, not for your kids but for yourself and your friends. Gather up your best pals, put on your jammies and crank up the tunes. Share lots of laughter and cheerful chatter. Indulge in some of your favorite finger food and a glass or two of your favorite chardonnay, maybe a little champagne. Don’t forget 2009 is the year of the potluck so everyone can contribute to the feast. A good thing about a grown up pajama party is you don’t have to call your dad to come get you when you’ve had enough. You can drive your own self home. (I said it was a pajama party, I didn’t say it was a sleepover.)

Enjoy April and,

Bon appétit!

Spicy Marinated Olives

These olives are a favorite at cocktail parties. Everyone asks for the recipe! Enjoy!

16 ounces of your favorite olives, try a colorful mix of black and green. If you can, include Greek, Kalamata, Sicilian and Niçoise
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, slivered
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and toss to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally, for at least 24 hours.

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What are your plans for a foolish April 1st? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for lots more to read, see & cook! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2009