Ham and White Bean Soup to Stop the Ticker-Tape of My Mind

White Bean and Ham Soup x1

Every night I go to bed hoping it won’t happen. I pull close the blackout shades. Cut the Rooster off of SportsCenter. Do some stretching. Some deep breathing. Slap on my eye mask. Occasionally, put in some ear plugs. All hoping it will help.

Every dang morning (if you can call it morning), I am suddenly wide awake at 4:36 am. My mind is a ticker-tape of thoughts. My arms are tingling. I do some more deep breathing. Adjust my eye mask. Try not to concentrate on the Rooster sounds coming from the other side of the bed. After an hour of this, I consider getting up but usually, right after I have that thought, I fall back asleep, only to have my alarm go off at 6:00 am.

What on earth could possibly be keeping me up? I don’t lack for the basic necessities. I don’t live in a war zone. I am not currently without electricity due to a freak snow storm.

So, I thought, perhaps it would help if I made a list of all of the things weighing on my mind at 4:36am. Just put it out there. See if by writing it down, I could release it from my mind. Maybe some of you fine friends can relate to my worries. Maybe not. Maybe I have issues.

My 4:36 am Worries:

1. The fact that presbyopia is now a word in my vocabulary.
2. The twenty mole holes in my lawn. Do I replace the lawn? Trap the moles? Just go with a polka dot theme?
3. The chandelier that has been sitting in my garage for 6 years. Would I just load it up already and take it to The ReBuilding Center?!
4. The stain on the carpet of the kid-mobile I drive.
5. The crappy first-draft manuscript of a book I have in my drawer that I think could be really wonderful if only I would take it out of the drawer and work on it.
6. Who needs to be picked up today…where and when…and taken…where and when…and brought home…from where and when??
7. My photo albums that are only done up through 2002. (Ahem…3 years BEFORE the 6-year-old was born. Poor guy. He has no idea what he looked like as a baby.)
8. Am I spending enough time with my daughter who’s outta here in 4 years? And wait…how is she getting home today?
9. Finding someone to watch our kiddos so the Rooster and I can get away.
10. What’s for dinner tonight? Did I make a meal plan this week?
11. What high school kids are saying on Twitter.
12. The fact that I can barely cut myself off here on La Pomme and yet I have nothing to say on Twitter.
13. That the 6-year-old does not know how to pump a swing. And, that he has chronic chapped lips.
14. Our birch tree that is leaning over the street.
15. The piles of clutter all over my desk, my printer and the window sills in my office.

Desk Clutter

Windowsill clutter

Oh, I could go on, but I shan’t bore you further with my list of grievances. And really, what is on that list that should be keeping me up?

A few weeks ago, I recognized that I was whipping myself into a frenzy of worry and busyness that had to stop. I mean, this is ridiculous. I started looking for ways to calm myself and my busy life down. And here’s what I came up with.

1. Walking the 6-year-old either to or from school as he hangs close to my side telling me his latest Knock Knock jokes.
2. Drinking Calm and Easy Now tea by the gallons.
3. Admiring the Cinemagraphs created by Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg. The Kettle Can Wait…, in particular.
4. Listening to Christmas Carols. I know, I know. It isn’t even Thanksgiving but Winter Song by Sara Bereilles is so lovely.
5. Realizing that I tend to hold my breath while I’m in front of the computer so making sure I breathe deep while I type.
6. Making soup for dinner, specifically a rich and hearty White Bean and Ham soup. The chopping and the sauteing and the smells all do something wonderful to make me relax.
7. Taking to heart the inspiration in this post, The Silliness of Busyness, that a dear friend forwarded to me.
8. Getting lost in the lovely and calming photography of one of my favorite sites, 3191 Miles Apart.
9. Eating apples. I don’t know why but it helps. Maybe it’s the pectin?
10. Playing the piano, in the evening, when the house is quieter. Jessica’s Theme, in particular.
11. Taking the time to still tuck in the 12-year-old. I thought maybe he didn’t want me to anymore. Too grown up. But lately, something tells me he does.
12. Finding this quote last night in Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, and going with it.
“Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground – you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip.”
13. Taking a photo of the clutter on my desk only to discover that the light in my office is beautiful. I never knew that before.

Leaves and Light

And then searching for more light and finding this across my front walkway


A chair to curl up in

And this across the chair in my kitchen. Don’t you just want to curl up with a book?

14. Being grateful for the recent rain which runs through my Northwest blood, is part of who I am, and always calms me down.
15. Perusing through another favorite site of mine, Orangette, and finding a reference to this article Anne Lamott wrote for Sunset Magazine, entitled Time Lost and Found and was just what I needed to hear. I think she’s trying to tell me something.

Right on schedule, I did indeed wake up at 4:36am this morning. But somehow…within minutes, I fell back asleep.

What are you doing, my friends, to keep the silliness of busyness at bay? Please share. Would love to know. As always, thank you, thank you for reading. xo c


PS: Earlier this week, my chickens and I celebrated the Eight Year Anniversary since the Rooster, the hubs, my main squeeze underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Not a day goes by that we don’t hold him tight and think how thankful we are to have him in our lives. We love him so.

PSS: A few of you kind and thoughtful friends have asked me whether or not I’m doing a calendar this year. And I have to tell you that I’m not….but, it’s because I’m gearing up for some projects next year, based on La Pomme, that I’m hoping you will love just as much.

PSSS: And just in case you can’t enough of my musings on La Pomme (that’s a joke, people…),
here’s where you can find me elsewhere this month:
From Preschoolers to Teenagers: Ask for Help and Enjoy Your Thanksgiving, NW Kids Magazine, November 2011, pg 24
Same article entitled, Celebrate the Holidays, Suburban Focus, Chicago, Nov/Dec 2011, pg 4
Getting Ready for Grandma: Ten High-Level Manners to Teach Your Children Now
, Northeast Pennsylvania Family, Nov. 1, 2011


White Bean and Ham Soup x2


Ham and White Bean Soup with Thyme
Course: Soup
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: One big pot-full
I know, I know, I'm a crazy soup maker. I can't help it. I find it to be the perfect one-pot meal when I don't have time to think of anything else. For this soup I like to soak white flageolet beans overnight but do you have to do that? No. You can used canned. If using dried, do you have to use flageolet? No. You can use cannellini. Some type of bean mix. Western Family small white beans. Whatever suits your fancy. The bonus of using dried beans is that they tend hold up better in soup. Not get so mushy but it's not a deal breaker. Really. For the ham, I just get it at the deli counter and I ask them to slice it thickly. My whole family loves this soup and I served it with Sicilian bread - basically a rustic loaf with toasted sesame seeds all over the outside. Yum!
  • 2 cups dried white beans OR 3 15-oz cans white beans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 2 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 qt chicken broth
  • ½ lb. cured ham, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • a piece of Parmesan cheese rind, about 1 inch
  • more grated Parmesan cheese for on top
  1. If using dried beans, soak them overnight or from early morning until late afternoon, in a bowl with about 3 times as much water as beans.
  2. When ready to use, drain and rinse. (PS: I've also gone through the process of soaking them, having dinner plans change and not using them. I simply drain them and put them in the fridge to use the following day. They worked just as well.)
  3. In a large soup pot, sauté your onions in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add your carrots, celery and thyme and sauté another 3-5 minutes.
  4. If using canned beans, drain and rinse them.
  5. Add your beans to the pot along with your chicken broth, piece of Parmesan cheese rind, and enough water to cover the beans by 1½ inches.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes if using the dried beans and 20 minutes if using canned.
  8. Add your ham cubes, salt and pepper and simmer another 15 minutes if using dried beans and 10 minutes if using canned. If using dried check to make sure they are cooked through. If not, simmer another 10 minutes or so.
That's it. So easy. Serve with some bread. Makes great leftovers for when there isn't any time to cook. Enjoy.




  1. I am right there with you! I usually wake at 3 follow the ticker tape, then fall back to sleep at 5. Two things I try to do is to block all of the “to dos” by focusing on my accomplishments of the day.
    I also keep a zune, loaded with podcasts under my pillow. When I wake up I put in the earplugs, turn it on and start listening to the podcasts or the bbc before the ticker tape can begin.

    bon nuit!

    • Emily, I love the idea of the Zune under your pillow. (Although, I’m clearly not up on all that’s hip since I had to Google “zune” but now see that it’s Microsoft’s version of an iPod.) I forgot to add to my list above that I recently downloaded some “relaxation” music and when I play it, it makes me feel like I’m waiting for my spa treatment even if I’m actually making school lunches. So, having that under my pillow would be a good thing.

  2. So one of my dear friends had this to say to me…..

    “Carrie my dear, it is called peri-menopause (sorry to say it, but your hormones are shifting) and motherhood. BTW, I awake at 3:10 AM. Do you suppose that our times will “fall back” since we turn the clocks back tonight?”

    Gads….say it isn’t so!!

  3. And here’s what another dear friend said to me….

    “Ha- it’s called peri-menopausal…good luck with that.”

    Must I add not only “presbyopia” to my vocabulary but “peri-menopause” as well? Both at the same time? Where’s the fairness in that??

  4. mmm.. did that last comment go thru? silly new computer..

    what i was saying..

    ‘i’m reeally not ok with this last remark. i’ve been waking up at 4:30ish for months : (

  5. ahh.. good now let me add a THIRD comment. sheesho…peetzo, sorry about that.

    ok, for re-sleepness… i find the ‘relax the top of the head… breathe.. now feel your limbs like warm wet sand.. breathe.. relax the sides of your head, the muscles around your eyes, your eyelids…. and on down to your tootsies. i’m usually back asleep by the knees. 🙂

    • Oh gads…you too?? Maybe instead of boot camp coffee, we need to go get a massage instead. Will try your “re-sleep” technique at 4:36am tomorrow or will that end up being 3:36am with the time change?

  6. Carrie, Congrats on publishing your articles! Super cool. And dang those hormone changes….the reason to exercise hard each week to keep it at bay….for a little while longer.

    • Thanks, Kath! Wish you were here to motivate me to exercise hard. Strolling down to the school and back is about it. Granted, it’s straight up hill on the way home but still…..

  7. Another fantastic recipe Carrie! Made it last night for our family and a friend and it was loved by all. My husband even commented on how good the soup was again this morning.

    Our food moods always seem to meet up. Maybe it’s b/c we both live in the PNW.

    Thanks for your helpful meal planning tips a while back. Meal planning is happening more and more in this house. What a difference it makes.

    Wishing you sweet and restful dreams.

    • Hi Jennifer….I’m thrilled your family liked the soup. And yes, something about soup….it’s even better the next day. Happy to know my meal planning tips were a bit of a help. Thank you so much for spending some of your precious time here visiting La Pomme!!