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Kitchen Artifacts

I’ve said it before: my kitchen is my favorite room in the house. It has always been, regardless of which house I’ve called home. Right now, it’s a large galley-style with no natural light and light oak cabinets with shiny black granite counters.

These are not things I would have “pinned” when describing my favorite room, but there you have it.

Why? Why is it my favorite? Aside from the obvious–I love to cook…and eat–my kitchen has become my favorite room because it ends up being the home to many artifacts of my life.

Prior kitchens were more sterile, more designed, less cluttered, and less personal. This kitchen–undoubtedly the nicest in terms of space, materials, and features–has also become the first where I’ve let myself physically show personality and happiness through things. Seems mundane, really, but think about it: when you spend enough time in a mundane-seeming space, you start to make it home. Example: my grandmother, a mother to sixteen (…yes, six plus ten) children, spent a seriously huge portion of her life in her upstairs laundry room. To honor her mother, my aunt hung a gorgeous portrait of my gorgeous grandmother in her gorgeous laundry room. Fitting.

I’m not a “things” person, or I thought I wasn’t. Spending my day in the kitchen today, prepping lunches and listening to podcasts, with two sleepy dogs curled up behind me in dragged-in beds, I noticed that this room has the most memory, the most “us” contained within. It’s where we create memories and apparently where I like to preserve them. So, like a portrait of my grandmother in the laundry room, I hang the artifacts of my so-far short life in my kitchen.

IMG_1051I mean, had I seen this photo two years ago–a week before moving into this apartment–I would have gasped. All that crap, all over the place…no way could this end up in Domino or in a House Tour on Apartment Therapy! And then I moved here, adjusted my life and expectations to reality, and began to realize that the moment, the memories, are more important. If they result in more stuff, so be it.

This view alone contains so many artifacts:

  • my Spanish dictionaries, reminding me that I once spoke that language well, and that I could speak it again, but at the very least, I can travel and eat the food;
  • a photo of me and Steve, taken in the Bahamas on our 5th anniversary;
  • a page ripped from a magazine, showing some gorgeous, artfully-shot clams. Rhode Island seafood can’t be beat, and there it is, in my mind;
  • a print with a saying–“Sorrows come to stretch out spaces in the heart for joy”–gifted to me from my best friend when I was having a rough time;
  • a set of cork letters, an S and a K, made and gifted to us by two best friends when we bought our house in 2011;
  • a little mini cazuela, currently serving as my salt well. This originally contained a luscious, stinky, soft cheese, purchased at a chic-chic fromagerie in Paris last summer (and enjoyed over two bottles of rose in Le Jardin du Luxembourg on a sunny, breezy day);
  • a postcard from my favorite French restaurant in DC, staring me in the face whenever I chop and prep dinner;
  • a photo of me and Steve, taken at 10pm in Paris in front of Le Cathedral du Notre Dame, and it was still light out. Reminds me of “Kilroy was here!;”
  • a map of Barcelona, where I left a big piece of my heart in 2006, and where I’ll leave some more with Steve in November;
  • Tom Haverford’s food quotes from Parks and Rec.

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I usually hate crap all over the fridge, but not anymore, I guess. Here,

  • a school picture of a little boy, found behind our refrigerator in our old house. He’s adorable, and we’ve kept the photo as a reminder (of what, I dunno), but he makes me smile every time I see his eager little face (probably because he’s not my child);
  • magnets from Barcelona, Hawaii, law school friends, and law school;
  • a note from my mother, containing a real estate listing for the Big Chill house in Beaufort, SC;
  • the front of a greeting card from my aunt, sent when we moved into this apartment. It greets me each morning as I make my coffee.

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Take away more from this than the fact that I left my bitters, Bailey’s, and Ketel One near my coffee (… oops), but notice rather:

  • the pink tile on which my coffee sweeteners sit: it was made for me by a close friend a long time ago, who instructed me to save it for a day when I was so pissed off, I needed something to break. It’s still in tact, so I think that’s a good sign?;
  • a whale cup (whale cup, doobee doobee whale cup) from my best friend;
  • a teeny tiny framed photo of me and Steve from his senior prom (…14 years ago);
  • a turtle pooping chili peppers, a good omen in Italy, gifted by my best friend from her travels last summer;
  • a drawing that my youngest brother in law made when he was a kid, that my mother in law had turned into notecards. Makes me laugh every time I see it and think of the now-22 year old who drew it.

I notice these things every time I’m in my kitchen, as I am now, and I’m home. Everyone argues that home is where the heart is, or where your family is, or whatever else you can paint on a wooden shabby chic faux farm sign with a wire hanger…but just this once, I’ll offer evidence that home is where your stuff–the artifacts of your life–is.

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#JanPhotoADay Project, Week Four

It’s almost the end of January, and I’ve got to say: this has been an interesting way to mark time. It feels like January should be long gone–or barely begun, depending on the day–but nope, we’re still twenty-eight days into the month, and only twenty-eight days into the new year.

Posting these on Instagram @knobleg529, too.

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Day 22: Your Shoes. If you recall, I was sick at home on Thursday last week. So these were the only shoes I saw. It’s a shame, too: I have great shoes!

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Day 23: Something Old. Ok, “old” is probably a bad word here. I had this cabbage in the back of the fridge–forgotten about!–for about two and a half weeks. It was still perfectly good. But isn’t it gorgeous!? Helps to have black countertops when you feel like shooting an old world style cabbage portrait…!

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Day 24: Guilty Pleasure. Beer, yo. But this beer…I feel guilty for loving it. It’s banana bread…beer. It’s everything wonderful about banana bread but IT’S BEER. Heck, I don’t even like banana bread that much anyway…!

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Day 25: Something You Made. Here, a disgrossting dinner, that’s what. Nuff said.

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Day 26: Color. The bricks, the boots, the parka. It’s a symphony of…brown (a color I’m not in love with, but I’ll take it).

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Day 27: Lunch. This is my lunchbox. I love it. It’s huge, and it was cheap, and it is easy to wash out (when, for example, you use it to tote milk home from the store and the milk leaks everywhere…). It used to get mistaken for my purse all the time, which I hated, because I actually despise the print, but it’s such a great lunchbox! Yay lunch!

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Day 28: Light. The morning light over the snow and ice, through the trees, made for a great walk to the bus this morning.

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To Do: Where Did January Go?

How is it already the end of January? My flabbergasted reaction to the passage of time really has to end, but come on.

Last week was super short, and significantly less productive than I had hoped. I came home from work a little early on Wednesday with the beginnings of a migraine, which I was able to sleep off until dinner time. Well, dinner time came, and I was still feeling miserable, and then my stomach started to ache and my back was on fire…so I moaned on the couch while Steve ate his dinner and wondered what type of music I would want at my surely-inevitable funeral (kidding, I think, but I was hurtin’). I did not sleep one single wink all night, as my back and stomach were warring. I stayed home from work on Thursday and slept on heating pads and drank water and chicken/miso broth, until I finally felt a modicum better on Friday morning. I went to work, but hid in my office and did a lot of catch up work. Useless week, I swear.

This weekend, I tried to make up for it and be more productive, which I mostly was. I had a work commitment on Saturday for a few hours, but after that, Steve and I hit Rodman*s and Paul’s and stocked up on the essentials: 5 kinds of beer, 13 bottles of wine, all the liquor, and sriracha sauce. We came home, Steve took the monkeys for a walk, and I put everything away. Then I got my second wind and tore through the rest of my closet, making piles and being a ruthless decluttering machine. I made a delicious dinner, we drank some beer and watched some TV, and that was that. Sunday, Steve had some obligations for the fire department, so while he was gone, I hit my clothing piles again, sorting by brand and weeding out the things that were not savable. I’m going to send a whole bunch of the better stuff–many new with tags or new in box shoes–to ThredUp and Twice, and the rest is getting donated. I’ll update you on what I send and how that goes.

Dinner was a disgusting disaster. I tried to use up some things, but that simply did not work out. Steve was kind, and sincere, when he said “this is a rare miss,” of course only after I was so disgusted that I stopped mid-bite, said “this is terrible,” and proceeded to order out on GrubHub.

That all brings us to a snowy, windy Monday. A fresh, clean, cold start to the last week in January.

  • Renew our passports. Just have to mail everything! This week!!!
  • Cull even more household goods. More piles made this weekend, as mentioned above. I’ll drop it all off this weekend when we head out to the ‘burbs for a housewarming party.
  • Assess closet…again. I detailed this above, but I made some awesome progress here. Once my ThredUp and Twice bags arrive, I’ll send that stuff off (and I’ll share here!). I have identified a few things that need an impartial outside vote–Hala!–mainly two gray suits that are competing for space in my closet. One is charcoal, three pieces (pants, skirt, jacket), and a bit more modern, but the jacket is a one-button deal (I have a huge chest, this does not work) and it’s a relatively cheap suit. The other is a gray pinstripe in a nicer quality material/construction–jacket and skirt only–and the jacket is three button (hallelujah!) and it closes (a minor miracle for the large-of-chest among us). My perceived problem/drawback is that the suit is relatively conservative/square (not boxy, necessarily), but maybe that’s not a drawback?
  • Make a visible list of what we need/want for the apartment. Ok, I found and ordered new living room pillows, and I’m putting the dining room chairs on the back burner. So, this is basically done.
  • Plan and execute a mostly-vegetarian menu this week–lunches and dinners–and stick to it. It usually works when I plan, but I was lazy/trying to be economical and didn’t buy any more food so that I could use up what was in the fridge/pantry. That backfired (see: Sunday dinner disaster). So, I need to hit the grocery store for a few things and make a plan. Right now, it looks like farro-stuffed acorn squash for dinner tonight, a coconut-spinach cream soup on Tuesday, and some bright and tropical cous cous–with a grapefruit vinaigrette and avocado–topped with seared scallops on Wednesday. Beyond that is beyond me.
  • Work out twice in the gym this week, and take the stairs up with the dogs at least three times this week. Two forty-minute blocks of cardio, plus twenty-one flights of stairs…overall, not enough exercise, but I’m also forcing myself to walk to and from the bus/metro this week, barring actual rain, so. It’s a start, especially after last week’s back issues.
  • Listen to podcasts on my commute. Again. I was doing this for a bit, and it was so nice, but I forgot to keep with it. It definitely encourages me to walk home from the bus!
  • Find a raincoat for Steve. Need to locate a classic, stylish, non-belted, knee-length slim macintosh for him, replacing a massive oversized dated trench that will get donated. Budget: under $100.

Ok, I think I can round out January now. Hopefully, my ThredUp and Twice bags come this week, and I can make a dent in my closet progress. Then, the fun can begin: organizing what’s left, taking stock, and seeing what kind of space we gain back (that we will not fill!).
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