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Posts from the ‘Home and Decor’ Category

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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A Big “And Then”

And then, we moved.

We sold our lovely home in approximately 73 hours (bidding war and all, huzzah!), Steve shipped down to Washington, D.C. to live with my best friend for a month so he could start his new dreamy job, and I spent 30 days packing everything we owned, selling or donating the rest, and wrapping up work at my (now) former job.

Selling, Packing, Moving and then leaving!

Steve flew back up to RI from DC late one Thursday night, we slept on our mattress in our empty home, and at 4:00am the next day–Friday–we loaded the mattress into the U-Haul, I loaded the pups into the car, and off we went.

About eight hours later, these two champs were in their new home (I mean, so were we, too, but they were particularly baffled by the process).

Dogs Unpacked

I was terrified of moving the dogs–I had read one too many horror stories about maladaptive dogs. My favorite? The absolutely realistic Hyperbole and a Half… ha! Thankfully, we only had 1.5 hours of screech-yodel-crying (Edith), and one big ole peanut butter vomit (…Aggie, I think, though Edith kindly buried it in the sheets for her, nice sister).

Slowly, our amazing movers started hauling things into the apartment.

Light and Bright and Someone Else's Problem

Three weeks later, it’s almost completely done, but that’s another post for another time.

My bff Hala came over that night with wine, Chipotle, and a friendly face. It was so nice to relax, even if it was amongst all the boxes. All. Of. Them.

But we still weren’t done with RI…not quite yet. Had to actually, you know, *sell* the house. Like, close on the sale.

So the following Tuesday morning, I attempted to fly home to RI for 36 hours (attempted = airline canceled the flight as we were literally about to take off…!). Mission was eventually accomplished (thank you Amtrak!), closing went beautifully, and back to DC I flew on Thursday morning.

I start a new job on Monday–a wonderful hopefully eventually permanent job!–and I cannot wait. Playing housewife in my excellent apartment has been lovely, but it’s time to rejoin the world of the working, thinking people.

We live literally one block over the DC border in MD, a short walk to two lovely grocery stores, all the shopping, and a metro station. We’ve walked more now than before, and I got a FitBit One to keep track (“It doesn’t count if you can’t count it,” right Hala?) and it will be fun to track.

So, that’s what I’ve been moaning about for a while. We’ve been itching for a big change, Steve started applying for work all over the place once we realized that there was no real reason–aside from our families, who are mobile–to stay in RI. There was no growth. There was nothing to do that hadn’t been done. There was no…no…there was no culture of progress or intellectualism in Rhode Island, and that was unacceptable for us, so we left. We moved to Nerd Central, where everyone is up on current events and dork things, and we love that. It’s not for everyone, but we’re certainly not everyone. If we had wanted to continue living in the suburbs surrounded by unchangeable towns and minivans and the “that’s not how we’ve done it for 20/30/40 years!” mentality, we could have stayed. But we didn’t want that, and it was the right time to change.

And then we moved.

And then we were happy.

Author’s Update:

Apparently I needed to be more specific when I explained why we moved. Saying that we didn’t like it apparently meant to everyone else that it was awful place and you’re a moron for living there. That is absolutely not the case. We love Rhode Island. It was just time to go. When you’ve been in a place for almost 30 years and nothing seems as though it is changed for you, and there is nothing new on the horizon for you and the people you love, it’s Time to go. At least it was for us.

The state’s motto is Hope. And we didn’t have any.

The biggest problem we had–if I’m going to articulate this clearly, though I don’t promise nor do I owe a complete articulation–is that for almost 30 years neither one of us had ever been challenged. We were always rewarded for doing basically nothing. Never trying anything new. Never going anywhere new. While we were certainly rewarded handsomely for our efforts and for our hardwork, we simply didn’t see it going anywhere. For us. I can’t stress the “for us” enough. I didn’t think that that needed to be articulated! I only presume to speak for myself and in this case Steve also. I’m not saying that there’s NOTHING to do in Rhode Island. But when you’ve lived there for almost 30 years we really don’t want to go to the Newport mansions or go to Thayer Street or boating or dining in the excellent albeit numbered restaurants. We wanted to try something completely new. We wanted to discover brand-new places. Coventry is always going to be in the same place. There’s nothing new beyond those borders. It almost started to feel like Pleasantville. This is not a revolutionary feeling and I’m sort of surprised that people seem to think that I’m hammering on some raw untapped nerve when I say that sometimes people grow up, live in a place, and then want to move that’s okay.

Plenty of people move to (or back to!) Rhode Island, make beautiful things, have wonderful families, and make a lot of change. And I love that. And I welcome that. But it wasn’t going to happen FOR US. I’m proud of growing up in a place as feisty and tenacious as Rhode Island. And with this much history as Rhode Island. And a place as beautiful as Rhode Island. But it was time for us to move. And that’s all I meant to say. I’m sorry if I offended some of you, and I genuinely missed that people could think that this is about them or that it somehow diminishes their Rhode Island-ness–it’s not and it certainly doesn’t–this is just a saying “we moved FYI here’s why we were we were unhappy now we’re happy.” I guess I didn’t think that needed to be explained, but here I am like a damn fool saying too much.

Foolish me.

We know that every place is essentially the same. And that people are all essentially the same. But we needed a new adventure, the circumstances were right, so we decided to go. That’s it.

I apologize for any typos, this was written on my mobile.

Happy Tree Day!

In our house, it isn’t Christmas–December 25th–that steals the scene.

No.

It is Tree Day.

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It’s what it sounds like: the day we get our tree, put it up, and decorate the house.

We wake up, go to Allie’s Donuts for…donuts…(duh) and coffee, then we head to the tree farm.

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She (the tree is a girl, duh) came home and Steve set her up.

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I sat there, watching him work and photographing.

He was not pleased, thus the face.

I set up the mantle. Merry and bright indeed!

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We lit the tree and admired our work.

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We decorated the outside, too, but that’s not quite done. Photos, I promise!