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Posts tagged ‘family’

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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To Do: March On

Oh, man. The past two weeks have been a bit hectic, so sorry for the radio silence. Last time I checked in, it was Valentine’s Week. Now, it’s March. Whoops! But, a lot happened in those two (three?) weeks. I can provide a little catch-up, then we can march on (tee hee) with the list.

Valentine’s Day itself was lovely. We are big believers in staying in and eating a great meal at home, and so we did. This year, that was even easier because we had committed to not eating out in February. So, I whipped up some rabbit porchetta, a fontina and roasted yellow pepper salad, and…something else (I can’t remember!), and we opened a bottle of our new favorite wine, a Virginia Norton. It was an excellent, romantic, delicious dinner. I mean, just check out that bunny!
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Steve had President’s Day off; I did not. And then we both had a snow day on Tuesday. So it was a relatively nice, slow week, with plenty of time to laze about for at least that one Tuesday. I’ll take it.

Saturday, we–me, Steve, and Hala–hosted an engagement party for two of our friends, and it was lovely, especially given a freak snow storm that threatened our attendance numbers. Everyone showed! It was amazing. And we had so much fun. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the party or food, but suffice it to say, when a Texan-Mexican gal marries a gal from Wisconsin, there are lots of dips, chips, and pickle trays. It was glorious.

The next week was a bit of a blur. Our law school alma mater was in town, so we met up with them on Monday (for some alumni planning), Tuesday (for a cocktail reception), and Wednesday (to be admitted to the US Supreme Court Bar). My parents came into town on Tuesday, Hala’s also, and we enjoyed a quick visit together around the Supreme Court swearing-in.
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My parents couldn’t come into the Court due to a limitation on space, but I’m pretty sure Steve was excited to be there! The justices were in fighting shape that day, and we heard two opinions issued, two arguments, and a lot of corny jokes from Justice Breyer. It was lovely.

Afterwards, we all–my parents included–headed to Béarnaise on the hill for a celebratory lunch and drinks. The chef was in the kitchen that day, which was a nice touch, and me and Steve even exchanged a few pleasantries with him on our way out. We’re such fame whores.

After that, naps were in order, then Steve and I spent some time with my parents at home before they had to head back north the next day. It was a great but short visit!

On Friday night, I received a text from an old friend who was in town for a few days, asking to meet up. So we did: brunch on Sunday, of course! Well, a wonderful 11am bottomless brunch turned into beers at 8pm in our other friend’s apartment, by which time we had already gone through our high school yearbook and made edits (“THAT IS AN INAPPROPRIATE USE OF AN EM DASH! Who are these idiots?!” and “Oh, he’s dead….yikes!” were each spoken more than once). We even recreated a famous (…sure) shot of the three of us from the yearbook:
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That, I guess, brings us to this week. The calendar may say March, but I’m in HELL. I am so sick of winter, and cold, and rain, and warm clothes, and corduroy, and heat, and static hair, and…yeah. TL;DR? SPRING ALREADY, K?

Seriously? No more of this crap.

Seriously? No more of this crap.

If I have to make a soup or braise one more time, I might poison it just so I can’t do it again. I’m longing for springy farro salads and radishes and crisp citrusy cocktails, outside. I have even contemplated buying SALMON, people. And I hate fish. But it just seems so springy.

I initially went into this week vowing not to wear any all-black or all-gray (or mixed black-gray) outfits, opting instead for springy brights. That worked for like 2 days. Today I’m wearing gray corduroy trousers, a gray shell, and a black, white, and gray plaid (which should also be banned, btw) blanket sweater jacket. And boots. And I’m miserable. I might just put away all my reliable doldrummy clothes–including all my black tights!–and force myself to wear the bright stuff. Good luck…

I guess it will help to have a list going. Let’s check in with where I was, and let’s see where I need to go.

  • Renew our passports.  DONE! Received them yesterday in the mail, in a total time of 3.75 weeks. Amazing! I even bought Steve a passport cover to celebrate (he’s green, I’m blue-ish).
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  • Commit to “No Eating Out February.” We did it! We knew we had some planned meals out during that last week (when my parents were here), but otherwise we didn’t do it once! No coffees, no lunches, no nada. Now, we need to deposit $375 each into our vacation account at the end of March, and we’ll have completed the challenge officially. Except…we might still do this, albeit on a limited scale. We’ve talked about maybe two shared big meals out per month (brunches, dinners), two lunches/happy hours each out per month, and two shared grub-hub orders per month.
  • Finish sending stuff to Twice and ThredUp. All of my responses are in! I made about $65 total from Twice (plus about $15 in bonuses I declined; to get that cash you’d have to take it as a store credit…no), and $95 from ThredUp. That was plenty to fund a spring Stella and Dot refresh! This necklace should help bring in Spring!
  • Assess under-bed storage. DONE! And my closet is beautifully tidy as a result!
  • Begin to map out our London/Paris/Normandy trip! Still working on this, but our likes/dislikes/goals are becoming clearer. We’ve talked about the trip to many friends, and we’ve gotten some great advice. Looking forward to it!
  • Find something productive for Sundays. Does spending all day drinking with high school friends count? Because if it does, then yes, I did this. If it means take awkward portraits of your dogs, then yes, again, I did this.image6

     I took the one on the top, and then
    a less flattering one, and realized I
    Agnes has done the same thing for
    the camera….see below.
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  • Pack away my black clothes. Ok, that’s kind of literal, and sounds like it would be almost impossible, but I think that any black or dark gray seasonal pieces–sweaters, tights!, wooly things…heck, even my 4-season dress pants–have to go for my sanity’s sake. I own enough navy (my favorite, actually) to get by, and I need to get more wear out of the colorful stuff. I mean, come on: that mustard wool skirt ain’t gonna wear itself, amIright?
  • Hide my boots, highlight my shoes. Ok, the first part is going to be really hard (we have 5-8 inches of snow predicted for tomorrow), but I’m so sick of my feet being hidden and bound up in boots. So I’ll corral them and place them somewhere accessible, but out of sight. And my shoes–regular ole’ shoes!–should be at the fore again, so I grab those in the morning rather than my clunky heavy dark leather boots.
  • Fresh flowers, every day. By every day, of course, I mean “have some around every day,” not “buy new fresh flowers every.single.day!” I’m not actually a millionaire, thanks, but I can afford a bouquet of whateverthehell at Whole Foods every week.
  • Just generally pretend it’s Spring. See above: “springy farro salads and radishes and crisp citrusy cocktails, outside.”

I’m sorry I’m such a winter-hating downer, but this has consumed me this week. And I don’t even live where it’s bad anymore! How the hell is my family doing this up in Boston, where the snow is higher than the hills and, at this point, dirtier than their beloved water?! I suspect beer hard alcohol has something to do with it.
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To Do: Deflate This

As you know, we are huge New England Patriots fans. So, of course, this is a happy Monday for us. That, friends, was an amazing game all around, from both teams, and it came down to the wire. Go ahead and try to deflate our pride now!

And all of a sudden, it’s February. It’s a short month–a mere twenty-eight days–but I somehow have a ton to do this month. I flipped my calendar today, and WHOA it’s busy. A haircut tomorrow (just a trim/shape, really), Steve starts his EMT class three times a week, I have several programs at work, we’re hosting an engagement gathering for close friends, and my parents are coming to town during the last week to see me get admitted to the United States Supreme Court Bar. To pull this off, planning is in order. Let’s see where I left off and what I have to do this week.

  • Renew our passports. Good lord, I just need to mail these things. Envelopes, stamps, GO!
  • Plan and execute a mostly-vegetarian menu this week–lunches and dinners–and stick to it. Ok, this was do able, and I’m doing it again this week. So, the Super Bowl totally makes it hard to eat healthfully, and with the leftovers, we’re still chained to bar food…but I hope that’s all gone tonight! I sat down on Saturday night after a trip to the market and planned out a menu for the week.
  • Work out twice in the gym this week, and take the stairs up with the dogs at least three times this week. Ok, I did the stairs with the dogs three times, and the gym zero times. Hala was not feeling well, I was busy one of our usual days (and am this week, too! Boo!), so this week, we’ll see where we are with it. Keeping this up–along with the dog goals–because they need it too.
  • Listen to podcasts on my commute. Again. Didn’t do this. Not any of the days. But I was listening to them at home rather than watching TV…does that count? No.
  • 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.
  • Commit to “No Eating Out February.” We’re not eating out this month. Not for dinner, not lunch, not take out, not ordering in, not happy hour, not nothin’. Unless it was already planned–so, mostly that last week of February when we have some fun planned–we’re not adding to it. The money we save (as determined by the average of the last three months of dining out expenses) will get deposited into our Vacation Fund!
  • Finish sending stuff to Twice and ThredUp. My bags did indeed arrive, and I sent off one each to Twice and ThredUp this week. I ended up ordering one more bag from each company because I couldn’t fit all my stuff in their admittedly very large bags! Once I get my first responses from them with estimates, what they’ll accept, etc., I’ll do a little recap for you.
  • Assess under-bed storage. We have two slim profile storage containers under our queen-sized bed, and they are currently empty (…because of all the ruthless decluttering!). I’m thinking I might repurpose this for the sheets and bedlinens that currently live in my closet’s built-ins, and repurpose the built-ins for something else, or nothing! Empty storage space makes me very happy…!

Thanks to Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Julian Edelman, and Coach Belichick, I’m having quite the motivated Monday. Off to a great start, so let’s keep it up.
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