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Posts tagged ‘Kitchen’

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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No Dine Out February, Again

Let’s pretend I post here regularly, and that my last substantive post wasn’t like 8 months ago, mmk? Deal.

For the second year in a row, we’re doing a “No Dine Out February.” We don’t pay to eat out, drink out, have coffee, grab a scone, nothing, from February 1st through the 29th (leap year!), and we’re only allowed to eat what we pack and plan. No pity meals, no free food at work….just packed breakfasts and lunches, planned dinners, and meals at people’s homes.

Why? It saves money. It forces us to be more cognizant about what we’re eating and how we’re planning. It encourages sharing food in a home setting rather than out for a change.

February is a short month so it’s not too scary.

Last year, we figured out that we saved an embarrassing $1,500.00. We eat out a lot, but not because we’re lazy or can’t cook (on the contrary: I love to cook and I’m not half bad). We eat out a lot because we live in a city with fantastic food and drink options, it’s how we socialize most of the time, and we love it. We don’t spend time and money on movies, sports, whatever else people spend money on; we spend time and money traveling, eating, and drinking.

So today, this Sunday before February begins, I’ll prep some lunches and breakfasts for the week, get my dinner plans in order, and hope for the best.

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To Do: Spring is…Here?!

With the wonderful passing of Chapeau Weekend (“Easter” to the uninitiated) this past weekend, Spring is officially here. In my mind, actual real legit Spring starts on/after Easter. And boy, is the weather cooperating. Well, mostly.

Easter itself was sunny and warm (albeit a bit windy), perfect for chapeau wearing and outdoor day drinking. Yesterday–Monday–was 75F and sunny and glorious, and I walked both to and from work. Today is low to mid 70s, but humid and threatening rain/thunder all day, so the bus had to do. But walking to/from work took the same amount of time as waiting for the bus, riding the bus, and then walking home from the bus, so as long as the weather holds out (and by “holds out” I mean “isn’t an intolerable swampy DC mess”) I’ll aim to walk to work and back a few times a week.

My power meal prep of two weekends ago was super helpful last week–we ate nutritious easy lunches and dinners every day!–but it didn’t hold up this week, because we spent the weekend reveling. So, a little prep tonight is in order, as is trying to use up some of the more random things in my fridge.

So, the list!

  • Make a scooter plan. The roads are looking significantly better, so perhaps I’ll brave a quick parking lot lesson this weekend. Baby steps scoots.
  • Stop focusing on what to get rid of, focus on what to enjoy. This is hard, but I’m progressing. I’m trying to look at it this way (specifically with re: my closet): the crap that I’m ambivalent or meh about is blocking my way–literally–to the clothes I like. Or, the meh stuff is giving me too many choices when I simply don’t want or need them. I don’t need three meh green dresses, I need one great one. So, the process of culling the closet goes along. It’s helped me to see the true holes in my closet and fill those, and only those, with purpose.
  •  Get a pedicure. This weekend, seriously. I’ve been avoiding slingbacks this week, and I can’t do that much longer.
  • Weekly meal prep. Prepping the steps for a great meal has been helpful: roasting some chicken thighs and lean pork, cooking a big batch of a whole grain, having chopped and portioned veggies and cheese on hand, hard boiling eggs at the beginning of the week. I can prep some good lunch parts tonight for the rest of the week, but this should really be a Sunday morning task.
  • Round up donations and drop off at Opp Shop. I have a huge pile of clothes–mine and Steve’s–that needs to go, but unfortunately we’ve accumulated a larger pile on top of that of stuff that simply needs to get put away. So, I need to do that. And I need to pull out summer-ish stuff, finally. I think the fleece-lined leggings have seen their last wear this year…!

This, I realize, is all “To Do” items and no “Done!” items. Which is motivating and a bit daunting, for real. But none of these items is world-stoppingly-important, so that’s nice. But I still should do them!

Off to do!
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