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Posts tagged ‘travel’

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.


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.


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.



To Do: Almost There, Yet Not Quite There

We are *SO* close to Spring, and the relative freedom that comes with summer, and yet so.far.away. Not quite close to that freedom, or that carefree-ish life.

Sun and warmth has crept in, and the cold is slowly creeping back to it’s perch. But it’s still here. My walk from the metro just now was, uhhh, brisk. Ankle pants and a pair of flats might have something to do with that, but up here (::points to head::) it’s a balmy 60F and the wind is dead and the sun shines, even at 8:30pm.

But we’re not quite there, are we? We are still practicing the same rote calisthenics of winter–the coat, the warm pants, the sleeves–and huddling inside unless the sun shines brightly and warmly on a convenient day. We still have obligations and un-fun to-do lists to plow through, sowing the seeds for carefree-ish fun times. We are trying, at least.

I’m looking at a work calendar that is, to be frank, not so great looking. I have a complicated or involved program to shepherd each week from now ’til the last week of April, then a week-long trip for work then. And then, like that, with a poof, the students (and their excitement, energy, and optimism) will be off taking finals and leaving for internships or graduation. But I look forward to the break, and the excitement of my “kids” getting on with their lives.

And then, so too will I. I’ll be outside, in the sun, in or near the pool, sipping grapefruit crushes or white wine, with friends and loved ones, and planning for more trips and fun. I’m celebrating my birthday at the end of May. A friend happens to be coming to town the long weekend before, and it looks like Steve and I will be celebrating with an extravagant (!) dinner out the weekend after at MiniBar.

I just have to get there, and enjoy the ride until then.

  • Mail the taxes. I’m ashamed that this took me so long. Last Wednesday morning, I hit the Post Office before work and mailed those suckers off. Man, doing legit errands before work makes you feel great. Invigorated. Whatever, the taxes are done.
  • Again, move the phone from my bedside table. Done, and I’m using the iPad more to read and watch Golden Girls before bed, and nothing else. It’s helped keep the tv off, and the more-advanced phone at bay.
  • Drink more water. I think I drank six 12-oz cups of cold water at work alone, both yesterday and today. And last week. And I hit up the ladies’ room a lot.
  • Meal Planning, with a twist. The planning plus the flexibility? Working out. Having some flexible plans has helped keep things organized but loose.
  • Make a scooter plan. The first step in any solid scooter plan is telling people about said scooter plan (it’s very unlike fight club). I’ve told like 4 people I love about this plan, and they support it. Why haven’t I begun to plan the plan? Well, the roads are still shit, so I’m not going to start before they are ready.
  • CHAPEAU WEEKEND! Hat: arrived! Brunch: booked! Friends: IN! Can’t wait for Chapeau/Meatster 2015!
  • Stop focusing on what to get rid of, focus on what to enjoy. I read the zeitgeisty The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo on Sunday (in 2.5 hours, over 2 cups of coffee) and while I feel pretty good about our clutter/”stuff control” situation, I learned that I should focus on what to keep and what brings me joy rather than what I can purge. Focusing on what to keep and cherish–in stuff and in life–keeps you moving forward, rather than looking back and what you don’t have or don’t want. Very interesting.
  •  Get a pedicure. My feet have also been in hibernation. And they are some ugly ass bears.

Not a lot to do, but a long way to go. I think that I’m at the point in the season where I realize there’s nothing more I can do to egg the change on: I can sit back, do my thing, let it come, and enjoy watching the daffodils crack out of their green shells. Come on, Spring.


To Do: Go Green!

Nope, not a post about my budding environmentalism.

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day week! Yes, a whole week. And I feel awkward pimping out this holiday for the sake of a blog post title, but there it is. Why? Because I actually *am* Irish, and while I love the enthusiasm with which people celebrate the holiday–Irish or not–I have to chuckle a bit. Ladies at parades: not a whole lot of sexy leprechauns in Ireland, FYI…not a whole lot of sexy going on anywhere in Ireland at the time of Saint Patrick, for that matter (people who live in soddies probably smell, ya know?). But yes! Celebrate! Be Irish for the day! Then you’ll go back to being Polish or Italian or Thai tomorrow. Just like I do on….Diwali? Cinco de Mayo? I dunno, I can’t think of another cultural holiday we all celebrate with as much vigor. Go us!

The “green” part also refers to the greening of the season, finally. I actually saw a CROCUS yesterday. A legit FLOWER. Coming out of the GROUND. OUTSIDE. I almost cried tears of joy, but my Uber driver would have given me four stars instead of five so I didn’t. These are actual thoughts I had.

So I’ll enjoy the holiday and the greening this week, but I’m also looking forward to Saturday. Saturday is our one year anniversary of the move to DC (also, my sister’s birthday!). We’ll celebrate with a dinner out, and reflect on the past year and plan the coming year. We’ve already got a lot to do: some work events and travel throughout the year, our trip to London and Paris in June, summer rooftop pool times, our five year wedding anniversary in September (…complete with a trip to the Bahamas that we conceived and planned then booked in about one hour, on Saturday…hungover), heading home for Thanksgiving, and Christmas here in DC again. Finding other things with which to punctuate our lives has been challenging but fun, for sure.

What to do this week?

  • Get back to outfit planning. I have a week of green outfits ahead of me! Today is a green long-sleeved top with camel herringbone pants,  gold, orange, and green jewelry, and my big plaid blanket scarf. Tomorrow, I’ll break out my green peplum ponte dress, ivory lace blazer, and golden kitten heels. Beyond that, I’ll have to look at the weather again. But green, definitely. I’m thinking I’ll throw my yellow pencil skirt into the mix, too…
  • Mail the taxes. Just gotta mail them! I’ll drop them at the FedEx store on my way home Wednesday night. I ask myself “why is this so hard?!” and then I remember it is because the US Post Office has the worst, most inconvenient hours, despite being a wonderful service. So FedEx it is!
  • Again, move the phone from my bedside table. Have not done this, but I’ve tried to be better about it. Moving the plug tonight when I get home.
  • Drink more water. Working on it. I drank a ton of plain seltzer last week, but I feel like that only half counts (…half of it is air?). I’m trying to get back into the habit of drinking a full glass of water–16 ounces–before my coffee, which has helped me feel better overall. It just gets you going and awake–and hydrated–before the caffeine has a chance to creep in. I recommend it.
  • Meal Planning, with a twist. Man, this is simultaneously easy and hard. I can plan all I want, and as long as I buy what I need and stick with the planned meals, I’m good. But then good weather happens and your friends invite you for drinks/apps at their place and you of course want to go, so you shove the planned meal off for another day. I’m fine with that, to be clear, but I have to remember to just GO with it, rather than being chained up by it. I did plan for the week, I have a great selection of meals, and best of all: I can be a bit flexible. Go me.
  • Make a scooter plan. The weather is getting nicer, and the roads are getting swept over the next few weeks. Soon, the sand and salt and crazy potholes will be gone (or at least mitigated), and you’ll see people out on their scooters and motorcycles. I hope to be one of those people, soon enough. I need to work out a schedule of sorts for me to practice the scooter, and to find excuses to ride it up the hill or to our friends’ new place just through the neighborhood (main roads are scary!), and eventually to work. I’m a ‘fraidy cat when it comes to risky things (I blame law school and working in two personal injury/insurance firms), but I need to get the ‘eff over it.
  • CHAPEAU WEEKEND! Ok, so this isn’t so much a “to do” as it is a “holy shit, that’s soon, you guys!” I mean, I do have to get a hat, and we need a brunch reservation, but still. Mostly just on here because I’m excited.

Wish me luck this week as I jig through my to do list…! What do you need to do this week, or beyond?