Sunday, November 29, 2015

Giving Thanks & Being a Gracious Guest

Last week around the water cooler, the topic turned to Thanksgiving and what we were all bringing.
Some were bringing all, and some were bringing some.
Universally, most families had forecasted some famished faces, and everyone was covering an essential part of the carnivorous feast.
One year, I was resigned to bring the relish tray. The Relish Tray!!? What about ME looks like I would want to bring a relish tray? ..Okay confessional: I love pickles. But again, all I could possibly bring to the table was the relish tray? Enter former control freak ex- boyfriends Mother..
I get it.
When traveling to someone's house for Thanksgiving, more often than not the person hosting the affair will affirm, not to bring anything. However, if you are about to sit your a** in someone's home for several hours for Supper,
Bring Something.
Bring booze, bring blooms. Bring Something, besides your empty stomach. No matter how much someone's Mother may want to control, what you may bring out of a can, showing up empty handed to a several hundred dollar investment feast, makes you look like a fool.
I travel for Thanksgiving.
We all travel for Thanksgiving.
But you mean to tell me in the history of holidays no one has ever carried a casserole across town in their car?? No one has ever perfected a pie and put it in a Prius possible for a few hours passage?
Be a great guest and don't just go and gorge yourself at someone's subdivision home.
 
 
Bring them a gift or glass to toast with them.
Fill it up and say "Prost" and "Happy Thanksgiving"
Maybe next year you'll be the one to host.
 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Into the Wild

Roughly 20 or so years ago I randomly picked up a book at a very small quasi-Friends bookstore.
Little did I know, I would spend the next 20 years, thinking and mourning That very same book, or rather the person that book was about. I love biographies, non- fiction, against-all-odds stories of human upheaval. Unfortunately, This was not one of those stories.
You may have heard of the movie, or hopefully have heard pieces of the amazing soundtrack that was composed for it. But if you've never read the story, you may be missing some key pieces about the person involved. Common place for cinematography adaptation. 
Into the Wild was a story about a man that wanted to experience life and not be bound by earnings, offices, or other traditional life plans. Although he had followed that route thus far and had attended college and recently graduated. Following graduation, the journey takes him across must of the West and chronicles a series of odd job and journal entries quoting Thoreau. He some how hitchhiked his way up to Alaska and made the decision to spend the summer there.
 
The story of how and why he went to Alaska has been part of great debate.
Some romanticize his "Throw caution to the wind and live off the land" lifestyle. The other portion, go on about all his poor choices, and complete lack of planning. This man was intelligent and ideological, but didn't have the mind to bring a map, any winter gear, or a game plan of getting out. There's even been a more recent theory, that given his family history, this man going to Alaska was an attempt, and eventually ended in a suicide. I've had many a friend humbled at the horrific ways the West can show you how Really small you are, and luckily, they've all made it out Alive.
 
After 20 years, I need to stop thinking about it and Accept, it happened.
This was some ones brother, and some ones son. And losing some one to(basically)starvation, is not at all what should ever happen. But this was an adult, that was capable of making adult decisions. And he didn't choose to consider the conditions. He some what laughed at the logistics of the terrain and though Thoreau could get him through. 
 I have to realize that's what's haunted me is the thought of dying alone. The carnal common nature for us all to want our Mothers when we're fragile is fine. The need to call out to someone when you're not you're strongest is simply okay.
 And Into the Wild or not, I'm not going this one Alone. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Camp Timberlee & My True Calling

A few years ago someone asked me, if I could do anything for work, What would I be doing.
It was a question that stuck with me, because I don't think anyone had asked me something like that since the days of :
"What do you want to be when you grow up" 
And the answer I gave way back when, couldn't be farther from the answer I give now. You see, the entire time I was growing up, I had all intentions and plans of moving east, working in New York, being a Huge part of the fashion industry, and living in a warehouse. My uncle had a warehouse in the city and going to his place was transformative. I couldn't imagine wanting to live in an actual house. Certainly not a single story, three bedrooms down the hall, one bathroom ranch house. It just wasn't in my life's plan. Yup. No green space, my car in an elevator, and all the light and brick, and fire I could get in one space. But I quickly learned how um,,"subjective" That industry could be. And I had the opportunity to move West. And believe you me, once you go West, you cannot possibly go East. At least, my heart can't. 
 
So my answer just those few years ago was,
I'd be renovating for the working poor, and the deserving.
Not in the way of: I need a vital organ or I'm going to die, deserving. The kind of deserving, where Mom and Dad are both working, paycheck to paycheck, and a run down Dodge, or a flooded basement will absolutely put them under water.
I would go in and transform spaces, where people may rent, or be in an underwater mortgage and make their space truly amazing. Because who just goes and Does that for anyone?
 
So today, someone tells me I'm not living up to my True Calling. And I laugh, and discuss what They believe is my True Calling. And somehow, what we come up with is a strange, wonderful combination of all things involved.
So for My Next 30 Years, (#theresacountrysongintheresomewhere) I've decided that I'd like to run a Day Camp. Linked to a resort, The kind of Day Camp, where Crafts are a major priority, and girls can come and learn some valuable life skills. The kind of Day Camp that doesn't breed eating disorders, or Mean Girl grudges. If you've been following for awhile(thank you) and these skills are quite congruent with, The top 25, by the time you're 25.
Such skills as:
 
1. Jump Starting an automobile
2.Starting a Fire.
3. Unclogging a toilet(although hopefully she'll NEVER need to actually do this)
4. Setting a table
5. Ironing pants
6. Making eggs, Over easy
7. Braiding bracelets
8. Re- wiring a lamp
9.Making pie crust
10.Writing a Thank- you letter. 
 
It may read like some quasi-moto methods for Feminism, but today I thought of the one Camp I went to. Camp Timberlee, when I was 12. It was a cold winter, and I heard the activities were so cool. But once I got there, it was just like I was back in Brownies. The Camp was heavy on the Christianity, which was cool, but this was a school trip and not a testimonial from my own church. We stamped our silly names on leather bracelets, and bedded down on awful bunk beds, 12 deep in dorms. There was a real opportunity for learning there, but I guess it got lost in translation or sermon.
 
So if you've got a little Sophie, or Sadie, What are some of the life skills you'd like them to know?
What's going to send your little She- Devils off and running?
And what do you think of my plan for a Camp & my True Calling?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday Uniform & this Stomach

In the wake of Closing 43 Chipotle chain restaurants last week, from recent e- coli cases, I've decided to divulge about my inner demon. 
(Now you know why I rarely eat out)
And make no mistake about it, I still take issue with those of you that mention your medical updates on social media, I'm just not That type of girl.
However, just recently I had the opportunity to meet someone through this media of ours, that helped make some sense of the last 20 or so years.
 
Since the beginning of time, I've had a shitty stomach. Sorry for the swearing, but this gut of mine is simply the worst. I've always taken my stress there. Starting off in the single digits, I remember being so stressed out that no one would attend my birthday party, I'd be in the bathroom, right up until the doorbell rang. Fast forward 20 or so years, I eat clean, I get sick, I eat crap, and I feel like crap. I'm in a constant state of wondering when what I've ingested will come back to haunt me. Some say it's all in my head, but I can assure you, when I've been ass down and feeling like I've just lost 20 pounds, it's simply Not in my Head.
 
Just almost 2 Januarys ago now, I was at work, and was completely knocked over at the amount of pain I was in. Sure, I had plenty of stomach aches for ages, but this was, You're dying, and Something is severely wrong. A co- worker had to carry me into his car, and careen across town to the nearest emergency room. P met us there, and said he didn't even recognize me. I wouldn't have recognized me. Dr. asks me, "How long have you had a stomach ache?" I reply, " Umm 20 years?"I was given pain meds and discharged. The diagnosis?: You had a stomach ache. I'm sent off with a recommendation of a G.I.specialist, and a small amount of food I can consume. I eat avocados, celery and peanut butter(ants on a log) and cucumber for roughly 2-3 months.
And part of my story is PSA also. You want to cut weight and lose pounds quick? Literally cut the crap from your diet. Soda, Sweets, Salt laden chips? It's not rocket science people. I was eating extremely clean and not working out even once a week and I was losing, too quickly. I had to add carbs in to avoid looking like a cadaver. And for all you so quickly to jump on the bandwagon of Celiac Disease, consuming carbs was the one thing keeping me alive some days.
2 years later, I have some answers, and then no answers. 
I have no Ulcers(anymore)
I don't have Cancer(pancreatic, colon, stomach, or gallbladder) 
Leaky Gut Syndrome is a "medical mystery" in which most physicians don't know what it means, or what therapies can directly address it. But what it's meant for me is, when I eat crap, I feel like crap. The only treatment or cure is to eat clean and avoid excess of anything...Shocking,, I know.
 I now have an entire list of legion halls and hamburger joints I now avoid. Dining out has definitely been different. Do you even know how many baked potatoes and salads I have been served?
 
So to my absolute besties, that have noticed I've been obviously absent to wine night, I'm sorry. Believe me babes, there's nothing I'd rather do than have a whiskey on the rocks with ya'll. You girls have been such a lifesaver so many Sunday mornings, when I was wishing this all would too pass.
 
And to my husband, who has seen me housebound, and have no ambition to head anywhere in the last year, Thank you. This disordered eating has definitely taken over far too many of our days. There's so many Sundays ahead, that I'd rather not spend, worrying about This stomach.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ichin' for a Kitchen

We had talked about it long enough.
And to me Talk is Cheap, but a kitchen renovation isn't. So it took some time, 3 long years in the making, and it came together(nearly) the way I planned.
And just then the other night P had said the words that I knew, he felt it was all worth it: 
"I can't believe I proposed to you in that old kitchen"
 
The old kitchen had 2 outlets and the stove in a strange center-of-the-wall arrangement.
There was no work triangle, and even less counter space. This is actually After I moved the fridge from the corner it always resided in. It's quite awful, but notice we still have fresh flowers? lol Eye spy a celling fan? Yes, because you always want to fan dust around an area that you'll be cooking in. Makes perfect sense.! The piece of furniture in the corner was actually our pantry which I do miss.
 
None of the cabinet doors closed and before I moved in I covered the cabinets with fabric to make the white paint considerably less awful. I guess you could say I was trying to put lipstick on a pig, and boy did this one squeal! The one single saving grace in this kitchen that we actually saved? The white cast iron sink.
  But then one day in February, perhaps Cabin fever got the best of me and I dug in. Literally. I yanked down the upper cabinets and started snooping into the soffit. Soffitt is singlehandedly the biggest waste of time materials and labor of the century. There is rarely, if ever, anything behind it and it was just a quick cheap way to get out of building upper cabinets. in the 80's people started building kitchens with out soffits, allowing them space above to display silk ivy plants, various epicurean goods and baskets: Read: Dust Collectors. Gross.
 
Pete was so impressed with the removal and clean up afterwards, he thought I hired a professional to come and do it! HHHmmfff!! 
Awful, awful and more awful. 
 
One night while starting at the (also) awful plaster ceiling, I had the brainchild to cover it with bead board. I had used this material befor in a kitchen and it cleans up like a dream. After considering the time and materials it would take to re- finish and re- drywall the ceiling, the bead board was the way to go. Considering the time and era the home was built in, this wasn't a far off fantasy.
 Note to our neighbors: We are still happily married despite what you may have heard coming from our house the 2 consecutive nights we were on scaffolding trying to hang 4x8 sheets of this goodness.
 
Early on in the project I decided Not to have upper cabinets installed. Yes,,,I can her you All now,,,"But what about Re Sale!!!???" Anyone who asks me that question should be prepared with the resounding answer I have giving for the past 10 years, 3 houses later, eehh, "Are you building a house for you, or someone else?" Given that there were no upper cabinets going in, I could get a little jazzy on the backsplash, and I decided to use what I had originally wanted for the ceiling. Yes, its re- production, yes, do I love it?! Absolutely. And yes, we trimmed the edge after this photo was taken...move along people..
And there She is!!! Bam!!
So where's all your sports bottles and travel coffee cups, and basically where's all my..Crap? 
That's the(other) delightful part about this. I have taken more trips to Goodwill this year than ever before.(and may have walked out with a few things) Anything that wasn't esthetically pleasing, I got rid of. We have 2-3 traveling coffee mugs that are either in the car, or in the lover cabinets. Everything is Super easy to put away, and there's no cupboards crammed with one off  crap. Clearly I still have plenty of "stuff" 
 
I knew I wanted to wall of Anniversary plates and had been collecting them for years(even before I was married). The idea that someone hands you a ,,plate? for being married  certain number of years? Well I sure hope there has been some cake on these plates that have become so endearing to me. Eye spy: Doggie food station. No plastic for these pups either. I wouldn't have them eating out of anything I wouldn't.
Near the end of the remodel, I was searching for just the right hardware for our new cabinets. I found a gentlemen on Etsy that strips old boats and had a large number of boat cleats. Living in a maritime community, and in one of the 2 original houses in town, I decided the cleats would be the perfect pulls for the cabinets. We also decided to keep our original dishwasher and oven. I am not a fan of stainless(ignore fridge) and the appliances(except said fridge) were in favored condition. Because I wanted everything along the bottom to flow and be un- interrupted, I painted both of them. Yes I Painted my oven and my dishwasher! And 4 months, 2 dogs and one extremely clumsy man, they've held up to the challenge.
After we installed the new cabinets and moved the fridge, our pantry space was gone. We were left with a smidge of space that, thankfully in my sleep at some point, I had figured out a way to use it. A coffee bar was installed and a sliver of marble was made to match the rest of the countertops.
Side note: Being the baker I am, I Always, Always wanted marble. I was willing to accept that his may not happen in this kitchen and had chosen some options. P, in the end, was the one to spring for it and say Hell yeah, we have to do this the right way. And there's nothing, Nothing else truly like it. I've done some beautiful kitchens, and it Really does matter what's on that surface. 
P used the left over bead board and trim from the ceiling to make a custom range hood for over the stove. This was the last project he was procrastinating on. I had given him some crude napkin drawings of designs I had in my mind. He made it perfect right down to the extra deep ledge for the cutting boards. He now likes to say, "How many guys you know that can whip out a range hood?"
I'll give him that one, and keep my answers to myself. He Did get me the marble. 
So its been about 9 months that we've been birthing This baby.
Yes at times I was scared, nauseous, and eating out of to- go food containers.
And I didn't quite know how our relationship would develop through it. Standing on scaffolding, and wielding a Sawzall in my hands made everything worth it.
And now that it's Done, we are no longer, Ichin' for a Kitchen