continuing thoughts on the Art

pantryMy friend Karin wrote a post on her reading and interpretation of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  You should read it because she, like me, took a big break from blogging and is honestly more back than I am.  What’s funny is she also just wrote a post of a home tour of her house/hallway/federal prison and I could do similar about the halfway house/roach hotel/apartment that we are living in right now during the build of the dirt.  Anyhow, her post on tidying up reinforced my need to review and edit my closet.  Something I’ve wanted to do since Z and I moved in a month and a half ago and was also reinforced by Z having to move a clothes pile off the (permanent) ironing board that serves as my dresser since we moved in so it wouldn’t fall over in the middle of the night under the weight of my clothes and angst.  Classy.  Z and I are now sharing a closet and admittedly, I am 80% of that space while he maintains a capsule wardrobe without even trying.  He’s so hip.  My ski jacket sits next to tee shirts next to my favorite pants and blingy holiday sweaters and all wrinkled as they fall out of the closet when I try to pull them down even though I ironed them.  I iron. Don’t judge.  The slightly damp laundry hanging in the bedroom doorway mocking me and falling on the floor regularly as the merest breath of air/full sized human scoots by.  Saturday I spent the day, yes, like 5 hours, doing laundry, ironing, organizing and editing both for my and the Goodwill’s benefit. Three bags delivered by 4 pm along with a load off my mind.  It’s stunning how many clothes I have when I take a look at them.I had thought I probably needed a bunch of new clothes.  I’ve decided I really don’t-only a few new shirts and a pair or two of shoes.  Sunday I spent an hour reorganizing the pantry (my suburban pantry?) and finding random cans of canellini beans behind sugar, four pouches of Temptations cat treats (enough for a year) and a ridiculous amount of snacks in the treat basket.  I organized it all and made room for Betty in there.  Now I just have to bring myself to get her down from her perch and give her a Lysol wipe.  I can’t say that this reduction of things will cause existential lightness of being or not but the other night Z caught me smiling as I walked past the closet and asked why.  That–is magical.

*in case you are curious–the cardinal in the featured post photo is singing for me most mornings when I come into work.  He reminds me of lots of things, including my Grandma James.   I try to catch him in a photo all the time but he’s shy and I am unskilled.


#movingishard and choosing the best things

ohmyheartEven if you move because you chose it, like building a new house where you get to pick #allthethings from the sidewalk pavers to the sink shapes to the placement of a secret hidden phone jack that they force you to have, it is hard.   Everything from cleaning out the last home you chose, and deciding what can fit into the tiny halfway house/apartment that you also chose and that feels like it is a soul and joy sucking roach.  Oh, no, that’s a regular roach.  It’s just hard.  It makes you plain tired and leaves you wondering what you were thinking.   So many choices.  Everyday, the average American sees something like 15,000 pieces of branding.   How do I keep the best possible ones for me?  How do I discard all the soul and life suckers and keep the joy?

One of the choices I made in moving was to finely edit, in the hour or so it took me to pack them, my cookbooks.  To only bring the ones that I want to cook out of for the next 6 to 12 months while the dirt is shaped into a house.   I have a broad ranging collection and mostly use them for about one recipe each as the inspiration of beauty from a photo, a sudden desire for something healthy, or a craving hit. How do I pack that away when they imbue so much happiness just from the mere sight of them?  And then, just as I think maybe I can hack this apartment living an #epicpalmetto (call it what it is people, a ROACH!) falls from the heavens (weird slot on the side of the cupboard) and behind my happy little stack of cookbooks on the counter sometime in the timeframe of 5:30 am as I am getting up to make coffee. The biggest damn bug I have EVER laid eyes on and I am expected to dispatch it in an efficient manner when I am driven to tears by the mere sight of them.  Why?   I can barely see in the o’dark hundred hour and I am forced to slowly remove the books from the counter with one hand and a wad of papertowels in the other in the odd advent of being able to find it.  Oh. I found it.  In the corner behind the very last book. My copy of the Betty Crocker cookbook that my mom gives everyone (or did, for their weddings for the greater part of my life. I don’t think she does any more, what with the web and wedding registries from everywhere from Cabela’s to Tiffany.)  Sorry, Betty, I’ll never feel the same as I think about that bug touching the hallows of the only way I can remember that corn will get tough if you salt the water.  I promptly moved the books to the top shelf where I can’t reach them and they do me no good.  I’m going to Lysol wipe Betty one of these days and try to move on.  Really.   Meanwhile, I forced the apartment people to come and spray.  It’s gotten better.  I think.  I’ll try not to mention it again.  I’ve stopped crying at the sight of them.  #win

So, here’s a list of what I brought.  The rest packed away in storage until the veritable Christmas day that I get to see them again.  I’m going to try to use them.  If for nothing more than a happy boost and to choose a bit of a happy place.  I need to find a lower safe place for them soon.  In no particular order but in order of the photo.

  1.  Everyday Food – Light by Martha Steward collective –I figured it would be good to lose more than space in this process.
  2. Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes –my first ‘cook the book’ and I for some reason didn’t want to be parted from it.
  3. Food Gift Love by Maggie Battista –actually purchased post move during an amazing trip to Philadelphia that I’ll have to write about soon-more to that story than meets the eye.
  4. Good Stuff by Spike Mendelsohn – Burgers mainly, and wedge salads –  We use a few of the burger topping recipes regularly.
  5. The Meatball Shop Cookbook – Because meatballs.
  6. The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson – same thing as Martha – veggies are healthy and I want us to be eating more of them and more creatively. Plus hughnibrow.
  7. Family Meal by Tyler Florence – mainly for the Turkey Meatloaf.  Love.
  8. Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain – Best salads ever.
  9. Wichcraft by Tom Colicchio – unbelieveably delicious sandwiches – I want one today.
  10. that skinny spiral bound thing is a Disney Food & Wine Fest Cookbook with two of our favorites.  Chicken Souvlaki and Cheddar Beer Soup.  ‘Nough said.
  11. tacolicious – amazeballs tacos and cali-mex food from a trip to San Francisco.
  12. Sorella – inventive Italianish food and one of our favorite salads of all time.
  13. Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson – because apartment means no time?  I’m not sure.
  14. Food by Guy Fieri.  I kind of hate his recipes because so many ingredients but dang his sloppy joe’s are amazing.

and last but not least.

15.  The Betty Crocker Cookbook.  Timeless helps for cooking corn.  And the stuffing I grew up on.  Like I’d make a turkey.  No link to my version but worth it.   The kitchen I grew up in had the 1969 version.

a long time ago in an apartment far away

dirtSeven years ago I wrote my first post.  I don’t have any idea what drove me to write it.  I remember struggling through setting up a blog on the Blogger (Google) platform and wondering why it was hard and if I was out of my league.  I didn’t ask Z (computer genius) for help with it.  We were living in an apartment and I had a really old desktop computer and zero experience.  Looking back I think that it was for myself.   At some point I realized I had a terrible memory and hate to journal.  Blogging would help me to remember and typing is easier than pen to paper.  I never thought of myself as a writer or anything else.  In our pre-marital counseling  they suggested that we might find a hobby together-so we decided one of those could be cooking. A blog is a great way to recount that and our other adventures.   At some point Z was developing a massive WordPress multisite installation and switched me over.  I was mad because I thought it was a lot harder and I’d have to learn again.  It’s worked out though and I’ve used that experience on other projects for work.  I find that I am usually up to it if I put enough common sense into it and use Google when I can’t figure things out on my own.

A lot was on the line in November of 2008.  Z was really sick and had in the previous month been listed for transplant (liver) and we didn’t know what to expect.  I took to cleaning everything to try to be ready for whatever was going to happen, to keep him healthy.  I didn’t know (really know) that his liver was rotting away inside him because how can you know that? It’s so foreign.  In February we would see the old junk liver in a Tupperware container in the pathology department in the basement of Shands hospital in Gainesville and be thankful for a new one.  I thought that was the end of eating out and going to movies and certainly overseas or out of country travel.  It wasn’t.  It’s funny how we only live in the day that we can see right in front of us.

That brings us up today.  Since the last post I wrote, written in South Africa about an Amsterdam vacation we have had a lot of churn and burn.  We took a cruise to the Bahamas, my sister and her family came for their summer visit, Z’s office disintegrated under major turmoil and he was moved to a new department after more than 10 years, bought a new piece of dirt (that’s our dirt in the photo) that will become a house, put our current house on the market and sold it in ONE day.  Then, the week we went to WordCamp in Philadelphia and moved into an apartment, we found out the house wasn’t closing and could they have an extension please and had Christmas.  Meanwhile, I’m working.  A lot.  It feels like there would have been things to blog about during this season but I just couldn’t/didn’t/wouldn’t.  It wasn’t like we didn’t eat or cook anything.  It isn’t like there was nothing to say.  I just don’t think there was margin.  Until today.  After 7 years of blogging I took an 8 month break.  Will this post turn into two, three, seven, seventy-seven?  Hard to say.  But, I think I’m back to writing for myself again and not that worried about the numbers, or the lack of comments.  Finding my voice.  Remembering.  Chasing new adventures and the best dinner I can get.  We’re not so comfortably ensconced in a one bedroom apartment with most of our kitchen supplies in storage and an undetermined wait for the build out of our new house.  The kitchen in the new house is everything I could ask for and I’m looking forward to unpacking and inviting people for dinners, baby showers and potlucks.  Meanwhile, we wait and try to enjoy this time with a handful of plates, a couple of pans and a teeny tiny refrigerator that has a drawer that won’t open because there is just no space.  A carefully curated pile of cookbooks with five (!) new ones for Christmas.  I have cooked a few meals here but lean towards assembly only-salads, sandwiches.  And eating out seems to have picked up a little too much and which I’d like to get back to a reasonable level.  So, I’m sitting here back in an apartment, remembering how to upload photos to my blog, writing a post and a grocery list and thinking about the week.  A new hope.


People will think you are fancy

I’ve noticed, if you care about food in any specific way, that people most likely think you are also probably a.  a food snob and b. somehow fancy even if you are just eating a hot dog or similar.  I totally think it is possible that I am something of a food snob but it doesn’t mean I won’t eat a hot dog.  I mean, let’s face the facts.  I love handheld foods.  Sandwiches, burgers (the most!) and tacos.  But, I also love to make them in a little bit of a special way at the same time.  Roast turkey with bacon & homemade onion marmalade?  Sure.  Burgers with homemade pimiento cheese?  Definitely.  Tacos with the best heat cutting tastiest sauce ever?  Yes, please.  Call it the high-low effect.  The lowest food brought to the very highest height.   I really just want people (including me) to care about what they are eating.  To find it to be the best taste they had all day, or maybe all week.  Tonight I’m making a recipe for that heat cutting tasty sauce.  It is literally a five minutes and done recipe that makes dinner just a little more special.

easing back in

I’m thinking things are about to break open!  Super proud to have launched a new book this fall, Around the World with Kate & Mack – A look at languages from A to Z.   I got to have so much input into the project and am just so happy with the outcome.  It tells a complete story about the work of Wycliffe around the world in a way that anyone can understand.   Sold out of a yearly production and purchase of calendars that I oversee for the first time ever (~15,000).  So great to say, I have none left and threw nothing away! And have taken on a new venture, a cafe, the ‘Wycliffe’ cafe as part of my job.  (Food people gravitate to food things I guess.)   I have spent the last couple of months analyzing what we do and, in reality, what it costs.   What people are eating and not eating.  We developed a plan to forge ahead and have been closed for the last week to refresh our look and our menu and Monday morning we will reopen clean and updated and ready to roll!  All this has taken up a lot of my brain and just today, for the first time in a while, have I had the margin to write a little something that didn’t sound like ‘Woe is me, I’m tired or some other muck.’  I woke up, did a great big vegetabally grocery shop at TJ’s for the week and am ready to face the world!  This about sums it up:sassy2